The ‘Birdman’ Website’s Michael Keaton Comics Are the Weirdest Things You’ll Read Today
Since it's a movie about an actor best known for playing a superhero, it's not entirely strange for the ‘Birdman’ movie website to have a section of comics. Unexpected, sure, but it makes a certain kind of sense. The story of the film surrounds an actor whose public persona is tied to a superhero film franchise. Comics could help tie the movie more tightly to that superhero's mythology, and flesh out the world of a film in an interesting and engaging way for fans who are curious to find out more.
But here's the thing: The comics on the ‘Birdman’ website aren't about ‘Birdman’ at all. Instead, they're about its star, Michael Keaton, telling strange stories about how he was attacked by Michael Douglas and forced to change his name, how a meeting with Chris Farley involved prophecies of death, and, perhaps strangest of all, a long text piece about Courtney Cox's unfortunate super-powers.
The comics were created by cartoonist John Campbell, best known for the webcomic Pictures For Sad Children and a well-publicized episode following a very successful Kickstarter campaign, during which Campbell claimed to have faked depression, and then followed by claiming to have faked faking depression, while burning the comics he'd raised money to distribute. As you might expect from that description—especially if you were familiar with PFSC—the comics about Keaton get really strange, really quickly, starting with a story about his birth.
From there, Campbell moves into a series of strange adventures from an alternate reality where Keaton, born Michael Douglas, changed his name as the result of a savage beating from actor Michael Douglas, born Michael Douglas:
At least, I hope that's a fictionalized event. I always assumed it was a SAG rule or something and that Keaton didn't want to be confused with another actor whose career was already established, but you never know. Could be that Douglas just starts throwing haymakers whenever he feels threatened.
And believe it or not, that's the least surreal of the seven currently hosted on the website. The all-time champion would probably be the one that's just about fish exploring the ocean and talking about the nature of heat and cold and whether it's possible to get through to a third, unknown variation of temperature. That one doesn't really have anything to do with ‘Birdman’ or Keaton, other than the fish being introduced on the title page as "Kenneth Brannagh" and "Jennifer Lopez."
My pick, though, would be the Courtney Cox story.
Rather than an actual comic, this one is told as an extended text story set during Keaton and Cox's six-year relationship and revolving around, well, exactly what it says above. Courtney Cox has the uncontrollable ability to produce an exact duplicate of whatever's upsetting her. If it's a puppy peeing on the rug, a second (and third, and fourth) appear, and as her worries get more complex, so do the duplicates and the complications to her life. It builds to a pretty amazing ending, and it's absolutely worth your time to sit down and give it a read.
Also, Mr. Rogers shows up.
All seven comics are available to read at BirdmanTheFilm.com, and even if you haven't seen the movie, you should definitely give them a read. If nothing else, they're the only webcomics I've seen all year that are about Chris Farley's depressing alcohol-fueled psychic powers.