A biopic about the life of MAD and E.C. Comics publisher William M. Gaines has been long rumored and connected to a number of possible directors, actors and studios including HBO.
It now seems that the ball is rolling once again on the film project. Yesterday several film websites announced that John Landis, veteran director of comedy classics like Animal House, Blues Brothers and Trading Places, has signed to direct the film and is working on developing the project with screenwriter Joel Eisenberg.
The movie, currently titled “Ghoulishly Yours, William M. Gaines” is going to focus on the creative teams that produced the classic E.C. horror titles that included “Tales from the Crypt“, and the senate hearings Gaines testified in that eventually led to the self imposed censorship of comics and the Comics Code Authority. According to this article in Variety, the movie is about “an anti-establishment group of artists and writers, led by a reluctant Gaines and cohort Al Feldstein, as they produce their comicbooks. At the peak of his success, Gaines became a First Amendment figurehead due to his unapologetic testimony before a Senate subcommittee investigating juvenile delinquency.”
This will lead to the inevitable discussions on who should be cast to play whom. Drew Carey has been mentioned as Gaines, but Drew Carey can play only one character convincingly, and that’s Drew Carey. I’d like to see Paul Giamatti play Gaines. It will certainly be fun to see folks like Feldstein, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, “Ghastly” Graham Ingels and other comic book legends portrayed on the silver screen. MAD has to be a part of that somewhere, but will likely not play very much of a part. The movie will probably end with the E.C, Comics line shutting down and Gaines and Co. concentrating on this “new magazine”, hoping it will be successful. After all, MAD became a magazine rather than a comic in part to avoid the C.C.A. censorship that killed the E.C. line.