Orgy – Platinum
MTV’s adaptation of Sam Kieth’s
It’s wet. Dark and wet. The kind of weather that penetrates. Makes your skin feel itchy and oily. Dirty kinda, but real, too. That’s good. It’s time for Cheers. Sam, Diane, Norm Peterson, the Coach, then – after he died – Woody.
I don’t have a TV now, but that’s ok… The shows in my mind are almost always better.
I was sold on The Maxx (written by Sam Kieth) right from that opening monologue, particularly the last line, which was uttered from the inside of a cardboard box in an alley. In the early 90’s, the comic book hero had been done to death several times over, and so had the anti-hero. Maxx is neither, really. He’s a big homeless guy, almost definitely an alcoholic, who wears a mask and has uncontrolled delusions of being a super-hero in another realm, where he is the protector of The Jungle Queen (who in turn looks remarkably like his social worker in the real world).
Or maybe they’re not delusions at all.
I’m not going to get too much into the plot, as with things like these the story arc and the way it’s told is important. Any kind of story told in episodic format has a different kind of impact than say a movie, or a novel, where you only have to wait for the duration of one thing to reach resolution. When you read or watch a series that develops over time, you have to wait for anywhere from a week to a month to know anything more, so you get the opportunity to reflect on what’s happened and develop your own theories or philosophies in the meantime. For those who read or watch something like this for the first time all in one go, I dare say the effect is not quite the same because you don’t get as much opportunity to ponder the mysteries or build anything around the story yourself – but I’m still not going to do that for you. (You can, of course, go here to learn a bit more).
I chose it as my favourite comic book adaptation (and for the purposes of this post, I dismissed all manga – anime, just to save having to make a more difficult choice), because it’s a great story told with enough insight and humour to balance the disturbing subject matter; and one that expects its audience to develop their own context regardless of how you read/watch it. It is also one of the truest adaptations of any book I’ve seen; there is very little deviation from the original comic series, in terms of plot, script and animation – it’s basically the pages of the comic*, animated.
Plus, any story which has an episode where the character is running around with a talking dead fish while everyone speaks in Dr. Seuss-style rhyming couplets, is instant win. Also, the villain – Mr. Gone – has one of the best names for a bad guy in history.
The theme I chose for The Maxx is Platinum by a band called Orgy, who did this one great song and then… Well, I’m not so much a fan of any of their other stuff (the cover of Blue Monday excepted – pretty straightforward but a club favourite back in the day).
It’s a theme chosen specifically for the relationship between Maxx and Julie, his social worker, who have a co-dependent connection in both worlds.
*The Maxx ran for 35 issues, and the TV series covered up to issue 11.
Interesting to note – Sam Kieth worked on my other favourite comic (Neil Gaiman’s Sandman) early on, but left due to a difference of opinion with the author. He takes an obvious dig at the series with a line by Sarah, a teenager contemplating suicide: Death is hard and cold and ugly, not some cute chick.