Patton Oswalt’s hilarious eight-minute Star Wars filibuster for Parks and Recreation is already legendary, earning the adoration of nerds everywhere, and even spawning a movie poster. But if you have trouble comprehending his his frenetic vision for a Star Wars/Marvel Universe crossover, don’t worry: animator Isaac Moore has you covered.
Using Oswalt’s own words, and Amy Poehler’s occasional interruptions, Moore brings the pitch to life in appropriately quirky fashion, with a blend of movie stills, comic art, stock photography and lord only knows what else.
In case you thought it was only comics that unnecessarily sexed up female characters, fear not: It happens in all media — and the newest guilty party is Disney.
On Saturday, the studio inducted Merida of the Pixar film Brave as the 11th Disney Princess. More accurately, it inducted some alternate-reality Merida who’s thinner, wears her dress off her shoulder and exposes more cleavage. A redesign of the character appeared on the corporation’s website in advance of the induction at Disney World, and faster than you can say “Wonder Woman’s pants,” someone launched a Change.org petition, which is now approaching 200,000 signatures. Disney removed the images of the redesigned Merida, not that it matters; the Internet never forgets.
I’m being somewhat flip about this but the whole thing is kind of amazing. I loved Brave, and thought it was the animated-princess story that was so overdue. It was so refreshing to watch an animated movie that stepped away from cliches to give us a female lead who isn’t pining after a man, can skillfully defend herself, and looks and acts reasonably like a girl approximately her age. And it not once felt like an agenda movie. Really, it’s pretty stupid that these kinds of characteristics feel like such a breath of fresh air.
Although a licensing deal with Universal Studios prevents Marvel’s superheroes from appearing at Walt Disney World, there’s apparently nothing stopping them from taking to the water.
Disney Cruise Line announced this morning that as part of a “reimagineering” of the 15-year-old Disney Magic, the flagship will introduce Marvel’s Avengers Academy, “a chance for young ‘recruits’ to unleash their inner super heroes.”
Part of Disney’s Oceaneer Club, the children’s activity center, the Marvel theme area (below) is designed to resemble the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier from The Avengers film — or, in the words of Disney, “a high-tech command post used by The Avengers for special missions and operations training.”
Awards | Sammy Harkham’s Everything Together: Collected Stories, published by PictureBox, won the 33rd annual Los Angeles Times Book Prize for graphic novels/comics. The Los Angeles Times also profiles Harkham as “a significant voice on the L.A. cultural scene.” [Los Angeles Times Book Prizes]
Awards | Now that their work is done, the Eisner Award judges share their experiences and the insights they have gleaned from six months of reading as much of last year’s’ graphic novel output as possible — and four days of deliberations. [Comic-Con International]
Creators | Craig Thompson (Blankets, Habibi) interviews the French creator Blutch, whose So Long, Silver Screen will be released soon by PictureBox. [BoingBoing]
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than Patton Oswalt’s eight-minute improvised pitch on Parks and Recreation for a Star Wars/Marvel movie crossover, Entertainment Weekly has produced a mash-up poster for Stars Wars: Episode VII — The Gauntlet of Infinity, inspired by George Perez’s cover for The Infinity Gauntlet #1.
In this new version, Thanos naturally remains at the center, while Mephisto is replaced by Boba Fett — how different might have “One More Day” have been? — and Doctor Strange gives way to Luke Skywalker. There’s also a shot of an X-wing and the Blackbird (not a Quinjet!) in pursuit of Slave I, but that’s only for starters.
A recent announcement by the Hong Kong government that the city’s struggling Disneyland will expand with a Marvel superheroes area appears to have been premature.
“We haven’t confirmed anything about it as yet,” Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs told The Wall Street Journal. The Marvel plans are being characterized as only part of the “potential options” for an expansion of the seven-year-old theme park.
Fresh from his turn as Penguin in CollegeHumor’s “Badman,” comedian and occasional comics writer Patton Oswalt pays a visit to Pawnee, Indiana, to pitch his idea for the ultimate Star Wars/Marvel Universe crossover.
Oswalt, who appears on Thursday’s episode of Parks and Recreation as a citizen who filibusters a city council vote, was asked by producers to ramble a while about the subject of his choice. What he delivered instead is a remarkable, and wholly improvised, eight-minute proposal for the plot of Star Wars: Episode VII that begins with the resurrection of Boba Fett before incorporating appearances by Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Daredevil, the X-Men, Mister Fantastic and the entire pantheon of Greek gods, and then ending in … exhaustion. Yes, it’s all done in one take.
Watch the full glorious scene below, and see what makes it to television when Parks & Rec airs Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Business | Marvel parent Disney is expected to begin layoffs in the coming weeks as part of a planned reorganization that follows a company-wide review of operations. The film studio is believed to undergo the deepest cuts, specifically in marketing, home entertainment and production.
The news arrives a little more than five months after Disney announced its $4.05 billion purchase of Lucasfilm; earlier this week, word spread the media giant has closed LucasArts, the video-game subsidiary of Lucasfilm, and axed 150 employees. According to Variety, Disney executives told each division to ensure “that staff levels are in line with the company’s needs in a changing marketplace, particularly in divisions affected by shifts in new media and technologies.” The film division will bear the brunt of the layoffs in large part because of Disney’s increasing reliance on Pixar (purchased in 2006 for $7.4 billion), Marvel (purchased in 2009 for $4 billion) and, soon, Lucasfilm. [Variety]
Legal | A federal judge on Friday denied DC Comics’ bid for sanctions against the attorney for the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, finding that Marc Toberoff made “no deliberate attempt to mislead” during the discovery process and, perhaps more importantly, did not interfere with the publisher’s rights to the Man of Steel when he allegedly inserted himself into settlement talks in 2001. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Stan Lee will be deposed this week by lawyers representing Stan Lee Media in its multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against Disney involving the rights to the characters the legendary writer co-created for Marvel. Stan Lee Media, which no longer has ties to its namesake, claims Disney as infringed on the copyrights Iron Man, the Avengers, X-Men and other heroes since 2009, when it purchased Marvel. The long, tortured dispute dates back to a sequence of events that occurred between August 1998, when Marvel used its bankruptcy proceedings to terminate Lee’s lifetime contract, and November 1998, when Lee entered into a new agreement with the House of Ideas and signed over his likeness, and any claims to the characters. Stan Lee Media has long claimed that on Oct. 15, 1998, Lee transferred to that company the rights to his creations and his likeness. SLM asserts in the latest lawsuit that neither Marvel nor Disney, which bought the comic company in 2009, has ever registered Lee’s November 1998 agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Fans who have been hoping to see Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk in a Disney theme park ever since the entertainment giant purchased Marvel in 2009 will finally get their wish — in Hong Kong.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang announced the seven-year-old Hong Kong Disneyland will add a Marvel superheroes area as part of its expansion program. Jointly owned by the government and Disney, the resort now has six themed areas: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch and Toy Story Land.
Although the history of The Walt Disney Company has been thoroughly documented over the past nine decades, its archives still contain a few surprises.
Take, for instance, a newly uncovered sketch from 1938′s “Mickey’s Toothache,” an incomplete animated short that found our hero enduring what’s described as “a psychedelic nightmare” after inhaling too much laughing gas during a dentist’s visit. Disney Archives Director Becky Cline explains to Yahoo! News that as a result of the overdose, Mickey is plopped into a “nightmarish world inhabited by living teeth, dental floss, a psychotic dentist’s chair and a vengeful pair of dental pliers.” It sounds vaguely similar to 1935′s “Mickey’s Garden.”
“[T]hey broke my spirit,” Don Rosa wrote in an epilogue to his autobiography in comics, explaining why he retired from the job he so dearly loved. The whole tale is heart-breaking but also beautiful in the cartoonist’s abundant gratitude and humility.
“They” of course are Disney and its publishing licensees who don’t pay their comics talent any royalties whatsoever despite the incredibly healthy exporting of Disney comic books around the world. Rosa created Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics for almost 20 years and only ever received a flat page rate, as though it were the 1940s. His rate was better than other Disney comics artists at the time because he was so popular, but his wife was still the primary provider for the family. She was a school teacher, a profession not typically known for financial excess.
Whenever I hear about these kinds of stories, I always wonder why the creator doesn’t turn to creator-owned comics, which allow freedom on many levels, and a greater potential for financial benefit. The Walking Dead, anyone? Rosa, the internationally beloved cartoonist, doing his own comic book series or graphic novel would be an event. It seems like a no-brainer. But it’s easy to forget that for some creators, despite the opportunities, that option is a non-starter.
Legal | Forbes profiles Michael Wolk, a lawyer who’s organized the financial backing for Stan Lee Media’s prolonged, and so far unsuccessful, multibillion-dollar lawsuits against Marvel and Disney over the rights to the characters co-created by Stan Lee. Wolk’s primary investor is Elliott Management, one the nation’s largest hedge funds. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. “We are in the right here,” says Wolk, who’s not actually a Stan Lee Media shareholder. “No court has ever addressed or ever decided who is the owner of the characters — all of the prior litigation got dismissed for reasons that have nothing to do with who owns the characters.” [Forbes.com, via The Beat]
Don Rosa, who drew Disney’s Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck comics for many years has written a lengthy and fascinating piece on why he gave up creating comics.
Rosa, who started working on the series in early middle age, gave up making comics entirely in 2012 for a variety of reasons, including vision problems caused by a detached retina, depression, and frustration that the studio pays no royalties on his comics — a situation that he says is unique to the comics, as other Disney creators do get royalties. (One possible reason for this is that the Disney comics are produced by freelancers working for third-party companies, not for Disney itself.) That became particularly galling once Rosa was well enough known that the collections featured his name in the title — but he still didn’t see a dime. His response was a clever one: He copyrighted his name so publishers would have to ask his permission to use it to promote the books.
Rosa also explains why he didn’t make the switch to creator-owned comics:
If it’s Saturday, it must be Shelf Porn, and today’s collection comes from Alfred Day. Alfred shows us his office, which features some nicely displayed shelves of statues, comics and more.
If you’d like to submit your collection to Shelf Porn, scroll down to the end of the post to find out how. Now let’s hear from Alfred …