Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Get to know "The Big Score" by Richard Sala

'The Big Score' by Richard Sala
At their house, my parents want me to get rid of stuff I've left behind there and don't use anymore, like stacks of manila folders I stored inside their house's overhead cabinets. The folders contain press kits for albums like DJ Kool's Let Me Clear My Throat CD and movies like The Big Lebowski; old scripts of segment intros I typed up for the terrestrial radio version of AFOS; and newspaper/magazine article cutouts I enjoyed reading and had saved so that I could read them again someday (whatup, early 2000s Mercury News interview with De La Soul about the Art Official Intelligence "trilogy") or use one of them as the basis for some script for either TV, a film or a comic. For example, there was a folder from the early 2000s that I labeled "Jigsaw." It consisted of articles about crime in San Francisco I collected and saved as research for a San Francisco crime show idea I wanted to call Jigsaw (for a while, I wanted to create the Sucka Free equivalent of Homicide: Life on the Street and populate the cast with a few Asian American detectives).

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was only able to empty one cabinet by throwing away a whole bunch of cutouts I don't need to save anymore--like the Jigsaw clippings (yeah, I don't think that show's ever going to get made). But there are some items from the folders in that cabinet that I don't want to dunk into the basura, so I've taken them along with me. They include a few issues of Scud: The Disposable Assassin I've held onto since college--one of those issues was written by a pre-Channel 101/Community Dan Harmon!--and a comic strip I snipped from a 1994 issue of Pulse! magazine.

Pulse! was a music review magazine the now-defunct Tower Records published and handed out for free in its stores. The final page of each Pulse! issue always featured a music-related comic strip. My favorite of those Pulse! strips is "The Big Score" by cartoonist Richard Sala, whose serialized 1991 "Invisible Hands" mystery shorts during Liquid Television were a favorite of many fans of the MTV animation anthology show. (Sala's horror comics are full of old-fashioned movie monsters and hot heroines. Cartoon Network is too dunderheaded to allow it, but I'd rather see the network's Adult Swim/Williams Street department produce a new Scooby-Doo animated series with character designs by either Sala or someone equally offbeat and not-so-kid-friendly instead of CN and Warner Bros. Animation rehashing the same old Scoob for kids.) "The Big Score" takes place in a noirish nightclub and cleverly replaces all the dialogue with names of classic crime movie scores that Sala thinks would be appropriate for each moment.

"At the time I was listening to a lot of movie soundtracks, particularly the cool, atmospheric soundtracks of thrillers and spy movies, which I found to be inspiring background music to play while I wrote," said Sala in a 2010 blog post about "The Big Score." I don't have a Mac-compatible scanner with me to digitally preserve "The Big Score," so good thing Sala--whose latest work is the digital-only Fantagraphics graphic novel Violenzia--scanned his own 1994 strip and posted it on his blog.

'The Big Score' by Richard Sala
(Photo source: Richard Sala)
Thanks to YouTube and Spotify, I can now take that 1994 strip and post it alongside the exact same audio Sala envisioned when he drew it. Vertigo and Our Man Flint are the only film titles from "The Big Score" that contain themes that are currently in rotation on AFOS. I've streamed cues from Touch of Evil, The Ipcress File, Experiment in Terror, Arabesque and Psycho on AFOS before, and after first catching Kiss Me Deadly on TCM, it's hard to forget that batshit crazy Robert Aldrich flick, but I'm not familiar with the other movies Sala references in "The Big Score." I actually still haven't seen The Third Man. There are a couple of Ida Lupino flicks mentioned in there that I need to check out after hearing Greg Proops devote an entire segment to her work during The Smartest Man in the World. And after watching the How to Murder Your Wife clip of Virna Lisi's sexy dance to Neal Hefti source music I've posted below, I don't understand why Jack Lemmon would rather get rid of that than continue to tap that.

'The Big Score' by Richard Sala
Panel 1: Touch of Evil

Panel 2: The Ipcress File; The Third Man; Experiment in Terror; On Dangerous Ground

'The Big Score' by Richard Sala
Panel 3: The Night Walker; The List of Adrian Messenger; Private Hell 36; Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte; How to Murder Your Wife

Panel 4: Vertigo

'The Big Score' by Richard Sala
Panel 5: Kiss Me Deadly

Panel 6: Psycho

Panel 7: Our Man Flint; Arabesque; Mr. Lucky

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