"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Like most people, I prefer not to dwell too much on Fox’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the 2003 film adaptation that could only have been assembled through a game of telephone, with each person involved passing along a whispered description of the acclaimed Alan Moore/Kevin O’Neill comic until it finally reached the director.
However, Florian Liedtke appears to have given the movie a good deal of thought, or at least enough to create a video he dubs “The REAL League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” Produced for a university project, it’s a dreamlike title sequence, using O’Neill’s art. Essentially, it’s a stylish a motion comic, set to “The Other Side” by Woodkid (with some creative, and occasionally inspired, recasting).
Conventions | Complaints about comics conventions are apparently the same the world over, as a writer who attended the third annual Mumbai Film and Comic Convention (simply Mumbai Comic Con in its first year) this weekend notes, “Not to seem hypocritical, since we all tend to buy curios and the occasional t-shirt at Comicon every year, but when merchandising stalls (read: t-shirt shops) start outnumbering those which have an actual reason for being at a convention in the first place, we’ve got a problem.” According to DNA India, this year’s event saw the debut of the convention’s mascot, Wonder Bai (at right). [Think Digit]
Digital comics | Microsoft and the Indian publisher Amar Chitra Katha launched a comics app for Windows 8 at Mumbai Film and Comic Convention. “Children these days are drifting away from their Indian mythologies and stories, so this was our attempt to bring these value building stories on a platform familiar to them,” said Vineet Durani of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Business Group. [DNA India]
“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
Legal | A Belgian court of appeals has ruled that Tintin in the Congo is not racist and stated that the book has “gentle and candid humour.” The ruling came in a case brought in 2007 by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, an immigrant from the Congo, and the Belgian Council of Black Associations. Although Herge himself expressed regret in later life for the book, which includes numerous depictions of black characters as stupid and inferior, the court did not support the plaintiffs’ claim that “The negative stereotypes portrayed in this book are still read by a significant number of children. They have an impact on their behaviour.” [Sky News]
Legal | Stan Lee’s Guardian Project, introduced last year at New York Comic Con, has sparked a lawsuit from a Hollywood manager who claims he was cut out of the venture, which transformed National Hockey League mascots into superheroes.
In the lawsuit, filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, Adam Asherson contends the project, now co-owned by NBC Universal, dates back to 2003, when he was introduced to the idea by fellow manager Anthony Chargin and Chargin’s client Jake Shapiro. Asherson, who had a relationship with Lee, says he suggested the legendary comics writer would be the “perfect” partner for the endeavor. They pitched Lee on the project, called Defenders, which focused on the National Football League, with plans to expand to Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the NHL. For unspecified reasons, the NFL deal never came together. However, six years later The Guardian Project emerged with the involvement of Chargin, Shapiro and Lee — but without Asherson.
Asherson claims Guardian Media Entertainment, SLG Entertainment, Chargin and Shapiro have breach an oral joint-venture agreement, committed promissory estoppel and fraud, and breach fiduciary duties by leaving him out of the NHL agreement. [Hollywood, Esq.]
After 18 years, former Image studio and current DC Comics imprint WildStorm is shutting down this December. And as many have noted already, the house that Jim built has produced many awesome, memorable and even game-changing (to steal a phrase from Rob Liefeld) works in the last two decades.
Here are six of them that we found to be particularly awesome; let us know what we missed in the comments section.
1. Sleeper: There have been many comics that mash up superheroes with down-and-dirty genres like crime and espionage over the past decade; this may just be the best. The high concept is a gripping one: Super-spy Holden Carver is so deep undercover in an international super-criminal organization that when his one contact is placed in a coma, literally no one knows he’s secretly on the side of the angels. Carver’s predicament, the way he plays and gets played by both sides, his growing unwillingness or inability to draw the ethical lines needed to save his soul, if not his life–such is the stuff of a great crime drama. Superstar in the making Ed Brubaker brings all his talents and obsessions to the table here: his knack for crafting morally compromised characters while neither romanticizing their misdeeds nor softening them up, his recurring theme of how the secrets and sins of our pasts never truly leave us, his belief that damaged people seek out other damaged people to repair that damage, his eye for and ability to work with strong visual stylists. In this case that meant Sean Phillips, never better in his ability to believably root spectacular action and super-powers in a naturalist-noir milieu. All of this in a WildC.A.T.s spinoff, proving just how wild WildStorm was once willing to go.
Even its relatively short run redounds to its benefit: The complete story of Holden Carver is yours to own inexpensively, read easily, and ponder at your leisure. (Sean T. Collins)
Ahoy, there! You’re looking at a page from the next installment in Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s decades-spanning, mind-expanding adventure The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, unveiled this afternoon during co-publisher Top Shelf’s spotlight panel at Comic-Con International. (See the full image after the break!)
Slated for a 2011 release, this second chapter show an ever-dwindling League navigating the perilous waters of late-’60s swinging London, as criminals, hippies and occultists jockey for power over the impending birth of the Antichrist. Moore spoke with Comic Book Resources at length about the series last year: Here’s part one and part two. Who needs Watchmen sequels, right?
A Kentucky library at the center of a controversy involving book access, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier and the firing of two employees will move all of its mature-themed graphic novels to the adult section, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
Those graphic novels that belong in the teen section also will be moved.
The decision comes just two weeks after the board of the Jessamine County Public Library heard often-passionate arguments from community members about censorship, responsibility, and acquisition and shelving policies.
The contentious public meeting was spurred by the dismissal in September of two circulation-desk attendants for violating library policy after refusing to allow an 11-year-old girl to check out a copy of Black Dossier, a book they consider pornographic and inappropriate for children.
One of the employees, Sharon Cook, had begun her crusade against the Alan Moore-Kevin O’Neill book almost a year earlier, when she challenged its placement in the library’s graphic-novel section. When official channels failed her, Cook checked out Black Dossier, and kept renewing it, effectively removing it from circulation, until Sept. 21. That’s when she tried to renew the book again, only to discover the computer wouldn’t permit her to do so because the book had been placed on hold. Cook then went to colleague Beth Boisvert on Sept. 22, and the two accessed library computer records, where they found Black Dossier had been reserved by an 11-year-old. They removed the hold, prohibiting the child from checking out the book. The following day they were fired.
As of the November meeting, Cook still had the library’s copy of Black Dossier, and was being charged 10 cents a day in late fees.
Although Boisvert characterized the library’s decision to recatalog mature graphic novels as “very good news,” Cook seemed unimpressed.
“It would appear that the library is trying to soothe its tax base by moving the graphic novels,” Cook told the Herald-leader. “This is a situation that already exists in other libraries and so is not a new nor creative solution. This very simple solution is one step in the right direction. We can hope that this is the first step in JCPL being more responsive to its tax base.”
Update: Lexington’s WTVQ reports that library staff on Tuesday began moving some of the estimated 500 to 600 graphic novels just one row, next to books about comics and drawing. Others are being shifted from the young-adult section to the adult-nonfiction area.
The most interesting (and encouraging) tidbit, however, is this: “Anyone of any age can still check out a book.”
More than a month after two Kentucky public-library employees were fired after refusing to allow a child to check out The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, details surrounding their dismissal finally are emerging.
In a lengthy article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, we learn the story didn’t begin on Sept. 22, when Jessamine County Library circulation-desk attendants Beth Bovaire and Sharon Cook decided the graphic novel was inappropriate for the 11-year-old girl who had reserved it.
Instead, events date back almost a year, when the 57-year-old Cook, appalled that children had access to the Alan Moore-Kevin O’Neill book, challenged its inclusion in the graphic-novel section, which apparently is tantalizingly close to Young Adult Fiction. When that didn’t work, she checked the book out of the library — and kept renewing it, effectively removing it from circulation, until Sept. 21. That’s when Cook tried to renew Black Dossier again, only to discover the computer wouldn’t permit her to do so because the book had been placed on hold … by a child, no less.
According to reporter Amy Wilson, on Sept. 22 Cook spoke to two of her colleagues about the problem, and Beth Boisvert, a part-time employee, decided to remove the hold, prohibiting the child from checking out the book. The next day, Cook and Boisvert were fired.
Cook still has the library’s copy of Black Dossier, and is being charged 10 cents a day in late fees.
Wilson’s article includes plenty of background on the library’s policies, and Cook’s efforts to challenge the book according procedure, which required her to, y’know, actually read it: “People prayed over me while I was reading it because I did not want those images in my head.”
Cook and Boisvert contend the graphic novel amounts to pornography, and that the library could be committing a felony by making it available to minors. They want the citizens of Jessamine County — “we are a conservative community,” Boisvert says — to determine whether Black Dossier, and presumably other works, meet community standards for obscenity, and to decide what books their children have access to.
In short, they want county taxpayers to select what appears on library shelves, and where.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol III: Century: 1910
by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
Top Shelf, 80 pages, $7.95.
Hey kids! Like Bertolt Brecht? I mean, do you really, really like Bertolt Brecht? As in “I know the entire book and lyrics to Happy End by heart and can recite them at a moment’s notice and better stand back because I’m going to do so right now?” ‘Cause that’s the only way you’re going to be able to enjoy Alan Moore’s latest comic!
You may recall that interview I linked to last week in which Alan Moore, in fairly typical Alan Moore fashion, railed against Hollywood and the American comics industry.
Well, Hollywood Elsewhere also linked to it, drawing the attention of movie producer Don Murphy. Yes, the Don Murphy who produced The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell. Needless to say, he doesn’t buy what Moore is selling, so to speak:
Alan Moore is a hypocrite and a liar
— He took a million dollars from Fox for League- he did not HAVE to do so
— He claims that he never saw League so why does he get to comment on the merits of it? YOU can say what you want to- but he never saw it
— He has made over $3 million dollars on the increased sales of the Watchmen hardcover due to the film- he isn’t returning that money
–He sold the rights to Watchment in 1988
— He attacked V for Vendetta back when it came out- after he had sold those rights
He is an old man who smokes too much hash and prays to a lizard god. Don’t buy his bullshit.
The outspoken Murphy, whom Noel Murray reminds us is famous for being beaten up in 1997 by Quentin Tarantino, stand his ground as the comments section devolves into a colorful, and brutal, minefield of insults — many of which originate with Murphy.
Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, collaborators on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in separate interviews share the horrors of their experiences with Hollywood. And, in Moore’s case, with American comics publishers.
Moore, to Total Film: “We had one particularly dense Hollywood producer say, ‘You don’t even have to do the book, just stick your name on this idea and I’ll make the film and you’ll get a lot of money -– it’s… The League Of Extraordinary Animals! It’ll be like Puss In Boots!’ And I just said, ‘No, no, no. Never mention this to me again.’”
O’Neill, on the LOEG movie script, to Times Online: “They sent me a screenplay. I read the first few pages and I thought, ‘I’ve got the wrong one. I don’t recognise any of this — the Bank of England, Venice.’ The character names were similar, but they added Tom Sawyer. It was a bit of an odd thing.”
Moore, of course, reserves some of his sharpest words for American superhero comics:
DC Comics’ crowing about Watchmen figures aside, it’s rare that comic-book publishers discuss print runs in terms beyond the vague “sellout.” So it’s a bit refreshing to read that Top Shelf Productions plans a 75,000-copy first printing of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, Part 1.
The first of three 80-page graphic novellas — the third volume of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s series — will debut in April, a month after the Watchmen adaptation bows in theaters.
“If even a fraction of the people that will have bought the Watchmen graphic novel by then seek out this new work from Moore,” writes retailer website ICv2, “that print run won’t last long.”
The Top Shelf books are perfect-bound, and therefore likely will make their way into bookstores in their initial run. So I’m not sure you can draw a direct comparison between this first printing and sales of the debut issues of the first two volumes from DC/Wildstorm/ABC. But I’ll point to the Comic Buyer’s Guide estimates, anyway: LOEG Vol. 1 #1 (1999) — 36,700; LOEG Vol. 2 #1 (2002) — 54,600.
You may want to order your copies of Century, Part 1, now.