Rights and Wrongs in Adaptations

Becky Cloonan of Ink and Thunder points us towards the following letter. I am not a part in this dispute, and I’m not one to take part in things like these. However, this story is all to plausible, and saddening to the core. Read for yourself and respond :

Greetings.

This is a plea for help. Many of you know that we are set to publish our first serialized comic book, PHINEAS POE, a graphic adaptation of the acclaimed neo-noir novel Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer. PHINEAS POE #1 was solicited to our national distributor in February for shipping this June. Many of you have already pre-ordered this title.

Ralph Hemecker, the President of Mythic Films (http://www.mythicfilms.com), purchased the rights to the Kiss Me, Judas novel at the end of February of this year. In April he sent my company Terra Major a cease-and-desist letter, claiming that his purchase agreement extends to graphic adaptations. Hemecker has also threatened my distributor Diamond Distributors, Inc. Diamond has complied with his cease-and-desist demand and will not distribute PHINEAS POE until our dispute is resolved. Will Christopher Baer and I met and agreed to adapt KMJ to comics before Hemecker entered the scene. We have been working on this for years, in our spare time, for no pay. Terra Major is a self-publishing enterprise. We make no money; we do what we do out of sheer love of comics. The artist Jefferson Costa, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, has produced 300 pages–as much as the graphic novel FROM HELL which was 12 years in the making. The fruits of his efforts can be seen here:

http://www.terramajor.com/POE01.lores.pdf
http://www.terramajor.com/POE02.lores.pdf
http://www.terramajor.com/POE03.lores.pdf
http://www.terramajor.com/POE04.lores.pdf
http://www.terramajor.com/POE05.lores.pdf

Although I have a legal right to publish the PHINEAS POE comic, I have offered to purchase a license from Hemecker. He has refused me; he will not answer my phone calls or emails; he will not talk to me at all; he will not negotiate with me. According to Baer, Hemecker just wants to “shut us down.” It’s hard for me to understand why. In his cease-and-desist letter he claims he has plans to produce his own graphic novel version. Again, I don’t understand why he can’t simply get behind the one we have already completed, and in close collaboration with the author.

Hemecker will seek an injunction against me in the next two weeks. My request to fans of Will Christopher Baer is simply that you download the PDFs above, look at we have done, and if you back it, write Hemecker an email in support of our work. The theory being that you all are the most important fans with respect to Chris’ work and Hemecker would not want to alienate you. Again, I don’t know why he is so hellbent on crushing us–it’s not as if there is any money in comics.

Thank you for your support of indie comics and of the PHINEAS POE comic book. You can contact Hemecker at studio@mythicfilms.com Perhaps with your help Hemecker will be persuaded to sell us a license so we can fulfill our purchase orders from Diamond–so that you can get your copy of the PHINEAS POE comic.

Sincerely,

shane

Shane L. Amaya
Publisher, Terra Major

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