So as Roland experiences of the ultimate relief from painful sinus pressure and Fynch remains unreachable in the armored cab, a certain guardian spirit is trying to get Max’s attention…

That guard is probably going to get docked for all the brain stains on his uniform, though.




The Spirit World

Many years ago I was hired by an extremely large animation company to develop an animated project they were considering.  It was based on a fairly well-known fictional character from the Arabian Nights, a sailor originally from Basrah – except, because (unbeknownst to me at the time) this company was already in the process of doing a similar animated project involving a street urchin and a genie (hey, I said it was a while ago) – they wanted to put the whole thing in China.

Well, okay. You don’t argue with the people who are signing the checks. So I began to do a lot of research on how to put Sinbad in Shanghai.

Actually, as much as it was a struggle to justify shifting an Arabic tale to the Far East, which already had a rich mythology of its own (a fact which said company eventually realized, thank goodness) it did lead to my doing a lot of reading on ancient Shanghai and the various Chinese gods. And, most importantly, getting paid for it.

You have to understand that this was before the Internet really took off. Yes, there was such a time. Yes, I had to actually read books. Expensive books.

Well, Shanghai – or rather, by fudging some geography a bit, the adjoining province of Zhujiajaio – actually made a great location. Imagine Venice made entirely of bamboo and you will get the idea of what Zhujiajaio was like in its early days. I had this idea of making Sinbad a street urchin, and we’d start with an opening where he was being chased by the local police, over this wild springy bamboo city built entirely over the water, leaping from poles to rooftops and doing acrobatics…

I could not understand why, during my pitch, the executives kept looking at each other funny. They’d already seen the early footage from the other movie they were working on. I didn’t know anything about it. All I knew is when I got done, they told me I couldn’t do that, and eventually shelved the whole Sinbad idea in favor of a story of a Chinese girl who joins the army. In retrospect, I can’t argue.

But I still think Zhujiajaio would be a great location for a kung-fu film.

The other thing – or rather, things – I found fascinating during my research were the ancient Chinese gods. There were hundreds, covering every eventuality. They had a god that punished people for failing to return borrowed books. They had a god who carried a collapsible donkey in his pocket that could be unfolded when the god was tired and wanted a ride. They had a god who protected people from overzealous tax collectors. Basically, they had gods the way we have smartphone apps – if you had a problem, there was a god for that, and most likely a shrine somewhere, allowing you to leave a few coins or incense and a slip of paper with your request, and either the god would handle it or he wouldn’t, but either way you had done all you could.

As with the Norse gods, there was respect, but also a certain amount of humor in the way that the gods were considered by mere mortals. (You know why big strong Thor’s hammer has such a short little handle? It’s because the ancient Norse knew a humorous metaphor when they saw one. Yes, I had to research Thor too, for another project.)

So anyway, the idea of supernatural manifestations getting involved with humanity is something I’ve been working with off and on for most of my life. Which is why, even though we are making 3 Minute Max as “real-world” as we possibly can, it’s going to have a certain amount of spectral weirdness in places. Hallucinations or actual ectoplasm? You can call it whatever you like.

I call it fun.

— Bob out