The What NOW Caper is a sixty-minute pseudo-documentary produced and sold by NOW Comics in 1989 showing how comic books are made. It is not a straight documentary as there is storyline involving private investigator Mel Mudd and his search for the missing NOW Comics characters. This "movie" was released on VHS and Betmax home video exclusively by NOW (it was not sold in stores) for the price of $29.95. Advertisements were published in all of NOW's comics at the time, and it was promoted as starring some of the NOW Comics characters, such as The Real Ghostbusters. The advertisements never specified what exactly was in the film or how the characters were involved (they "appeared" though the brief use of clips from their television series).
With the exception of a few actors, all of the NOW Comics staff appear as themselves.
- Jim Vincent (portrays Mel Mudd)
- Tony Caputo (staff publisher)
- Marc Hansen (staff writer)
- Katherine Llewllyn (staff editor)
- Brian Thomas (staff penciler)
- Patrick Williams (staff letterer)
- Jim Brozman (staff inker)
- Suzanne Dechnik (staff colorist)
- Michele Mach (staff art director)
- Holly Sanfelippo (portrays They're Back Girl)
- Tammy Daniel (staff member)
- Joseph Allen (staff member)
- Diane Piron (staff member)
- Shalimar (portrays The Belly Dancer)
- John Halle (portrays The Diner Owner)
- Robert Norton (portrays Sniffles)
All of the NOW Comics characters are missing and pranks have been pulled on the NOW staff to prevent them from doing their jobs. "Comic Book Detective" Mel Mudd has been hired by Tony Caputo, the head of NOW Comics, to help solve the mystery of who is trying to ruin the company. As he interrogates the staff (all of whom play themselves), we learn how comic books are made.
List of Ghostbusters-Related Footage
The list below (with timecodes) may make it appear that there's lot of Ghostbusters footage in the film, but it's really just quick shots. It you add it all up, you'd be lucky to get five minutes total. Also, nobody actually works on The Real Ghostbusters & Slimer! comics in the film itself. All of the footage is shown to illustrate the processes and techniques that the artists are telling Mel Mudd about. Think of them as flashbacks, or pre-recorded footage at least.
04:51 - Tony leafs through the Slimer trade paperback.
05:42 - Suzanne Dechnik(?) says "My desk has been totally trashed, and The Real Ghostbusters are all slimed."
07:16 - Katie Llewellyn (editor) has the Slimer #2 comic on her desk.
23:41 - There's a GB2 movie poster on the wall of Brian Thomas' (penciler) office.
24:21 - Close-up of a Slimer or RGB script.
24:26 - Pencil drawings of the script(?).
24:43 - Brian drawing the above, Slimer toy on his work desk.
25:37 - Close-up of a panel in the pencil drawing.
25:40 - Close-up of a few panels in the pencil drawing.
25:54 - Brian again drawing the pencil sketch.
26:39 - More of Brian drawing, with the RGB opening sequence playing over it ala "picture in picture".
26:48 - Great close-up of RGB art, goes from black & white to color as it pans down.
29:04 - Letterer Patrick Williams works on a RGB or Slimer (?) comic, putting in the rough lines.
29:29 - Patrick puts in the words.
30:15 - Patrick adds in the sound effect words, "Slurp" for the Slimer! story "Slimer Takes The Cake" from issue #17.
30:20 - An entire view of the art he's working on.
30:27 - A close-up of Patrick inking "Slurp".
30:31 - Now he's inking the though bubbles.
30:36 - Inking the borders and page numbers.
30:48 - Inking the main title, starts close-up then zooms out.
33:13 - The GB2 Advance poster hanging on the wall of Jim Brozman's (inker) office.
33:35 - Jim inking Egon in a RGB comic.
33:58 - A close-up of Jim inking Egon.
34:14 - More inking, this time on the panel above Egon of a curly-mustached man.
34:31 - A close-up of the above.
34:52 - Large fingerprints on the black & white inked artwork for the cover of RGB #23. The fingerprints are part of the plot of this film.
35:43 - Colorist Suzanne Dechnik working on a Slimer! comic, close-up of flames.
36:16 - Suzanne matching up the colors in the art to a color chart, the "mechanical coloring" method. Here's Suzanne to tell you how that works: "Well it's the colorists job to bring life to the comics, and we do this in two ways: the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is mechanical coloring. What we do is we shoot the original down to comic book size on a Xerox machine, and we take markers, color it in, and we match the marker colors to a color coded sheet that the separator... [interrupted by a lame bit in which Mel asks Suzanne for her sandwich] ...We match it up to a chart that the separator gives us. And this gives the work a very flat look. The colors are very bright, and so we use it for our kids books, like Slimer and Speed Racer and things like that."
36:21 - The cover of Slimer! #9 and the first page of the "Cool Slime" story from Slimer! #8.
36:44 - Close-up of blue-lined panel art, using the "full painting" method for another Slimer! comic.
36:52 - A full shot of above, with all of the panels showing. A frisket (clear sheet of plastic) is layed over the art.
37:01 - A close-up of more blue-lined Slimer! art with one panel slightly colored, pans from the blue-only art to part of the colored art.
37:04 - Airbrushing of the Slimer! art, close-up of airbrush pans down to close-up of the art being colored.
37:14 - Close-up of airbrushed art being cut.
37:17 - Another close-up with Slimer's mouth being painted.
41:29 - The separator putting the colors into an RGB comic, the final film image is shown.
41:32 - Blue RGB art, zooms out from extreme close-up of the tiny dots that make up the image.
41:38 - Same as above but in color, zooms out from extreme close-up of the tiny dots that make up the image.
41:57 - Yellow version of RGB comic page.
42:01 - Yellow & red version of RGB comic page.
42:04 - More color added, then a plastic sheet is layed over the art, thus providing the final colors and words.
42:16 - Various NOW Comic covers, including RGB #1 and RGB #17 (middle bottom, covered by Speed Racer and Fright Night).
56:56 - All of the NOW Comics characters are returning to "work" (yea!). Footage from the RGB opening sequence is used to show the RGB coming back: zoom in on the firehouse doors with Ecto-1 racing out, cut to all four RGB pulling their neutrona wands ready for action.
57:03 - Now Slimer returns to NOW, with more RGB opening sequence footage (of course): Slimer kissing Janine, then riding on top of Ecto-1.
57:13 - A couple quick shots of a RGB comic page featuring Janine going through the entire comic-making process from rough pencil sketches to final colored art. This is followed by RGB comic work shots that were shown earlier in the film.
- Issue #17 of the Slimer comic book series contains an advertisement for a "Mel Mudd, Comic Book Detective" comic book. It's very likely that the book was never published since there's no other record of it anywhere else.
Unreleased DVD Version
The movie was supposed to be released on DVD for $19.95 in October 2004 under the new title "Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective" (ISBN 0-9745205-5-1). It was intended to be updated, re-edited, and re-mastered; and it was going to bundled with a new "Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective" comic book written by Jeff Kapalka and illustrated by Gordon Morrison. Special Features were to include an interview with the music composer, actor Jim Vincent (who played Mel Mudd), and a behind the scenes view of the production. It was going to be available from the now-defunct Store page on the NOW Comics website, but for unknown reasons, it was never released.
Paul Rudoff of Spook Central (Fan Site) e-mailed Tony Caputo about the DVD before the scheduled release date, and afterward, to gather more information about it. Those e-mails have been formatted into the following brief Q&A, with the dates of his e-mail replies in parenthesis after his answers. (All of this information originally appeared on Spook Central, but has since been deleted. It is being republished on this Wiki by Paul Rudoff.)
Q: Why did you change the name?
A: I changed the name to Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective to make it more general and outside of NOW Comics, although NOW is still featured, it's still an old NOW. (Mon, 16 Aug 2004 00:42:04 -0500)
Q: Will the DVD only be for sale on your site or will I be able to also buy from Amazon.com and offline stores?
A: It'll be available online, comic shops, blockbusters and bookstores. (Mon, 16 Aug 2004 16:57:02 -0500)
Q: Was the Mel Mudd DVD released yet? It was supposed to come out in October 2004, and that's now two months ago.
A: The Mel Mudd DVD has been delayed. There's some TV stuff brewing for it, so I'm seeing what happens first. (Mon, 06 Dec 2004 02:34:47 -0600)
Below is the DVD press release that Tony sent to Paul when the DVD was still scheduled to be released.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Give Mudd for the Holidays
Chicago, IL -- Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective DVD follows the live action adventure of a private eye (played by Jim Vincent of Meet the Parents), who searches for the complete truth! The complete truth about how comic books are produced, including every step of production from concept, plotting, writing, layouts, pencils, inks, coloring, separations and printing. Updated and completely re-edited with new digital production content, scenes and animation, Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective DVD also includes a new Mel Mudd comic book and guest appearances by Ralph Snart, Speed Racer and The Real Ghostbusters.
The Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective DVD is a 30 minute, re-edited, re-mastered version of The What NOW Caper, a docu-drama produced in 1989 by City Video Productions and NOW Comics. It's a timeless, entertaining look at the full production of a comic book, but now updated a re-edited for higher production quality.
"We're making dramatic changes to increase the production quality," said Tony Caputo, President of NOW Comics and Executive Producer of The What NOW Caper. "This new version will focus on Mel Mudd, played by professional actor and producer Jim Vincent, and his uncovered details of his investigation in the comic book production process. Ralph Snart will also be fully animated for his debut in the feature.
The original release of The What NOW Caper on VHS sold out 7500 copies in 1989 and is now impossible to find. Caputo recalls discovering the What NOW Caper for rent in many Blockbuster videos at the time. ""I'm happy we're improving the film," said Marc Hansen, creator of Ralph Snart, who is one of the crime suspects in the film. "Ralph Snart will make his animated debut."
This new DVD package will also include a brand new Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective comic book, written by Jeff Kapalka and illustrated by Gordon Morrison. Special Features include an interview with the theme music composer David Injeski, actor Jim Vincent (playing Mel Mudd) and a behind the scenes view of the production.
Barry Petersen, Creative Operating Officer for NOW Comics stated, "Yes, Mel Mudd is a Sam Spade wannabe, but like Inspector Jacques Clouseau, he does stumble across some solid information. It's fun."
Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective DVD (ISBN 0-9745205-5-1), will ship in October 2004 for Holiday gift giving for the comic book enthusiast that has everything. This updated, reedited, re-mastered version will retail for only $19.95US for a unique adventure through the making of a comic book -- everything from concept, plotting, writing, drawing, inking, coloring, separating to printing. The special bonuses include a new Mel Mudd, The Comic Book Detective comic book written by Jeff Kapalka and illustrated by Gordon Morrison. Special Features include an interview with the theme music composer, David Injeski, actor Jim Vincent (playing Mel Mudd) and a behind the scenes view of the production.
Watch the trailer at http://www.nowcomics.com/whatnow.asp
NOW Comics produced almost 1,000 publications since 1986, attracting millions of fans for such titles as Speed Racer, Astro Boy, The Terminator, The Real Ghostbusters, Fright Night, Ghostbusters II, Vector, Ralph Snart Adventures, Married...With Children, The Twilight Zone, The Green Hornet, and Mr. T & The T Force. NOW has worked with such creators as Harlan Ellison, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Baron, Jeff Butler, David Dorman, Chuck Dixon, Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, Mr. T, and Van Williams (best known as TV's Green Hornet). NOW also introduced acclaimed painter Alex Ross to world of comics in the pages of Terminator: The Burning Earth in 1990.
A virtual company, with editors, managers and artists scattered around the globe, NOW Comics can be reached by mail at P.O. Box 527, Plainfield, IL 60544, or at email@example.com. The company's website is www.nowcomics.com.
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To see credits click "Show".
Original Music by
Speed Racer Animation courtesy of Color Systems Technology, Inc.
- Streaming (Facebook)
- Streaming (Facebook)
- Streaming (Youtube)
- Streaming (RetroJunk) (watermarked)
- Windows Media (640x480, 22.5 Mb) (Internet Archive)
- Quicktime (320x240, 4.3 Mb) (Internet Archive)
Entire Movie Links
- ↑ http://ghostbusters.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mel_Mudd_Comic_Ad_in_Slimer_17.jpg
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/web/20040808215710/http://www.nowcomics.com/shopnow.asp#dvd