This tidbit seems perfectly timed, considering both the success of DC Comics’ digital-first Batman ’66, and Tom Bondurant’s recent column about DC-inspired movies and television series that should make their way to comics: Author and screenwriter Harlan Ellison wrote a (fittingly) two-part Two-Face story for the classic Batman TV show that, alas, was never produced.
Neil Gaiman discovered that detail over the weekend — “WHY IS THIS NOT NEWS?” he tweeted — in the description for the fifth volume of Harlan Ellison’s Brain Movies, a series that collects his original teleplays.
The listing reads: “SEE ELLISON’S FIRST ADVENTURE WITH THE CAPED CRUSADER: Though Harlan’s written numerous comic book scripts for the Dark Knight, his first slide down the Bat-Pole was in 1966 when he pitched an episode to ABC’s Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Tragically—for reasons explained in the editor’s notes—’The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face’ treatment was never produced, but now you can read what the Unrepentant Harlequin had in mind for the Dynamic Duo and their Bifurcated Foe.”
Bestselling novelist and comics writer Neil Gaiman took over the Guardian Books site today — “Even as I write this the power is starting to go to my head,” he cautions in his introduction — and delivered precisely the kind of content you would expect: There’s a gallery of artwork by his longtime collaborator Dave McKean; Damian Walter’s Q&A with Harlan Ellison; an excerpt from Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane; an invitation for readers to write a story with the author (he provided the opening, “It wasn’t just the murder, he decided. Everything else seemed to have conspired to ruin his day as well. Even the cat.”); and a webchat.
So this is what happens when you praise Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run …
Let’s be clear: I do not generally have violent mood swings. My sense of well-being does not depend on the fortunes of DC Comics. I don’t pretend to have any special insight into the publisher’s inner workings, and I’m sure the reverse is equally true. However, after saying many nice things about Green Lantern a couple of weeks ago, and then eviscerating the humorless “WTF Certified” last week, it was pretty surprising to see the May solicitations address both topics.
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The Green Team may have been a group of entitled, self-satisfied jerks with an abnormal need for validation, but if anyone can make them lovable — or, alternatively, entertainingly clueless — it’s Art Baltazar and Franco. I don’t see this book as DC scraping the bottom of the character barrel. Rather, I take it as a good-faith attempt to update a (perhaps misguided) concept for the sensibilities of our time. Not quite “at least they’re trying,” but … at least it’s not another big-name spinoff, you know? (Although a new Steel series is always welcome.) Regardless, the over/under for this book has to be somewhere around 6 issues.
With what is probably the greatest press release I’ve ever read, Harlan Ellison, who wrote the Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever,” announces he is suing Paramount “for failing to account to, or pay, Mr. Ellison for the merchandising, publishing, or any other exploitations, of the famous teleplay, from inception to date. The suit also names the Writers Guild of America and alleges the WGA failed to act on Ellison’s behalf after numerous requests.”
For those of you who can’t instantly recall the plot of a Star Trek episode based on the name alone, “City on the Edge of Forever” was the one that featured Kirk and Spock going back in time to the Great Depression and guest starred Joan Collins as a war protestor and Kirk’s lover. Spock wore a hat to hide his ears.
Per the release, Ellison and his attorney have set their phasers to “burn” because they say Ellison is entitled to 25 percent of revenues from “the licensing of publication rights.” They say Paramount hasn’t paid him anything for a series of books that spun out of that episode or for one of those talking Hallmark ornaments that used lines from his script.
Ellison says, ““And please make sure to remember, at the moment some Studio mouthpiece calls me a mooch, and says I’m only pursuing this legal retribution to get into their ‘deep pockets,’ tell’m Ellison snarled back, ‘F- – - -in’-A damn skippy!’ I’m no hypocrite. It ain’t about the ‘principle,’ friend, its about the MONEY! Pay Me! Am I doing this for other writers, for Mom (still dead), and apple pie? Hell no! I’m doing it for the 35-year-long disrespect and the money!”
How much would it cost to have Ellison write all press releases?