July 6th, 2010

Peter G

Writer's Block: Wait, that's not how it happened

How do you feel when an adapted film's story deviates from the original material?

Well, it depends on what they do with it.

There are times it deviates, and I go nuts.  Demi Moore's version of The Scarlet Letter is a perfect example of film that I pretty much just watched slackjawed because I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  Whiteout was another.

There are times when they are faithful to the book and it doesn't help because the book was so stupid (Battlefield Earth).

But there are times when the changes are radical but can actually help.  I hated the book Stuart Little, I thought the central character was a selfish dipstick.  The movie changed him and made things far more tolerable than the book did.  Shrek was completely different from the book it was based on.  Aquamarine made the character likable -- still not a great movie, but you were actually pulling for the character.

So change isn't the bad thing, it's what is done with the change that is the question.

Oh, Yeah, It's On....

The ChicagoCon just got a liiiiiiiiittle more exciting....

Okay, let's start at the beginning.  Devil's Due Publishing is a comic company based in the Chicago area.  Josh Blaylock wastes very little time in building the company up to a decent, mid-tier publisher.  Buoyed by the success of Hack/Slash, they started licensing titles like G.I. Joe.  This made me arch my eyebrows -- generally, any time a comic company starts releasing high profile licensed titles, it means certain doom.  NOW Comics, DreamWave...no one is cringing more that APE is publishing comics based on Shrek and The Penguins Of Madagascar than me, they're a bunch of swell guys there.

So, DDP is one of the companies joining on the "Bookstores are the wave of the future!" bandwagon.  Comic companies couldn't wait to get their graphic novels sold through Amazon, Borders, or Barnes And Noble.  After all, look at all the discount titles they sell.  It looks good on paper -- sell to bookstores that will order plenty as opposed to the thin margins of comic shops, and enjoy the money.  However, they forgot about returns.  DDP found themselves crushed by returns from major chains and having to pay up.

So, bills to Diamond for distributing their comic have to wait.  Diamond doesn't want to wait.  So they start keeping the money brought in from selling DDP titles for themselves against their debt.  This meant no money going to DDP, which had other bills, such as printers and talent, to pay.  (There are also rumors that Diamond lost 20% of their DDP stock, no compensation.)  So DDP started hoping that the good will of the talent would enable them to get their act together.  Then they started suing ("You can't pay me, but you can pay for T-shirts and booth babes?!?"), so that didn't work.  Their most consistent title, Hack/Slack, was creator owned, and the guy jumped to Image.  DDP is, to use a Chicago expression, in the trick bag.

Well, DDP has told Diamond to suck mud.  They are pulling all their books from Diamond.  They used alternate channels to distribute their Reanimator - Hack/Slash crossover, which I suspect was a dry run to set up for this.  This means that Diamond no longer has product to sell and cover a low six figure debt.  And what happens if other publishers decide to pull a similar stunt with Diamond, which is already downsizing and seeing Haven's casual progress start to grab names and former Diamond exclusives like Zenoscope and Moonstone?

Both companies have major detractions, so it's tough to pick a side to root for here.  But with the comic industry in as much trouble as it is, this is the worst time for a number like this to happen.