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The Electric Slide
Sure, the web can be used to sell books and movies, but what's it really good for? Tons of crappy amateur movies! No, not those amateur movies.

What I Really Want To Do Is Direct
The Oscars approach, and Dan revisits Cast Away to examine how likely Tom Hanks is to pick up his third little gold statuette.

How Romantic Comedies Ruined My Life
Cupid may be shooting arrows, but Dan's wearing full plate mail.

The Kindness of Strangers
Dan steps back from the world of geekdom to address a problem that faces humanity as a whole.

A Day in the Life
If your life had a soundtrack, what would it be? Here's one possibility from the life of Dan.

Check the archives for more columns.

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The Electric Slide  

In one of his previous columns, Jason outlined some ideas of what CXM's purpose might be. Unlike him, I'm not out to prove anything to the comic industry. This does not mean that I don't support his goals; Jason and I wouldn't have been friends this long if I didn't believe he had solid ideas and important goals. But when I think about CXM's future, I see it as a synecdoche for the future of creative ventures on the web.

My personal creative interests lie more in the realm of text and video than art or music. But I find the web to be uniquely suited as a launching platform for all forms of media. Right now, the predilection is to use the web for business. This is not a wholly bad idea, but it seems that those companies which subsist solely on the web, the oft-lamented "dot coms", are heading down the tubes. The difficulty I see with many electronically oriented businesses is that people have a hard time linking payment with something that is not physically tangible. Most people will shell out five bucks for a book when they can see and touch the book. But for text on a screen? That's something that most consumers would think twice about. This was best demonstrated by Stephen King's small gains for his electronic novel (which is still more money than I've made in my life). And keep in mind that he is one of the single most popular and profitable writers in the world.'s inability to post a profit aside, it is, I think, the real future of web-oriented business: just another venue for approaching consumers. In terms of creative ventures, I see the web becoming a medium in which authors of all forms of media, whether it be music, video, art, or text, can get exposure for their material. I don't think profit will necessarily be linked to it in an electronic fashion, but I do believe that getting electronic exposure will increase an artist's chances of reaching the stage where he or she will be able to make money.

In the past week, I've mentioned the movie Duality a couple of times in my newsposts. If you haven't had the opportunity to check it out, I highly recommend it, as it is, to my mind, a breakthrough. No, there's not a great script, nor great acting peformances, even the fight choreography is only barely decent. But what's amazing about this little film is the special effects that the creators have taken advantage of. Rarely have I seen such high-quality special effects in a production this low-budget. The entire film was shot against a blue screen, so all of the backdrops are computer generated. I don't have the exact numbers of what the film's budget was, but I assure you it was far less than The Phantom Menace. These kinds of productions are now in the hands of anybody who wants to make them and has a relatively small amount of cash. Frankly, if these guys were hooked up with someone who has some original ideas for a film, they would stand to put together a pretty nice production on a pretty low budget (maybe I should send them my one completed sci-fi screenplay).

This is the future of the electronic creative ventures that I've mentioned above. There's no way a film like Duality is going to get picked up by a studio (not least of all for the copyright infringement issues), but there is a distinct possibility that these gentlemen have found a way to showcase their talent and get noticed by the people who are in the business. A short film, George Lucas in Love produced about a year ago by film students at the University of Southern California garnered the attention of important people in the film industry; the director of GLIL is now on the way to making his first feature film, and the sales of GLIL on DVD and video at Amazon did very good business. GLIL did well enough that it not only made money for its creators, but it also propelled them into an industry which is notoriously hard to break into.

At this point in time we do not stand to make any sort of money for CXM. It was, admittedly, one of our original goals, and something that we are still considering. But in light of the recent questions about the effectiveness about banner ads, it's seeming less and less likely. Rather, I intend to use CXM as a chance to allow me to hone my writing skills. Between working on the strips themselves, these columns, and the thrice weekly newsposts, I manage to do a significant amount of writing every week, something which I have been severely lacking in recent years. I like having a schedule of writing that I have to stick to; that way, I have to write at least three or four times a week. I'm hoping this will allow me to jumpstart my own creative projects (the screenplays, novels, and other stories that are always floating about my brain, but are unwilling or reluctant to commit themselves to paper or disk).

Right now, I think all of us are still testing the waters to see what we will and will not be able to do with CXM, and I know we are still a ways from being settled into some sort of routine, but it will happen somewhere down the road. We hope you will stick with us while we get our bearings, and let us know what works, what doesn't work, and why.

And don't forget us when you go on to your high powered careers in Hollywood, the comic industry, or basically, any place they might pay us money for this kind of thing.

Dan Moren is electric. Boogie woogie woogie woogie.

All text and images 2000 by Jason, Kai, Dan, Tony, and Mecha Gaijin. He WILL kick your ass. Instant superfine!
All characters are ™ & © their respective owners. All Rights Reserved. Some Comics Ex Machina (CXM) strips are satirical in nature, and are not intended maliciously. CXM has invented all names and situations in its strips, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody. CXM makes no representation as to the truth or accuracy of the preceding information.