The NY Times Magazine had another big section on movies, this time looking at modern Westerns, and the proposed Cowboys and Aliens film gets a lengthy write-up with Platinum Studio’s clever business plan once more rolled out, under the headline “Comics Genius?”:
This may seem odd for someone so passionate about comics that he had been selling them since he was 13. But not long before he sold Malibu Comics, his small publishing house, to Marvel, Rosenberg shepherded a little-known, underselling series to Hollywood. “Men in Black” went on to gross more than half a billion dollars and spawn a sequel that would earn nearly as much. So within a week of founding Platinum Studios in 1997, Rosenberg was pitching an idea to producers. It would be based on a comic called “Cowboys & Aliens,” and it didn’t matter that the comic hadn’t been written yet. From the start, he says, he “had no intention of just doing a stand-alone comic novel.” He came up with a few characters and a basic plot line that was as straightforward as the title. The idea was inspired by the children’s game of cowboys and Indians, but without the stain of political incorrectness (or genocide). “You’re not going to shoot Indians now — but cowboys and aliens, that would be fun to play,” Rosenberg explained to me.
This prompts Eric Reynolds to say what everyone has been thinking for some time now: Platinum is a non-starter among comics publishers.
Lazy journalists are the only reason that Platinum even exists; despite working in the comics business for nearly two decades, I’ve never heard Platinum’s comics discussed by anyone in the industry, or even in fan circles. Rosenberg’s reputation in the industry, however, precedes him, going back to his days as a comic book distributor in the 1980s. Yet Platinum keeps popping up in newspapers without really doing anything, despite a rather ignominious past for Rosenberg. And yes, sometimes the reporters solicit opposing views from folks like Gary Groth, but that’s still just paying far too much attention to a creative and commercial sham. Platinum is market manipulation via huge capital, obatained through dishonesty and/or sheer luck over a decade ago.
Plus, if you actually read their stock offering, you might not think “genius” was actually the word for the business plan, either, since it lost over a million dollars in each of the last two years, and appears to have relied heavily on borrowing money from mom.
On second thought, that last one is pretty damned clever.
PS: In a surprise twist, DJ Coffman disagrees with Reynolds.
UPDATE: Tom is with Eric:
As for the classic, foundational reason for some folks’ disdain, Rosenberg’s crucial role when it came to crippling the rise of independent comics publishing in the 1980s — or at the very least having sex with the wound — for the sake of a few bucks unethically earned: Gary Groth wrote about it at the time. Just run a search on the phrase “cupidity and stupidity” if you want to get to the meat of it. I think it was probably worse than Gary puts it, as the crippling of the independent comics market at that point in its history may have changed the face of the comics market more than all the Deathmates and panicky Diamond exclusives combined, but I’m not yet ready to write that article.