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Hollywood Readies Biopic on Mad Magazine Publisher

Hollywood- While Hollywood tends to favor movie biography’s that are self-important and overly talky (usually running at two and half hours plus), it’s really the offbeat subjects that tend to make the most entertaining movies.

From Tim Burton’s ED WOOD (about the 1950’s Z-movie director) to THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (about the norotious HUSTLER publisher), these are the films that really dig deep into the lives of offbeat, quirky people and whose movies are always far more entertaining than the more respected IOscar-winning bait bio-pics.

Now add to the hip list GHOULISHLY YOURS, WILLIAM M. GAINES, a new biopic that was recently announced focusing on the publisher of the original EC Comics in the ’50s (home to TALES FROM THE CRYPT and MAD MAGAZINE). Writer-producer Joel Eisenberg is spearheading the project and recently attached John Landis to direct.

Eisenberg recently gave iF Magazine an exclusive interview about the project, what to expect, as well as some other films he currently has in development.

iF MAGAZINE: When did you become interested in doing a movie on William Gaines?

JOEL EISENBERG: To this I can only say “Thank God for Russ Cochran.” I was ten-years-old when I discovered his original EC reprints in my local Brooklyn newsstand. I was captivated, and did whatever I could to complete my set. When I found out that only a few were being reprinted, I turned to the originals, but they were out of my price range. Years later, an ex-girlfriend bought me Cochran’ oversized box sets as a gift for graduating college — the finest thing to come out of that relationship. Anyway, I knew from there that one day I had to turn the creation of these masterworks into a film. I researched Bill Gaines and he became a hero. As did Al Feldstein, who will be a creative consultant on the film – how cool is that?

iF: How difficult was it obtaining the rights?

EISENBERG: It really was not all that difficult, actually. It did take some time, from my initial phone call to Gary Groth of Comics Journal for contact info, to my first meeting with Dorothy Crouch – who oversees estate dealings – and Cathy Gaines, Bill’s daughter, at Book Expo two years ago. It took a couple of years. However, and I want to stress this, I have never dealt with a more cooperative, warmer group. William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. has been incredible to deal with.

iF: Will you be able to use all the artwork from the old Gaines publications?

EISENBERG: Yes, the artwork and stories.

iF: How has John Landis coming aboard affected the tone of the film? Will it have more comedic elements?

EISENBERG: To me, there was no other choice for director. John Landis coming aboard this project is a gift. He’s been one of my favorite directors since high school. THE BLUES BROTHERS and ANIMAL HOUSE are two all-time favorite films. So I’m thrilled that John is such a huge part of this. His appreciation for the material makes this a win/win for everyone, especially the fans. As far as the screenplay that we are developing, well, there are parts that are funny, and parts that are not. How’s that for a vague answer? The reality is, we won’t know until the script is completed.

iF: What other projects are you working on?

EISENBERG: APRIL SHOWERS, a film about the Columbine scenario, written and directed by a survivor of the actual incident, has begun filming in Nebraska. My company, EMO Films, is executive producing. Kelly Blatz, Daryl Sabara, Janel Parrish, Ellen Woglom, Tom Arnold and Illeana Douglas star. We are also executive producing CAGE OF STARS, based on the best-selling novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Jacquelyn, incidentally, was the first Oprah Book Club designee for THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN, later made into the film with Michelle Pfeiffer. And, we’re working on CANDYAPPLEBLACK, based on one of my all-time favorite comic book series.

iF: What’s the status of CANDYAPPLEBLACK?

EISENBERG: CANDY, for those who don’t know, is one of the more critically acclaimed indie comic books of recent years. It’s sort of THE CROW meets WINGS OF DESIRE. It was based on a script by Regent St. Claire and Anthony C. Ferrante and I consider it to be one of the finest comic book series of the past 25 years. It’s that good, and we’re making some headway. It’s dark, but beautifully constructed. The plan is for Ferrante, who had success with his first indie feature BOO, to helm CANDY. Log onto for further details.

iF: This always sounded like a really cool project. Would it be expensive to do?

EISENBERG: My best guesstimate is $5-7 million to be done properly.

iF: With so many graphic novels being turned into feature films, this seems like a no-brainer?

EISENBERG: To say the least. I honestly believe it’s a masterpiece of storytelling. And so many projects today are remakes or based on graphic novels, that this is one of those pure untapped, perfectly designed properties that is going to go through the roof once it hits theater screens.

iF: What else do you do in the industry outside of writing and producing?

EISENBERG: I run a film finance networking group called All Cities Media. Your readers can see our site at We invite producers, hedge funds, equity investors, bankers, lenders, attorneys, accountants to 30 network groups per year and an annual mixer. What’s exciting about this endeavor is that there are always new people who come to the events, many of whom can influence whether or not your film will be made. In a worst-case if do not get funding for your film, you have made numerous contacts who can help you indirectly. This is an off-shoot of a professional networking organization that’s been around for 18 years — The All Cities Resource Group, all comprising, collectively, what’s known as The All Cities Network. The original organization was founded by my business partner, Eric Shaw. Check out for more details.


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