Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Case Of The Comic Contract Kerfuffle

It was a dark and stormy night in the beginning of the novel I was reading, so I threw it away. I can't stand stories that open with cliches.

Anyway, I was sitting in my office, which had become quite dusty since it had been almost 2 years since I last did one of these silly private eye parodies.

Suddenly there was a knock on my door... or to be more exact a knock went through my door. My door made like a banana and split right down the middle crumbling into pieces on my floor.
"Come on in," I said nonchalantly, "the door's open."

"Sorry about that," said a tall good looking guy in blue tights with matching red cape and boots. "I'm here because I need a dick."

"I'm sure you do," I answered, "and while I may be flattered, I don't really swing that way."

"Not that kind of dick," snapped the big blue cheese, "I need a shamus, a peeper, a snooper, a gumshoe, and/or a private detective."

"Then you've come to the right place," I said, "have a seat and start by telling me your name."

"Which one?" he asked.

"What do you mean which one?"

"I have three names," answered the big guy in blue.  "My Kryptonian name, my Earthling name, and my professional name."

"Let's keep this professional," I said as I poured out a belt of Scotch, and realized I now had a wet belt that smelled like cheap Scotch.

"My name is Superman," answered the big guy.  "Maybe you've heard of me?"

"Once or twice," I said, "what kind of case do you want me to solve?"

"It's a custody fight."

"I don't do divorces," I answered, "I only do cases that allow me to satirize show business stories in the style of a hardboiled detective story with lots of 'meta' self-awareness tossed in for cheap laughs."

"It's not a divorce," answered Superman, "the company that owns me and the heirs of the guys who created me are having a fight over who owns me, and the Warner Brothers want to take it to open court.  It's like watching your parents fight and it's tearing me apart."

"What do you want me to find out?"

"I want you to find out why they're fighting like this.  They won't tell me and if I don't know why I can't make them see reason."

"This is Hollywood buddy," I said, "reason often has very little to do with anything.  This is the same studio that put Jon Peters in charge of the Superman movie franchise and he pissed away $50 million before shooting a single frame of film."

"Just find out for me," said Superman.  "You can find anything. Remember that day you found Bridget Fonda?"

"Who could forget," I said, it was one of my toughest cases. 

"I have to go now, Lois usually does something really stupid and dangerous by now.  UP! UP! AND AWAY!"

And with that my new client took to the skies, too bad it was through my ceiling and the offices of the accountant upstairs. Not the brightest bit of kryptonite.

I hit the streets looking for answers. But the street wasn't talking because it's just pavement, and I think I broke my knuckles.  Anyway, after I left the emergency room I went straight to the horse's mouth.

I was too late, the horse had accepted a job on HBO's Luck, and ended up as glue and discount BBQ. I poured a 40 of malt liquor on the track in his honor, he would have wanted it that way.

That left me one option. I had to go to see the Warner Brothers.

I drove my 1976 AMC Pacer out into the wilds of Burbank.  The guard at the gate wasn't going to just let me in, because he knew me. I had to subtle.

Thankfully, I just happened to have towed my catapult out to Burbank with me.

When I regained consciousness I was inside the Warner Brothers studio, now I had to charm their receptionist to see the men themselves.

"Hello Sugartits," I said arching my left eyebrow (AKA My Sexy Eyebrow) to the comely receptionist.

Sugartits McGee just sighed and said: "I thought you were dead."

"Just on a long vacation," I said, "I need to see the Warner Brothers pronto."

"There is no Warner Brother named Pronto," said Sugartits McGee.

"I mean right now," I said.

"Sure," she said, knowing that we had flogged this scene long enough, "they're in the big office."

I went into the big office from which the Warner Brothers ran their empire.  Wally Warner had Willy Warner in a headlock and was dishing out some pretty hardcore noogies.  Willy retaliated with a barrage of purple nurples.

"Mom liked me best!" yelled Wally as his nipples were twisted.

"Liar!" screamed Wally as he was noogied bald.

"Hey!" I barked, and the two let each other go.  "I need to talk turkey with you two."

"I don't talk Turkey," said Willy, "I can only speak English."

"I mean serious business," I said, "you got a superhero who is all torn up about going to court because you can't settle with the heirs of his creator."

"Why should we settle?" asked Wally, rubbing his bald spot which was now as red as a baboon's ass.

"Because you can't do anything with Superman if they win," I answer, "and they can't do anything with Superman without the resources and properties that you two own.  So it's in your best interests to settle and get all this over with."

"We offered them a big deal," said Willy.

"Huge deal," added Wally.

"It would have made them millions," said Willy.

"But they wouldn't have it," added Wally.

"Why?" I asked.

"They insisted on putting it all in writing," answered Willy.

"Yeah," added Wally, "they wanted a contract with every term clearly defined."

"Nobody in Hollywood signs contracts," said Willy.

I had to laugh.  This was the funniest double act since Abbot & Costello.

"Are you two kidding?" I asked, because if they weren't they'd be nuttier than a squirrel's turd.

They shook their heads.

"Nobody does anything with a major studio without having all the terms clearly defined, all the 'i's' dotted and all the 't's' crossed.  Samuel Goldwyn wasn't wrong when he said a verbal contract wasn't worth the paper it was written on."

"But if we did that," said Willy, a look of horror crossing his face, "then we'd actually have to pay them what they're owed."

"We didn't get to be this big paying people what they're owed," added Wally. "Hell, if we did that we might actually have to do something concrete about the shrinking audiences for comics."

"That would be too much work," said Willy, being extremely honest for the personification of a company that hasn't anyone named 'Warner' involved in it for over 40 years.

Well, I had an answer for my client. It wasn't a great answer, but sadly it was the truth.


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