Thursday, September 14, 2006

Who was that "Daddy"?

The loudest of our local TV stations, when it isn't attempting to set a new trend (or just take the credit for doing so), resorts to running the same Made-In-Canada movies again and again and again. I'm not sure if this is their way of flouting the CRTC, or subverting it, or subverting viewer expectations. Most likely it's just a lazy way of being "bad".

Anyhow, they've made a habit of airing Ron Mann's Comic Book Confidential -- a documentary about (you guessed it) comic books. It comes up during the most unexpected times. I'll be surfing channels, too bored to rouse myself, too tired to read a book, and *click*: there it is. And I'll watch it. Again.

Mann shot and framed some terrific material in that film. Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman -- so many of these comic book pioneers come across as likeable and intelligent. We also meet Spider-Man creator Stan Lee, and he comes across as likeable, intelligent -- and (dare I say?) just a little sleazy. And then Mann slips into the underground, where sleazy is a given, and intelligent and likeable is not. Throw in a soundtrack courtesy of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet (Dick Dale's jittery progeny, who brought you the themesong to The Kids In The Hall) and it makes for a real Garbage Pail Kids-type treat.

Mann's latest flick is Tales of the Rat Fink -- an homage to the founder of hot-rod low-brow culture, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.

Roth is one of those characters who existed on the frame of my frame of reference. My youngest uncle, who was finishing high school and (naturally) still lived with my grandparents when I was a tot, assembled the Revell models Roth designed. And the man himself always seemed to be leering at me from the corners of my shabbiest comics. I didn't know who this guy was, but he was certainly a curiosity. "Big Daddy" Roth was one of those personalities I'd always meant to Google, just to learn his story.

Ron Mann saves me the trouble, and (this guy assures us) does an entertaining job of it, too. Based on their looks alone, I'd say these are talking cars with a more provocative point of view than the last ones had. This flick just might require me to step into my (decidedly non-Rothian) Echo, and make a trip into the city -- looking like a bum and listening to The Sadies, of course.


Cowtown Pattie said...

Ahhh, yes. The Rat Fink. I, too, occasionally stayed up late into the wee morning hours wondering about Big Daddy. Was he kin to "Big Daddy", Burl Ives? Did he take acid trips to dream up the wild-eyed rat character? Was Idi Amin in his family tree?

All those kinds of question that plague mankind can now be answered.

Thanks, WP !

(you do "hear" this with a good natured wink and a jab?)

Whisky Prajer said...

'm not sure it's possible to do anything but wink and jab in the presence of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. It seems to me he walked the same pulpy-but-hallowed ground as MAD Magazine sultan Max Gaines - who also made a point of looking like a bum, right up to the day he died. And was there a substance that either of them didn't ingest, back in the day?