It would probably be fair to say that a lot of people were snickering a bit when it was announced that Jazan Wild (real name Jason Barnes) was suing Heroes for similarities between his carnival plot and theirs:
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, lists similarities including a carnival that can magically appear and disappear to collect protagonists, a young boy who develops special abilities, a carney or hero running through the woods chased by a mob, a circle of mirrors tied to the key plot, similarities in dialogue, and more.
As anyone who has been reading comics or watching TV for more than, oh, five minutes can attest, none of those elements are particularly novel or special. Fact: we edited a carnival story once ourselves and at least one of those elements was in it.
However, a look at the complaint by Kevin Melrose and specifically the side-by-side art comparisons show that it may very well be that the writer/storyboard artist/director for the episode had a copy of Wild’s book nearby when things were being planned.
This opening shot isn’t very persuasive — carnivals have light strings and ferris wheels, and both shots are a fairly hackneyed way to set the scene. But then we get to things like this:
According to the complaint:
“Above is the ‘House Of Mirrors’ from both series. The camera angle of the House Of Mirrors and the design, specifically the title above the entrance and pull away red curtains, are substantially similar. The scene seems to be directly storyboarded from Carnival of Souls.)”
And then this:
“Above is the picture of the Jamaican Witchdoctor from both stories. Note the glowing white eyes.”
Hm, we can see two people coming up with ferris wheels, house o’ mirrors, and sinister carnivals that steal souls separately but when they both include a Jamaican witch doctor with dreads and glowing white eyes? Now it’s getting a little hot and sweaty in there. The Robot 6 post has other specific plot similarities that make it look like Jazan wasn’t so wild in his suit, even if he was stealing from Ray Bradbury to begin with. Good luck on the $60 million thing, though.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.