A Lost Princess of Mars?

 Thebeat Pom1-Cho-LowresA while ago, on the Old Beat we told you about a new comics series to be published by IDW based on Edgar Rice Burroughs A PRINCESS OF MARS, to be written by Dan Taylor, with art by Ted McKeever and covers by Frank Cho and Mark Wheatley. However, yesterday, eagle-eyed Jen Contino spotted something on Ted McKeever’s website which made it look like the series had been scrapped.

McKeever wrote:

The Princess of Mars project is now officially dead in the water. Two covers done, and the first half of the first issue completed, and word comes that IDW has decided it best not to continue with the project.

It has not been, needless to say, a very pleasant time for me. IDW has been totally gracious and forthcoming without all the legal mumbo jumbo , in telling me to halt all work, so I didn’t waste anymore time than I already had. Frustrating? Yeah. Creatively stunting? Definitely. Enough to cause me to fall apart completely? No friggin way.

This was swiftly taken down, but not before Detective Beat of Helium was on the case. As you know, tracking the various appearances of John Carter, Warlord of Mars, is one of our more pleasant little hobbies.

Now, A PRINCESS OF MARS, the first ERB Martian novel is now in the public domain, but the word on the street is that the Burrough Estate was not too pleased with the adaptation nonetheless. Although the copyright is in the public domain, trademarks may apply and so on. Plus Paramount is working on a JOHN CARTER movie, or has been for a zillion years. So what was the real story?

IDW had no comment, as expected. We decided to call up Danton Burroughs, the grandson of ERB, and head of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., which administers the Burroughs estate. Danton Burroughs had no comment on the proposed IDW comic. When asked if he knew why it was stopped he said only, “No, but I would like to.”

While the supposed demise of the Mars comic may be mysterious for now, Burroughs did allow as to how he had just been to NYC to see the Tarzan musical on Broadway, and perhaps more excitingly, he recently saw some of the presentation art put together by Jon Favreau, who is still on tap to film John Carter after he’s done with Iron man. According to Burroughs the art is “staggering. We’re quite pleased with what he’s done.”

Paramount is still weighing whether to move forward with the film, but a decision is expected soon.

Comments

  1. Purely and absolutely a guess, but for every store like mine that thought, “Wow, cool! Ted McKeever drawing!” there were probably 5 that went “Ew!”

    I suspect initial orders were really bad.

    -B

  2. Based on US copyright law, the first five Mars novels are in the public domain in the United States, since all of them were published before the date of 1923.

    That is the “easy” answer.

    The more complicated answer is that many of the characters invented by ERB have been put out as trademarks, and especially since the change of laws due to the Mickey Mouse problem (can’t have the Mouse in PD, eh?) a few years back, a lot of the copyright issues are muddled in the US and only help lawyers get rich and richer.

  3. Hey! Heidi!
    John Carter wore a mullet!
    “I cut my hair by the fashion of the Red Planet: long in the back, cropped short on top”.

    White snake, anyone?

  4. Well, ol’ JC _is_ a Southerner, after all.

  5. Years ago a buddy and I actually watched the tv show ER regularly. We had a drinking game where every time Noah Wiley introduced himself as ‘John Carter’, we would yell, ‘Warlord of Mars’ at the tv and pound a can of barley-pop.

  6. Hah! I never watched ER, but if I knew that tid-bit of information, I would have.
    As to the “John Carter is from the south” remark, it depends if he’s from Southern VA or a suburb of D.C. (like Springfield).

    Regardless, I’m originally from N.C. and fondly recall my mulletted youth!
    Dave

  7. Rob Gear says:

    John Carter of Mars movie should be modeled after the Movie 300, let Franzetta do the art direction. 70 Million is a nice wade of cash.. wake up Hollywood. That means you Paramount!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Heidi at her new blog location at Publisher’s Weekly has a piece on how PRINCESS OF MARS comic book was scrapped, but it’s not clear why. PRINCESS OF MARS uses characters technically out of copyright, but uses characters still closely tied into the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Read more. [...]

  2. [...] In noting that a proposed comics adaptation of Burrough’s PRINCESS OF MARS appears to have been taken behind the stables and shot, Heidi Mac makes an aside I was unaware of. Apparently, that book is public domain. [...]

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