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From The Digital Sweatshop
The Music, Art and Travels of Alan D. Oldham a.k.a. DJ T-1000.

The Orietta St. Cloud Story.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I was just going through some old stuff and came across the Orietta St. Cloud CD/comic book. Here are some notes on how I created the character.

It was 1993 and I had just finished a comic book for Saskia Slegers a.k.a. Miss Djax. I was on a roll and wanted to keep going. I was a big fan of the "Dirty Pair" comic, which was new at the time. The Dirty Pair were this manga duo of sexy government agents that fought interplanetary terrorists and criminals, but always managed to blow a lot of stuff up in the process, whole city blocks, small planets. The stories were always funny and sexy.

I wanted to do something like that.

There was a girl I had met in Australia named Orieta (one "t"). She was the girlfriend of one of Adelaide's top DJs, Groove Terminator. I remember her as being really super-cute, Polynesian. When it came time to name my character, I named it after her.

Also in Australia, there was this local DJ named Danger Girl. What a cool name for a character. It was simple and kitsch, kinda '60s spy-style.

I even named one of the supporting characters after yet another Australian chick who was my foreign love affair at the time, Katrina Picozzi.

Visually, there was this woman who had a weight loss infomercial on American TV back then named Susan Powter. She was tall, blond, athletic, with a butch haircut like Annie Lennox. She was the first model for Danger Girl.

I started the first Danger Girl comic in '92, and finished it in '93. It was featured as an insert in the "Orietta's Theme" 12-inch on my label Generator. It was co-published by Caliber Press, a local comic company, and was actually distributed in comic shops as well as record stores.

Then, Muzik magazine from London approached me in late '94. They wanted me to do a comic strip for their magazine. Their original concept was for me to do a funny ha-ha comic strip about Detroit Techno. Little cartoons of Derrick May, Juan Atkins, etc. Shitty concept. I ended up pitching them Danger Girl instead. Straight sci-fi action with guns, nothing to do with techno.

Surprisingly, they bought it. But then again anything from Detroit was hot in those days. The first Orietta strip came out in spring '95 in the first issue of Muzik.

I did five strips. They were in color (I painted them), they came out great. I got cancelled, though, and the sixth one that wrapped up the story never came out. Oh well, I got paid and it was OK exposure. This was right around the time of the "True People" compilation I was on (thanks Eddie Fowlkes), and I also painted the cover for the "Beyond the Third Wave" record (thanks Peter Wohelski), plus had a track on it, so I was rolling in dough.

Around this time I met Mr. Howard Chaykin at a comic convention. I've always been a big fan of his. I collected all his comics and hung on his every word in interviews.

I showed him this comic I did called "Brian Deadlock" which was basically a ripoff of him. He's got a huge ego and was impressed =) He gave me his personal contact info in L.A. (!) and we stayed in touch. He ended up writing the foreward to the Orietta comic I did in the late '90s (see below).

It was a little later that Wildstorm Comics came out with their Danger Girl character, and it was super-hot. I had to drop that moniker and went with "The Sexy Adventures of Orietta St. Cloud."

Now it was '96 and my DJ/production career was on full blast. In between DJ tours and starting Pure Sonik I kept hacking away at a new Orietta comic. A little bit here, a little bit there. By 2000, it was finished.

This is where my ego goes insane. First, I wanted the book in color, which cost a lot of money, which I shouldn't have spent. I should have just done it cheap in black and white. Then I got the bright idea of doing a soundtrack for the comic. I figured I'd ask my Amazing Techno Friends to do tracks for it.

At the first Muzikundmaschine conference in Berlin in 2000, I approached my old friend the great Mr. Jeff Mills about doing the main theme. I knew Jeff would do it if he was the main guy. He ended up doing two tracks for it, the beginning theme and the end.

I also knew that if Jeff was down, Richie would be. He was at the conference too and won an award that weekend. Rich let me have a track that had been unreleased at the time ("PKamb"), but it went exactly with the comic.

With Jeff and Rich in the pocket, everybody else was a breeze. My tour buddy Stewart Walker was there in Berlin too, he said yes right away. The Advent, Bryan Zentz, all good. My old friend from Rome, Marco Passarani, was down to do a new track for me after all our collaborations on Generator. Carola at Tresor let me have a Terrence Dixon track that I liked, for free.

The whole gimmick was that I sent each artist only the pages I wanted them to score. Nobody saw the whole book until it was finished.

Nobody took advances, either. All the artists were super-cool about money.

But I still ended up spending a lot on the project. Packaging, design, manufacturing, mailouts, blah blah blah.

Ultimately, though, I was disappointed in the reaction the project got, based on the work we put into it. Lackluster to me, even with the superstar names. That was when I realized that techno people were all about records, gear and software, no visuals, and comic book people weren't about techno at all, just pictures. Two separate worlds. And those were the only things I was good at, electronic music and comics =P

We made a little money back though and paid our artists royalty checks. We even cut Mills and Hawtin a couple of measly checks =) I took pride in that (that I was able to pay my guys, not that the checks were measly).

I've been thinking about doing one more Orietta comic, a final one where I finish the character's story arc. It would be more for my own closure than anything. Ori was the '90s, I'm on to this new character now. You'll see the new comic this year, God willing.

There's a happy ending, though. When I did my art show in Paris last year, I brought a few Oriettas and they sold out that night =)

-AO :: 5:43 PM ::


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