Toupydoops a Tinseltown Trip
Not for nothing is Hollywood called the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. It’s made on the backs of aspiring, former, and failed model-slash-actresses, or novelists-slash-screenwriters or, heaven forbid, comic-slash-screenwriters. Brian Michael Bendis, in fact, wrote an account of such a failure in his hilarious Fortune & Glory, which chronicles his attempts to get his 2001 graphic crime novel Torso made into a popcorn flick.
Not that there haven’t been successes-Jeph Loeb and Brian K. Vaughan are, after all, writing for the two of the most popular shows on network television right now. But it’s not hard to see the motivations behind Toupydoops, a new graphic novel the first volume of which will be published on June 27 by Lobrau Productions.
Penned by Kevin McShane, Toupydoops recreates Tinseltown in a fashion that I would assume anyone reading this site will appreciate. Here the biggest stars aren’t actors, they’re comic characters-move over Tobey Maguire, hello Peter Parker. Actors aren’t members of SAG, they’re members of CBAG (Comic Book Actors Guild), and movie sets require art directors to set up each page’s panel.Enter the titular Toupydoops, a blue-faced (literally) dewy-eyed college grad from Ohio who, after starring in his own college strip heads to L.A. to become the next big hero. Unfortunately, and as you might guess from this post’s killer lede, the best our “hero” lands is an assistant gig for a comic publisher.
What this ingenious book accomplishes is an all-too-accurate portrayal of the angst of a college grad with a liberal arts degree–as in, someone with no employable skills–the single-minded mentality of Hollywood (though rather than discuss Spielberg and Soderbergh in the Pink’s hot dog line, wannabes chat up Moore and Miller) and of course the ins-and-outs of the comic book industry.
Keeping Toups (and the story) grounded throughout his various foibles is his best friend and roommate Teetereater, a half-man half-bear who is pretty much there to remind everyone how ridiculous the entertainment business in any form really is. Okay maybe not totally grounded–they also have a pet monkey named Mr. Bananas.
Part Ricky Gervais’s Extras, part The Incredibles, Toupydoops gives us a glimpse into a world that anyone who has ever picked up a comic book would imagine to be heaven, but ends up instead being steeped in the cold reality of, well reality. Oh well, sometimes reality can be an entertaining fantasy as well.