When Hollywood Steals From Comics

Mike Greear wrotes for Bleeding Cool from NYCC. Photo by Seth Kushner.

If any aspiring comic book creators were still under the impression that bringing their project to Hollywood would be an easy endeavor, or a hard endeavor, Friday’s “Comics, Hollywood – What Creators Need To Know” panel put those hopes to rest. It’s not easy, it’s not just hard, it’s damn near impossible.

One of the most startling things that audience members learned was from panelist Jimmy Palmiotti, of “Painkiller Jane” fame. Palmiotti said that a huge number of his ideas had been seemingly stolen over the last year or so, and even joked that he had his house checked for bugs and microphones because he felt he might’ve been spied on.

Palmiotti and fellow panelists, Top Cow Publisher Matt Hawkins and former Buffy writer Jane Espenson, shared stories, some might say horror stories, of how much Hollywood screenwriters rip off comic book writers without citing them, with Hawkins asserting that much of the dialogue from the first X-Men film was lifted from Chris Claremont’s writing, without any credit given to the longtime X-Men scribe.

Palmiotti also related a story about how he had solicited a comic that was set to be released when a cable company contacted him and told him that they wanted the name to the book. He said that it was his, and they simply told him that they knew that he could sue them if he wanted to, but that they knew he didn’t have the money to do so.

So that was that. The cable company took the name to use for their company, and Palmiotti was forced to release the book under a different name from what was solicited.

Altogether, the message seemed to be that if you’re hoping to move through comics into the world of developing Hollywood properties, expect to get some bumps and bruises.

There was some reassurance to be found, however. Palmiotti said that after the recent film adaptation of “Jonah Hex,” he and Justin Gray received a royalties check for creating Telula Black, Megan Fox’s character in the movie. He also said that Chuck Dixon and the other creators involved with the character of Bane were “taken care of” after that character’s inclusion in the most recent Batman movie.

Panelists also emphasized the importance of having a bite-sized pitch for your property, with each panelist taking a turn at pitching something in around a minute.

“If you can’t do your pitch in two minutes, you’re lost,” Hawkins said.

Espenson, who recently launched her new TV series “Husbands” on the web with a digital comic series to follow, told audience members that online is the next generation of television.

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