I said, "This one we call The Carnival of Doctor Kalihari."
"Carnivals!" Stan enthused. "Always loved carnivals. And this Kalihari fella - a mean and evil carnival master, I assume?"
"He could give Ming lessons in mean," Chris said. "A rogue magician - which will put Mandrake's back up."
Chris said, "One of the bottles tumbles off a shelf, releasing some kind of gas and suddenly our four heroes are shrunk to the size of mice."
"And then it's Land Of The Giants - with Doc Kalihari and his thugs as the giants - and the normal-sized kids trying to rescue their half-pint-sized dads."
"Love it," Stand said. Then, he pulled the trigger: "Who did you say your agent was?"
We reminded him.
Time passed. Wrote the script. Got notes. Did a final draft. Spent as much time as Stan could spare for us to pick his brains about animation and super heroes… and all the things any red-blooded Marvel fan would ask if given the chance.
Over lunch one day, Chris asked: "What frosts your ass the most in your line of work?"
Stan's answer was instant. "Artists with no imagination," he said. "They get stuck in a copycat rut. The latest hot comic or animated film, and that's all they can talk about. Then they start trying to change my projects so they resemble the other guys'. They sit around second-guessing my every move until I can't bear it any longer then I have to crack the big damned black whip!"
"There's a lot of people on staff in Prime Time with the same disease," I observed. "Especially on new shows. You write the script based on the show Bible, then when you come in for second draft notes you get all kinds of strange demands. Things that make no sense. The main character, for example, might be a smooth, wise-cracking detective. But then you find out they just saw some big Clint Eastwood movie and the guy is suddenly a 'Make my day… Do you feel lucky, punk?' kind of guy."
"At least in live action," Stan said, "if the writer describes the hero as 'handsome,' and the love interest as 'sexy,' the casting director pulls out all stops to find a handsome actor and sexy actress. But with an imagination-impaired artist you're just as likely to end up with a thug and a plain-Jane girlfriend."
"You've been Futtermaned," Chris guessed, a verb he had coined back in our Galactica days.