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A post apocalyptic black comedy/social satire/puppet gore web series from Maxwell Atoms, creator of Cartoon Network's "Billy & Mandy".
A post apocalyptic black comedy/social satire/puppet gore web series from Maxwell Atoms, creator of Cartoon Network's "Billy & Mandy".
1,190 backers pledged $56,817 to help bring this project to life.

Happy Mother's Day! -- and a bunch of excuses

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Where did this year go?  Seriously.  For realz.

Things are still chugging along.  I started a job at Warner Bros. in January (because Dead Meat doesn't make car payments), and I've been doing development since then.  It's a fun job, but it does take 8+ hours a day and makes Dead Meat move all the slower.  Most of this Spring has been spent at a painful crawl just setting up the infrastructure needed to make this thing.  Fortunately I've been getting help from a lot of cool people, and there's more help on the way.  In fact, this Summer should see some big hurdles jumped, machine guns blazing, in an effort to get Dead Meat finished before I'm drinking Ensure®.

"Hey Jerko!  Where's my stuff!!?"

Oh yeah.  That.  Well, it's still being delivered to my house in drips and drabs.  I can tell you I'll be sending it out "soon", but I don't dare expound upon that, as I've already made myself look like a rube several times over.  The truth is, I bit off a LOT more than I could chew with this Kickstarter.  Doing a blacklight poster would've been a good way to start.  Or just art prints.  Or even just a web series.  Instead, I promised all of that and more.  And I promise you'll get it.  It's just taking a lot longer than I though it would.  I know that most Kickstarters run late, but it doesn't make me feel any less anxious about it.

I haven't mailed anything out yet, and when I do, you'll know it's coming.  Never should there be a time when you think I've mailed it and are left wondering where your stuff is.  Once I get it all in, I'll have to send out one last round of surveys and then we can close out this particular chapter in Dead Meat's evolution.  I know we're all looking forward to that day.  It's good to have things to look forward to, no?

Before we get into the gory details of production and the future of Dead Meat, let's see some stuff!  I like stuff.

Blöody Bismarck is a fictional band in Dead Meat's universe.  They were probably Heck's favorite band, but like most everyone else in the world, they're probably dead.  However, they live on through bus bench ads and this design, which will eventually be fused to Heck's dirty T-shirt.  

The name comes from a Billy & Mandy in-joke.  We weren't allowed to use the word "bismarck" by standards as it applied to a donut.  When I asked why, I received one of the most horrific descriptions of a sex act I've ever seen from a network executive.  And that's saying something.

This image was made by comic artist Noah Whippie.  He's got a badass name and a badass style.  He's working on more images to help fill out Dead Meat's version of apocalyptic L.A.

Check more of his stuff out here:  http://www.noahwhippie.com/

 The two images above are WIP images of "Arbamolester", one of the mutant's cars from the film.  It's being built by Nick Pearce, who just came to live in this country and make awesome things.  I'd say he's off to a spectacular start.  I can't wait to see this thing firing bamboo spears on the highway.

The next pass on this car goes to a surprise guest artist who's going to do the graffiti.  I think you Adult Swim fans will be pleased...

Below is another Frankenstein's Monster that Nick has been working on for me:

 That should give you an idea of just how big these things are.  I think Nick is running into the same problem I am, which is "where the hell do I store these"?

 The image above (and the one at the top of this update) are, of course, Riotmaker-- Heck and Dead Meat's battle bus.  I'm putting a ton of effort into this one because it gets a ton of screen time.  Sometimes I worry I'm going overboard, but "garbage baroque" is the order of the day.  

The next step is to add the minigun and the jet engine, but both of those make the car much longer and taller than it is now.  I'll need to be able to flip it over and work on the interior, so I've been wary of adding those pieces on.  Fortunately I just found someone in L.A. who repairs RC cars.  Once I get this baby up and running, it won't take long to put on the finishing details.  

 And who is this??  It's our titular character, as built by the lovely and talented Rachel Gitlevich.  Like me, Rachel works in the animation biz (currently Turbo and Superjail)  and that eats up most of her time.  I'm honored that she's chosen to spend so much free time working on these puppets.  Dead Meat is all done now (I just Skyped with him last week), so you'll be seeing a lot more of him soon!

The Thief and the Cobbler: Rise of the Shoe Thief

There is a film called "The Thief and the Cobbler" that has become a piece of animation legend.  It was started by a man with a dream in the mid-1960s.  That man pursued his dream for thirty years.  The idea was solid and the artwork beautiful.  In fact, it looks suspiciously like "Disney's Aladdin" in some ways.  Take that as you will.  Had The Thief and the Cobbler been released in the '60's, it would've blown people's minds.  But by the 1990's, it was clear that the film was never going to be finished without some help.  So the studio took the film away from the creator and had it finished lickety-split by some hacks for, by the looks of it, fifty eight dollars.  

I think about The Thief and the Cobbler a lot while working on Dead Meat.  I'm proud of Dead Meat and I know how it needs to look and feel.  Dead Meat is very much a story about now.  It's about a recent part of my life, it's about what our country is becoming, and it's about modern problems and modern fears.  If I wait too long, the relevancy dries up.  At its core, though, Dead Meat is the simple, relatable story of three characters and their emotions.  That ought to be relevant for a long while.  But as the days tick by I can't help but see myself as a 65 year old man painting cars in my guest bedroom, finally throwing up my hands and saying "Screw it!  Let's subcontract it to that studio in India and be done with it!  Marge!  Bring me my Ensure®!"

The hard truth for me this year has been that $50,000 might be a lot of money to you and me, but it doesn't buy squat as far as TV production goes.  Not that I ended up with $50,000.  After $6,000 worth of dropouts, Amazon's cut, and the government's cut, it's significantly less.  And that's why I've been so cagey on when this thing is going to be done.

The fact is, I don't have enough resources to produce ALL of Dead Meat at once.  And that's okay.  There's a lot of Dead Meat.  But I DO want to finish it out.  There's one long story I'm trying to tell, and I mean to tell it all.  So the question becomes, "How much of this story can I tell now, and what do I have to sacrifice in order to tell it?"

The answer is "I can tell somewhere between a third and a half of the story, and it's going to cost either a lot more money or a significant chunk of soul".  And even then, I'm going to have to go all George Lucas and retroactively change things to make them the way they should've been in the first place.  The current plan is to shoot the first episodes in July or August (depending on how quickly I can get a VW Westfalia interior built), which means they should be "out" in the first quarter of next year.  The idea is that those episodes will be so awesome and amazing that they can support the rest of the project.  Fingers crossed.

And then I have to get to the rest of the project before it becomes my The Thief and the Cobbler.  Or before my actors age too much or cut their hair drastically.  Or the adhesives I used to build all of the props start to break down.  Or before the adhesives I used to build all the props start to break down my neurons.  Or the death of net neutrality leaves nowhere for Dead Meat to be shown.  Or we have an actual apocalypse.  Because that would sort of sour the humor.  Probably.

Anyway, I'm a perfectionist.  I have a very definite vision for what Dead Meat is.  And I could achieve that vision a lot more quickly and effectively if I went and sold it to some cable channel.  But there's no doubt in my mind that the compromises I'd have to make would be even more brutal than the ones I'm having to make now.

Nobody's hounding me to get this thing done, but I don't need hounds.  I have myself, and I'm the biggest, meanest bitch I need.  The first half of my fortieth year had not been easy, but (as you can see above) I'm starting to get some fantastic and talented folks to help me out.  

It's hard sometimes to turn on the TV and see a badly animated ad for laundry detergent and know that they had more than ten times the budget I do.  Or to watch Spiderman and know they made that for many millions of dollars and only about fifteen brain cells.  It's hard not to be jealous, but jealousy doesn't do any good.

I've got what I've got.  I've got a story I know is worth telling, some fantastic folks to help me, cool fans with great taste, a bunch of ramen noodles, and the drive to see it through to the end.  Every day I tell myself that it's all about putting one foot in front of the other until I get there.  Every day it gets a little closer.  The journey won't be as quick as I'd like, or (probably) as you'd like.  But we will get there.  

Thanks for being patient!

Say "hi" to y'all's mamas for me!

xo,

Maxwell

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Brian LeBaron on May 30, 2014

      Max, your sincerity really comes through in this post. We can't wait to see Dead Meat, but we will. I think almost everyone who backed this project is much more interested in seeing what your true vision for the show is rather than some end product just slapped together. A nice update like this every month or so and some tantalizing peeks behind the scenes should keep us at bay for many months. Good luck and keep up the amazing work.

    2. Missing avatar

      C. Parker on May 14, 2014

      More than happy to wait, do what you need to do. I'm just excited to see how it all turns out in the end.

    3. Missing avatar

      Sirrin Nacht on May 13, 2014

      I'm more than willing to wait. Also, if you really do need more money, might I suggest holding a second Kickstarter fundraiser sometime around mid to late summer? I, and many other backers I suspect, will be out of school (college) for the summer and able to get in a lot more hours at work, and consequently have a lot more disposable income to send your way.

    4. Robert B. Healy III on May 13, 2014

      As with the others, I've got no problem waiting for something awesome. Keep up the good work.

    5. Allyce on May 12, 2014

      Totally happy to wait. Also would be happy to throw more money your way :)

    6. Ian Hyzy on May 11, 2014

      The props look great so far! And I'd rather wait and get something good later than get something mediocre now, take your time!

    7. Joe Annabi on May 11, 2014

      the puppet looks cool so far! and that bus has some amazing finish on it, definitely not going too far with that. It's always an uphill battle doing something different with a shoe string budget, and not enough hands, but I'm glad you're still at it. It WILL be amazing, and I still can't wait. Have you checked out the Henson Creature Shop Challenge on SyFy? I'm finding alot of inspiration there as a puppet enthusiast / builder. Keep up the good work!