A bit of quicksilver dislodged by last week's run-through with the Panavision camera reminded me to finally get down and find the title of The-Weird-Cartoon-Special-Seen-Once-In-Early-Childhood, which a simple search for keywords “Faustian, Animated” would have produced fairly instantly, had only the hazy memory of a jazz singer signing her name in blood flickered more frequently. The flick in question, The Devil & Daniel Mouse, a 1978 television special made by Nelvana, the same animation studio that produced that other piece of the media memory puzzle, The-Weird-Cartoon-Movie-Taped-Off-Cable-And-Watched-Over-Again-Over-Again, in this case the 1983 sci-fi furry musical Rock and Rule. Rewrites of each other, both feature shapeshifting monster dandies in the mold of Rocky Horror / Phantom Of The Paradise, tempting and attempting to control the talents of “sexy” humanoid rodents who triumph in the end through vocal harmony, all written in the language of decadent post-Ziggy David Bowie dystopia (Year Of The Diamond Dog, 1974).
While TD&DM boasts songs from the “Face of Woodstock” John Sebastian, for RAR, the Nelvana team, flush with Star Wars cash, secured contributions from the Holy Trinity of US punk: Iggy, Debbie and Lou.
Lou Reed takes the opportunity to really get in touch with the heart and soul of an egomaniac and the psychedelia of selfishness. A stretch, I know.
Harry and Pop, given the chance to play “evil,” indulge in dark, beatnik metal atmospherics befitting the psychedelic Witch House climax. (Embedding Disabled By Her Satanic Majesty's Request.)
But you cannot bargain with the Devil and Rock and Rule lost tons of money (and years of effort) forcing its creators to produce tie-ins of Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake the rest of their lives just to survive. (Don't worry, there are worse fates.)
Redemption of a kind comes in the form of the third piece in the media memory mystery, the up-to-the-present parent reality of The-Weird-Cartoon-Your-Kid-Watches-On-The-Internet-Every-Day, which this week is Gumby: The Movie AKA Gumby 1 (1989-1995). In sync with the Nelvana Fausts, the Gumby tale concerns a contract-signing by a musical act, but in contrast, the machinations of showbiz are seen as a positive method to righting economic/ethical wrongs, threat only coming from the greed of bogus technocrats. Gumby's farmer friends face foreclosure, forcing him and his band The Clayboys to throw a benefit concert of Van Halen-inspired melodic shredding. A talent agent who looks like Groucho Marx but talks like W.C. Fields offers television connections, but constant Gumby foes the Blockheads, always on the lookout for open channels of exploitation, notice Gumby's faithful dog Lowbelly cries tears of real pearl at the sound of his master's music. The Blockheads attempt to mine the dog's flow of jewels, first by taping the Gumby concert, then by creating digital clones of the Gumby band, but only the real McCoy will do. Authenticity is the stake in a prolonged battle between Gumby and his dupe throughout different levels of literal storybook fantasy, victory claimed after a decimal point added to reduce interest rates from 35% to 3.5%. Gumby fights digital piracy for no money down and a low APR, a hero for our time.
(All is not without a cost. Gumby: The Movie earned only $57,000 at the box office, well shy of the three-million dollar budget, effectively ending the four-decade run of creator Art Clokey's production.)