There are 3 easy ways to tell if the comic you’re reading is really just a pitch for a move.
- Does the story summary sound appealing, but the actual story is full incomplete ideas?
- Is the person being credited as the creator not credited as the writer or the artist?
- Are you reading Cowboys & Aliens.
If you answered yes to all three questions, then the comic you’re reading was actually intended to be a movie pitch.
Last summer, I saw Cowboys & Aliens in theaters, and was mildly disappointed (review) that we didn’t get a stricter adaptation. Granted, I hadn’t read the graphic novel, but it sounded better. Well, finally, I have read the book, and I’m still a bit disappointed. The ideas for the story are fine. But that’s just it. They’re just ideas. Nothing is really expanded upon. It’s as if they just wanted to give quick run through of all the neat things that you could put into a movie, if you have your screenwriters flesh out the details.
And this is a very frustrating way to go through a story. It’s like someone waving a juicy ribeye steak in front of you, but then making you eat chopped steak. The book entices you with what seems like a good story bit, but then quickly leaves it in order to do the next action bit. That action bit starts to seem like it could be good, but then it leaves to focus on the next story idea, and the cycle continues. The book is essentially 3 or 4 of these cycles. I think I would rather read a story that was just all-around bad, rather than one where it seems like they just didn’t care enough to finish it. And Fred Van Lente is one of the writers. I know he’s capable of producing better work.
Then there’s the issue about the creator, Scott Mitchell Rosenburg. He’s not credited as one of the writers or artists. He doesn’t even have a “story by” credit that you see when someone is scripted to write someone else’s story. So, I have to question what did he do. Did he just go, “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if cowboys fought aliens?” And then go out and hire people to do the work of actually writing it?
But really, I guess this shouldn’t be surprising. Rosenburg’s bio does state that as Chairman of Platinum Studios, he wants to develop comic properties across all media. And really, I don’t have a problem with that. I like seeing the movies and shows from DC and Marvel. I like The Walking Dead Television show. I don’t have a problem with the idea of adaptation. But don’t publish something if the purpose is for it to be a sales pitch for a movie or television show. Just pitch the idea.
I guess what it really comes down to is that I don’t think a complete story is too much to ask for. You had a good idea. You had a good writer. It wouldn’t have killed you to expand the book from 100 pages, and actually make a good book. Side note, I had to double check that it was only 100 pages, because it’s actually thicker than Batman: Earth One, which is 144 pages. And yeah, that is some really thick paper they’re using. So yeah, use some cheaper paper to cut down on production costs, and expand the book.
Oh yeah, the book also ends on a cliffhanger. Maybe the book really didn’t sell enough to warrant a second volume. Or maybe, they just wanted to throw out an idea on how to continue series after the first movie was made. Ironically, the movie didn’t actually use the plot point for the cliffhanger.
But in closing, I was really frustrated with the book, if you couldn’t tell. I don’t recommend reading it.