Here in The Post newsroom, just steps from our daily Metro stop called ”Farragut North,” Comic Riffs has naturally tracked with great interest each step of the Beau Willimon play about election politics, “Farragut North.” That has included the Atlantic Theater Company production, which Post critic Peter Marks in 2008 called “a spicy, new campaign stage dramedy.”
This month, of course, Willimon successfully finished navigating his adapted work to the big screen, as George Clooney directs “The Ides of March,” as well as stars as the film’s presidential contender.
One detail of the cinematic production that had escaped our notice, however, is the presence of political cartoons by a well-known name: Pulitzer nominee Ted Rall.
As Rall wrote on his blog this week: “Earlier this year, I received a phone call that led to one of the more interesting cartooning assignments of my career.” The “Ides” set designer sought “background ephemera — newspaper clippings, photos, political cartoons — that might be taped, say, to the back of a seat in a campaign bus.”
“I received an early script, along with the usual admonishments to keep it to myself,” Rall tells Comic Riffs this week. “I read it, then I looked at IMDB for photo references of the actors playing the key roles.” He says he also consulted extensively with the set designer, working, too, from film stills.
“Of course, Clooney has a face the camera loves,” Rall tells ‘Riffs. ”But handsomeness is a liability to any cartoonist, especially one who uses a highly abstract drawing style as I do.
“I really liked Philip Seymour Hoffman as a subject,” the artist continues. “He has really great, unique eyes and a rumpled intensity I liked drawing. Too bad I didn't need to draw Paul Giamatti — I'm a fan, but he wasn't a big-enough character.”
Rall also notes that as a native of southwest Ohio, he was “certainly comfortable with Cincinnati as the setting of ‘The Ides of March.’ “
And then there was the wait to see whether his work would make the final cut.
“Naturally I was on pins and needles awaiting the Oct. 7 release date,” Rall says. “I was in Washington to take part in one of the Occupy movement protests [in Freedom Plaza], so I went to the theater in Cleveland Heights to see it.”
That’s when Rall got his own visual confirmation that his second-scene cartoons hadn’t ended up on the cutting-room floor.
“I'm looking forward to the DVD, so I can freeze on that shot,” Rall tells ‘Riffs. “Dorky, I know. It was really a thrill. Though I have to admit, I'm a smidge annoyed they couldn't give me a credit at the end.
“That's how I am, always complaining.”
2. “JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM”:
Unveiled amid the fall comicsapalooza that descends upon Gotham for several glorious days, DC’s new animated movie — “Justice:League:Doom” — got some screen time at the New York ‘Con. Based on Mark Waid’s story “Tower of Babel,” the film’s due out next year.
3. THE RETIRING LIFE: ‘CATHY’ & ‘FOXTROT’:
“The Doozies” creator Tom Gammill (“Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons”) offers his latest — and one of his best — videos, which irreverently and sometimes irrelevantly fly under the title “Learn to Draw.” In his 30th installment, “Cathy” creator Cathy Guisewite and ”FoxTrot” creator Bill Amend show up their crack comic timing as they bask in the retiring — or semi-retiring — life. (Tip: Wait for the legend that is Mell Lazarus.)
4. THE MIND OF ANIMATION DOMINATION:
The Hollywood Reporter got some serious time with Seth MacFarlane — if that description isn’t inherently oxymoronic. While the profile takes the tack that nearly everything MacFarlane touches turns to commercial gold (including his recent album of crooned tunes), perhaps the most tantalizing tidbit is the animator’s quote about perhaps soon ending his Fox hit “Family Guy.” The comment rings of ad-libbed glibness — is Seth just toying with us? Or himself? — but it’s enough to make you wonder: Is even the high-energy MacFarlane (who so recently hosted Comedy Central’s Charlie Sheen roast; and who so soon will deliver his takes on “The Flinstones” and “Cosmos”) stretching himself and his creative id too thin?
We do know this: Between MacFarlane and recent (albeit resolved) talk surrounding “The Simpson,” Fox had better start planning ahead for its future without these animation titans.