SO BUTTONS: THE BIG RED ONE

By Guest Contributor

So… I can barely believe it, but Sam Fuller’s wife, Christa, read this story. And liked it. And shared it with their daughter, Samantha, Lee Marvin’s wife, and the other cast members of the movie. Though I’m still waiting for Mark Hamill to write me. (And then I’ll die.)

Sam Fuller is such an interesting character. At that New York Film Festival where the cast discussed the making of The Big Red One, each guy had their Sam vocal impression. Strong. Gravelly. Classic. Kind of like Burgess Meredith’s character Mickey from Rocky.  He’s considered to be one of the godfathers of indie filmmaking because he preferred the more personal stories you could create on the “B picture” side of things, rather than be controlled by the studio heads for the “A pictures”.  Take a look at Steel Helmet, Shock Corridor, Naked Kiss, even White Dog, and you’ll get something that looks and feels different from what you usually see, yet the emotions seem much more authentic. A unique filmmaker.

The funny thing is that I didn’t first know Sam’s name from loving Big Red One. It’s odd how that happens, right? You know movies and comics, but there’s a certain point in life where you cross that line of not only knowing the art, but the artists that create it. I remember when I finally realized that it was John Byrne who drew all those Fantastic Four comics I loved (and stole!) from the newsstand as a kid.  But that’s another story.

Anyway, I “discovered” Sam through a smaller film called “Tigrero” that I saw at NYC’s Film Forum about how Sam and Jim Jarmusch went to the Amazon to re-visit a place Sam once shot footage for a proposed movie. He never went back to complete that film, but he brought the footage back to the Amazon decades later with Jim to screen it for the locals. Fascinating idea and a good doc. Jarmusch is like the opposite of Sam on the outside (but I do love that guy’s films). Tall. Soft spoken. Dry. It was yin and yang on that trip, and it made for an interesting doc. Here’s a bonus Jim story.

And speaking of interesting docs, Sam’s daughter Samantha is currently raising money for a Centennial Documentary on her father here.  Please donate!

Tim Ogline, the artist of this story, created the poster image for this film.  Tim works digitally, and you can see a little of his process here before the completed page.

-Jonathan Baylis


Before Jonathan Baylis wrote auto-bio comics, he interned at Marvel Comics, Valiant/Acclaim Comics, and was an Associate Editor at Topps Comics. His comics have been published locally in New York City in Free Comics NYC, The Comical Magazine, & The Comedians Magazine. “So… Only Nixon Could’ve Gone to China” was the first comic story to be published in The Florida Review. His first fiction story with David Beyer was published by Arcana Press in Dark Horrors 2. Jonathan & T.J. have two-pagers that were published in the Random House/Three Rivers press collection edited by Julia Wertz, “I Saw You… Missed Connections”, as well as Poseur Ink’s “Side B: The Music Lover’s Comic Anthology”.

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This story and more can be found in So Buttons #4 and can be ordered at http://sobuttons.com/ordering.html