Spider-Man The Musical? Please, Don’t Go There

The other day I ran across a blurb about rumored casting for a musical version of Spider-Man. At first I assumed it was an Entourage-style joke, but apparently it’s not. Playbill had an item back in April 2007 about the production,

As previously reported, Julie Taymor will direct the forthcoming musical version of the Marvel Comics hero with music provided by Bono and The Edge of the band U2. According to the notice, Glen Berger — playwright of Underneath The Lintel and The Wooden Breeks — will join Taymor on the book. (Neil Jordan — of “The Crying Game” fame — had previously been attached.) Taymor consistent collaborator Matthias “Teese” Gohl (“Across The Universe,” “Frida,” “Titus”) will serve as musical supervisor.

The comic giant Marvel Entertainment will share producing credits with Hello Entertainment/David Garfinkle and Martin McCallum.

I’m still crossing my fingers that this is some elaborate hoax. If it’s real, the best thing that could happen to this production can be summed up in two words — Hulk, Smash!

40th Anniversary Spider-Man CDROM Review

Back in September I mentioned the 40th Anniversary Spider-Man CDROM Collection — Amazing Fantasy #15 plus issues 1-500 of The Amazing Spider-Man all in one CD-ROM collection for about $40.

I finally managed to pick up a copy recently. Basically, what we have are 501 PDF files containing relatively high-resolution scans of each comic book. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, everything is included in each book, including inside covers, advertisements, letter pages, etc. If its was in the book, its in the PDF. Unfortunately, many of the comics that were used for the scans are clearly showing their age. Even more recent books tend to show quite a bit of wear. This is in contrast to Topic Entertainment’s previous Marvel Comics CDROM collection which achieved stunning images by scanning the black-and-white original art in Marvel’s archives and then adding a digitally colored layer which could be turned off.

Storing the scans in PDFs creates a number of issues — the most annoying is that the books were scanned in landscape which means each page in the PDF usually represents two comic book pages. I find this a bit annoying. It does preserve the occasional two-page layout, but for the most part I’d have preferred to have my monitor filled with one page rather than two.

The user also has to use Adobe Acrobe 6.0 or later, or a “Marvel” watermark will appear superimposed on the pages. That watermark always appears when you print the page, so if you really want to print anything you’ll need to grab a screenshot. That’s stupid behavior IMO. What’s the point in nerfing printing like that, especially since its trivial to circumvent?

Other than that, the PDFs aren’t DRMed, in that you don’t need to register the Acrobat Reader or anything. I quickly copied all 6+gb of PDFs to my portable hard drive so I can read them on any computer I happen to be using at the moment.

Overall, its not perfect, but at less than a dime per comic, this is the bargain of the century. And coming soon is a Fantastic Four CDROM reproducing the entire 30-year run of that book. It truly is a great time to be alive.

I Am Spider-Man

Yesterday, I took time off work to help out with a Halloween party at my daughter’s school. This included the kids getting their Halloween costumes on and parading through the neighborhood.

So the big costume for boys at this school was Spider-Man. It was basically one big Spider-Man vs. Ninjas showdown, with a few firemen and vampires thrown in for good measure.

We’re waiting in the hall to go outside when a group of students stops near us. Some kid in a ninja outfit notices that we’ve got two kids in Spider-Man costumes next to each other and says,

“Hey, you’re Spider-Man and he’s Spider-Man.”

The first grader holds up two fingers and replies without missing a beat,

“Un unh — I’m Spiderman II.”

40th Anniversary Spider-Man CDRom — All 500 Issues of The Amazing Spider-Man

Last year I noted how cool the Marvel Comics CDRom was. That package featured the first 10 issues of ten Marvel comic books. Apparently that sold well enough that Marvel is upping the ante ahead of the DVD release of Spider-Man 2 with the The Amazing Spider-Man Fortieth Anniversary Collection.

This time around, the collection will feature Amazing Fantasy #15 plus issues 1-500 of The Amazing Spider-Man on 10 CDs.

The same company that did the Marvel Comics package, Topic Entertainment, is also publishing the Spider-Man set so hopefully it will be as well done as the earlier offering.

The Amazing Spider-Man Fortieth Anniversary Collection will be released in October and retail for $49.99. I can’t wait.

Spider-Man 2 — Oh My God, It’s Full of Toys!

I took the day off work today so I could go see Spider-Man 2. I wanted to see it for a lot of obvious reasons, plus I needed to make sure it wasn’t too scary for my daughter (who has been begging since it came out) to see. She was scared by the tree scene in Harry Potter 3, so I don’t think she’s quite ready for Doc Ock’s mechanical arms on the big screen.

Personally, I thought Spider-Man 2 was every bit as good as the reviews I’ve been reading. Much better than the first film. More human and relationship-focused rather than just “here’s these cool special effects of Spider-Man swinging his way through New York.” Also a lot of funny meta-movie touches including a scene where Toby Maguire makes fun of the pre-production dispute over whether or not he would return as Spider-Man due to hurting his back during “Sea Biscuit.”

But the best thing about Spider-Man 2 is all the kick ass new Spider-Man toys that are out. Best of the lot, IMO — the Ultra Posable 6″ action figure that has like 50,000 points of articulation (okay, I’m exaggerating a bit — it’s more like 42 ). How can you go wrong there for just $6.99? Man, I wish I still had all the Spider-Man toys I had as a kid.

Stan Lee Screwed Out of Spider-Man Profits

Slashdot linked to this article highlighting the Enron-like accounting system used by Hollywood. Stan Lee has a standing agreement with Marvel Entertainment that he is to receive 10 percent of the profits from any television or film venture using characters that he created.

Well, Spider-Man, raked in over $400 million in the United States, but under Hollywood accounting that means it didn’t make any profits at all and so Marvel has told Lee, sorry, but Spider-Man just wasn’t profitable. Lee is suing Marvel for $10 million and hoping he doesn’t get screwed out of profits for The Daredevil, Hulk, and the X-Men sequel.

Speaking of Spider-Man, the other day my wife and I are watching it with my daughter on DVD. During the big crowd fighting scene between Spidey and the Green Goblin, I tell my wife, “hey look, there’s a cameo with Stan Lee.” I rewind it and run it again, at which point she looks at me and asks, “Who’s Stan Lee?”

Men are from Zenn-La, women are from Venus, I guess.


Spider-Man creator sues Marvel. Reuters, Nov. 12, 2002.


Henry Hanks writes:

I can’t exactly shed a tear for the guy since he’s made every effort to take full credit for work that was partially due to the toil and sweat of others…

That may be, but I think the bigger issues is the persistent uses of creative accounting by Hollywood to make blockbusters appear unprofitable on paper so they don’t have to fulfill their contracts with writers and others intellectual property creators (but, of course, they then turn around and assert their own intellectual property interests to make damn sure that I don’t do something as horrible as make a backup copy of the Spider-Man DVD.)