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Today is Guy Fawkes Day, and what used to be an occasion for bonfires and begging pennies from the neighbors has become a day of protest thanks to Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel V for Vendetta; the Guy Fawkes mask worn by their anonymous revolutionary V has become a symbol of protest worldwide. The protest group Anonymous plans a march on the British Parliament this evening to re-enact the final scene from the graphic novel. The event, dubbed “Operation Vendetta,” will be live-streamed here.
Meanwhile, Moore will be marking the occasion with the release date of his first single “The Decline of English Murder.” The song can be downloaded from Occupation Records, the record label that came out of the Occupy movement; it’ll set you back a quid, but he also released a video, which features clips of Occupy protests. (Ironically, it starts with an ad.) The Guardian calls the song “a gloomy and at times opaque ballad that likens the stark economic inequities challenged by Occupy to the work of a killer … The song, with Moore half-speaking, half-singing his words to a musical backing by Joe Brown, is as mournful as you might expect from something that namechecks a motorway service station near Preston in its first line.”
Publishing | DC Comics joins the Kia Soul, Goldfish, My Little Pony and several others on Advertising Age’s annual list of America’s Hottest Brands: “With decades of stories under their capes and utility belts, Superman — and other DC characters, including Aquaman and the Flash — had ossified. Though relaunching its entire cast and making their adventures available to print and electronic audiences might alienate some hard-core DC fans, it might also gain plenty of new ones. Making DC characters more popular is crucial for its parent company. While the comic-book business is way down from its heyday, its characters fuel big-ticket Hollywood movies that can generate millions of dollars in revenue and licensing. The pressure may be on DC because rival Marvel, now owned by Disney, has churned out superhero film properties on a regular basis for years.” [Advertising Age]
Broadway | Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have changed their tune on the $75 million musical; previously they predicted they wouldn’t make back the money invested in the show without franchising it in other cities and countries, but now they predict they’ll make it back entirely from the Broadway run. They also are considering adding in new scenes and a new musical number to the production every year, “making it akin to a new comic book edition, and then urging the show’s fans to buy tickets again.” [The New York Times]
Infamous for its protests against the Church of Scientology and website attacks on Sony, Visa and, most recently, Bay Area Rapid Transit, the loose-knit hacker group Anonymous is perhaps best known for a single image that’s become a symbol of its anarchic movement: The V for Vendetta-inspired Guy Fawkes mask worn by its members in public protests.
However, as The New York Times notes this morning, each of those masks purchased by the largely anti-government, anti-corporation activists puts money in the coffers of Time Warner, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. The parent company of DC Comics, which published the Alan Moore-David Lloyd miniseries in the United States, and Warner Bros., which released the film adaptation in 2006, owns the rights to the image, and receives a licensing fee for each mask sold.
And there are a lot sold, thanks largely to the Anonymous movement. Rubie’s Costumes, the New York company that produces the masks, sells more than 100,000 a year; by comparison, it sells only about 5,000 of each of its other masks.
But it wasn’t until recently that Rubie’s knew why Guy Fawkes was a bestseller. “We just thought people liked the V for Vendetta movie,” Rubie’s executive Howard Beige tells the newspaper. “Then one morning I saw a picture of these protesters wearing the mask in an online news article. I quickly showed my sales manager.”