Monday 26th of September 2022

going into battle...




















Actress Scarlett Johansson on Thursday sued the Walt Disney Co. over its streaming of the Marvel superhero movie Black Widow at the same time it played in movie theaters. Her lawyers allege that this breached her contract and deprived her of potential earnings.

The Black Widow star and executive producer said in her lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, that her contract guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release and the dual release strategy had reduced her compensation, which was based partly on box office receipts.

"In the months leading up to this lawsuit, Ms. Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every opportunity to right their wrong and make good on Marvel's promise,'' the lawsuit said.

"Disney intentionally induced Marvel's breach of the Agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.''

Disney dismisses allegations

Disney said there was "no merit" to the lawsuit and that it had complied with her contract.

The movie's release was delayed considerably as a result of the COVID pandemic, and then launched simultaneously in movie theaters and on the Disney+ streaming service


Read more:


Normally, I would not go into this battle of Comics, except I had, in the back of my mind, a memory about a certain battle of Comics that was a bit ugly... In the follow on of this story, there is a picture study of Stan Lee... 



Marvel's real-life superhero: Stan Lee

Born in 1922 in New York, Stanley Martin Lieber was at the center of the Marvel universe. Although he did not establish the publishing house, he was responsible for many of its superheroes — such as the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men — figures that often challenge heroic archetypes. The 2017 book "The Marvel Age of Comics 1961-1978" is the perfect introduction to Lee and his work.


But I have studied cartooning and comics far more "that I would have like". There was a battle between the studios of marvel Comics and Jack Kirby...




Stan Lee had stood astonishingly quiet during the fight for the artwork and Kirby noticed. It bothered Jack, and many fans that Stan had gotten his sweet deal from Marvel but wouldn’t speak up for his old partner. Gary Groth, editor of The Comics Journal in a panel discussion talks about getting Stan Lee to comment on the art dispute. Groth:


“Well we tried to contact Stan Lee for the story that appeared in CJ #100 and as soon as we contacted his office in California, they instituted a new policy that Stan Lee wouldn’t give interviews”.


The audience laughed at the thought of the ever loquacious Stan Lee not giving an interview. Their relationship had reached bottom and would never be repaired. Marvel refused to even talk to their lawyer, and negotiations broke off. To add insult to injury in Variety Magazine dated March 6, 1985 was an ad touting an upcoming movie from Cannon Films featuring Captain America. In the credits it says that the film was based on Stan Lee’s Marvel Comic strip character. Jack was so incensed at this snub that he contacted his old partner and together they had a lawyer contact the studio to correct the credits immediately or face a lawsuit. When asked about it, Stan gave his usual “some unnamed advertising guy mistakenly credited him” spiel. With Stan it’s always someone else who mistakenly gave him all the credit.


The fan media got wind of the artwork dispute and talked of boycotting Marvel unless they gave Kirby back his art-sans waiver. Petitions were circulated and many major artists and artistic guilds sent letters of protest to Marvel. Jenette Kahn of DC sent a particularly scathing letter in support of Kirby



To the Comics Journal,


It is a sad history. During the first three decades in our industry, comic art was destroyed by all the major companies because they were insensitive to even the personal value of the work and unconscious that artists had any rights in it. By the late Sixties, as protests grew, the majors ceased to butcher artists’ pages, but hoarded them instead in warehouses.


In 1973, DC acknowledged what should have been true from the industry’s beginning and what is true for all other magazines and periodical literature. We, the publishing houses, are paying only for the right to reproduce the work. The ownership of the page, the actual object, belongs unequivocally to the artist, and the artist alone.


We emptied our warehouse, searching out artists who had not worked for DC in years. In 1978, DC became –and still is—the only major comic book company to guarantee in every contract written for every piece of work the return of the original art. We also were the first and only to guarantee payment if the artwork we had in our custody was damaged or lost.


Jack Kirby is one of our industry’s greatest innovators and contributors. We are all in his debt. His artwork, like that of all the hundreds of other artists who have received their pages back from the publishers, is his morally and by industry practice for the past twelve years.


There has never been a time in those twelve years that we have singled out any artist and attached different conditions to the return of his art. We cannot imagine a circumstance in which it would be appropriate or ethical. Ownership of artwork is absolute and therefore cannot be subject to negotiation.


Jenette Kahn, Dick Giordano, Paul Levitz


Will Eisner wrote a poignant and passionate plea to Marvel for his former studio mate and friend;




I have been following the public debate over your refusal to return Jack Kirby’s art. I have read with growing dismay the details and surrounding rhetoric.


This matter has gone beyond whatever legal merits there may or may not be to your position.


By your public intransigence you are doing severe damage to an American cultural community that is now emerging from the dark years of trash and into an era of literary responsibility.


It is important to those of us who devote our lives to this important art form to know that we have certain inalienable moral rights and that these are respected by the publishers.


For the sake of protecting the standards of this profession—not to mention your own reputation—I urge you to return to Jack Kirby all his original art AND DO SO PROMPTLY AND FAIRLY.


A whole new generation of creative people are watching your conduct. Don’t fail them.


The newfound celebrity caught Jack by surprise. He was a solitary man in a solitary business, staring alone into a blank white sheet, drawing on his own imagination to fill it in. This attention rattled his somewhat. He was happy for others to take up his cause, but still not used to outside help. “He explained. “ I’m from the old school. I’m from a generation you fellas know nothing about. I ask nobody to do anything for me. If they feel like writing a letter, fine, if they don’t, it’s still fine with me. I’ll continue my own fight. It’ll go on because I want it to go on. If it stops, it’ll be because I stopped it. I ask nothing of anybody.




So there... The question of who owns the art of the artists has always been a curly one... My mate, the strip comic artist who died recently and whom we have already mentioned on this site, had a similar experience with his publishers...


GusNote: The picture of Mickey Mouse on the artwork at top is my backscratcher bought by a friend at Disneyland in 1983... It is made of solid plastic and is always useful when no-one is there to scratch my back...



does this look like trump?


the pentagon studios...


By Tom Secker, a British-based investigative journalist, author and podcaster. You can follow his work via his Spy Culture site and his podcast ClandesTime.



For the first time, the US military’s central office for dealing with Hollywood has re-leased internal reports on its operations, revealing how the Department of Defense strong-armed the industry to achieve its propaganda goals. 

The reports were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and offer a rare glimpse inside the DOD’s main entertainment liaison offices at the Pentagon, which oversees the individual branch offices in Los Angeles run by the Army, Navy, Air Force and others. The reports cover approximately two years of activities and illustrate just how aggressive the DOD can be when dealing with film and TV producers, as well as their involvement with some of the biggest-name filmmakers in Hollywood. 

The sheer range of products mentioned in the documents as having gained assistance from the US military is staggering, from Navy-assisted episodes of Cake Boss and the Great Food Truck Race to the Disney sci-fi fantasy A Wrinkle in Time. Numerous other films are listed, including blockbusters like Captain MarvelTop Gun: Maverick and Transformers: The Last Knight


On Captain Marvel the DOD and US Air Force provided research trips to military bases, filming access at several military locations, and extensive promotional help including an Air Force recruitment campaign that tied into the film. The documents also reveal how the two co-directors of the movie, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, paid a visit to the Pentagon just before the film’s release.  

One document notes, “During their visit they attended office calls and had lunch with Air Force leaders. They also participated in a professional development session” for Air Force and DOD public affairs officers, showing just how integrated the military-Hollywood relationship has become.  

The files also confirm the military’s support on the final season of Homeland, though only after the “major problems noted in scripts” were resolved by the showrunner making “significant edits to the problematic areas.” The result was a show that preempted the false story that the Russian government had been funding Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, and played up fears about what will happen when the US finally withdraws from the country. 

The Pentagon also worked on smaller films such as The 15:17 to Paris, a Clint Eastwood-directed retelling of how three Americans, including two servicemen, tackled a gunman on a train from Amsterdam to Paris in 2015. One entry in the reports records how they received “a long list of things that the film makers hope to obtain from us” but the DOD only approved support after ensuring that they could “create enough military portrayal to justify use of our assets.” 

Beefing up the military’s presence in films, and the role of military characters in the unfolding storylines, is a key aim of the DOD’s Hollywood offices, but they don’t always get what they want. Christopher Nolan approached them about providing Osprey and Chinook aircraft for use in Tenet, and the National Guard and Air Force “indicated interest if military characterizations are rewritten emphasizing military mission.”  

A few weeks later, it seems that Nolan simply stopped responding to the military’s phone calls, with one update commenting, “Likely cause is that producer/director were reluctant to make changes needed to gain DOD support.” This echoes what happened on Interstellar, Nolan’s previous sci-fi epic. Reportsfrom the Navy’s Hollywood office record how he approached them about potential support, but the relationship broke down after he refused to share his script with Navy officials, having clearly learned from the extensive rewrites the military demanded on Man of Steel.  

At the other end of the Hollywood scale is Tom Hanks, who has worked with different US government agencies throughout his career, from the CIA on Charlie Wilson’s War to Homeland Security on The Terminal, as well as several military-supported productions. Hanks’ name comes up multiple times in the documents, as the DOD provided help to his historical war film Greyhound, as well as his forthcoming post-apocalyptic drama Finch

The strict criteria that the military apply when deciding whether to support a production results in a high number of rejections, which can have the effect of killing a movie or TV show. Among the rejections detailed in the documents are “documentaries about Vladimir Putin and about the trials at Guantanamo Bay” and a film about the Bermuda Triangle, where the DOD were “Not impressed by the quality of the writing nor the story itself.” Neither the Bermuda Triangle film nor the Gitmo documentary appear to have been made. 

Other movies that were turned down include Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse as well as Rob Reiner’s Shock and Awe, in the latter case because “premise is how the WH & DoD (mainly the WH) claimed that Bin Laden and Hussein conspired to create the 9/11 attacks, and fabricated evidence of Saddam collecting materials to fabricate nuclear weapons to use against the U.S. and its allies.”  

Likewise, a feature-length documentary about Operation Eagle Claw – the failed attempt by US special forces to rescue some of the hostages held in Iran – was turned down after their request was forwarded to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, highlighting how high-up policy wonks are sometimes part of the decision-making process. This documentary also appears to have fallen by the wayside, unable to be produced due to the Pentagon’s censorious approach to pop culture. 

However, the most egregious censorship revealed by the new documents came on the 2019 CBS drama series The Code, about Marine Corps lawyers prosecuting and defending cases brought under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Code was initially made without any military input, because the producers wanted to explore topics of which the DOD wouldn’t approve.  

In the opening episodes the cases handled by the lawyers include a Marine-turned-congressman who is accused of murdering an Iraqi civilian execution-style, and the fallout from a Marine killing a Spanish citizen while drunk driving. Meanwhile, the widow of a murdered Marine decides to sue the Corps and challenge the Ferris Doctrine – a law that prevents people from suing the US military based on events that happened while on active duty.  

These are precisely the sort of storylines that the DOD routinely removes from scripts for shows they support, such as NCIS and Hawaii Five-0. The documents record how on an NCIS: New Orleans episode they “Took issue with the latest NCIS NOLA script, in which a team of former U.S. Army rangers are portrayed as ‘killers for hire’.” An update days later reports that, “Filmmakers responded by saying they are working to remove all references to killers having been affiliated with U.S. Army Rangers.”

But this wasn’t possible on The Code, because the producers resisted numerous efforts by the military to get involved and have influence over the scripts. As the reports detail, “The showrunner turned down several offers of assistance by the Marine Corps Entertainment office during production.” An investigation by Task & Purpose found that the Marines kept trying to insert themselves into the production of The Code, but as one official put it, they were “essentially told to f-ck off” by the showrunners.  

The documents go on to note that – somehow – Marine Corps leadership got hold of the early episodes of The Code before they’d aired. They were “displeased enough that they communicated what they saw as serious shortcomings in the depiction of the Marines.” The Corps imposed themselves on the production, and as a result, “CBS Television has indicated a desire to correct the problems in future episodes by accepting DoD assistance.” 

The upshot of this was that the show took a turn and abandoned the controversial storylines of its earlier episodes, including the lawsuit around the Ferris Doctrine – though the suit is abandoned not due to pressure from the military brass, but so that the widow can embark on a romantic relationship with one of the key witnesses. 

A few months later The Code was cancelled, having given up on the only thing that made it stand out in a crowded marketplace of criminal and legal procedurals. In essence, the DOD sabotaged a TV show because they didn’t like its politics. 

While the likes of Christopher Nolan are powerful enough to sometimes resist the military’s overtures and manipulations, the DOD’s hostile takeover of Hollywood is gathering pace due to these aggressive, domineering tactics. 


Read more:



Read from top.



the gullible fandom...


By Annalee Newitz


If you’re looking forward to watching the final season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” when it premieres on Aug. 12, you have online fandom to thank. The popular television comedy about a snarky but lovable squad of Brooklyn cops was canceled by Fox in 2018, then picked up by NBC in less than two days, thanks to a massive outpouring of love from the show’s fans on Twitter.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is hardly the first show to be saved by fans; many others have been brought back by fan campaigns, including the offbeat sitcom “Arrested Development.” Back in the 1980s, a letter-writing campaign by fans restored “Designing Women” to a prime time slot. And fans of “Star Trek” arguably set the standard for fan activism with a 1960s letter campaign that persuaded NBC to air a second season, saving the sci-fi show from being a one-season dud.

But online fandom in 2021 isn’t content to occasionally resurrect a beloved series. It’s a force that seeks control over everything, from characters’ romantic choices to producers’ casting decisions. Studios watch fandom to figure out which franchise characters should get spinoffs, too. That’s why a meme-worthy character such as Loki — originally a sidekick to his brother, Thor, in the Marvel cinematic universe — was resurrected this year for a Disney+ series. It’s also why Hollywood marketing teams do outreach to fans to suss out whether, say, the new “Dune” movie will run afoul of the millions who devoured the original books.

Call it the age of fan service. Pop culture will never be the same, but maybe that’s a good thing. As online fandom transforms storytelling, it is also revealing a fundamental truth: The lone writer in a garret, disconnected from the world, was always a myth. No one creates in a vacuum, untouched by the demands of the marketplace and the cultural conversation of the moment. From tales told and retold around fires to those filmed, spun off and rebooted in Hollywood, storytelling has always been a communal process.

The first time I noticed a fan-driven story line, I was deep into the soapy teen horror show “Vampire Diaries,” which ran from 2009 to 2017. Our sparky hero, Elena, was torn between two vampire brothers, the broody but honorable Stefan and the sociopathic bad boy Damon. I couldn’t understand why Elena kept going back to Damon, given his penchant for murdering Elena’s friends and family. It turned out that fandom was at least partly to blame: Adherents of the “Delena” (Damon and Elena) romance took to Twitter and kept pushing for more, no matter how evil Damon got. This made the plotline “really hard,” the show’s co-creators, Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, said on a Comic-Con panel in 2019. Though the writers tried repeatedly to turn fans against Damon by emphasizing his misdeeds, ultimately they allowed the Delena relationship to sail along until Elena was put into an enchanted sleep and Nina Dobrev, the actress who played her, left the show.

Other creators have embraced the feedback from their online fans. Jonathan Nolan, a co-creator of the futuristic HBO show “Westworld,” said he frequented fan communities on Reddit and even admitted to changing the show’s plot in 2017 when fans got too close to figuring out key twists in season two. This may have backfired: Critics and fans alike complained that Mr. Nolan and the show’s other creator, Lisa Joy, went too far in the direction of fan service, creating a second-season plot that was incomprehensible and a mess.

The online aspects of fandom are new, but fan campaigns themselves go back more than a century. When Arthur Conan Doyle killed off his famous detective Sherlock Holmes in 1893, fans were outraged. Thousands of people canceled their subscriptions to The Strand, the magazine in which the Sherlock short stories appeared. Others launched a letter-writing campaign to bring the brilliant detective back. Under intense public pressure, Doyle published a Sherlock prequel in 1901, the novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” which The Strand serialized, and he finally rewrote literary history in 1903, resurrecting Sherlock with a plot twist: He didn’t actually die in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”

Fan service isn’t always about unwelcome plot twists or favorite fictional couples. The term comes from anime, in which creators added thirsty scenes with scantily clad characters to reel in fans. And today’s online fandom is often entangled with culture wars — for example, when far-right provocateurs dug up offensive tweets from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” film director James Gunn after he criticized President Donald Trump, prompting his quick firing by Disney. (After another round of fan backlash, he was rehired to direct the third film in that franchise.)

There has been “an external influx” into fandom of people with other motives, explained Flourish Klink, a co-host of the podcast “Fansplaining” and a frequent consultant on fan outreach campaigns for Hollywood. They are in it to advance “political footballs” rather than stories, Mx. Klink told me, and such culture warriors are largely to blame for the many Twitter blowups over “Star Wars” movies. (These got ugly at times, including attacks on the director of “The Last Jedi,” Rian Johnson, and racism directed at the Vietnamese American actress Kelly Tran.) The problem, as Mx. Klink sees it, is that “it’s hard for the entertainment industry to distinguish” between loving but critical fans and activists with murkier motives.

Another blurring of the lines can be found in the ascension of fan fiction to the mainstream. Fans make a distinction between canon (the original story) and “fanon” (the embellishments created by fans). But fanfic communities online have nurtured real-life careers, including those of writers of color, as well as women and queer creators, Mx. Klink pointed out — and some fanon writers have broken through to mainstream popularity, challenging the white-dude dominance of some genres.

Tracy Deonn, the author of the best-selling young-adult fantasy novel “Legendborn,” grew up participating in online communities, such as Archive of Our Own, that were devoted to fan fiction, and she told me fanon can offer a more inclusive and diverse fictional landscape. In her novel, which plays with the canon of Arthurian legends, a Black teen named Bree must infiltrate an all-white society of monster hunters to stop a demonic invasion.

“I don’t know how many fandoms I’ve been in where the fanon life of a character was far more robust than what we saw in canon,” Ms. Deonn told me. It came full circle, she said, when people started creating fanfic and art of Bree and other characters from “Legendborn.” She was thrilled.

Whether it’s destructive or restorative, fan culture is helping to shape the most popular stories of our time. It’s asking important questions about who gets to tell stories and adding transparency to the process. Through fandom’s lens, we can see the audience remaking our pop culture in real time, even as we consume it.


Annalee Newitz (@Annaleen) is a science journalist who writes science fiction. Their latest books include “The Future of Another Timeline” and “Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age.


Read more:


Read from top. Saves a lot of people from sheer boredom, polishing carrots or being morally worried about wars... Is the fandom encouraged by the CIA and the Pentagon?





Holy coming out, Batman!

In the latest installment of “Batman: Urban Legends,” the DC comic book character Tim Drake — a k a the Caped Crusader’s sidekick Robin — accepts an invitation to go on a date with a man named Bernard Dowd — thereby confirming Robin’s LGBTQ status, TMZ has reported.

Robin’s bisexual narrative unfolds in what one fan calls a “lightbulb moment” as he and Bernard find themselves in a streetside brawl. After the hero ultimately rescues Bernard, Robin later pays him a visit at his apartment.

As Drake, the character can be seen psyching himself up for greeting Bernard: “It’s OK, Tim. You got this.”

At Bernard’s door, Drake stammers, “I’m really glad you got home okay. I was relieved. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, about that night. And I — I don’t know what it meant to me. Not yet. But I’d like to figure it out.”


Read more:


This news is provided here without any prejudice nor any ounce of truth. Boy Robin is a cardboard fictitious character who is just a foil to another cardboard thingy in order to have some explanatory dialogue about cardboard stories that would not make sense otherwise... (THE STORIES DON'T MAKE SENSE ANYWAY...)


Read from top.