Jazan Wild/Heroes lawsuit not entirely far-fetched?

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.


  1. This does seem incredibly tenuous…

  2. Both works also use air breathing carbon-based humanoids as main characters! It’s ironclad!

  3. Kevin Hynes says:

    waiting for zombie bradbury to sue them both

  4. What’s next? Suing Ray Bradbury for maliciously traveling back in time 50 years to make it look like his ENTIRELY ORIGINAL, GUARANTEED TO TOTALLY BE WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IF ONLY NBC HADN’T STOLE IT idea was somehow less than totally, completely, off-the-hook rockin’, dude?

  5. Huh. Well, provided he hired one of those “I don’t get paid unless you get paid” lawyers, I’d venture to guess that an out of court settlement, no matter how insignificant, would still earn him way more money than a digital comic ever would.

    Just sayin’.

  6. sroman says:

    >>waiting for zombie bradbury to sue them both<<

    Well, I think Bradbury would have to be dead for him to qualify as a zombie. Maybe he's been so busy writing these days nobody's told him yet that he's dead. It's probably a nondisclosure clause in his next book's contract.

    Zombie Forry Ackerman, on the other hand, would be sweet! But he'd probably just say, "A lawsuit about carnival freaks? Well, you AXED for it!"

  7. CBrown says:

    Yeah, the witch doctors kinda sorta look similar, but the rest seems like pretty generic ‘spooky carnival’ stuff to me. And it looks like Exhibit 10 is taken from a Heroes comic. So is the accusation that the producers AND the writers AND the producers AND the production designers AND the cinematographers of the show AND the writers and artists of the webcomics ALL conspired to rip off some obscure comic book that no one’s ever heard of til now?

  8. Kevin Hynes says:

    “Well, I think Bradbury would have to be dead for him to qualify as a zombie.”

    Oh nuts, hooray he’s alive! I’m going to go bury myself in a hole now.

  9. This lawsuit could provide proof that both scripts are hackneyed.

  10. Bob Oldman says:

    “I’m going to go bury myself in a hole now”

    Don’t you mean BRADbury yourself?

    Runs away…

  11. Kevin Hynes says:

    Oh snap! *head explodes*

  12. “And it looks like Exhibit 10 is taken from a Heroes comic.”

    I’m not certain, but I imagine that exhibit relates to Wild’s claim that Season 4 finale was changed “in an attempt to minimalize the similarity” to Carnival of Souls. The creators of that installment of the Heroes comic likely adapted an early script for the episode.

  13. Oh my gosh, a witchdoctor character WITH dreads! Well, my stars. No one ever makes a witch doctor with dreads. No one at all.

    I wonder what The Invisible’s Jim Crow would have to say about that? I wonder if he’d take off his monocle, because it is really distracting me the way it is reflecting light off its surface, almost as if his eye were glowing in the moonlight.

  14. ShutUpRob says:

    I think Ray Bradbury should sue the both of them for cribbing from “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

    — Rob

    PS: No, not really. Bradbury, like Jazan, wouldn’t have a case.

  15. RDaggle says:

    Just as a data point I’ll mention that Heroes used the “glowing white eyes” effect as far back as the first episode.
    Originally, for when the artist who could paint the future was in a trance. Later, the same effect showed up with other characters who had various psychic powers.

    So there is that …

  16. ShutUpRob says:

    @RDaggle: the white eyes on Heroes signified only the manifestation of precognition, most often accompanied by the artwork of Tim Sale.

    — Rob

  17. That's A says:

    Saw the lawsuit on wild’s site. There are large sections of the story that are completely lifted. No two stories have a mystical carnival appearing to get a lead guy running from a mob in the middle of the woods, then he goes into a house of mirrors and sees a deceased mother. Also a hunter is attacking the carnival? That’s a lot of storyline. Don’t remember any of that in Bradbury’s story.

  18. FireFly Man says:

    What’s far-fetched is that Heroes hasn’t been sued before. I agree with the “The BEAT’s take, that 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.

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