Monday, August 29, 2011
Here's the official story told by Bill Sarnoff:
That shit crayy!
Bill said, more or less, that Marvel seemed to be able to turn a substantial profit on publishing comics, as opposed to DC, which consistently lost money, a lot of money, and had for a long time. On the other hand, LCA (Licensing Corporation of America), Warner’s licensing arm did very well with the DC properties, while Marvel “didn’t seem to do much licensing.”
I guess the few million a year we made from licensing, mostly from Spider-Man, seemed paltry to him, what with the fortune that just their big four, Superman, Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman brought in.
I told him I thought Marvel would be very interested, and that I would discuss it with Marvel’s President, Jim Galton.
So, I did. I told Galton about my conversation with Sarnoff. Galton said he’d give Sarnoff a call.
The next day, I went upstairs, poked my head into Galton’s office and asked whether he’d called Sarnoff and, if so, how that went?
Galton said he told Sarnoff we weren’t interested.
I was stunned. Why not?!
Galton said—and this is prima facie evidence of the fact that he missed Comic Books 101 in publishing school—since DC books weren’t selling, “those characters must not be any good.”
Trying not to sound too crazed, I explained that they were great characters and that the DC editorial people were, frankly, doing a pretty poor job with them. And that we could do better. A lot better.
I talked him into calling Sarnoff back and telling him we’d give it some thought.
I left his office with instructions to put together a business plan and present it to Joe Calamari, Executive V.P. of Business Affairs.
It took me about three days to put together a presentable plan.
The first part of the business plan was the publishing plan. I decided that we should launch with seven titles and build from there, if all went well. The titles were:
LEGION OF SUPER HEROES
I projected that we would sell 39 million copies the first two years generating a pre-tax profit (gross revenues less cost of goods sold, royalties, staff, SG&A, etc.) of roughly $3,500,000.
That was huge money for a comic book publisher in 1984.
That was with just the original seven titles—no expansion of the line—though if we were doing that well, obviously, we’d add titles. Slowly and carefully, if I had anything to say about it.
I anticipated adding one editor, two assistants and one production person to start.
Calamari enthusiastically endorsed my plan.
Galton was still skeptical. He thought my projections were crazy high. He sent the plan to the circulation department to review.
Somebody leaked. Rumors spread.
My first clue was when John Byrne showed up in my office one day with his cover for…
It wasn’t a sketch. It was a cover. Might even have been inked, I forget. I don’t have a copy of the thing, but I’ll bet Byrne still has the original. Somebody should ask him to display it on his site if he hasn’t already.
He had a story worked out, too, as I recall. He reallyreallyreally wanted to do Superman.
I think I remember Byrne telling me once that he had watched the first Superman movie over 1,100 times.
When the circulation department said they had completed their analysis of my plan, Galton called a meeting to discuss it. Besides Galton and me, Ed Shukin, V.P. of Circulation and Direct Sales Manager Carol Kalish were present. I don’t think Calamari was there. V.P. of Finance Barry Kaplan might have been.
Galton asked what Shukin’s take on my numbers was. Shukin said the numbers were “ridiculous.” Galton sort of smirked at me.
“We’ll do more than DOUBLE these numbers,” Shukin said.
Oh, my stars and garters!
And so, negotiations with Sarnoff began in earnest. I was a spectator at that point. The suits took over.
Very soon thereafter, First Comics launched a lawsuit against Marvel Comics and others, alleging anti-trust violations, among other things.
One test of anti-competitive market dominance is market share of 70% or more. At that time Marvel held a nearly 70% share, 69-point-something. DC was around 18%.
I think it’s safe to say that when you’re being sued under anti-trust laws, it’s a bad time to devour your largest competitor.
On the other hand, there is the “we-have-a-clue-and-they-don’t” or “superior acumen” defense. We considered arguing that defense and pressing on with the deal.
But, no. Ultimately, the suits and lawyers decided to play it safe and backed away from the DC deal.
P.S. First’s suit was nonsense. They alleged that we had flooded the market. Our actual increase in releases published during the “flood” year from the year before? Six. Six issues, not series. They alleged that we had used our dominance to fix prices with World Color Press to inflate their costs. In discovery, it came out that we were paying more than they were! (And that news made Galton and the print production people very peeved!) Etc.
I’ll write more about the First suit someday. Enough about that for now.
Net result, no SUPERMAN –First Marvel Issue! Too bad. It would have been fun.
Here's the official correspondence:
Driver (RYAN GOSLING) is a stunt driver by day and a getaway driver by night. Doesn’t matter what job he does, Driver is most comfortable behind the wheel of a car. Shannon (BRYAN CRANSTON) is part mentor, part manager for Driver. Since he knows what a great talent Driver is behind the wheel, he either peddles him to film and television directors in the entertainment business or thieves who need an accomplished getaway driver, taking a cut for his own pockets. Always looking to make a buck, Shannon’s current plan is funding a stock car that Driver can race on the professional circuit. Since Bernie Rose (ALBERT BROOKS) is the wealthiest guy he knows, even if the sources of his money are questionable, Shannon proposes he be their investor. After seeing Driver in action at the speedway, Bernie Rose insists Nino (RON PERLMAN) partners with them as well. Primarily a loner and ambivalent about the deals Shannon makes for him, Driver’s world changes the day he shares an elevator ride at his apartment building with Irene (CAREY MULLIGAN). When he sees her again at the grocery store with her young son, Benicio (KADEN LEOS), he is transfixed, and willingly offers help when they are stranded in the parking lot because Irene’s car won’t start. Soon Driver settles into a routine of driving Irene to her waitress job and watching Benicio, entangled in their lives while her car is fixed. This interlude in Driver’s life abruptly stops when Standard (OSCAR ISAAC), Irene’s husband, is let out early from prison for good behavior. Even though nothing has happened between Driver and Irene, Standard is threatened by another man’s presence in his family’s life. Driver backs off, respectful of Irene’s desire to keep her family together, but when he finds Standard bloodied and lying in the garage with a scared Benicio standing next to his father, Driver is embroiled even further in Irene’s life. Then trouble begins…
The Woman is the last surviving member of a feral clan that has roamed the Northeast Coast for decades. When the last of her family is killed in a battle with the police, The Woman finds herself alone, severely wounded and vulnerable. Unfortunately, she is now a far too easy prey for local hunter, successful country lawyer and seriously disturbed family man Christopher Cleek. With his twisted set of ideals, Cleek decides to embark upon a deranged project - to capture her and "break" The Woman - a decision that will soon threaten the lives of Cleek, his family and The Woman.
Geek Tyrant's Review:
Olsen deserves all the acclaim she's receiving for her performance here; she's superb, and she convincingly takes the audience on a journey of shattered memories and paranoia as we start to experience her recovery along with her. The editing of this movie was gimmicky - it cross cuts between Martha's present time living with her sister and her sister's husband, and flashbacks of her cult life - but the transitions between the two time periods are very well done. Normally I'd see a technique like this as being a bit too contrived, but Durkin's writing and direction make the cross cuts feel like an organic progression.
Academy Award Nominee John Hawkes was phenomenal; like The Ledge's Patrick Wilson has a lock on the creepy suburban archetype, Hawkes has playing the backwoods patriarch down to a science. He also gets to show off a bit of his musical skill set, playing guitar and singing the disquieting "Marcy's Song" in the movie. He's alternatingly charismatic and horrifying, much like Michael Parks' cult leader figure in Kevin Smith's Red State. He gives the girls who come to his commune new names to separate them from their past, and builds their self-confidence by essentially brainwashing them into servitude (sexual and otherwise).
"Happy, Happy" is the feature directorial debut from award-winning Norwegian filmmaker Anne Sewitsky. In the film, family is the most important thing in the world to Kaja (Agnes Kittelsen). She is an eternal optimist in spite of living with a man who would rather go hunting with the boys and isn't interested in having sex with her anymore because she "isn't particularly attractive." Whatever. That's life.
But when "the perfect couple" moves in next door, Kaja struggles to keep her emotions in check. Not only do these successful, beautiful, exciting people sing in a choir, they have also adopted a child – from Ethiopia! These new neighbors open a whole new world to Kaja, with consequences for everyone involved. And when Christmas comes around, it becomes evident that nothing will ever be like before – even if Kaja tries her very best.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
16 Redesigns of famous Masters of the Universe-characters! I imagined them somewhere in the indie/hipster/fashion-scene, as if they were doing a photoshooting for some magazine. I'm a fashion-nerd myself, so I dressed them up in things that really excist and that I like.
"Public Square was transformed into Stuttgart Germany, complete with street signs, banners, and even a marquee over entrance to the site of the former Higbee's Department Building--all written in German.
According to one of the movie's extra, Terminal Tower was being used as a museum, and the extra told NewsChannel5 that the character Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, killed someone in front of hundreds of museum visitors and was making his getaway when the police arrived. Hundreds of extras were seen running in fear multiple times from the set.
The most exciting part of the night came at around 2:30 a.m. when the crew used a pneumatic ram mounted in the rear of a German police car to flip it onto its roof. The setup for the stunt took a few hours and had to be done twice because the first time the car did not flip completely onto its roof."