Saturday, May 29, 2010

How did the Beanworld end up the United States of Tara?

Well over a year ago, after the Dark Horse Holiday Special shipped I got the following email:

I can honestly say that I have been a fan of Beanworld for pretty much my entire adult life. I remember reading issue #1 and not understanding it at all. I also remember heaving a sigh of relief when I put it down and grabbed a New Teen Titans book where they go searching for the long lost Doom Patrol.

But hey I was around 11 or 12 not an age known for discerning tastes. It was several months later and having arrived on the shores of puberty I discovered Issue #4. I read the hell out of that comic! If there is a better book to hand to somebody who is leaving childhood behind and dealing with their place in suburban 80's culture, I never found it.

When I got to High school I met the boy who would become my best friend, Andy Speer who was a hell of a cartoonist for a 13 year old. I showed him my Beanworlds and he loved them! He read them over and over. I had stopped buying comics in high school, but as a freshman in college I went looking for Beanworld. Andy had taken mine with him to school and I wanted my own set.

I went to a comic shop (Million Year Picnic in Cambridge MA) and the sales-guy found the issues for me and also got me to buy some Grant Morrison Animal man comics and Frank Miller's Dark Knight. Then I was hooked on comics again.

In my Junior Year my live in girlfriend and I broke up, a month later I realized she had taken my entire Beanworld collection. Who says girls don't like comics. Fortunately Boston was a place in the pre-internet world where you could pretty easily rebuild a Beanworld collection.

I remember how psyched Andy was when his drawing of "Cheech Bean" was printed in the letters column of an issue(#17 I think). It was one of his favorites and he showed it to everybody. Tragically he lost his battle with Cancer a short time later. The world was robbed of a great natural artist and one of the best people I ever knew.

Anyway I graduated college, and with no idea what I wanted to do decided to go to Art school. I went to the Museum School in Boston where another girl managed to get my Beanworlds (She didn't steal them, I gave them to remember me by. Wow that seems weird looking back at it.) so I had to rebuild my Beanworld collection again. By this point I was getting a pretty big collection of comics, since apart from the Beanworlds the rest just don't just disappear.

A few years later I moved to Los Angeles and met my wife to be. Her first Christmass gift to me was a collection of the Beanworld Ashcan books she sent away for.

A few years ago we went to Comic-Con, I asked at the Image Comics booth since I was hoping to get a Beanworld original art page, but I think you had moved on to McFarlane Toys by then and apart from (If I remember correctly) Jim Valentino telling me you never sell your art.

Since then every few months I have looked online but I couldn't even find an E-mail for you. So I was very excited to find your blog a few months back.

Now in the present, I'm a grownup and my comics live in the garage, except for a spinner rack we keep in the house. Last month I got to put a new issue of Beanworld in the rack for the first time and it looks great there! I hope there are more to come."

The email was from Ben Lewis.
In general, I don't take private commissions but Ben requested a topic I just couldn't not take a whack at.

Then a few months after that I got another email from him.
He explained that he's the Propmaster on the Showtime series United States of Tara. He said USOT "is shooting at a comic shop next week. If you have any posters or comics you want to send my way I can probably dress them into the show. We're going to be shooting at a store called Amazing Comics in Long Beach, a week from Tuesday. We'll be shooting at various places around the shop so I'll be able to put whatever you have for me in some shots somewhere."

I wrote back and said "What a great offer! I really don't have any genuine posters but I do have the hardcover books and of course the ability to whip up faux posters quickly."

And that is indeed what I did. I knocked out a handful of 18" x 23" posters and had them printed up at FedEx/Kinko's sent 'em off to Ben at the USOT office. You can check them out here.

A few weeks later, I wrote Ben and asked him how it all went. He wrote:

"Oh we shot it. We ended up putting a poster on door and it was pretty prominent. In fact one of the executive producers asked me 'Who the hell is Larry Marder and why is his name in the middle of frame?' He likes comics so we gave him the hardcovers at the end of the night."

I greatly enjoyed that.
That was last fall. I didn't exactly forget that about USOT but it wasn't exactly on the front burner of my mind either.

That is until a few weeks ago when the episode "Dept of F’d Up Family Services" aired and went into Showtime rotation. I immediately started hearing from all sorts of folks from all over the world about it. People kept asking in "How did something like that happen?"

Well...that's how it happened.

Like everything that has to do with Beanworld it was a process.
It started when a kid stumbled upon Beanworld and embarked upon a lifetime of personal interaction with Beanworld--sharing it with his friends and loved ones.

It really doesn't get any better than this for me.
Thanks, Ben

1 comment:

Vernon said...

Mr Marder, you couldn't ask for better fans. :D