10 December 2015

An Unknown Comics Adventure in Oz

Last week as The Wiz was about to air on television, Mark Evanier unspooled his story about being hired to script an adaptation of the 1978 movie version for DC Comics.

It’s most interesting, like a lot of the stories on Evanier’s website, for the backstage look at how comics companies work. (Which is to say, barely.) There are also some nicely crafted lines:
  • “Not far enough before the film's scheduled premiere, someone at or around DC Comics got the idea to publish a slick magazine which would be part comic book, part souvenir book for lovers of the movie. This was some time before anyone knew there wouldn't be a lot of lovers of that movie.”
  • “I had to sign all sorts of non-disclosure agreements that I would not divulge what I saw to anyone and as I recall, they didn't specify any time limit. I mean, I was supposed to write all these authorized articles about what was in the movie and here I was signing vows that I would never in a million years divulge to anyone what was in the movie. So I may be violating those agreements right now.”
  • “I forget what they were going to charge for it but it struck me as a bit too pricey. It also struck me as not my problem.”
  • “By far, most of my time went into going up to Universal to see a more-complete version of the movie and then to see an even-more-complete version. I saw it three times but I never saw the final release cut. I felt that the film got better as the holes were filled in…which is not to say I thought it ever got to be really good. The merits it did have were (a) a few of the actors’ performances and (b) some truly dazzling dance numbers. And of course, it did dawn on me that our adaptation would contain neither.”
For the stories of which artist should work on this project, how the 1976 Copyright Act affected things, why no one has ever heard of this comic, and how its obscurity might have helped Evanier and artist Dan Spiegle’s careers, check out Evanier’s recollection.


David Maxine said...

There were a number of pages of original art from the abandoned THE WIZ graphic novel in the display of Oz comic art at the Coronado Library during WINKIE CON 50 and the rest of that summer.

J. L. Bell said...

There was something familiar about the art with Evanier's article. Since Dan Spiegle was working in such a common style for the period of my childhood, however, I wasn't sure whether I'd seen some of his Wiz pages before or whether they looked just like what I'd picture if someone asked me to imagine an adaptation of The Wiz in the style of Spidey Super Stories.