That time Evan Dorkin almost wrote ‘Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks’
Last year IDW Publishing released an amazing series of one-off crossovers featuring Mars Attacks and different titles in its line. It covered a lot of ground and showed some unusual and fun pairings, but one we never got to see was Evan Dorkin’s Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks.
He relates in a blog post a situation where, in the span of a few hours, he was offered to write the book, pitched to IDW despite initial reluctance, got his pitch accepted, and then opted out. Although the 2013 one-shot was ultimately written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Terry Beatty, it’s interesting to read Dorkin’s ill-fated pitch and his summary of events behind the scenes.
“Weird day in a freelancer’s life: A little while back I got a call from IDW about a project that I didn’t think I’d have any ideas for, let alone any desire to write — Popeye Vs Mars Attacks (!@$&!!???). Now, okay, I love Segar’s Popeye like nobody’s business, and the Mars Attacks cards are crazy fun, but, c’mon, WTF, right?,” Dorkin writes. “‘Ja think I’m a Dr Frankenstein? Let’s show a little dignity, some common sense, let’s not go license crazy now, this way lies madness, etc. Anyway, I turn it down, tell Sarah about it, we laugh, we agree comics is crazy, and I go take a shower. An hour later, I send IDW a pitch. Because comics people are as nuts as comics.”
Dorkin is best known for his creator-owned work like Milk & Cheese and Beasts of Burden, but he’s also done an enterprising amount of excellent work-for-hire projects like a Bill & Ted’s adaptation and a Hulk series for Marvel, several Bizarro shorts for DC, and animated projects like Space Ghost Coast To Coast! and recent DC Nation shorts. All seemed to go swimmingly for Dorkin on this pitch, until a surprising turn of events.
“And, hey, IDW digs it, we set up a rate and a schedule, and I’ve got a crazy gig, and then, hey, whuh-oh — for reasons I won’t go into in any real detail on — within a few more hours I’m out of the gig. I went from offer-to-pitch-to-acceptance-to-hired-to-gone in about seven hours, a new one in my book,” the writer/artist relates. “I had and have no hard feelings with IDW over it, it wasn’t a situation they brought about, there was something in the equation that tossed a monkey wrench into the works as far as my participation went, and it was my choice to drop out. Crazy.”
A previous version of this post inaccurately summarized Dorkin’s description of events.