God of Comics – Glitterbomb: The Fame Game #4 (Image Comics)

God of Comics – Glitterbomb: The Fame Game #4 (Image Comics)

Glitterbomb: The Fame Game #4 (Image Comics)

Hollywood is a vicious monster. Hunter Thompson once said, “The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

There’s a lot of glamour associated with the making of movies and television programming for those not in the know, but those that have been on the other side know how difficult it can be: the long and thankless hours, the insane cost of anything and everything, the hours and weeks and months spent getting just seconds of footage.

And that’s just logistics: that doesn’t even touch the human cost of it all.

Theoretically, I used to write freelance for film and television – which means that, in theory, I used to get paid to write scripts and sign non-disclosure agreements that would make certain that I can never legally claim to have worked on the things I worked on. In theory, I was young and stupid and enjoyed being paid under the table, walking on sets and just watching, sitting with my shitty laptop and making changes on the fly.

If there’s one lesson I could pass on to anyone looking to get into film, it would be this: make sure you get credit for what you do. There was a crash over a decade ago that caused the Industry in Vancouver to pick up and leave, and because I had no credits to my name I would have had to start over from scratch when the Industry came back. I opted not to.

My fiancee still works in the Industry; it’s a good choice for people looking to make a decent living wage, as film offers one thing that millennials can’t get anywhere else: an actual paid structure that begins the moment you walk on to a set thanks to strong unions. Even if you’re not in the union, you get fed, you get paid, and a bunch of skills that will make you a specialist in a number of esoteric fields that don’t translate well into anything else.

Getting in is easy. Getting out is hard. And getting where you want to go…? Almost impossible.

Jim Zub is interested in the Industry, in the grit and dirt that exists under the halcyon lights and strange magic that keeps the flickering fictions coming. He’s been talking with people – the ones that aren’t afraid to share their experiences – and weave them into a world where a Cthonic nightmare-creature has decided to prey on the terrible people that rule over media production like moguls, unquestioned and unchallenged.

His first foray into this dealt with a failed actress driven to suicide, moved into self-destruction by the code of silence that blames women for being victims and celebrates men for being monsters. It turned out that the initial Glitterbomb comic was a little ahead of the curve, as the #metoo movement has done much to expose that and to help people keep digging and bring those monsters to life.

As good as Jim is – and as good as Djibril Morissette-Phan and K. Michael Russell are on art, as haunting as Marshall Dillon’s lettering work is here – it’s the back matter that makes this comic worth its weight in gold. Those stories I was mentioning? The experiences of people that have been in the gutters of the Hollywood machine, treading blood to keep their dreams alive? It’s all recorded there. All on display. In this case, we get the passion and drive and tragedy of Holly Raychelle Hughes, a producer who got out of the game and worked as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design before becoming a writer.  

It needs to be read and understood because it gives context to a story that is already excellent. This second volume, the Fame Game, revolves around the actress from the first story’s closest friend, a young dreamer who sometimes babysat for her while she was trying to find work. Being who she is gets her attention in the wake of the last volume’s ultimate tragedy and puts her in the path of the Cthonic entity that seeks to extract the dearest cost from the human monsters that thrive in Hollywood.

The ending is not going to be what you expect.

The ending will shock you in the best possible way.

And I say that as my fiancee and I put the finishing touches on a series bible and the first four working drafts of an episodic series we’re planning to pitch in the New Year. We’ve come up with a story that is timely, intelligent, and addictive, and we like to think the quality is there. She wants to showrun and I want to write; between the two of us, we want to achieve the impossible, even knowing what’s out there.

Forewarned is forearmed, they say. We could do with no better warning than this comic.

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