In 1915, Abigail Moore, a cop in the early days of Hollywood in the 20th century, was working in a town where nothing was what it seemed and finding out that beneath the glamorous surface of Tinseltown beats a rotten heart full of corruption, greed, and lies. Well, it’s the 21st century and that heart is still pumping to this day.
Last year I got into backing entertainment-related crowdfunding projects, an alternative to finding new entertainment, particularly documentaries, shorts, and books. I was wondering why there is so much mediocre entertainment produced in the last decade. Finding good entertainment has become challenging these days. It requires some effort. There are alternatives offered, mostly by independent creators, it’s just a matter of finding them.
Whether it’s sci-fi, fantasy, horror, supernatural, mystery, action, or whatever it is, there is always something interesting. The format of the media could be different, or it could be from a foreign country like Turkey, India, South Korea, Japan, etc., If you don’t like what is produced on the mainstream or what is forcibly pushed into “popularity” by PR stunts, then don’t consume it or don’t feel forced to consume it. It’s OK to look for something different in films, shows, music, books, etc. Look for alternative and unconventional entertainment like Tinseltown.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The creative team of Tinseltown consists of David Lucarelli (writer), Henry Ponciano (artist), and HdE (Letterer). Tinseltown is published by Alterna Comics in 2018.
Alterna Comics was founded in 2006 by publisher Peter Simeti and has gone on to help produce over 100 titles since then. Alterna has been home to a New York Times best-seller, FUBAR Empire of the Rising Dead (2012), a film adaptation, The Chair (2017), and has gained attention for their modern newsprint initiative and affordable prices. Alterna Comics titles are distributed to readers and retailers worldwide from their online store. Alterna also has its YouTube channel like many other creators do.
The first issue of Tinseltown looks at first glance like a genuine story with a female protagonist. The stories in the series are filled with mystery, drama, and action for the young and the adults. It reminds me of detective novels. I got all the available issues on the Alterna Comics 2021 Fall crowdfunding campaign. Volume 1 consisted of 5 issues and Volume 2 had 4 available issues. Each volume is a 5 issue limited series. The stories are printed on traditional old newspaper-like material in floppy format.
In the first issue, we get some insights into the writer’s motivations to write Tinseltown stories. In 1915, Universal Studios was a proto-feminist organization that was run as a virtually independent city from Los Angeles. It had a female mayor, a female police chief, and female officers. However, the powers that be were not above exploiting those officers to appeal to the public’s more prurient interests. These historical circumstances are among the inspiration for the creation of Tinseltown and the entire fictional Utopia Studios.
The story starts on August 5, 1894, in Los Angeles, the day Abigail Moore was born. We see her growing up and learn why she gets so inspired to become a police officer as an adult. At that time the Los Angeles police department had two hundred officers. Three of them were women. Her journey starts at Utopia City Studios where she gets an opportunity to take the first step towards her goal, considering the opportunities of women during that time.
Utopia Studios is a flick (movie/film) production company much like Universal Pictures and Warner Bros Pictures are today. The company presents itself as a real Town with its own female major and female chief of police. Everyone employed has a costume and a purpose. They were always bragging about how “progressive” they were. Abigail gets a job as a police officer at Utopia Studios
In the second issue, she starts learning about the fakeness of the town. She also starts learning and getting more experience with dating men. She gets an opportunity to start developing real skills that will be helpful in her work.
In the third issue, we get an insight into Abigail’s morals and principles. She courageously holds her ground as she believes she is doing the right thing. We also learn how loyal she is to her friends and values their friendship. The second and third issues end with “Talks of Tinseltown”, a section dedicated to showcasing the feedback received from readers.
In the fourth issue, we learn how determined and courageous she is and how important it was for her to have a capable experienced male partner covering her back during a difficult situation. Imagine if she was alone or had a less experienced person.
In the fifth issue, we see her stubbornness in completing her mission and how having someone believing in her was so important. Especially during stressful situations. She finally achieves her goal, but she is not alone when she gets there.
Volume 2: Losing the Light
The first issue of volume 2 starts in Mexico in 1916. We see Abigail is in real trouble. We then are taken back 6 weeks prior to the incident. We are back at Utopia Studios where the production of flickers is in full swing. Utopia Studios is starting to become a successful tourist attraction as well. In the meantime, Abigail is investigating some strange accidents that happened on the sets.
The second issue of Volume 2 starts with Abigail being heroic which almost killed her. She gets a few days off until she recovers. Here is where I got confused. With the ending of Volume. I thought Volume 2 would be a continuation of Volume 1, but it seems to take place sometime before the ending.
In El Segundo California we the demise of the brother of Billy, a little boy that Abigail befriends at work. Abigail attends the funeral and meets her father’s old partner who is there to investigate what happened to Billy’s brother. The issues in volume 2 have more ads and additional art. Only the first and second issues have the section “Talks of Tinseltown”. Issue #2 has a Baywatch and Miami vice rendition of Tinseltown 1989 which would look cool as a 6×9 inch print or as a poster-sized print
In issue number 3 we see Utopia Studios facing difficulties including murder, robbery, extortion, and financial troubles.
In issue number 4 we see how Utopia Studios is constantly in the news and subject to rumors. The head of the studio decided to do business with a German filmmaker that convinced him to film his flick in Mexico. There are many complications with the production when it finally starts in Mexico. Abigail and Billy face dangerous people and get themselves in real trouble. How will they get out of this? We will know in Issue number 5.
EXPERIENCE WITH THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
Alterna Comics Fall 2021 pre-orders crowdfunding campaign was different from the previous campaigns I participated in. Alterna is actively publishing comics and offers clients the opportunity to get the issues before they go public on their website. The prices are very affordable for pre-order and when it goes public the price remains almost the same.
The advantage of the campaign is that it offered additional products for free as stretch goals which included:
- The first two Alterna Series trading cards of characters, Eiko and Kyron Marvell, per backing. If you back multiple times, you get multiple copies of the same cards. I didn’t so I got just the two. These are characters from other Alterna-published comics.
- Collector Case Insert Set. Every collector case backer received one front pocket and two side pocket inserts from the upcoming series Rad Rose. The collector case was part of the secret perk tier, so I got it as well.
- Every physical perk backer received one random 6×9 inch print. The prints will feature artwork from the covers shown in this campaign. I received the cover of Tinseltown Issue 4. How cool is that?
- Alterna Attributes Power Cards. Every secret perk backer received a full set of three Alterna Attributes Power Ranking trading cards. Card 1: Strength/Speed; Card 2: Endurance/Energy Blasts; Card 3: Fighting Ability/Intelligence. I don’t know what to do with these, to be honest. I may have some homework to do to figure that out.
- Alterna Comics Official Sketch Card. Every physical perk backer received an official blank Alterna Comics sketch card.
- Alterna Comics stickers, a magnet, and a Thank You letter which is much appreciated.
I learned about this campaign almost around the time it was closing. By then something happen that the project manager offered the opportunity for all backers and followers access to the secret tier. I got the chance to back a secret tier. How cool is that?
A secret tier is an option that is given during the period before the campaign is launched. Something special is given to all those that back the project by signing up before the launch. It usually is a trading card or a poster. Sometimes secret tiers are offered during campaigns for existing backers as well I noticed.
Their customer service is outstanding. The tracking number was timely provided. They delivered everything in one package which is what I prefer. Receiving multiple packages can be costly for international backers who may use third-party packaging management services.
However, not everything was perfect. One of the floppies had a tear on a page (Issue #2). The packaging looked good, so it was not a packaging issue that caused the tear. Not a big issue for me, it can be easily resolved with tape, but it remains a minor deficiency in quality control.
Tinseltown has engaging stories with good character-building and cliffhangers. I could not stop reading. I like stories of women that have struggles and learn through life experiences how to overcome them. It is so refreshing to read stories that are relatable and are just simply good for a change.
The first volume is telling the story in chronological order. As the reader, you first meet little Abigail at the beginning and see her growth until she is an adult. Each issue is based on the main storyline, but all are interconnected. The first volume finishes with a very satisfying, although predictable ending.
Volume 2 is a little bit more complex. The story starts in the present, then goes to the past, and then gets back to the present again, I think. Unlike Volume 1, Volume 2 has an official title “Losing the Light”. I just hope it won’t be the final chapter of the series.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Tinseltown and look forward to the conclusion of Volume 2, and possibly the continuation of “Volume 3”. There are so many stories that could be told especially from the Hollywood era of the 1920s and 1930s. I’m hoping to see a hardcover version of the volumes in the future. It doesn’t seem to be the norm with Alterna campaigns, but one can always hope.
The final issue of Volume 2 Issue #5 will be part of the Alterna Comics Spring 2022 Pre-Orders campaign that is planned to be launched on March 20th. Usually, these campaigns offer the first print of 5 issues of existing series that are ongoing. However, there is the alternative to build your own bundle so you can select all issues of Tinseltown at once. The sign-up period for the launch is on. Check it out! Tinseltown is worth a read!
If you’re interested in a few more titles with female leads check these out:
- EYES ON SHADOWBINDERS VOLUME 1 AND VOLUME 2
- EYES ON DRAGONRAGE: A CRADLE OF EMBERS ISSUE #1
- EYES ON THROUGH THE WOODS COLLECTED EDITION
- EYES ON BONDS VOL.1: THE DRIVE
- EYES ON THE LUCENT: WAKING DREAM
Up next my eyes will be on “Miss Fury: Joy Division”