Pop Injustices of 2012

A Roundup of Some of the Worst of the Year

This isn’t an end-of-year “worst of” list, not the type you’re used to seeing online, anyway. Well, OK, to make this a round half-dozen, I’ll indulge two minor “worst of” notations:

* Worst relaunch of 2012: The DC 52 aka the New 52; launched in late 2011, trickling (like golden rain) into 2012, which is where and when I caught up with ‘em. With precious few exceptions, an atrocity exhibit is what it was.

* Worst theatrical feature film of the year: SILENT HILL: REVELATION (2012) damn near put me to sleep. I’m no fan of video games, but I loved the original SILENT HILL feature, so this isn’t a case of prejudice. This instantly went to “lamest imaginable HELLRAISER sequel” status in, like, minutes.
Here’s what I wrote on October 26th, immediately after seeing it:

No slight intended personally or professionally to anyone concerned, but—if you were going to see SILENT HILL tonight, don’t. Michael J. Bassett‘s SILENT HILL: REVELATION (2012) almost immediately tanks any potential it had in mere minutes, plunging handily to levels of HELLRAISER 3 and up, if you know what I mean. Fine cast (Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Deborah Kara Unger, Martin Donovan, Malcolm McDowell, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Sean Bean) wasted, excellent production/tech crew work wasted on an instantly-vapid cratering of the imaginative cartography of the SILENT HILL game/premise & first film. 17-about-to-turn-18 Sarah (Adelaide Clemens) is introduced stumbling through “oogy-boogy” amusement park (???) iconography bullshit, including, I kid you not, pink stuffed bunny-rabbit imagery (symbolic, you see, if her innocence)… and the movie never, ever recovers. It just slides further and further downhill, paint-by-number nonsense with a few eye-catching setpieces (the room of faceless/shuddering nurse thingies) and some listless inadvertent hilarity (Malcolm McDowell‘s WTF sequence).

As with HELLRAISER 2+ and NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. 2+ and every conceptually failed horror franchise, we spend literally half the movie stuck with Sarah/Heather (false names to elude “the coven,” we’re told) in fucking dingy/bloody/peeling corridors and hallways, amid alternatively firelit/gore-caked industrial/abattoir trappings, until we are misled back to the goddamned amusement park setpiece and the inevitable showdown between cenobite-like demons in a ring of fire. Yaaaaawwwwnnn. I’m a fan of Bassett‘s DEATHWATCH (2002), WILDERNESS (2006), and his Robert E. Howard SOLOMON KANE (2010), but man, this was painful. Went in with no expectations, as I had for the original SILENT HILL; that film was a pleasant surprise, this was an endurance test, and not in a good way. Honestly, I almost fell asleep, twice, and I was wide awake going in and coming out. It’s that bad. I found something of interest in every Halloween opening this month, but this… skip it. Really.

Worst film of the year, alongside the worst DVD of the year, another appalling sequel, PIRANHA 3DD (it didn’t play theatrically anywhere near us, so it premiered on DVD to me).

Wally Wood, illustration for TV Guide, March 23-29, 1968

No, that stuff is harmless, really. It doesn’t matter in the least, really.

This end-of-year roundup has to do with a few of the major pop culture abuses of the year, the stuff that matters in the long run, as I saw them go down.

Needless to say, Marvel/Disney tops the shitlist, based on their own activities (which concluded in October with their acquisition of STAR WARS, which ties in to one of the events of 2012 that appalled).

Here goes:


* Jack Kirby and the Kirby heirs, ditched by Marvel/Disney and almost the whole (hole) of “fandom,” in the very year THE AVENGERS movie became top-boxoffice-earner-of-all-time.

I can and have gone on about this. Suffice to say Marvel/Disney have repeatedly shown their true colors: in any scenario involving a lone individual surmounting insurmountable odds—their favorite fictional narrative construct, the core of the Marvel mythos Jack Kirby co-created—Marvel/Disney legal are Galactus, and there is no Silver Surfer soaring in to save the day.

To top it off—allowing mock movie patriotism/jingoism to trump real-life patriotism from a real-life veteran and patriot—Jack Kirby (Michael Parks) was cut from Ben Affleck‘s ARGO (2012), save for a fleeting screen appearance.

I was so hoping, after the first ARGO trailer, that Kirby‘s real-life role in the ARGO true history would be illuminated—a counter and a ‘fuck you’ of sorts to Marvel/Disney and THE AVENGERS, if you will, and one that average American audiences would see and ponder, however momentarily. Alas, it was not to be; and the art Kirby did do for the fictional movie (concept drawings, not storyboards) were neither emulated nor made an appearance. So, another (inadvertent) dis of Kirby and his heirs, alas…

In the end, any contemporary creator who brings anything of any remote potential value to the Marvel/Disney table is an idiot, given how Marvel has historically treated its “own,” and now how Marvel/Disney has hammered any attempt at redress into the dirt, leaving those who did contribute something of value to the pantheon bloodied and beaten.

PS: Reminding us of the abuses Kirby suffered in his lifetime, Adam-Troy Castro noted on Facebook this week:

“I was watching THE TONIGHT SHOW the night Johnny Carson called Jack Kirby a fraud. I remember yelling at the screen, “You idiot!”

I was also watching the next night, when Carson apologized at length.

It was a total misunderstanding. On the first night, Carson was discussing a flier or similar ad somebody had handed him, advertising a personal experience by Jack Kirby, “king of the comics.” Given his background, and his long years of bringing up new comedians on his show, Carson thought that this guy Kirby was some borsht-belt nobody rooking audiences by trumpeting a prominence he hadn’t earned.

By the next night, somebody had clued Carson in about Kirby’s true claim to fame and he showed genuine contrition over bad-mouthing someone without full knowledge of the facts.”

Of course, Carson never brought Kirby on to the show, either. A missed opportunity, never recuperable.

And lest any fools out there still harbor any misplaced warm-and-fuzzies for Disney in its current corporate incarnation, note how they willingly, spitefully cut the throat of one of their own this year, too:

* The whole Disney premature burial and “marketing” debacle of JOHN CARTER (2012), one of the ten best films I saw in a theater this year (and, along with LOOPER, the best sf film of the year).

JOHN CARTER (dropping ON MARS was a dumb move) was a surprisingly rousing, heartfelt, and marvelous sf-fantasy epic.

Why did Disney throttle its own baby just out of the crib?

I’m convinced this was (a) to put Pixar and director Andrew Staton in their “place” in the Disney roster and (b) pissing on the previous regime’s $250 million production to make way for the Marvel franchises (usurping the “boy power” the previous regime perceived in JOHN CARTER OF MARS) and wholesale purchase of STAR WARS they were prepping for this past fall.

Can’t have competing franchises, even if STAR WARS plundered plenty from Edgar Rice Burroughs and Barsoom (including plundering from FLASH GORDON, which had previously plundered John Carter and Barsoom in the 1930s).

The big lesson for Pixar vets: If you make a live-action movie, do it for a rival studio. The obvious corporate “lesson” here: Even when we give you cart blanche and back your pet project to the tune of $250 million+, we will fucking tank you. Brad Bird‘s MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL (2011, and a lesser movie by far compared to JOHN CARTER) was handled properly by Paramount and reaped a bundle at the boxoffice ($694 million+)—Disney wanted JOHN CARTER to fail. Period. They wanted Stanton back in the Pixar pens, doing what “he should be doing.” Period.

After a completely botched non-marketing campaign (that still inexplicably “cost” $100 million alone, though most of my comics amigos mount better marketing campaigns working solo promoting their own work online), 10 days into its theatrical run the current monster head of Disney, Rich Ross (approved by Robert Iger), announced Disney was writing it off—an unprecedented studio move, terminating any chance of the film having legs in theatrical—and killed the movie while making the bed for a rosier quarterly report by ditching CARTER publicly.

It was a final, official, and coldly and cruelly calculated nail in the coffin.

Further cementing the atrocity exhibit that Disney pretended and pretends was a “marketing campaign,” beyond reprint editions of the novels and Marvel comics (JOHN CARTER WARLORD OF MARS), there was absolutely no merchandizing of any kind (meaning they didn’t even give it the “push” an earlier, equally reluctant Disney incarnation tentatively gave to a film they misunderstood and loathed upon its theatrical release, A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, which at least had a toy and books out); and, moreover—we were and are on fucking planet Mars

a hot news item all this year, and Disney didn’t even exploit that obvious reality tie-in!

Disney failed utterly to “sell” the fact that the Burroughs MARS had been plundered by pop blockbusters from STAR WARS to AVATAR. I didn’t see one ad saying, “from the creator of TARZAN,” did you? I mean, Disney=Tarzan for most of this generation, who have never laid eyes on a TARZAN anything that wasn’t Disneyfied. Disney “marketing” failed to push that this was the wellspring—it all started on Mars, so to speak. Most of you reading this here could cook up a better marketing campaign in exchange for a hot breakfast this morning! This left average, head-in-the-sand unknowing audiences able to honestly believe and say, “this is a copy of AVATAR or “I saw this in STAR WARS—yawn.”

How a movie can reap $300 million+ internationally and still be prematurely mischaracterized as “a bomb” by Hollywood pundits and the assholes who rule is scandalous.

This shows how bankrupt the studio system is, and should put paid to any creator’s dream of ever making any mark with Disney—currently, under Iger, a world media power in simple acquisition-and-conquer mode (again: Marvel, STAR WARS).

Why make or back what you’ve made, if you can just buy more pre-sold industries?

Sellers misses another obvious point: there’s no analysis of how the current studio system inflates the budgets of all effects films with systematic “constantly shooting/revising” in ways that would have made the rigorously-scheduled-and-budgeted Ray Harryhausen/Charles Schneer features of yore impossible to make in their own day and ages.

Fuck Disney, and fuck Marvel, and fuck STAR WARS anything.

I’ve had it with any further emotional investment in anything that smacks of any of those three corporate entities, now handily made one.

* Meanwhile, the Marvel/Disney judgment against Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich stands as warning to all freelancers: stop selling sketches or making any form of income from trade at conventions involving corporate-owned characters, or be prepared to pay the piper.

I personally advise all freelancers to simply stop, full stop, sketching or indulging any non-licensed commerce involving any Marvel character or conceptual property.

Despite the “no no that’s not what it means” blather from current Marvel management, the year wrapped up with this bon mot,

(on the public record, Starstruck creators Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta), with a cease-and-desist notice that included demands for a full accounting of decades of income and commerce trading on their own property.

Marvel/Disney legal could care less what management says to comfort freelancers.

You’ve all been given fair and public notice. 2012 began with the bombshell judgment against Gary Friedrich, and ended with a legal attack on Epic Comics creators who fully own their own work.

Pay. Attention.

And act accordingly in 2013.

Some freelancers, like James Lowder, suggested contract language to cover this


but I can’t see how Marvel/Disney would ever countenance, much less condone, such an agreement. I certainly didn’t see any momentum on that front, to say the least.

And speaking of no-leverage-positions in freelancing:

* On the freelancing front: While the creep of odious work-for-hire contract terms into the mainstream book trade continues unabated—most often under the guise of “author retains all copyright” clause followed by terms deeding the work to the publisher “for the life of copyright,” meaning forever, long after you are dead, and amounts to work-for-hire sans work-for-hire language—the most obscene abuse of corporate contract language I witnessed in 2012 was the ongoing practice of forcing freelancers who are simply showing their work for the first time to a potential client to pre-emptively (a) de-value and (b) sign over all rights to their work, before the interview even takes place.

Until recently, I simply declined to submit or work with publishers who would pre-emptively send me forms requiring I, essentially, sign away all rights before they even looked at what they asked me to send them. (This was particularly appalling when a publisher would approach me to bring them something of my own—followed by a contract stating nothing of the sort had happened, and that I was the one initiating contact.)

Of late, the sort of “submission release” that freelancers are presented with increasingly makes it inadvisable, impossible, and/or insane to even consider responding to inquiries from various publishers and media firms. It has become truly infuriating.

I now have a short form I can send an editor or potential client to cover these legal bases without signing away all my rights up front, but as my legal counsel stated when providing it, “This is a rather quixotic and probably pointless task, because [freelancers] have zero negotiating power in this type of situation; in effect it’s the publisher’s way or the highway. Besides nothing will alienate a potential client more than a prospect who refuses to sign their company’s boilerplate.”

There must be some legal language that cover their corporate asses while acknowledging (a) they asked me to submit something or work with them, and (b) that the mere act of having an interview or folio review doesn’t necessitate my capitulating all my copyrights or ownership to them before we’re even setting a foot in the door.

I could provide multiple examples from contracts and submission forms in my files (the first I ever saw came from Dark Horse Comics in the 1990s), but will restrict this public post to language already shared online, specifically

specific wordings in now-standard animation studio portfolio review contracts, as posted in late November 2012 to this online blog by Mark Mayerson:

Mark highlights the current Sony submission release, specifically this clause:

7. Submissions
Subject to applicable law and except as otherwise expressly provided in any other agreement that you (or your employer if you are not employed by SPE) may have with SPE with respect to the resources made available on this Site (a “Base Agreement”):
• You agree that any intellectual property or materials, including but not limited to questions, comments, suggestions, ideas, discoveries, plans, notes, drawings, original or creative materials, or other information, provided by you in the form of e-mail or electronic submissions to SPE, or uploads or postings to this Site (“Submissions”), shall become the sole property of SPE to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law and will be considered “works made for hire” or “commissioned works” owned by SPE;
• To the extent that any Submission may not constitute a “work made for hire” or “commissioned work” owned by SPE under applicable law, you hereby irrevocably assign, and agree to assign, to SPE all current and future right, title and interest in any and all such Submissions; and
• SPE shall own exclusive rights, including any and all intellectual property rights, and shall be entitled to the unrestricted use of Submissions for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, without acknowledgment or additional compensation to you.
In the event applicable law operates to prevent such assignment described above, or otherwise prevents SPE from becoming the sole owner of any such Submissions, you agree to grant to SPE, and this provision shall be effective as granting to SPE, (with unfettered rights of assignment) a perpetual, worldwide, paid-in-full, nonexclusive right (including any moral rights) and license to make, use, sell, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, communicate to the public, perform and display the Submissions (in whole or in part) worldwide and or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, for the full term of any rights that may exist in any such Submissions.
By making Submissions, you represent that (i) you have full power and authority to make the assignment and license set forth above, (ii) the Submissions do not infringe the intellectual property rights of any third party, and (iii) SPE shall be free and have the right to use, assign, modify, edit, alter, adapt, distribute, dispose, promote, display, and transmit the Submissions, or reproduce them, in whole or in part, without compensation, notification, or additional consent from you or from any third party.

In the comments thread, Alan Cook added…

Thanks first of all for pointing this out. Like you said though this seems boilerplate to me.

…I’ve pulled up the terms of use from various feature animation studios. The practice is of course outrageous, however, the wording is almost universally the same. Submit your work to us, and we can use it however we want. It is an overarching reaction to studios being sued over idea theft, rightly or wrongly, and they are protecting themselves in an overly hamhanded manner. Most will say they get a license to use your work as they see fit. Dreamworks’ does seem to be the best worded to balance the rights of the artist vs the studio. Take a look:


“In the event that You submit Your Portfolio as requested, You hereby acknowledge and agree that You will not receive any compensation for submitting Your Portfolio; that You are submitting the Portfolio voluntarily (and not in confidence or trust); that no confidential or fiduciary relationship is intended or created by reason of the submission of the Portfolio or otherwise; and that the Portfolio (and any individual element in the Portfolio) may be identical or similar to material that is or may be in development at DreamWorks. You agree that You understand that the purpose of this policy and these terms is to avoid the possibility of future misunderstandings or disputes when projects developed independently by DreamWorks might appear to be similar to others’ creative works.

Nothing herein, or in the submission of the Portfolio, shall place DreamWorks in any different position from any other member of the public with respect to the Portfolio. Accordingly, any part of the Portfolio that could be freely used by a member of the public may be used by DreamWorks without liability to You or any third-party claiming rights from or through You. You hereby acknowledge and agree that DreamWorks’ use of material identical or similar to the Portfolio, or containing features or elements identical or similar to those contained in the Portfolio, shall not obligate DreamWorks to negotiate with You, nor entitle You to any compensation or other entitlement, if DreamWorks determines, in its sole and absolute discretion, that DreamWorks has an independent legal right to use such other material (for example, because such features or elements were not new or novel, were not originated by You, or were or may hereafter be independently created by or submitted to DreamWorks).”

Blue Sky

” Notwithstanding the above, Participant hereby waives any and all rights to any stories, ideas, drawings, opinions, and any other creative materials posted to the Fox site. Participant authorizes Fox to utilize, in any manner it sees fit and for eternity, the materials posted on the site, which shall become the property of Fox. Participant releases Fox from any and all claims or liability (now known or hereafter arising) in connection therewith, and agrees to indemnify Fox in connection therewith pursuant to the terms of Paragraph 3 below. Participant agrees and acknowledges that participation in the Fox site shall not give rise to any confidential, fiduciary, implied-in-fact, implied-in-law, contractual, or other special relationship between Fox and Participant (other than the contractual relationship between Fox and Participant entered into by virtue of Participant’s agreement to these Rules of Conduct.)”


“You grant (or warrant that the owner of the rights to the Transmissions has expressly granted) to LAIKA a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, transmit and display those Transmissions and to incorporate the Transmissions into any other works in any form, media or technology now known or developed in the future, and LAIKA may use or disclose those Transmissions for any purpose, including without limitation developing, manufacturing and marketing goods and/or services, and you warrant that all “moral rights” in those Transmissions have been waived. LAIKA will treat Transmissions as non-confidential and non-proprietary; however, LAIKA will handle all personal data provided to LAIKA in the manner provided in LAIKA’s Privacy Policy.”

In our current ongoing Recession/Depression, this is only going to get worse, folks. “You’re lucky to have a job” sentiments from those who don’t freelance fail to acknowledge how difficult freelancing usually is in the best of economic times—and this environment is increasingly toxic before our foot is even in the door.

I don’t have a solution for this, other than:

(a) don’t sign such a release, which means no portfolio review. Or

(b) only include material you have no future plans for in your portfolio, which means you’re not putting your best foot forward, which means you won’t shine.

As my legal counsel noted, submitting a replacement agreement will likely terminate any chance of your getting an interview right from the get-go.

This is a lose/lose situation, and highlights how toxic the freelancer’s position has become in corporate America circa 2012.

PS: Never underestimate the willingness of “talent” to sell itself short. We have a generation of creators coming up who are convinced corporations have the right to fleece all mankind, including creators, past the marrow. Just look at the shilling both pros and “fandom” ruthlessly indulges daily online—which brings me back to the bile unleashed on the Kirby heirs amid the massive masturbatory celebrations of THE AVENGERS movie online.

Happy Fucking New Year.


All images and artwork ©2012 and/or respective original year of publication/creation their respective individual or corporate proprietors; posted for educational and archival purposes only. Fair Use doctrine and laws apply.

Discussion (23) ¬

  1. Mark Mayerson

    Hi Steve. Please note (as this post is much about giving credit where credit is due) that Alan Cook’s comments were made on my blog, not his own.

  2. James Robert Smith

    Every time I see Jack Kirby listed as having had a “co-creator”, I cringe, and I see yet another blow to his reputation. No one who lists him as a “co-creator” (at Marvel) is doing the memory of Jack Kirby, or his family, any good service.

    A lot of companies apparently want a legal release before viewing submissions. In effect, it gives them the right to rip off said submission with no recourse for the creator. Before I completely walked away from the submissions process in comics, I got such forms from various second-tier publishers. I did not, of course, fill them out and sign them and, subsequently, did not submit anything to them. Unfortunately there are always talented newcomers willing to sign away the rights to their intellectual property just to see their work in print. And there are even established professionals who are so hungry for a paying gig that they will sell their future for a pittance. (Unfortunately, Jack Kirby did this.)

  3. srbissette

    Corrections made, Mark; I was still editing the post (even after having hit “publish” to get it out there), but appreciate your aggressive correction right up front. Apologies.

    Bob: I cringe writing it, but the fact is Kirby’s scripted work reads light years differently than those Lee and others scripted, so “co-creator” is applicable and appropriate. Sorry, truth of the matter; having worked all ends of this profession myself, I must acknowledge the dialogue wasn’t Kirby’s in the Marvel comics, hence the credit as given here.

  4. patrick ford

    Stephen, Interesting thoughts on the JOHN CARTER movie, and I see they are in line my suspicions I had voiced last night on your FB page. As crazy as it sounds I can’t think of another reason to explain the strange negative advertising before the release. I mean Dusney could easily sell a paper bad of shit set on fire as the next “must see” blockbuster.

  5. C. Schwab

    I saw the Jim Lee costume re-designs and my brain checked out of nu52 before I’d read so much as a word.

    As much as I ardently desire to put words in Superman’s mouth someday, my chosen path is probably “Finish one idea, just one. Submit to Dark Horse.”

    Even American mythology (that’s “comics”) is now sheathed in corporate armor. Sad.

  6. patrick ford

    And that “NEW (bust out laughing) 52″ crap is perfect proof a big advertising and promotion push from a corporation can sell a flaming bag of crap. I recall on the JOHN CARTER movie there was some talk of the word “MARS” being poison. I would so love to see a series of super bombs and the super hero movie become the next box office poison.

  7. JanAustin

    John Carter was brilliant! And you are so very right re the marketing. In fact, check out amazon.com for Michael D. Sellers new book John Carter and The Gods of Hollywood. Solomon Kane was also another brilliant film (James Purefoy is an excellent actor and was also Kantos Kan in John Carter!). Thanks for your reviews!

  8. Aaron Poehler

    The New 52 launched in 2011, not this year. The monthly comics that were in the initial launch are on #15.

  9. srbissette

    Aaron: I caught up with them in 2012, hence their inclusion here.

    Jan: I provided a link, and briefly talked about, Sellers book above. You miss that somehow?

  10. Robert Coplin

    I have to agree with a lot of what this writer said in that Disney wanted John Carter to fail as they did a really poor job in marketing the movie as my great niece Aimee could have done a better job and she is only 14 months old.

  11. BobH

    I understand your reasoning on the importance of accurate credits, but in the case of Stan Lee I tend to take an Old Testament “eye for an eye” philosophy.

    Mr. Lee has never, to my knowledge, stated unequivocally that Jack Kirby was the creator or co-creator of the Fantastic Four or any of the other original characters they worked on together in the 1960s, with the possible exception of the Silver Surfer, and most importantly, when it mattered most, he clearly stated under oath that Kirby was not the creator or co-creator of those characters. So my policy is, that until Mr. Lee states, for the record, that Kirby should be so credited and that he was wrong to ever say otherwise, I won’t deign to stain the label “co-creator” with his name.

    And, in keeping with that Old Testament view, if he corrects the record in 2013, since the FF were created in 1961, I’ll start calling Mr. Lee “co-creator” in 2065, and won’t worry about any slights to his ego if people choose to say “Jack Kirby created the Fantastic Four”.

  12. subhuman

    wow hope you have a peaceful year

  13. patrick ford

    There is also the fact that all evidence I’ve ever seen suggests very strongly that all, or almost all the characters and plots were conceived by Kirby just as Kirby says they were. There is not one single bit of evidence aside from Lee’s word that he created anything until after Kirby was finished with his part and handed it over to Lee. Lee is the co-creator of the published comic books because he wrote dialogue, altered Kirby’s plots, and lobotomized Kirby’s well thought out characters by grafting “Archie-Jug-Head-Moose-and Betty” type “characterizations” onto them. In that sense I see no reason to credit Lee with anything at all, because Lee has always insisted that the creator was the guy who came up with the initial/seminal ideas. Well it could not be more obvious that was Kirby from day one. So I’ll gladly skewer Lee with his own petard.

  14. patrick ford

    It would be great if Stephen could put together a whole blog post on the Stanton JOHN CARTER film and the machinations around it. I’m almost interested enough to buy the Sellers book. The ERB books and St.John illustrations are basically the same thing to me ’60s Marvel Comics are to a lot of people. I loved them as a kid, and film is such a powerful visual medium (particularly modern film with it’s film school assault on the senses “Super Bowl halftime ad” button pushing) that I would never see the film. I just don’t want the images in my mind to be cojoined with a modern version. The politics of what went down is really interesting though. I mean, Stanton is the man at PIXAR in almost the same way Lassiter is. First off he wrote all three TOY STORY films, as well as NEMO and MONSTERS INC.. So then Stanton gets absolutely worked over by Disney, and on a project that meant a lot to him. Did it really go down that easy? I’d have to think Stanton would be very pissed off. Because Stephen (and I assume Sellers) have got to be right about this. It isn’t just that Disney made no real effort to market the film, no, they in fact seemingly worked to undermine the film before and after it was released. My thought is Disney can basically dictate good reviews for a film. I really have no doubt they can send out word that they have a lot invested in a film, and they expect it to get good press, or they won’t be happy. I just have no doubt Disney has the clout to send out word, “This film will get only positive notices, and you will find the reviewer to make that happen, or else.” Yet on JOHN CARTER the publicity campaign from the word go was so obviously designed to tank the film.
    BTW. I have the plot for TOY STORY part four. Andy is married and his a kid of his own, and he goes to get the toys back, he wants them for his own child. When he gets the toys back, his own kid isn’t interested in them, all the kid wants to do is play video games.

  15. Henry R. Kujawa

    We NEED to get rid of corporations. ALL corporations. It’s gotten that bad. Companies buying other companies they have no direct connection with the ideas or manufacutre of things is why there’s so much bad stuff out there. We need more individual thinkers, and smaller, family-owned companies. The corporate world is totally dehumanizing. I only have to look at my recent temp job, where the general manager of the department store I was working at always seemed to have a “hang-dog” expression on his face. And I knew why. He wasn’t allowed to make ANY decisions on his own! This kind of thing is destroying the country, and all people in it.

  16. O Soiis

    A really good post. When I think of young artists who fill their portfolios drawing star wars/marvel (lower case intentional) characters I’m reminded of those guys that make fanfilms, paying good money in some cases to create something that they have no legal right to make any money from regardless of how good the product might be. Why spend your time creating works that you have no legal claim to, except for the original piece of paper it’s printed on? Create your own. And if you think it’s hard just remember that all those elements from Star Wars were pretty much taken (or homaged) from Burroughs.

    For that matter quit wanting to work for the “big guys”. Next time you see a portfolio review line at a convention, avoid it. If your good enough (and this means being honest enough about your skills) start your own company. It’ll be a slog but at least you’ll own it all. I think that is a fundamental problem with creatives. Too many of us believe we have to work for someone for money or to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of others (unless you work for marvel or dc then you aren’t a real “comic” artist) and because of this belief we’re constantly allowing ourselves to be slammed.

    Here’s a link, while referring to a different field, that is damn sobering:


  17. O Solis

    I was typing in such a fury I didn’t notice that I’d spelled my name wrong. Oh boy.

  18. John Pannozzi

    Can’t agree with the “fuck Star Wars” sentiment, provided someone like Brad Bird, Joss Whedon, Edgar Wright or Peter Jackson gets a crack at the franchise. At least Disney managed to pay Star Wars’ creator well, unlike Marvel’s.

    Oh, and let’s not forget Rich Ross got fired after Carter flopped, and Iger is stepping down in 2015, so maybe new management at Disney could make a difference (optimistic).

    I will say that when/if I see any Marvel movies this year, I’ll use movie gift cards, so I’ll feel a little better.

    Regarding the New 52, I’m only interested in seeing how they’ll mess up Jim Lee’s WildStorm characters. The fact that Rob Liefeld couldn’t put up with the fickleness of DC’s editors speaks volumes of the creative process there.

    And while what Marvel did to Friedrich was horrible, in fairness Friedrich wasn’t completely innocent, since he sold Ghost Rider prints at cons without getting permission from Mike Ploog, let alone anyone at Marvel.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the state of the Hollywood Studio System, considering how democratized the technology of filmmaking is nowadays.

  19. John Pannozzi

    Another thought considering the creators’ rights in the animation industry: Does the Animation Guild allow any creators to get any compensation from characters they create the way DC does? I know some don’t see DC as being much better than Marvel when it comes to creators’ rights, but I seriously wonder if anyone out there in the corporate Hollywood system regularly treats cartoonists any better than their Distinguished Competition (also note that DC’s corporate parent Warners gave Ben Hurst royalties on the Tiny Toons episodes he wrote, even for foreign airings).

    I say we try to get Hollywood actors and directors to pressure Marvel into compensating creators. Surely some of have enough integrity (Edgar Wright?).

  20. srbissette

    I agree on your latter point on your latter post, John; remember, though, Writer’s Guild rules may apply rather than any other Guild. I’d welcome informed input on those issues and points.

    Given the disregard and/or spinelessness of all associated with the mega-budget Marvel movies, I’m not holding my breath, though. I’d love, love, love to be proven wrong.

    As to your former, well, no. For me, STAR WARS is past history. I know this puts me out-of-synch with almost the whole known universe, but I really, genuinely could care less what becomes of it all. Truly. Really.

  21. John Pannozzi

    Truth be told, any loyalty to Disney on my part is due to the Muppets, Pixar and Disney Animation Studios.

    Sad that Disney is like the only Hollywood studio to understand brand identity pretty much.

  22. John Pannozzi

    Also, most animated productions aren’t covered by the Writers Guild, pretty much only sitcoms on FOX like the Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, American Dad, the Cleveland Show, and King of the Hill are.

  23. srbissette

    John, you speak with apparent authority; but for a fact it was the Writers Guild I just two weeks ago assisted in locating the current heirs of my late friend Steve Perry, for the purposes of delivering a royalty check of some sort. The only television my friend ever wrote for were Thundercats and Silverhawks for Rankin/Bass, which were Saturday morning animated cartoon shows.

    I’ve little familiarity with the field, beyond what I’ve gleaned from friends who work in animation. I’m happy to stand corrected on anything I’ve stated.

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