Almost every day on the way to work, I pass by the Manhattan Center, some sort of entertainment venue place that is located diagonally across the street from the determinedly un-entertaining (though not un-notable) building in which I work, One Penn Plaza. And I almost always take note, on one level or another, of this rather odd plaque:
Chances are that someone really important died in lots and lots of places in New York, so it’s always struck me, as I say, as kind of unusual that this building commemorates this particular Yugoslav-American Scientist-Inventor.
Unusual, odd, and, of course, eccentric are as they do, of course, so when I heard that some friends of friends were promoting a new animated television series paying tribute to the life and work of the eccentric inventor, Nikola Tesla, I had to take additional note!
I asked one of the guys, Will Martinez, for the basic idea. He explained:
We are interested in Tesla, because of the characteristics and sentiments that have started to surround his legacy. He is an underdog. An inventor who, arguably, is not as appreciated in history as he might be. Also, he is a character that we could viably see traveling through time. When we realized that he had been friends with Mark Twain in reality, it inspired us to create characters based on the two that were balanced perfectly between the quiet genius of Tesla, and the rough spirit of Twain.
Then I remembered there was this big rivalry between Tesla (A/C) and Edison (D/C). (Note that this last link, to a piece in the Oatmeal blog — how long was I supposed to know about how big that blog is? Are blogs still even big at all? – is neatly addressed, if not arguably debunked, by this piece in Forbes. And then there’s this rather more damning follow up here concerning Tesla and eugenics. Neat Tesla vs. Edison infographic and everything here, too.
Will the cartoon version of the man address all these fascinating issues? Only if it gets funded. Hence the pitch:
I’ve done my part to help! And thanks to Will and Zach Tolchinsky for making my frequent interaction with the Tesla Deathplace plaque at least a little — not alternating-current-like, but somewhat — more stimulating.