So I’ve been debating for months whether or not to share the similarities between EARTH MAN and DC’s Animal Man. For legal and professional reasons I was unsure of how to proceed. You see, originally I wrote a screenplay based off the DC Comics character with the intention that I was going to use it to pitch a film project with a friend of mine to Warner Bros. Well my friend got into Marvel Studios last year and I quit comics for good. So I decided not to waste a perfectly good screenplay when I could turn it into a novel. Except not all the ideas in there were mine.
Ever since I started changing the screenplay into a novel I’ve been debating how much to change and how much to hide from readers. Where do ideas come from anyway? Some of the stuff in the book was influenced by Grant Morrison’s work on Animal Man, some of it was inspired by the work of my fellow Torontonian, Jeff Lemire. I went over and over in my head how much to bury the influences, how much to change to make it unrecognizable, how much I could get away with, etc.
There is a dedication in the book to Dave Wood and Carmine Infantino, the original creators of Animal Man, because I decided to come clean about it. You see as much as I don’t want to deal with the criticism, I also absolutely hate when people rip-off something and pretend that they created it themselves. I did not create EARTH MAN, any more than Lemire or Morrison created Animal Man, but I do own Earth Man, because I changed enough to be considered a new work and obviously I changed enough to make sure I don’t get sued.
Look at it this way: Animal Man was the seed that I planted, when the big boys didn’t want it I brought it home to nurture and care for. But it will not be the same tree, nor perhaps even the same species, when the whole trilogy is finished. I felt dishonest hiding it, covering it up and pretending I created it all from my own imagination. Nothing is created in a vacuum and part of the reason I don’t pitch to publishers is because I want to write what I want to write. I want to honor my inspirations and help contribute to them. Some of the familiar elements I kept on purpose, to give those who are suspicious a false flag. Nothing in this series is straight forward, so you are in for surprises even if you do know where the seed of an idea came from. . .
I settled on telling the truth upfront and letting the public decide. Either you’ll enjoy the book and appreciate the original influences, or you’ll think I am a useless hack writer who ripped off a comic-book series. I can’t control what people think, all I can do is tell the truth and let the readers decide for themselves. I mean how many Superman rip-offs are flying around out there anyway? If you do think it is similar, trust me when I say that is just a surface reflection, once we start digging deeper into the series you’ll see it is not like anything any comic book has done before.
I figure all of five people will even know who Animal Man is anyway.