From the Editor-in-Chief: THE AUTOGRAPHED PICTURE CARTEL
From the Graphics Editor: THE NIGHT OF THE POST PRODUCTION PRAISES
From the Coding Editor: FRIENDS AND NUTBALLS: OLYMPIC CONCLUSION-JUMPING
From the Editor in Chief: The Autographed Picture Cartel
On February 15, 1999, I received an e-mail from a reader of WHOOSH which stated in part (the sender graciously gave permission for this reprint):
"...I know you must be quite busy but I was hoping you could assist me. I would like to get a picture from XWP that is signed by our 2 ladies. The last time I did something like this was when the show "Remington Steele" was on the air. Back then I wrote to the show itself (c/o MCA, I think?) and am happy to say that I received requested pictures w/signatures. I was wondering if that would apply to Xena? If so, do you know the address of who to write to (Renpic or Studios USA)? I was browsing "ebay" and signed pics were a little more than I could afford. So, I was just hoping that you knew of a way that I could have a Xena and Gab picture of my own...."
My response is:
Heck, I don't even have any signed photos of the gals myself! They are extremely rare and Creation basically holds the mass market cartel. If you want them you have to bid at charity auctions for them or pay Creation or Creation through ebay (sheesh) the big bucks. Which is sad, because they have created massive inflation for simple autographed pictures. The sad fact is the very random few or the chosen few get legible signed photos without paying an arm and a leg or spending lots of time and money hunting these people down. Most fans (which include me) are not serious collectors and neither do they want chrome or plaque photos...they just want photos of their favorite TV actors. Unfortunately, the cheaper fan photos are hardly readable and one would have just the same presentation if they took a picture and just put a squiggly line on the bottom and then sold it for $15-$25 bucks. If you want a signature you and others can read, then you have to get into the $100 plus categories with "special" autograph packages. The only other ways is to almost accost the poor people on the streets begging for an autograph. This, I must admit, is a peculiar situation.
Of course the actors themselves have the option of offering signatures or not. For instance, Bruce "Autolycus" Campbell, on his website (http://www.bc-central.com), has an essay about "The Autograph Thing" where he explains why he's made a conscious decision not to do autographs any more EXCEPT at conventions or appearances where he is able to stay afterwards and sign. It is a very interesting essay and more importantly, it is a "human" contrast to the corporate entities who sell the autographs for money. And, of course, there is a difference between celebrities who sign or do not sign, and the for-profit corporations who offer this as merchandise. How is a $100+ autograph different from a $31,000 sword, for instance? Easy. Charity gets the $31,000. For-profit companies (less a percentage for production costs and licensing fees to the star and studio) get the c-note.
This has always been a case in some degree in genre media fandoms, but the situation for Xena fandom has gotten absurd and the autographed picture market has become way more inflated due to what can be called in the best light as negligent management and distribution. Because of this sorry state of affairs, if a fan does not have "connections" or a large Xena memorabilia budget, and desires an autographed picture for an affordable price which matches the item's value (meaning it's sentimental value is higher than what you paid for it...not vice versa!), they will apparently have to wait either for Creation's contract to run out, which is sometime in the year 2000, or to wait for the show to end, and then write to whatever production company does Lucy Lawless' and Rene O'Connor's next production and then send your photo with a SASE with the request for a signature. This is truly a sad condition when you can't just get a signed autograph of a television celebrity without flashing a lot of serious cash buying something that will massively depreciate the moment someone starts responsibly distributing the autographed pictures.
Kym Masera Taborn
February 28, 1999
From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The Post Production Praises
What's a cake without icing? A new window without the trim? A medieval manuscript without all the fiddly bits? All these things are great foundations, but the finishing touches often establish a distinct character and tone.
Most of us have an idea of what it takes to put a show together in general. The writers must come up with the story, the actors play it out, the director frets over getting all the proper footage (on time and on budget), the myriad of support staff on the set have to come through as well. When the film gets Stateside and is put on tape the post production process begins.
Previous articles have described the intense editing process, and it is lengthy and complex and very "behind the scenes". But what I'm referring to in this editorial is more subtle than that.
I refer to a host of people who work inside all day, in tiny rooms without windows, often in the dark except for the light supplied by monitors and panels. These are the people that make dozens if not hundreds of changes to a product that is already 96 to 98 percent finished, but their contribution in that remaining few percent is very important.
These are people that have to correct pictures for colour, position, or clarity. They may have to "paint out" an unwanted object or "zoom in" on a desired one that the camera didn't catch quite right. They may have to make subtle (or drastic) changes to contrast or brightness. They are the people who drop in the titles at just the right moment. They are the foley artists who paint with sound instead of light and shadow, making their own images in our minds. They are the special effects team who ehances that chakram ricochet, make the characteristic pattern of the appearing/disappearing god, or create castles or monsters from zeroes and ones.
When all of these elements work well together, the wizardry of all these people shines through. In any case, each and every one is truly an artist.
This has me thinking that there must be artistry in every job, no matter what it is or where it is. Sometimes you have to look a little harder for it, but it's there. Doing so gives me a greater appreciation for everyone I come in contact with, and that in turn makes life considerably less tedious. Heck, it just might make everything a little bit better.
February 7, 1999
From the Coding Editor: Friends And Nutballs: Olympic Conclusion-Jumping
(Note: The examples of rumors in this editorial are ALL fictional. Let's not start any new ones.)
Imagine you've decided to try to write a poem. You've spent a few hours toying with words and phrases, putting it all together, and you tell a friend about your new project. Your friend immediately replies with "YOU'RE writing a poem? That's gonna suck!"
That's not what I'd expect to hear from a friend, even if that friend doubted my creative writing ability. And yet I see that go on sometimes on the mailing lists or the web sites: broad-jumping to conclusions that would make an Olympian jealous. "Gabrielle's going to start wearing midnight blue? That's going to look AWFUL!" "Artistotle's going to make an appearance on the show? I *hate* that guy!" "Xena and Gabrielle are going to debate whether the earth is flat or round? Oh no, it must be another rift! It'll probably go on for episodes! This is going to be so stupid!"
When we come to a conclusion about something that hasn't even aired (or in some cases, been filmed) yet, we should be taking a look behind us to check whether we've made a hopscotch jump or a flying leap across the Grand Canyon. We ought to be acting like the friends we are when it comes to pre-judging storylines and upcoming episodes.
I have a double standard here and I know it. It doesn't bother me a bit when somebody jumps to a positive conclusion. "Xena is going to invent sliced bread? Awesome!" It isn't any better-supported by the facts than a negative reaction, but it doesn't have the same potential for harm. Expectations tend to be self-fulfilling. And if someone's have whipped themselves into an "I'm going to hate this" frenzy, odds are that they're going to hate it. Regardless of whether what they're dreading ends up with any resemblance to what they were predicting.
There's a difference between conclusion-jumping and logical reasoning. "I haven't liked most of the storylines so-and-so has created, so I'm not looking forward to that one's next episode," is a valid argument. So is "I **love** the ancient Aztecs, so I'm psyched about the rumor that such-and-such episode will have Aztecs in it." No problems there.
Some of us have a good time trading rumors back and forth. It's fun to guess what might happen next and play games of "what if." But a "what if" game is no reason to think we know what the show's writers have planned and make judgements on it based on what we're guessing.
Speculation based on one tidbit of information is worth about as much as the electrons that send them. And judging anything, no matter how much we think we know about it, before it comes to the screen in front of us doesn't make sense and doesn't help other fans or the show. It's the same as your friend telling you that you can't write poetry, without laying eyes on the poem you've written.
I promised last month that I'd get around to throwing some opinions into the mix, so there's an opinion and I'll raise with a pet peeve. Tell the lads in the pressroom that I'm putting on my hat and heading for the bar.
Coding Editor, Critic
Somewhere in Ohio
February 23, 1999