Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Case Study No. 0517: Ben Wilcott, Man of Mystery

The Intergalactic Nemesis Now On Tour
After a huge opening in Austin to rave reviews, The Intergalactic Nemesis, Book One: Target Earth hits the road!
Tags: live-action graphic novel comic-book graphic novel Graham Reynolds performance
Added: 1 year ago
From: jneulander
Views: 15,974

[a still image from the radio play version of "Intergalactic Nemesis" is shown, as dramatic music plays]
ANNOUNCER: First, it was a radio play.
[cut to a still image from the graphic novel version]
ANNOUNCER: Then, a graphic novel.
[cut to scenes from the stage production, with images from the graphic novel flashing on a giant screen behind the performers]
ANNOUNCER: Now, it's a live stage show ...
[cut to the three main actors speaking on stage]
TIMMY: But how did you possibly know?
BEN: You forget, Timmy ... I'm from the future. And by the Archive, I'm a librarian!
[the audience laughs and applauds, as the camera focuses on the "comic book" version of Ben Wilcott on the screen]
NARRATOR: The year is 1933 ... Are you ready for the adventure?
["The Intergalactic Nemesis, Book One: Target Earth ... Now on Tour!" appears on screen]



What began in the 1990s as a traditional radio play at a coffee shop in Austin, Texas, has morphed from a radio play, to a graphic novel, to a live performance. The Intergalactic Nemesis is now traveling around the country with three actors, one foley artist, one keyboardist and 1,200 graphic novel images. Audiences show up not quite sure what to expect — but they often leave smiling.

To set the stage: It's 1933, there's a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, an evil hypnotist, a time-traveling librarian and alien sludge monsters. The radio play, says producer and director Jason Neulander, started simply, with scripts, a few actors and some crazy noises.

"There was literally a sound for everything," Neulander says — for example, the sound of hypnotism, which the foley artist creates by whirling around two toy plastic tubes.

Eventually the Intergalactic Nemesis crew teamed up with a graphic artist. Neulander says it was fun mixing two old forms originally created in the '30s — radio plays and comics — but he says, "without contemporary technology this production would not be possible." He recently had to buy a new computer because the old one did not have the processing power to run the slide show.

Chris Gibson plays nine characters in the show. He has four death scenes. He says he loves being encouraged to overact and go "as far as you possibly can." And he does — putting on outrageous accents and creating hellish, horrific voices.

Tim Keough, who is studying acting, recently saw the show at the East Village Cinema in New York. He says his girlfriend, a comic illustrator, bought the tickets to surprise him. "I had no idea of what I was walking into," Keough says. "[It] kind of blew my mind. The sound effects — you could feel you were in the cave; it felt like an alien planet with sludge on the walls."

It's not often audiences get the chance to see sound effects being made in front of them, and show-goers were riveted by foley artist Buzz Moran. "I absolutely loved the use of children's toys for the sound effects," says Jason Arias, who also saw the show in New York.

Moran coaxes surprising new sounds from familiar old toys. He takes a child's slide whistle and blows into a different area to create a gas jet for an alien planet. He takes a toy that allows children to change their voices and makes the microphone feed back into the speaker, creating a laser effect. A child's train whistle coupled with a box of macaroni and cheese makes for a very convincing approaching train.

Neulander says The Intergalactic Nemesis connects with his inner 12-year-old. His favorite movie is (still) Star Wars, and and he loves pulp science fiction from the 1930s and '40s. He's not bothered by the critique that there's no deep purpose or moral in the show.

"Sometimes it's important to just have an escape," Neulander says. "Life can be hard, and I feel like right now, in the times we are in, it really can't hurt to have an opportunity for a couple of hours — for people from 7 to 70 and older — to go in the theater and escape from their daily lives and go on a pure, unadulterated adventure."



Ben Wilcott, Man of Mystery

Ben Wilcott is a man of mystery. He claims to be a librarian from Flagstaff, Arizona, but no one can find a record of him working at the Flagstaff Public. And he sure fights better than most librarians. Ben's the guy who breaks the story about the Zygonian invasion. He leads Molly to Tunis to the sinister Central Hive, base of operations for the impending attack. With the help of his personal high-resolution lucidator (PEARL) and his wrist computer, only Ben Wilcott has what it takes to beat the alien sludge monsters. But can he convince Molly and Timmy that he's not a madman?



Real Name: Ben Wilcott

Type: Human

Sex: Male

Age Range: 45-55

Birthplace: Arizona

Day Job: Librarian

First Appeared In: The Intergalactic Nemesis #2

Created By: Jason Neulander



The Intergalactic Nemesis is a hilarious, uplifting adventure of heroes-by-circumstance overcoming impossible odds. The year is 1933. Pulitzer-winning reporter Molly Sloan, her intrepid assistant Timmy Mendez, and a mysterious librarian named Ben Wilcott face the most serious threat Earth has ever known: an impending invasion of sludge monsters from the planet Zygon. This period-sci-fi-horror-suspense-comedy-romance is presented in a whole new format: while three actors, one Foley artist, and one keyboardist perform all the voices, sound effects and music, more than 1,000 hand-drawn, full-color, hi-res, blow-your-mind comic-book images blast from the screen, all performed LIVE. This show is appropriate for all ages.

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