Tuesday, July 01, 2003

holding back and holding forth

A couple of years ago, I could not help but rave about J. Michael Straczynski's Rising Stars (and Midnight Nation, which Carl just reviewed). Straczynski's take on a community of people who shared both childhood and hometown was fresh and innovative in terms of structure (three-act play) and dialogue (great beats and verisimilitude). The wntire first act, despite the inappropriate art, was a satisfying read on many levels. However, the second arc lost it's way - instead of turning superhero conventions upsidedown, it ended up wallowing in it (and not in a good way). The final act is still incomplete, with long months in between installments (not as dramatic as the wait between Planetary or stuff from Cliffhanger though).

I assumed it was a matter of the author or artist falling terribly behind schedule. It turns out that the last three scripts are already done and have been withheld by Straczynski from Top Cow. Why? Because of incidents pertinent to the film.

A movie company optioned Rising Stars. Straczynski wrote the first draft of a script and waited for comments. Movie company hired a pair of other writers to polish it. Straczynski waited for the polish. It never came. In the meantime, the two new writers were into their 3rd draft, a completely new script (and still had not been introduced to Straczynski, despite the Writer's Guild regulations or somesuch). Straczynski finds our accidentally about the new script, asks Top Cow for copy. They deny the existence of any scripts apart from his. Straczynski threatens to sever all ties unless Top Cow couriers the scripts to him within 48 hours. 24 hours later, the previously non-existent scripts are at his home. And somewhere in all this, the last three issues of the comic book are not submitted.

The moral of the story: when dealing with intellectual property that directly involves its creator, common sense and decency can save you a lot of grief.

Especially in this day and age where direct access to an audience via internet fora, bulletin boards, blogs and articles can make information immediately available.

In a way, the situation has similarities to the "issue" regarding Marvel Comics and a disgruntled Epic contributor (Marvel EIC Joe Quesada, in his turn, mercilessly bashed him, admonioshing him to learn to accept rejection with grace).

Ah, comics. My regular reading fix is now also a source for the gossip thrills I get from Hollywood tabloids.


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