Stephen R. Bissette
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.
Legal | The attorney for Marc Toberoff, the lawyer representing the Siegel and Shuster families in the bitter battle over the rights to Superman, argued last week before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Warner Bros. shouldn’t be granted access to sensitive documents stolen from Toberoff’s office and delivered anonymously to the studio in 2008. A federal magistrate judge ruled in May 2011 that Toberoff waived privilege to the documents when he turned over the files in response to a grand jury subpoena issued in the investigation of the theft. An attached cover letter, dubbed the “Superman-Marc Toberoff Timeline,” was determined in 2009 not to be covered by privilege, and become the basis for the studio’s lawsuit against the attorney, in which it claims he acted improperly to convince the heirs of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to seek to reclaim the original copyright to the Man of Steel. Warner Bros. also alleges that Toberoff schemed to secure for himself “a majority and controlling financial stake” in the Superman rights. [Courthouse News Service]
Legal | Former Judge Dredd artist Brett Ewins was arraigned Thursday on charges of grievous bodily harm with intent following an incident last month in which he allegedly attacked police officers with a knife when they responded to a public-disturbance call. The 56-year-old Ewins, who reportedly has a history of mental-health issues, was remanded into custody pending a Feb. 17 preliminary hearing. [Ealing Gazette]
Online reaction has been noticeably subdued by a judge’s ruling last week that the family of Jack Kirby has no to claim to the copyrights of the characters he co-created for Marvel. Maybe it’s because a lot of people who’ve followed the case were disappointed but not exactly surprised. Or maybe, because the decision was in Marvel’s favor, there wasn’t outcry from the those readers whose chief concern is whether they’ll continue to get their monthly adventures of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four uninterrupted. Maybe both.
But Stephen R. Bissette, long an advocate for creators and creators’ rights, hasn’t been quiet. No, over the weekend the artist, perhaps best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore and John Totleben on Saga of the Swamp Thing, called on fans to draw inspiration from the woman who, dressed as Batgirl at Comic-Con International, increased pressure on DC Comics to address the number of female creators and characters in its September relaunch. (DC at last responded with, “We hear you.”) In short, he wants them to make next year’s Comic-Con “the least comfortable event Marvel or any fleeting participant in any product, movie, videogame, or anything derived from Jack Kirby’s Marvel legacy, should ever attend in the history of comicbook conventions.”
But the convention is nearly a year away. Bissette suggests that, in the meantime, fans should start by “simply pulling the plug on all individual support for any and all Kirby-derived Marvel ANYTHING (comics, movies, videogames, merchandizing). Now. Today. [...] TELL THEM what you’re doing, and spend what you would have spent on Kirby-derived Marvel product on other product from other companies in their store.” He continues: