Deco Punk Rock Psychedelia: in convo with Cam & Benny
  Conversations    April 12, 2016     Eric Larkin


This Saturday at 7pm you can put on some fancy-shmancy costume-y attire, transport down to LBS and enjoy champagne, jazz by The California Feetwarmers, and an enlightening chitty-chat with Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz as they present The Second Book of Ore: Waybound. This is a story that takes places in a very different world (detailed below). Get to know these talented makers-of-things in this our meandering preview…



Last Bookstore – You guys do everything: animate, write, direct, act, produce – and do them at a really high level. On behalf of creatives everywhere who try really hard to get just one of those things right: we hate you. But seriously, is that a result of just wanting to do all these different things or were you forced into that, like a “If we’re gonna do this project, we have to do it ourselves” kinda thing?

Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz – It doesn’t feel quite as glamorous and impressive from the inside, but we are gratified by the feeling of hatred we engender in you and hypothetical creatives everywhere. Really, it’s just a matter of us having unattainable standards, thereby requiring us to do things to our own satisfaction. Being broke factors in as well––if you can’t pay someone else to do it and it’s gotta get done, you learn how. That being said, we love the collaborative aspect of filmmaking, animation in particular, and we are fortunate to be tolerated by a small army of amazingly talented artists that we work with whenever possible. One of the appeals of writing a book, though, is that we don’t need to look outside of our own partnership to pull it off. Whatever we can imagine can be brought to fruition entirely through our own limited ability to string words together.


LBS – You two met as students at Cal Arts, and have been collaborating ever since. Was there a particular moment when you realized you were sharing a creative super-brain? Or was it a process, like the way a cast grows together on a show?

C&B – It was definitely a process. We met in the back row of an insanely boring History of Experimental Film class and found that we passionately disagreed on everything. But it was the passion itself that brought us together. We began to collaborate with a group of other folks and very quickly discovered that we were the only two that kept at it. So, more of a process of elimination, really. That’s the most important facet of any creative collaboration—the ability to show up and do the work. If you have that, you have a shot at making something happen.



LBS – I’m trying to get a bead on the world of Ore, but I haven’t had the chance to actually read Foundry’s Edge or the new one Waybound. I know it has advanced technology, but it also has an art deco feel to it. Is it like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or Blade Runner or steampunk? Could The Last Bookstore exist in Albright City or would we have to do some renovations? Would we lose our jobs to robots?

C&B – There are actually two distinct worlds in THE BOOKS OF ORE. Our main characters, Phoebe and Micah, live in Albright City, which is a retro-futurist “Decopunk” metropolis of soaring skyscrapers and a never-ending parade of gleaming, luxurious inventions. Every day, new gadgets are put on the market, and citizens consume them with abandon. Every amazing product is made by The Foundry, a massive corporation with a monopoly on metal production and technology. But a rescue mission takes our heroes through a hidden train tunnel to the parallel world of Mehk, a realm of living natural metal and organic machines. The beings here, both sentient and not, have been colonized, plundered, and poached by the Foundry in secret to make the products that saturate Albright City. Phoebe and Micah are on the run, caught between these two worlds with this terrible secret that could lead to the unraveling of both. So, Albright City is GATTACA with a Gilliam-esque sting, and Mehk is punk rock Miyazaki overdosing on psychadelics. And while The Last Bookstore could certainly exist in Albright City, every surface would be covered in a glossy new veneer of metal, which unbeknownst to you, would have been taken from an innocent mehkan that had been hunted and skinned for profit. And somehow, the books are even weirder than we just made them sound…


LBS – Holy cow. Yeah, that sounds more complex than what I expected. What other projects do you have in the works?

C&B – Life is a bit insane right now––Benny is preparing to flee the state and is preoccupied with that, while Cam is hard at work, hammering on doors around town and trying to sell out. But as thoroughly exhausting and life-consuming as co-authoring has proved to be, we’ve got the bug now. We have a stack of book projects we are itching to dive into, not to mention the final drafts of THE THIRD BOOK OF ORE, which we can guarantee will be quite a spectacle.


LBS – Your event involves not only the release of Waybound, but some smokin’ hot jazz, a little bubbly and folks dressing up fancy and vintage. You guys are livin the dream. Any advice for your Young Adult readers who are already thinking about creating rather than just reading or watching?

C&B – “What’s wrong with you? Quit quitting already, for crying out loud!” In this day and age, so many of the barriers we faced when we were starting out––the costs of equipment & film, access to publishers and audience––have all but evaporated. Now anyone can make a short film and broadcast it all over the world, and an author can spread her story far and wide. The challenge, of course, is in getting people to notice you, but that shouldn’t be the first worry of any creator. Let other people doubt you––they are good at that. Tell the story you want to tell, exactly as you want to tell it, and don’t stop until you’re dead. We feel incredibly lucky that we’ve had the opportunity to tell this dark, twisted and meaningful (to us) story, and we hope that it inspires others to take some creative chances of their own. But if not, and people hate it, the joke’s on them––we wrote it anyway and got to drink champagne at The Last Bookstore!


Sci-Fi adventure in an art deco punk world of living metal and slick corporate oppression – jazz, booze and dressing like you care – just another  Saturday night at your favorite book store in downtown Los Angeles.


Deco punk rock


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