The Ones That Got Away – Ratatouille

We had one of our granddaughters over to stay at the weekend and she picked “the cooking show movie with the rat” (aka’ Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille) as her movie night treat. Which was a bit of a surprise as she’d never really mentioned it before. We had a great time watching it together and it reminded me that back in the days I was writing the CARS comics at BOOM! Studios we’d been asked to pitch some ideas for some of the other Pixar movies, and one of the ones I put a four issue pitch together for was for Ratatouille. The company never did produce a comics series based on the culinary adventures of Remy the rat, although I believe that Disney did eventually do one themselves.

Anyway – here’s my outline for a proposed four issue story called “Smells Like A Rat!”

“SMELLS LIKE A RAT”

When the young chef Linguini asks his pet rat (and secret chef) Remy to help him select a perfume for his girlfriend, Colette it has disastrous consequences for his reputation as the rising star of Gusteau’s Restaurant

Issue # 1-.The evening after their first kiss, Linguini decides to buy the most expensive perfume he can afford for Colette. He knows nothing about perfumes, so decides to take along someone with a sensitive and discriminating sense of smell to help him – the rat Remy. The ever suspicious sous-chef, Skinner, follows Linguni wondering what he is up to. Peering through the window of a perfumery he discovers Linguni’s secret – the rat.

Issue #2 –.When Skinner bursts into the store carrying a camera, Linguini manages to hide Remy, adding to Skinner’s building paranoia that he is imagining the rat. A cycle and scooter chase ensues across Paris as Skinner follows Linguni from store to store determined to take a photograph of the rat. Linguini and Remy mange to evade Skinner and find what they think is the perfect perfume. But Linguini is shocked and heart-broken when Colette refuses to accept the gift.

Issue #3 – Colette explains that she never wears perfume because it dulls her sense of smell when cooking. Next day in the kitchen Linguini and Remy discover to their horror that Colette was right. After smelling so many perfumes, Remy can no longer differentiate the smell of ingredients. That day’s soup is a disaster. Gloating in triumph Skinner throws Linguini out of the restaurant kitchen.

Issue #4 – Sitting on the steps outside the kitchen, the dejected Linguni and Remy contemplate their failure. Remy starts to converse with the ghost of Gasteau who tells him to have faith. Suddenly the ghost fades and in his place is his brother Emile, who offers Remy a nibble from a piece of rancid cheese. Remy recoils at the smell from the cheese. Suddenly he jumps up and dash off into the sewers. Linguini can’t believe his luck, he’s lost his girl, his job and now his rat. Deep in the sewers Remy find’s his clan’s stockpile of garbage and dives into it. He starts grabbing handfuls of rotting food and inhaling deeply. Coughing and gagging he clears his nose of the perfume smells. His sense of smell restored, he races back to Gusteau’s. Meanwhile Colette has convinced Skinner to give Linguini another chance, and with the team back together the afternoon’s batch of soup is once again perfect.

Under The Hood of the CARS Comics: The First Race

Cars3_special

The third issue my Cars: The Rookie series debuted around the same time as that year’s Heroes Con held in Charlotte, North Carolina; the heart of NASCAR country and home to many of the race teams. To mark the occasion a special limited edition of 500 was produced with a cover spotlighting the Strip Weathers character (above), based on, and voiced in the movies, by legendary 7-time NASCAR champion, Richard “The King” Petty.  One of my prized possessions related to my time on CARS is a poster sized copy of this special cover signed by Richard Petty himself. – A special thanks to cover artist Allen Gladfelter who made that happen.

For this issue I continued the TV interview framing device, but this time had Strip Weathers tell the story of how he had first seen the young rookie McQueen in testing and been impressed by him, which then led into a flashback sequence of McQueen’s first Piston Cup Race at the “Beachside 500.”

I have a vague memory that my friend, and occasional creative partner, Paul Benjamin, who was writing the Monsters Inc. comic at the time, and I talked about trying to sneak in some mutual cross-references into our scripts at this point. I think I asked for some of the gate signage at the entrance to the race track have the Monsters Inc. logo and Paul asked for one of his characters to be drawn playing with a Lightning McQueen toy car; but it didn’t work out. – Shame it would have been a fun Easter Egg moment.

Also on the art front, it was important for a pay off on the last page that McQueen’s race livery was just plain red with the 95 number and a single Rust-Eze logo on the hood at this point. Thankfully my description in the script was followed to the letter (not something that always happened in later issues).

One of the things I wanted to establish in this issue was why McQueen couldn’t keep a crew chief. I played up that having only recently come up from local events that he was used to working on his own, and that he felt himself to be a “one-man show.” It was a nice throw away line that highlighted his selfish character trait (at this point). It also provided the catalyst for him being taught a lesson when he comes in to the pits for fuel and tires and the crew don’t move, reminding him that he is a one-man show and should  be able to do it all himself.  His reluctant apology results in him getting the fuel and tires he needs. Once back on track he tries to use some of his old local track “bulldozer” racing techniques, but they don’t work and he is quickly schooled in the realities of big league racing, especially by Chick Hicks who doesn’t take kindly to the new kid on the block.

McQueen ends up third (appropriately enough for the third issue of the series) behind Weathers and Hicks.

The issue ends back with the Strip Weathers interview who let’s it slip that he was so taken with McQueen’s zig-zag attempts to overtake in that first race that he told the young racer that he looked like a streak of Lightning.

The regular “A” and “B” covers for CARS: The Rookie #3