The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
A New Zealand library’s refusal over the summer to carry Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s Lost Girls has received renewed attention, earning a signal boost from Neil Gaiman and a stern denial from the National Library of New Zealand that it had anything to do with the move.
The story illustrates the strange and unenviable predicament of libraries in countries with censorship laws: If they submit the material for government review in hopes it will be cleared, they risk triggering a ban; however, if they don’t submit a potentially objectionable book, they risk later being found in violation of the law.
Here’s what happened in New Zealand: Over the summer, cartoonist Dylan Horrocks reported he had asked his local library in Auckland to purchase a copy of Lost Girls. The library refused, and he posted its response on his Facebook page:
Thank you for your suggestion to purchase ‘Lost Girls’ by Alan Moore. Due to the depictions contained within this graphic novel we have been advised by the Office of Film and Literature Classification that we may be at risk of prosecution if we made the book available to customers. As a result Auckland Libraries will not be purchasing copies of this title.
As it turns out, Stuff.co.nz reported this week, the library had purchased a copy in 2008, at a patron’s request, but removed it from shelves after concerns were raised about the content.
While the announcement of a Constantine series on NBC may be good news for Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-based television plans — the project joins Gotham and the Arrow spinoff The Flash on the agenda — it won’t mean immediate financial benefit for the creators of the fan-favorite character. It seems those media rights are part of an earlier deal.
“As of this morning, it appears there will be NO payment to the Constantine creators for this series,” Stephen R. Bissette, who created John Constantine with Alan Moore and John Totleben, wrote Monday on his Facebook page. “This option apparently rolled out of the already-paid-for option for the Constantine movie in the 1990s. Thus, we’ll only see $$ waaaay down the road, it appears, IF this series makes it to being a series. If it makes money. If it trickles down.”
The movie Bissette references is actually the 2005 supernatural action-thriller that starred Keanu Reeves as the cynical occult detective. Although the adaptation was lambasted by many fans for its casting of the American Reeves as the English Constantine and the liberties taken with the source material, it managed to gross more than $230 million worldwide on a reported $100 million budget. Its option apparently included sequel and television rights.
Digital comics | Tim Beyers speculates that with 8 million downloads per month (rivaling print comics sales, although it’s not clear all those downloads are paid), comiXology may be heading for an initial public offering. [The Motley Fool]
Creators | Alan Moore reminisces about the origins of his new graphic novel Fashion Beast, which was originally commissioned as a screenplay in 1985 by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren. The movie was never made, and Moore set the script aside and forgot it for 20 years: “What I am surprised about, and this is something I only realised at a signing for Fashion Beast when I was reading some promotional material — which is how I generally remember the events that have happened in my life – I found out that I had written Fashion Beast in 1985 which is before I had completed Watchmen. I think it is a lot more grown up than Watchmen and perhaps a bit more prescient in its way.” [Northampton News]
Awards | The Grand Prix at 17th Salon of Antiwar Cartoon in Kragujevac, Serbia, has gone to Iranian cartoonist Shojaei Tabatabaei. [Tehran Times]
Alan Moore denies he’s the creepy clown who’s been lurking around Northampton, England, but concedes he may be inadvertently responsible for the mysterious figure’s appearance in his hometown.
The not-so-imaginatively dubbed Northampton Clown, who bears a worrying resemblance to Pennywise from Stephen King’s It, was first spotted on Sept. 13, and has since become a local curiosity and an international phenomenon. Witnesses claim he says “Beep, beep” whenever he approaches people (another nod to Pennywise), and knocks on windows, only to stand there silently.
Although the clown told the Northampton Chronicle & Echo “I just wanted to amuse people,” some have speculated he’s nothing more than a publicity stunt for an annual haunted house or for The Show, an episodic film project involving local resident Alan Moore (which, coincidentally, features a sinister clown).
There’s no two ways about it: Clowns are evil creatures from the very bowels of Hell. The Joker, Pennywise, Violator, Bozo, Ronald — you name them, they’re bad news for any unfortunate soul who might encounter them.
So when the aptly named Northampton Clown began terrorizing — or at least creeping out — the residents of Alan Moore’s hometown, one person made it his mission to stop him. No, not Moore, although his wizardly powers might come in handy. Instead, it’s a guy in a Superman Halloween costume who calls himself Boris the Clown Catcher.
Conventions | More than 50,000 fans are expected this weekend at Montreal Comiccon, where comics guests include Adam Kubert, Andy Belanger, Becky Cloonan, Bob Layton, Chris Claremont, Dale Eaglesham, Dan Parent, David Finch, Karl Kerschl, Mike Grell and Rags Morales. Last year’s event drew 32,000, but organizers believe the inclusion of celebrity guests will attract significantly more attendees. [Montreal Gazette]
Creators | Artist, writer, and former carnival fire-eater Jim Steranko talks about his career in comics ahead of Nashville Comic Expo, where he will appear this weekend. He talks about learning to read — from comics — when he was a year and a half old, his many adventures outside of comics, and why he chose Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Stan Lee asked him which Marvel comic he would like to work on: “I could have nailed Spider-Man or Thor or the Fantastic Four, but that meant following Kirby. I might be crazy, but I wasn’t stupid. I pointed to Strange Tales and said I’d tackle the S.H.I.E.L.D. series, which was a Marvel embarrassment — the word ‘wretched’ comes to mind. I didn’t mention it to Stan, but I figured that on this strip, there was nowhere to go but up!” [Nashville Scene]
While the big news to come out of Kevin Smith’s new “Fatman on Batman” interview with Grant Morrison is the new title for his long-teased Wonder Woman graphic novel, the most interesting part of the discussion may be when the subject turns to Batman: The Killing Joke.
The influential 1988 one-shot, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, is perhaps best remembered for The Joker’s shooting of Barbara Gordon, leaving the once and future Batgirl paraplegic. But after listening to Morrison’s interpretation of the book’s ending, Smith realizes the impact of The Killing Joke is far greater: “Alan Moore secretly wrote the last Batman story.”
“Even when I was writing the best version [of the movie] I could with more of the darkness and nuance and the feel of Alan Moore’s comic, I remember saying a summer movie is not — I wanted to write that film because it was an opportunity for me, but this is not the way these characters should be portrayed. The perfect version of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would have been a British BBC series with great character actors, where it doesn’t rely on them being handsome or a box office draw and special effects, along the lines of Torchwood and Doctor Who. With League, it isn’t so much the epic effects, it’s the characters. The idea that they’ve come around and are trying to do a TV show doesn’t surprise me. I think it’s a smart move. We’ll see how good it is.”
“When [DC Comics] did the recent Watchmen prequel comics I said all of sorts of deeply offensive things about the modern entertainment industry clearly having no ideas of its own and having to go through dust bins and spittoons in the dead of night to recycle things. … The announcement that there is a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen television series hasn’t caused me to drastically alter my opinions. Now it seems they are recycling things that have already proven not to work.”
– Alan Moore, talking with Entertainment Weekly about last week’s announced that Fox has ordered a television pilot based on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
My grasp of Portuguese is almost non-existent (shamefully, it stretches to obrigado! and feliz natal! and that’s about it), but here’s a Brazilian company selling a T-shirt and print with a cartoon of the bard of Northampton on it. Given the appearance of V For Vendetta masks on the streets of Rio during the recent mass unrest there, perhaps this is another sign that Alan Moore is becoming something of a local folk hero there. Certainly, this design has a strong anti-consumerist message. The drawing is by occasional Mad Magazine contributor Raphael Salimena. I like it, he’s managed to get a certain Kev O’Neill quality into the inking, which is highly appropriate.
“Simple-minded backwaterman” Alan Moore has made an appeal on Kickstarter to fund “His Heavy Heart,” the final installment in a series of short films known as Jimmy’s End. It’s written by Moore, directed by Mitch Jenkins, and produced by Lex Projects.
As the acclaimed comics writer explains in the video (below), the five shorts form the foundation of a planned feature-length film called The Show. Money pledged toward the £45,000 (about $70,678) goal will go toward the completion of “His Heavy Heart”; all additional funds “will go into further development of the existing series and towards the forthcoming feature film.”
Pledge incentives range from a limited-edition movie poster and an exclusive T-shirt to signed copies of Moore’s screenplays and a visit to the set. The campaign, which has raised £3,662 in a matter of hours, ends July 17.
DC Comics is calling June “Superman Month,” but next week is Snyder Week. The first issue of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained arrives next Wednesday, and the premiere of director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel premieres in most places two days later.
Therefore, because there will be a lot of Superman talk coming down the pike, I thought I’d get mine out of the way early.
* * *
One thing that comics blogging has taught me is a healthy respect for the roles (including the rights) of creators. Creators’ rights aren’t unique to comics, of course, but you really can’t talk about the history of superhero comics, or the development of corporately handled superheroes, without at least acknowledging the people who first introduced the concepts. In this respect Superman is a special case, because he seems to have developed past his creators’ original idea (or, certainly, past the original parameters) into something Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster might never have imagined — and people seem pretty cool with that, in a way that perhaps doesn’t apply to similarly long-lived characters.
Conventions | HeroesCon, which begins Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, will double in size this year, with the exhibit area increasing from 100,000 to 200,000 square feet. “There’s a whole lot more of everything,” says founder Shelton Drum. Including people? Last year’s convention drew in 17,000 attendees, and Drum thinks this year’s event will attract more newcomers curious about the source material of their favorite movies. [Winston-Salem Journal]
Creators | Peter Bebergal talks with Alan Moore about Jerusalem, magic, comics, and the tendency to conflate gods with superheroes: “It is contrived, because they’re not at all the same. Superheroes are the copyrighted property of big corporations. They are purely commercial entities; they are purely about making a buck. That’s not to say that there haven’t been some wonderful creations in the course of the history of the superhero comic, but to compare them with gods is fairly pointless. Yes, you can make obvious comparisons by saying the golden-age Flash looks a bit like Hermes, as he’s got wings on his helmet, or the golden-age Hawkman looks a bit like Horus because he’s got a hawk head. But this is just to say that comics creators through the decades have taken their inspiration where they can find it. Before I was interested in magic as a viable way of life, I was certainly aware of the occult, and wouldn’t be above taking names or concepts or ideas from the occult.” [The Believer]
A Nebraska public library has rejected a request to either remove Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke from shelves or move the 1988 DC Comics one-shot out of the young-adult area.
“I don’t find it worthy of being removed from the shelf,” the Columbus Telegram quotes Columbus Public Library board member Carol Keller as saying at last week’s meeting.
Ahead of the release of the Vertigo solicitations, MTV Geek has official confirmation that the long-teased Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril will at last debut in July.
Initially discussed in early 2011, following the closing of DC Comics’ Wildstorm imprint, the miniseries teams the character’s co-creator Chris Sprouse with his Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom collaborator Peter Hogan for an adventure that sends the science hero on a quest for the one thing that can save the lives of his daughter Tesla and her unborn child.