Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wonder Twins poster mystery: shape of an explanation!

One of the entertainment highlights of my youth was watching Super Friends.

One of the entertainment highlights of my career was interviewing Super Friends—in other words, the voice actors I grew up with.

One of the highlights of that project was finding and being the first to reunite the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, portrayed by Michael Bell and Louise Rodricks.

One of the highlights of a recent Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman interview I gave to BatPodcast was discovering that the podcast host, Pat Evans, had a connection to a mysterious superhero-related movie poster that had made the rounds in the real world and online in November 2013.

Pat kindly agreed to reveal the story behind the mystery poster here, so the interviewee became the interviewer.

What inspired the idea to design a poster for a Wonder Twins movie—and send it anonymously to comic shops including Midtown Comics in New York?

I honestly don’t remember the exact moment of conception. I was standing on my toilet trying to hang a clock, the porcelain was wet, the next thing I know: blammo!

Seriously, though…with the spate of superhero movies being released, I think it was just me thinking it would be fun to do a spoof version of one. I thought, “What would be the most preposterous superhero movie you could make?” Naturally, the Wonder Twins sprang to mind.

They were perfect, because it was just unbelievable enough a concept that it could be true, if that makes sense. “So crazy it might work” kind of logic. And Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher were kind of the clincher because they are in the media a lot now as a real-life couple. So it added that extra layer of “huh?”

When did you get this idea and when did you send it out? Was there a reason you sent it out when you did?

About ten months ago. I’m pretty busy, so sometimes my side projects take a while to complete. I had actually wanted to have them ready for Comic-Con but wasn’t able to. The next big local event was Comikaze, so I thought I’d take some there to leave on the poster table and them stand back and surreptitiously watch people’s reactions.

Unfortunately, this year they didn’t have a poster table so I had to sort of leave them lying in conspicuous places and wait for people to notice them. So it was a little anti-climactic although I did get to see a few interesting reactions. But my friends and fellow geeks I showed loved them. Many were not sure if they were real or not.

Also unfortunately, I didn’t think to change the release date from when I originally conceived the idea. I should have changed it to 2015— maybe that would have made it more believable as an actual film. Of course, with IMDB and everything now, it takes people about five seconds to figure out the truth anyway.

But what was weird is because people assumed that it was officially from Warner Brothers, it must be part of some sort of marketing gimmick for the Entourage movie because of their fake Aquaman movie and since it is due out in 2014. One person put forth that assumption online, and a lot of people ran with it. Repeat it enough times and it’s true!

So to finish answering your last question: I sent it to Midtown and the other more well-known comic shops in New York, L.A., and Chicago because I wasn’t able to pull off any great reactions at Comikaze and I had about half of the posters still left. So I said what the hell, I’ll send it to some comic shops and see what happens. I wanted to do something with them after all the trouble of having them made.

When I made the mailing labels, I figured I should put the WB logo on them—make them look like they actually came from Warner Bros. Otherwise the gag is blown. Same with the logos on the poster. They had to be there or people instantly dismiss it.

[Still,] I figured they’d pretty quickly know it was fake but maybe think it was funny and put it in their windows as a joke. I forgot about the magic of Twitter.

What was your goal with this experiment?

Basically to make people think—if only for a few moments—that a Wonder Twins movie might actually be made. Sort of the equivalent of making someone believe in Santa Claus. A dangerous, drooling, and demented Santa Claus to be sure—but miraculous and magical nonetheless.

What reaction did you expect?

“What the ****?” And that’s pretty much what I got. So, mission accomplished, I guess.

What was your reaction to the comics media picking up the story?

I was pretty blindsided. Very surprising. It was pretty big: Cinema Blend, Huffington Post, Superhero Hype, Slashfilm, etc., plus it was the subject of several YouTube videos like AMC Movie Talk—where John Schnepp actually busts it as a fake. I gave him a poster at Comikaze. You were supposed to keep it a secret, damn you, John! Of course people already knew it was fake, they just didn’t know what to make of it.

And actually, the Wonder Twins is not my first viral fake movie poster.

A few years ago did a Photoshop contest for “The Most Ill-Conceived Movie Monsters.” I submitted two—one for Coultergeist (self explanatory) and one with Javier Bardem as Count Chocula.
Coultergeist won the top spot and Count Chocula took 3rd place, if I recall. But Count Chocula was the one that everyone really seemed to like and it went fairly viral. Defamer did an article, a few other people put it on their blogs, and the poster appeared in the print edition of the Washington Post.

Defamer put forth the notion that there should be a trilogy of Monster Cereal movies and suggested Philip Seymour Hoffman as Frankenberry, Jake Gyllenhaal as BooBerry. So I obliged them and sent them versions of those posters as well, which also appeared on their site.

You can see them as well as my series of fake Steven Seagal movie posters on my website. And that’s actually where I got my website name, Rogue Photoshop. The author of the Defamer article identified me as a “Rogue Photoshopper.” Sounded good to me!

What has been your favorite response/comment?

I watched someone angrily crumple one up at Comikaze. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but I’m quite sure it wasn’t complimentary.

I’m pretty pleased that my artwork stood up to the scrutiny—people thought it was official in some capacity. No one really said it looked like a fake. That is very rewarding.

And the fact that you wanted to interview me about it is pretty great.

Are you a Wonder Twins fan? If not, what made you choose the Wonder Twins for this experiment?

Who doesn’t love the Wonder Twins? Seriously. Just ask my kids, Zan and Jayna. [MTN: I had to clarify: yes, this is a joke.]

What do you do for a living?

Well, my mail-order sandwich business just went belly up, so I’m currently “pursuing other opportunities” (isn’t that what people say when they royally screw up their lives?). I’m joking, of course—my mail-order sandwich business is quite lucrative.

Other than that, I produce my wife Jamie’s music. We just released her second CD and it is amazing. It’s going to be big; she’s an incredible singer. She’s already had a lot of songs in movies and TV shows; she did the theme song for Heather Langenkamp’s documentary about playing “Nancy” in the Nightmare on Elm Street films (“I Am Nancy”). This new CD is her best stuff yet.

And from time to time I do graphic design projects—mainly for my own amusement like the fake posters—but I have done a few CD covers for people including my wife’s new CD and comedian Sean Kent who is a buddy of mine from back when I worked in the showroom at the Hollywood Improv.

I also am a huge lifelong Batman fan and have just started my new podcast, The BatPodcast.

I interview all sorts of awesome folks from the Batman Universe—actors, writers, artists, stuntmen, vehicle designers—trying to uncover interesting tidbits and stories you may not have heard before. I’ve got some fantastic interviews already; I’m very excited.

It’s the first step in my goal to make my life revolve completely around Batman…as much as it can anyway. My ultimate goal is to open a Batman Museum on Hollywood Boulevard.

How many posters did you produce?

Just 50. It was always meant to be a small-scale prank.

I’ve seen comments from fans who want one; Warner Bros., I say you commission Pat for both poster design and social media marketing!

I won’t disagree with you there. In fact, I’ll take it a step further: President of Warner Brothers. Then you’ll have nothing but Wonder Twins movies. It will be the next big tentpole franchise…I stake my life on it!

But seriously, since there’s already been a buzz about this being part of the
Entourage movie, I think they should just weave it into the film. Get Kevin Smith to play himself as the director of a Wonder Twins movie but it’s running into all sorts of production problems. There could be a situation where the studio wants to replace Ashton Kutcher with Vince. Maybe there ends up being a love triangle between them and Mila.

Or hey, why not just go ahead and make an actual Wonder Twins movie? The great thing about it is you could do it however you wanted…because who really cares? No one would be expecting anything from it so you could afford to do something creative. Just because they were cheesy on the Super Friends doesn’t mean you couldn’t come up with a really interesting version of them.

You might as well. You’ve already got the poster!

1/16/14 addendum: Form of a media storm!

1 comment:

hobbyfan said...


As Jayna herself would say, real spacey.

IIRC, they did a bit on That 70's Show where two of the characters were dressed as the Twins. Not sure if Mila Kunis' character was one of them, but Ashton Kutcher definitely wasn't. I'll have to check into that one and get back to you.

And you can tell Pat Evans he made my day.