One of the great mysteries of comics which we enjoy exploring here at Stately Beat Manor is Platinum Studios. This long running “publisher” has been the recipient of glowing profiles over the years, its business model hailed as “genius”, despite the fact Platinum never actually published anything for nearly a decade of its existence. Getting the he Cowboys and Aliens movie — based on a Platinum property — produced was the holy grail for owner Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, (above, far left) and now that it’s finally come out, to middling box office, he’ll probably spend the next decade spinning out its success, just as he did with MEN IN BLACK in the 90s. Before Platinum, you seem Rosenberg was the head of Malibu Comics and before that Sunrise Distributors, both businesses which had “interesting” histories. However, getting a producer credit on the MEN IN BLACK film after finding an obscure comic to sell to Hollywood, made Rosenberg a “MAde” man in Hollywood terms. In addition, there has been much outcry over the years over creators who signed away all the rights to their work to Platinum, only to see it all go into a dark hole of development.
Yet, over the last few years, despite many pactings, partnerings and acquisitions, Platinum’s finances have not been not so great — you can see them in their public filings as a penny stock — until COWBOYS & ALIENS got made.
At any rate, Platinum seems to have mastered the “comics to movies” model while hardly producing any comics, such an efficient, waste-free model that we’re surprised more people haven’t adopted it. With the actual existence of the C&A movie, the publishing arm of Platinum seems to have come to a close as well. In June of this year, VP of Development Dan Forcey left the company, prompting one ex-Platinum creator to tweet that the company was dead.
And what has Forcey been doing since June? Well, like many underemployed execs, he’s started a blog. This one centers on transmedia topics, on which Forcey has much that is intelligent to say.
But there’s another part of the blog…something called….Goldmine Tales. Which is…well, here’s how Forcey explains it:
Goldmine Tales is my attempt to inject some humor into a series of what would otherwise be bland blog posts about the state of entertainment in the 21st Century. Goldmine Tales focuses on a transmedia comic book company called Goldmine Studios and features a main character called Stan Darcy and his day to day interactions with his boss, Scott Goldberg. All incidents are, of course, completely fictional and bear no resemblance to any actual events that I, Dan Forcey, might have had during my time working at Platinum Studios for my boss, Scott Rosenberg. Even though it is told in the first person from Stan’s point of view, Stan and Dan are not the same person. Nor are Scott and Scott. Enjoy.
These tales reveal that when it comes to roman á clef, Forcey is something of a genius. Rewriting his days at Platinum as episodes of Arrested Development is a brilliant conceit that someone should have thought of long ago. Because these tales are just way too wild and surreal to be true.
For instance, part 1 opens at the 2007 Magician World LA convention where a crisis is unfolding:
It was March of 2007 and the MWLA (Magician World Los Angeles) conference was populated with a massive 1,000 people on a Friday afternoon, only about half of them being retailers or convention employees. Pretty good for a MW convention, actually. They had strategically filled half of the Los Angeles convention center with cars painted with comic book characters to make it seem bigger and it was working well to make it look like they were trying to look bigger, which I assume was their goal.
Here, Goldmine is selling the world’s tallest comic book, based on the masked band SWAK, led by lead singer John Simpson, who is concerned because the crowd for the SWAK signing isn’t big enough. “John is not happy, Scott. SWAK does not appear before crowds of less that 20,000 people. It makes SWAK look small and insignificant.”
To pad the crowd, Goldberg gives Darcy $2000 from his pocket cash to pay people $20 each to stand by the SWAK booth and look excited. Darcy even drags along a bunch of Chinese publishing execs he was to have a business meeting with to the signing.
Crazy stuff, right? Forcey is just getting started. In part 2 he explains the business plan of Goldmine, the comedic, satirical version of Platinum — since no one ever heard of the Alien Invader comic, the key to making a successful comics book-based movie must be finding a comic no one has heard of, right?
So in 1997 (four years before I joined the company) Scott sat down and tried to figure out where to actually find those comics that no one had ever heard of. Very important to find the MOST obscure ones possible, as they would be the cheapest. And, heck, Alien Invader had been one of the most obscure comics ever published, and that seemed to work out alright. So the good folks at Goldmine turned to the four corners of the world, acquiring the film rights to comics that hadn’t even been printed here in the US.
I mean, if Alien Invader had made millions and only sold 1100 copies, then surely comics that had sold NO copies here would make even more, right?
In Part 3 Forcey paints a picture of this “Scott Goldberg” calling him a combination of Mr. Magoo — he manages to miss every flight to Santa Fe for two days straight, and takes hours to leave his house — with the business sense of Mr. Carlson from WKRP but the soul of a Ferenghi. Goldberg hires five guys to create a universe which he then puts his name on so he can look like a creator. Wacky!
In part four thing really heat up. While on the set of the new film “High Plains Invaders,” Goldberg is interrupted while signing copies of said gn for the crew — while obsessed with finding steel cut oatmeal — when it emerges that he has not read the graphic novel in question and can’t intelligently discuss plots points with the director.
“I know Andy and Frank are great writers, so I just trusted them.” (The names Andy Foster and Frank van Patton also appeared on the cover of “High Plains Invaders”, slightly smaller than and below Scott’s name and slightly after the words “Written by:”) The color of my face was probably a shade of red at this point. “It’s just so long! I told them not to make it so long or no one would read it.”
Seriously, this is a tiny snippet of a much longer story that you must go read in the link. It is FRIED COMEDY GOLD.
While you can kind of see where all of this might have been influenced by the actual reality of the making of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, in part 5 Forcey really goes too far, with an outlandish tale of how Goldberg’s driver was instructed not to make eye contact with him.
“Scott,” Steve said through a clenched jaw that I wasn’t sure was choking back tears or rage. “I wasn’t that bothered when he asked me never to speak to him a few months ago. Or play the radio. Or sneeze. Or breath too hard. Or generally interact with him in any way. I’m used to that.”
That’s all too nutty. No one in the real world behaves like this, thank God.
Anyway, head on over to Forcey’s blog for some very well written observations on the emerging world of transmedia and very, very funny stories about the goings on at a totally imaginary comic book publishing company that in the real world could never have any publishing success. You’d better head on quick, though, because we have a feeling that there may not be too many more of these delightfully silly tales once everyone starts reading them.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.