Jerome Maida’s mission wasn’t entirely dissimilar from that of Oscar-nominated “Social Network” screenwriterAaron Sorkin: By dint of research and glint of imagination, their job was to create a fleshed-out story that spins the largely mysterious person and caricatured persona of Mark Zuckerberg into an utterly compelling character.
As a result, Maida, a freelance comics writer and journalist who penned the new “Mark Zuckerberg: Creator Facebook,” can appreciate more than most what Sorkin accomplished.
“Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for ‘The Social Network’ is utterly brilliant,” Maida tells Comic Riffs. “It reminded me of those incredibly intelligent, talky comedies like ‘His Girl Friday,’ only with a modern edge and sensibility. My comic is verbose — necessarily so — but one scene of ‘Social Network’ would have filled the whole thing.
“That’s a tribute to him, that he could write something with that many words and still have it all be incredibly sharp, cool and intense.”
Such immense praise prompts the question, then: Does Sorkin’s story deserve to win the Academy Award tonight for Best Adapted Screenplay? (The film’s other noms include Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.)
“If it doesn’t win for Best Screenplay,” Maida pronounces, “it will be one of the greatest injustices in Oscar history.”
To write his own take on Zuckerberg, Maida turned to some of the same source material that Sorkin did, the journalist says: Ben Mezrich’s2009 book “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal” — which Maida calls “an outstanding novel.”
The result is the “giant-sized” 48-page bio-comic by Maida and illustrated by Sal Field. The Vancouver-based Bluewater Comics — which publishes bio-comics of famous entertainment and political figures — released the Zuckerberg book on Wednesday.
“I approached the story assignment as an opportunity to learn about a man who, though accomplished and rich beyond measure, very little is known,” Maida tells Comic Riffs. “Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are in the news seemingly every day. Yet we hardly hear about Mark Zuckerberg. He’s not a media whore like Donald Trump, that’s for sure — and that’s what makes him all the more intriguing and fresh.
Some might read Maida’s take on Zuckerberg as being somewhat more sympathetic to the Facebook co-founder than Sorkin’s. As he did his research, what became Maida’s take on his profile subject?
“The more I learned about Zuckerberg, the more I became intrigued by him,” says Maida, whose previous writing assignments for Bluewater include bio-comics on Al Franken and Bill O’Reilly. “While he can certainly come off as cold and calculating, it is in a different vein from the way one might usually interpret those words. He is — or at least appears to be — on a different plane than most of us.
“Does it appear he screwed over a lot of people to get to where he is? Yes. But I try to give him the benefit of the doubt as well,” the Pennsylvania-based Maida tells us.
(Maida also notes that there plans for Bluewater’s Zuckerberg book to be made into an animated film, though he’s not yet clear what his involvement might be. Bluewater says the script has been optioned by Hayden 5 Media, whose president says the film would use a rotoscoping technique a la “A Scanner Darkly.”)
Ultimately, Maida says — who himself is a Facebook user — there is no denying the power of Zuckerberg’s creation.
“If you look even at clips of his ’60 Minutes’ segment a few years back, he still comes across as socially awkward to the point of bordering on socially inept,” Maida says, “yet he has created something that has changed the millions across the world socially interact with each other.
“If that is not the seed of an incredible story in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.”