Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 04/09/2008
More Fun and Laughter on the Campaign Trail
Tom Filsinger talks Election Daze and more
Last time out, we got Stan Lee's thoughts concerning his latest favorite creation, Election Daze, a project which marks that venerable author's long-overdue return to comedy and a format he truly loves-fumetti. So it's only fitting that we now turn our attention to Tom Filsinger, Stan's publishing partner in that venture, for the rest of the story behind the book that makes light of the politicians we all love...and love to laugh at.
Bill Baker: For those sad souls who have somehow missed it, how would you describe Election Daze?
Tom Filsinger: Election Daze is a book of photo humor and even though it's written by comic book legend Stan Lee, the book has nothing directly to do with comic books. This is a book that'll appeal to people who love humor and current events as a best-selling souvenir for Election 2008.
Election Daze features photos of famous politicians and political celebrities from Hillary and Obama to George Clooney and Chuck Norris. Stan provides humorous dialogue balloons and captions for 90 photos by Washington D.C. photographer Lauren Victorian Burke.
The book is great! Writing gags is one of Stan's passions as a creative artist. He's got a great sense of humor and it shines through in Election Daze.
BB: How'd you and Stan get involved with this project? Was this something you brought to him, or did he contact you with the idea?
TF: Stan has written several books of photo humor. In the 1960's he published books on topics as diverse as golf, monsters, and celebrities! So Stan's been here before.
The decision to work together was mutual, coming in conversation about our interests. I publish a series of humorous countdown calendars called Countdown to the Big Day. Stan saw a connection and floated the idea of publishing a line of photo humor books. I thought it was a sensational idea and now that Election Daze is finished I know it!
BB: How did the book develop from initial idea to finished product? How long did that process take? And what kind of surprises, pleasant or otherwise, did it present you with, and how much did things change between the initial idea and the final product?
TF: Stan and I began working on this book last summer. My staff sent him hundreds of photos to work on and he literally wrote hundreds of gags. We had a lot of great material to choose from which we narrowed down to our top ninety for Election Daze.
The greatest challenge was the constantly changing political environment. One day Stan's writing a gag about Rudy Giuliani, the next day he's out of the race. Finally we realized we weren't writing an up-to-the-moment account of the election, but a retrospective on the campaign so far and what people, "Might have been saying." Like I said, Election Daze is a great historical keepsake for Election 2008...a light-hearted and funny one!
BB: What about Lauren Victoria Burke's work made it perfect Stan's purposes, and how difficult was it to get her involved with Election Daze?
TF: It was easy to get Victoria involved, she loved the idea. Victoria has won several awards for her photos, so she brings a lot to the table. She has taken thousands of pictures related to politics in Washington D.C. For a specific example, her catalog had hundreds of photos of Hillary Clinton, which gave us a lot to choose from. Stan and I look forward to working with her on another book of political humor in the future.
BB: I've got to ask: When and how did you first meet Stan, and what was that experience like for you?
TF: I first met Stan in person in Beverly Hills a few years ago. It was a wonderful day. We met for a lunch meeting and talked about the book. Also joining us was Gill Champion, Stan's partner at POW! Entertainment. Stan and Gill have been great to work with.
Stan invited me to the POW! Entertainment offices and we continued our discussions there.
Ted Nugent called while I was speaking with Stan and Stan told his assistant he couldn't talk now, he'd call him back. I thought to myself, 'Ted Nugent is being put on hold so Stan can continue to speak with me. I must be moving up in the world.'
In all seriousness working with Stan has been a great pleasure and a valuable learning experience. He's a very funny writer and a wonderful person.
BB: It sounds like this is all a sign of things to come. Might there be future volumes of Stan Lee-scripted fumetti coming from Filsinger Publishing, or is this likely to be a one shot deal?
TF: You better believe there'll be more! Election Daze is our opening salvo in a new photo humor series. We're going to come blasting out of the gate with Election Daze and the future is bright.
BB: So, how can people get copies of Election Daze? Will this be offered through comic shops, bookstores, your website-or perhaps a combination of those?
TF: Yes to all of the above. My advice is to go to Election Daze campaign headquarters (also known as our MySpace page!) for ordering info. The address is: http://www.myspace.com/electiondaze.
Online orders should be ready to begin mailing sometime around March 12 and the book will arrive in stores like Barnes & Noble at the end of the month. What great timing with this incredibly exciting election year!
BB: Now, as you noted earlier, this isn't the only thing you've published. Besides the calendars you mentioned, you're also the publisher of the game Champions of the Galaxy. What can you tell us about that game, who might be interested in playing it, and the different aspects which make it special?
TF: Champions of the Galaxy is a game that focuses on the concept of professional wrestling in the future on a planetary scale. It's Marvel Comics meets the WWE. The game was first released in 1986 and we've been releasing expansions ever since. It's an incredibly rich game mythology. The game can be played as an online simulation or a cards and dice game.
I don't want to talk too much about Filsinger Games in this interview, so I suggest anyone who's interested go to: http://www.filsingergames.com/.
BB: Well, you've also announced the imminent release of the Countdown to Baby's Due Date calendar. What lead to your involvement with that project, and what about that particular calendar makes it different from a more typical one?
TF: I created Countdown to the Big Day calendars on a lark. I scribbled a countdown calendar on a notepad to my fiancé when we were going to get married. Each page was another day in the countdown and I drew a silly picture and made some kind of wedding joke on each page. She loved it!
One day it dawned on us that a countdown calendar for special life moments, like weddings or graduations, would make a good gift idea and a great product line. So I released Countdown to Our Wedding Day in 2003 and Countdown to Baby's Due Date will arrive in stores in April. If anyone is interested in more information they should go to: http://www.filsingerpublishing.com.
BB: Besides being a publisher of books, calendars and games, you're also an author and a professor. Could you tell us a little bit about your book, The Dark Menace of the Universe? And how does your role as a professor inform that book, and all your publishing efforts?
TF: I always tell people who know me as a creator, publisher, or entrepreneur, that in my secret identity I'm a mild-mannered professor of psychology at Jamestown Community College in New York.
A few years ago I wrote a memoir on creativity just for the fun of it (and because I'm blessed with the support of incredibly loyal game fans) called The Dark Menace of the Universe. In the book I talk about founding Filsinger Games and creating Champions of the Galaxy, but the real meat of the book is a discussion of creative people and the challenges they face at school and work and just fitting in in general. I loved writing The Dark Menace, it was the easiest writing I've ever done. The book is described at the Filsinger Publishing web page.
BB: So what do you get from doing all these different things, be it personal or professional? What does teaching provide you with that you don't get from your other endeavors? And what does publishing a book like Election Daze with Stan Lee do for you that releasing your own work or a game do for you, and vice versa?
TF: I love all the different things I do. I've got a fatal flaw in my personality, I get bored easily. I hate doing the same thing over and over. So I've branched out in many directions and luckily I've got the support of many people. My staff and partners and co-workers with Filsinger Games and Filsinger Publishing are absolutely the greatest people in the world. I'd name them all but it would be a lot of people and I'd hate to leave anyone out. It's truly a grass roots phenomenon built on love and friendship and creativity. Our goals at Filsinger Games and Filsinger Publishing are to have fun and make people happy and it seems to be working since we keep growing every year.
BB: What do you hope readers will get from Stan's book?
TF: Laughs. Pure and simple. Stan's goal is to entertain and he has totally succeeded with Election Daze. It's the ultimate keepsake for this historic election year.
BB: What do you hope that gamers get from playing Champions of the Galaxy?
TF: Stimulating their imagination and creativity. That's what keeps our loyal fans coming back and new fans joining us.
BB: Anything else you'd like to add before I let you get back to work?
TF: We will be promoting Election Daze at the New York Comic Con on April 18-20. Stan will appear at Borders in Washington D.C. from 6:30-8:30 on April 21.
Is that perfect or what! Stan will promote his book of political humor in the nation's capital!
The Election Daze campaign is the hottest ticket of this election year! The next best thing to Stan Lee running for President is that he wrote a classic book of election humor instead!
Count the daze...Election Daze is coming!
<< 03/19/2008 | 04/09/2008 | 04/23/2008 >>
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