Thursday, June 28, 2007
1982 FLASHBACK: "I HATE E.T."
The summer of 1982 found me in a very small room indeed. I had seen movies by Steven Speilberg I liked before (and many more since) but I hated E.T.
I saw it opening night and thought the flying bikes were nice and the line "This is reality Greg" still cracks me up. But overall I found the continuity disjointed, the puppet unconvincing and the emotional climax struck me as entirely push-button. But I shrugged it off, went home and thought little about it. Over the next few days, though, the spontaneous, unanimous and world-wide adoration of the film started to get on my nerves. I began to feel like the one from another planet, what the hell did everyone see in the movie that I didn't?
Anywho, that summer also found the animator's union on strike. I was going broke and worried about how I'd pay my rent. Then it hit me: I'd do an irreverent take on ET, (using an erzats stand-in for Mr. Speilberg's copyrighted one) and let the money roll in. I wrote it in an evening and for the next ten days or so, I'd come home from picketing and carefully ink up one of the illustrations to submit with the text to publishers. I hate inking, but something about the fevered purpose of my quest (to amuse fellow ET-haters and make a buck in the process) guided my hand like never before (or since).
The overall gist of the book was that the invasion of Earth by nauseatingly adorable aliens would lull humanity into such a schmoo-like stupor that life as we know it would come to a halt and become an ongoing California beach party. I had entires on how to identify these new "cute" aliens from the ones we'd seen previously on TV, etc.
Epilogue: I was rejected by all 20 publishers I submitted to. The strike ended just in time to pay my landlord and I ended up with 10 illustrations that stayed in my portfolio for years, mainly as a reminder that I should get off my butt and practice inking more. I got to meet Mr. Speilberg a few times at Dreamworks, but the topic of this movie never came up, and I'd like to think I'd have had the good sense not to tip my hand about my opinion of it, even though I know he has a good sense of humor. I still can't stand that movie though.