The Wrap has all the background on that beef between director Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley, who both won Oscars for 12 Years a Slave the other night but somehow managed to forget to thank one another. It seems McQueen wanted a screenwriting credit, Ridley declined and bad blood flowed, with even Brad Pitt unable to secure a truce. All the shade throwing stayed quiet during the Oscar campaign however, and it worked! Even if in the group shot above Ridley in the back does look like the axe murderer who wasn’t invited to the party.
As you may have recalled, Ridley is actually one those big comics fans in Hollywood and spent a while writing comics for Wildstorm, including a run on the Authority, the mini-series Razor’s Edge: Warblade, and The American Way. The latter is a book that really deserves to be on more comics reading lists—an 8 issue mini-series drawn by Georges Jeanty and Karl Story that has similar themes to Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier about the cold war and superheroes, but treats them with a much harsher view. The book follows the government’s development of the Civil Defense Corps, a pr-driven team of superheroes introduced in the early 60s, and the turmoil that stem from the first African-American member in the Civil Rights era. A lot of comics mini-series have tried to be “the Next Watchmen” and The American Way is one of the few series that takes that tired “What if superheroes really existed???” idea and gives it a take based on the real world and not the imagined one.
Sadly, like many of Wildstorm’s adventurous comics of the Aughts, The American Way is not available in print (although you can find back issues pretty easily.) However, as DC’s Hank Kanalz reminded us on twitter yesterday, you can buy it all digitally.
AND finally, Zack Smith has an excellent
interview with Ridley about comics and diversity. Well worth reading. Ridley doesn’t rule out a return to comics, although he’s very busy launching a film he wrote and directed, All Is By My Side, and a TV pilot, and more so don’t expect him back in comics any time soon.
So I loved The American Way; I still own it, and if I could find a way to go back and do it…writing graphic novels is a serious business. The people who work on those books are serious, and the fans are serious. So I don’t want to be this guy who just air-drops in and it’s, “I got some award in some other space, let me come in and do graphic novels.” I’ve seen some people do that and it hasn’t worked out so well.
I would love to go back do it when I have the space, especially if I was able to work with an editor like Ben Abernathy, who helped me out and made me look good, who saved me from myself often – that’s a great editor, not just someone who goes, “Oh, John writes movies! Let’s get him to do this and this and this, and it has to be out by this date, so it needs to be done now.”
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.