My Superpower: Justin Robinson (Get Blank)

17 Nov

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Justin Robinson to talk about how the power of art relates to Get Blank.

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If I’m ever interrogated by a foreign power — something I was convinced would happen from the moment I saw my first James Bond film until lunchtime last Tuesday — there’s one thing that can never possibly break me.

Bad movies.

There are a lot of people out there who watch bad movies. Who even like bad movies. There are only a few who have my rock-ribbed tolerance, even love, for the worst of the worst. I belong to a bad movie group — we call ourselves Yakmala! and there’s a whole explanation for that in one of my reviews — and we’ve watched some doozies. We’ve seen all the standards:  Showgirls, The Room, Birdemic, Plan 9 From Outer Space. We have an abiding love for them. In fact, my love of The Room led to my being thanked in the acknowledgements of The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero’s book about the making of that anti-classic.

Yet we could never be satisfied with merely dipping our toes into the murk of trash cinema. Like any addict, we need stronger and stronger fixes. We’re like one of those junkies who brush their teeth with heroin, which is something I’m pretty sure a Health class video told me happens. So now when we’re looking for a bad movie, we’re exploring the hinterlands. Things that can barely be called movies.

We’ve seen Ninja Thunderbolt, a movie that features a car chase between identical cars and entire scenes apparently shot in the trunks of one of those cars. Song of the Blind Girl, a bizarre screed about the importance of PTSD, police brutality, and anti-Semitism. Blood Freak, in which a man grows a turkey head and becomes a vampire. Vampire Dentist, a film perversely preoccupied with sexual harassment, terrible paintings, and fee structures. After Last Season, which defies not only logic, but also the very concept of sanity. I could keep going, but the fact of the matter is, I’ve devoted a significant chunk of my life to the terrible.

Now? I can watch bad movies with scarcely a blink. That foreign government who wants the launch codes, or the football, or whatever it is they mistakenly think I have (I’m a Hitchcock protagonist in my head, see), they’re not going to get it. Not if they think a bad movie is going to break me.

The thing of it is, watching the bad has made me a better writer. I can get to the bottom of exactly what’s terrible in any movie. I can spot a logic gap where most people would fall right in. I can tell you if it’s shaky character motivation or an unexplained edit that’s preventing the movie from making sense. I’ll put the Deus back in his machina where he belongs. It takes understanding the bad to appreciate the good.

And they can be funny as hell.

Get Blank by Justin Robinson

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About the author:

Much like film noir, Justin Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose, and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option.

About the book:

I’m retired.

No, really.

No more running around, doing the scut work for every conspiracy in the Information Underground. I quit all that a year ago, got myself a nice quiet life up the coast, doing normal things with normal people like my girlfriend, Mina.

And then someone framed her for murder.

Now I’m coming out of retirement to figure out who wants her behind bars – and me dead. Again. At least this time I’m pretty sure it’s not aliens. Or the government. Might still be the Russian mob, but at least Bigfoot’s on my side.

I don’t know who to trust, and I don’t know how I’m going to survive this one, especially with an unkillable hitman, some Satanists, and a couple of lunatic movie stars gunning for me. But one thing’s for sure…

I really need a better career plan.

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