Thursday, November 17, 2011

ZZ Top Predicts: Tintin Tops Charts

November 17, 2011

It was in November of 1999 that three Mayflower trucks pulled up to the new True West offices behind Frontier Town in Cave Creek, AZ and demanded a cashier’s check for $12,920.40 before they’d unload all the back issues from Oklahoma. Bob McCubbin dubbed the premises “Clantonville” and a new era in the history of True West began.

Warning: serious name-dropping ahead
In the mid-eighties, Kathy and I were riding in a limo with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on our way to the Nogales Cafe smack dab in the middle of the Duece, in downtown Phoenix. Billy and crew headlined the sold-out Phoenix Coliseum the night before and now he is telling me a story of opening for the Stones and how Mick Jagger told him the trick in this media world is to put your antennae out to anticipate and pick up what is coming up ahead, then start creating as fast as you can to anticipate what it will be like when the audience catches up and, if you do, you will hit it big, as long as you stay true to your original vision. ZZ Top obviously did that with Eliminator and their ground breaking MTV videos, which foreshadowed the HBO series Hung by 20 inches, I mean years.

Kathy, Thomas Charles and myself were in Bolivia in 2009 at a finca (farm) high up in the mountains at a small village called Samaipata. The owner of the farm was an ex-pat Dutch dude and current hippy who was enamored of the comic strip Tintin. He had a stash of the hard cover books in our casita and although I couldn't read them (they were in Spanish), I enjoyed studying the clean lines of the cartoonist Herge. And, so along with the things we bought that day, I copied some of the panels:

It was just for grins, but I also wanted to study his silhouette techniques, and that is the Apache Kid running up the hill, above, a la Tintin.

I remember thinking at the time, I wonder why no one has tried to make a movie based on Tintin? Hint: the 24-book-series has sold 350 million copies and has been translated into 80 languages. Well, someone had already bought the rights and was prepping the movie even as I was doing these drawings in the mountains of Bolivia two years ago. He is from Phoenix and a couple of my friends were in his first 8mm movie, which he premiered at a downtown Phoenix theater. You may know him as Steven Spielberg.

So, as the Mickster taught Mr. Gibbons, that to get out front of the audience and by the time you come out, the audience will come. Well, I just read in the Hollywood Reporter that The Adventures of Tintin, starring Jamie Bell as Tintin, has opened in Europe and has already grossed $125 million. It will open here, I believe next month.

"The only thing new in this world, is the history you don't know."
—Harry Truman

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