Summer seems to have truly arrived in the northeastern U.S., but the atmosphere in crypto and NFT spaces is feeling unseasonably chilly.
In times like this, some engrossing content is a welcome distraction.
On Saturday, a first-time event will celebrate one of the richest magical worlds to enter the NFT space, a true creative universe with characters so iconic and distinct that their likenesses are likely to resonate with audiences for decades to come.
Of course, I could be talking about this show.
Photo Credit: VeeCon 2022, VaynerNFT
VaynerNFT and VeeFriends have launched VeeCon 2022, which wraps up Saturday. This celebration of Web3 is a key part of the continuing utility VeeFriends offers to its NFT-holding audience.
However, I’m thinking of a different show: KrofftKon 2022. KrofftKon is the first show of its kind, celebrating the life and work of Sid and Marty Krofft.
The Krofft brothers turned their indomitable work ethic and endless creativity into a world of puppets, costumes, TV magic and over-the-top writing over a timespan of 50 years. Their work has touched the lives of the children all over the world with memorable stories and adventures.
Some of their best known work includes childrens' shows every Gen Xer in the U.S. will know: "H.R. Pufnstuf," "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" and "Land of the Lost" as well as primetime variety shows like "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters," "The Brady Bunch Hour" and "Donny & Marie."
Photo courtesy of Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures.
Of course, there is no better way to commemorate a milestone than to mint it indelibly as NFTs on blockchain, so Marty Krofft has partnered with NFT producer Orange Comet in a multiyear contract to release NFTs based on the often enigmatic and much-beloved television shows they have brought to us since 1969.
We spoke with Marty, who is now in his 80s but full of the same vigor that has driven him throughout his prolific career, about the new possibilities that Web3 has brought to the Krofft universe.
After all, they were nearly unstoppable with styrofoam, paint and cloth. In a digital universe of truly endless possibilities, there is no telling where they could take their stories.
Sid, left, and Marty Krofft at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2018. Photo Credit: Sid & Marty Krofft, WikiCommons.
Benzinga: Is it true that you and your brother began your career doing puppet shows?
Krofft: My brother and I, we both did puppets. My brother is eight years older, so he was on tour in Europe and I was doing the cover act under his name when I was like 14 years old.
We were at the (1964) New York World's Fair with Les Poupees de Paris, which is our adults-only puppet show to play to millions, and Dean Martin came by with his director, saw our puppets and said, 'do you want to be on my new series on NBC?' So, we co-starred with all those big names.
Of course, right before we did (H.R.) Pufnstuf, Joe Barbera came to me and said, 'Hey, you want to help us create the Banana Splits?' So we did that. And of course, that led to Pufnstuf.
At that time, we didn't know what we couldn't do. We didn't have any nos. So we took a lot of chances.
Krofft did some amazingly creative storytelling despite the technological limitations of the time. What was the key to your success?
I think it’s about characters. We were really good at creating some great characters. Kids come back to shows where they like the characters and the stories. When we actually sold the shows, we never had scripts, we would use artwork. So we'd have four or five pieces, I'd work and really tell the story.
So we lived and died with the look of everything. And we thought that love was just as important. So then we got some great people. We always surrounded ourselves with great people.
Would it be fair to say that your art style was less consciously cute than Disney or Henson, for example?
We had our own look and that's what separated us. I would always say we’re Disney without a budget. Of course, Michael Eisner became my mentor. And one day, he said to me, you know, you really screwed up Marty. You picked the wrong way to go. If you had picked my way, you would have probably been running a studio by now. You went for the fame, and not the cash.
There's definitely a distinct style to Krofft shows. How would you describe your style?
Uh, let’s see. A nightmare and bizarre.
For kids’ shows you wanted it to be a nightmare?
Yeah, you know, even when we went to primetime with some of our shows, the look was still Krofft. When we, you know, they came to us at ABC to do a pilot. That was ultimately the Donny and Marie Show. And we did, we wound up having their first number one show on Friday night, at ABC. So, you know, I showed Patti LaBelle, the Brady Bunch — they always had that feeling of Krofft. I think we stuck with it.
And you're right, there was, you know, there was a similarity between the looks but the stories always come different.
Do your characters exist in the same universe? Have you ever thought of them that way?
You know what? I don't think we think of it in any way. In order to get NBC to pick it up, we created 80 characters. So I overwhelmed them. We put our money into our shows, and the one good part, then all of our shows we did for kids, we own them. I always said they'd be worth something someday.
And you know, it's amazing how they live on. I mean, I can stop 10 people on Broadway in New York, and go up to them and say, OK, you know, Krofft shows, can you sing any of the theme songs? And some guy 50 years old, remembers the damn theme songs. Because there were only three networks, so basically every kid in America saw our shows.
How would you describe the philosophy that leads you to this incredible drive to create?
I have the slogan. Never, ever give up. If you give up on Tuesday, there is no Wednesday and Wednesday could have been the day.
It is not easy to get these shows on the air. If I get into a room. I'm in that room with one thing, waiting for a yes. Until I get the Yes, I don't leave the room. So be persistent. It's not easy, no matter how many hits you have. You always have new executives. Most of them never produced a show. So it's not an easy trip. But hey, I chose this business, so I must like pain.
Do you have any advice for creators in and out of the NFT space?
Well, first of all, they better not be in denial. They need to know that what they've got is unique or I think they're wasting their time. I know what doesn't work, usually. I never know what to do. Anybody that says they know exactly what works, they're lying. And as far as NFTs go, the best is yet to come.
Image: The original sign from H.R. Pufnstuf’s cave, circa 1969 Photo credit: Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures.
What You Need To Know
Orange Comet said in apress release that the first Krofft NFT drop, Land of the Lost, will drop in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Hopefully, the market will have begun to right itself by that point — but of course, the prevailing wisdom has always been to “buy art NFTs that you love,” so I’m hoping that people who fell in love with the weird and enigmatic Krofft world will make homes for these NFTs not because they are hoping to x100 their investment but because it brings them some joy and maybe just a bit of nostalgia.
Last year was excellent for proving out the popularity of NFTs. I’m hoping that 2022 beats 2021 in terms of how NFTs advance through art, not through resale value.
Perhaps I’m showing my age, but the amount of celebrating the “creativity” and “worlds” of generative projects with no deeper art or lore behind them that sprung up in less than a year seems kind of silly when putting those projects side-by-side with artists who spent a lifetime creating and whose art had to stand on its own merit outside of the NFT vehicle for fundraising and merchandising.
And attend KrofftKon 2022 if you can. The Krofft IMDB page has a staggering number of titles listed, from the kids shows you may know them best for to primetime variety shows you may not realize share their work.
It shouldn’t be underestimated what Krofft Pictures is capable of producing. Maybe NFTs will be a new open medium for them to continue to share their stories, characters, and vision.
Cover image courtesy Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures and Orange Comet.
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