Have you ever looked at an outrageously cool scene in a superhero movie and thought, "How do they come up with this stuff?!" Well, the short answer is: they don't. If Hollywood is answering that question, it's, "Fuck you. Die, you ignorant turd. That'll be $25." Unlike regular action movies, which are usually conceived by snorting cocaine laced with the ashes of a ritualistically destroyed Die Hard VHS, comic book adaptations have literally thousands and thousands of comics to draw inspiration from, so they do. In fact, many of the coolest parts in recent movies come from a small group of comic creators and writers who were compensated with cosmos-sized middle fingers. For instance ...
#3. Rocket Raccoon's Creator: Permanent Brain Damage and Left Penniless
Bill Mantlo came up with the idea of a raccoon who talks and shoots guns and lives in space, and for that alone he deserves every award. He and artist Keith Giffen then gave life to Rocket Raccoon, aka the best part about Guardians of the Galaxy, back in 1976, and it took 38 years for science to develop the technology necessary to put that much awesome into a movie without causing everyone's brains to explode. In the meantime, Rocket made occasional guest appearances in other Marvel comics -- "occasional" because he kept making the other guys look lame by comparison.
Rocket Raccoon doesn't need a helmet -- he's only wearing one to escape Hulk's armpit stench.
Speaking of which, Incredible Hulk was one of the few famous Marvel comics that Mantlo wrote over his career, the other ones being Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Captain America, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Howard the Duck, Iron Man, Spectacular Spider-Man (again), Thor, Transformers, and X-Men. (Get it? I said "few," but it was "all of them.") He was also pretty good at taking random toys with no backstory and writing the equivalent of several Lord of the Rings-length novels about them. Remember the Micronauts?
Mantlo saw his son playing with those things on Christmas 1977 and thought, "Someone should make dozens and dozens of awesome comics out of that." So he convinced Marvel to buy the licensing rights and became that someone. The comic was a hit and outlived the toy line by years. The same thing happened with ROM: SpaceKnight -- no one gave a crap about the toy, but everyone loved Mantlo's inexplicably good, 75-issue comic saga about it. In 1988 he wrote one of DC's best crossovers, Invasion!
In 1992 he was struck by a hit-and-run driver and left with permanent brain damage, in need of constant medical care for the rest of his life. In 1995 he wrote his last story as his mind slowly slipped away from him.
As Mantlo got worse, his insurance company decided instead of rehabilitation he needed long-term care -- which, shucks, they didn't cover. His brother, Mike, was forced to sell off his assets, including his personal comic collection, just to get Mantlo on Medicaid. For the continued use of his characters, Marvel gave him as much money as he was entitled under the work-for-hire contracts he signed: that is, "not enough to live."
In 2012, he ... wait, no, I'm sorry, I almost said "fell into a coma," but I was thinking of the other '80s comic writer who was struck by a hit-and-run driver and left with permanent brain damage: Roger Slifer, who created DC Comics' Lobo with Giffen. Hey, it's weird that two of Giffen's co-creators had similar accidents, right? It's about 2 percent as weird as the fact that they both created multi-million-dollar characters for Disney and Warner Bros.-owned companies and still had to struggle for cash to survive.
How You Can Help Him:
To be fair, Marvel has been cool to Mantlo lately: they started giving him more money, and they hooked him up with a private screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, which Mike Mantlo says was Bill's greatest day in 22 years.
Very nice, Marvel. But why does the movie have a watermark that says SUPER-TORRENTZ.RU?
And that's great, but it's hard not to be a little bit cynical and think that Marvel just learned from the PR disaster Warner Bros. faced when they announced the first Superman movie and Superman's creators were found to be living in poverty. As in, the two guys who came up with what is now a billion-dollar franchise couldn't afford to buy movie tickets. Anyway, Bill still needs as much help as he can get, so here's a link so you can help make his life a little better. And while we're at it, here's where you can donate to Slifer, too, since it could be a while before Guy Ritchie's Lobo movie gets made and DC is guilted into helping him.
#2. Reinventor of Hercules Gets Screwed in Both Life and Death
Via ABC News
Steve Moore is the British writer behind the Hercules comic that served as another excuse for The Rock to put on a man-skirt this year. Moore's greatest contribution to comics, however, is not Hercules but another crazy bearded bastard: he taught Alan "No Relation" Moore how to write, thus making him indirectly responsible for a good percentage of the best comics ever.
Steve Moore (henceforth known as just "Steve" to avoid confusion, not because we're buddies) managed to break into the British comics industry when he was still a teen, which was easier than it sounds because there wasn't much of a British comics industry back then. He was present during the early days of 2000 AD, Doctor Who Weekly, and Marvel UK, which is the British nerd equivalent of having played drums for The Beatles, The Stones, and The Who, but with only a fraction of the venereal diseases. He also created the U.K.'s first comics fanzine -- it was through this that he was contacted by a (presumably already fully bearded) 13-year-old wannabe writer called Alan Moore, who by his own admission, proceeded to stalk the shit out of Steve. Please imagine that.
"Jesus, Alan, don't you have school tomorrow? And how did you get inside my clothes hamper?"
They became pals, obviously, and at different points during their life-long friendship Steve taught Alan how comic scripts work, how to perform pagan magic rituals, and how to be bugfuck crazy in general. This is the Emperor Palpatine to Alan's Darth Vader, the Larry Rudolph to his Miley Cyrus. And then, after spending most of his career under the shadow of his namesake mentee, this year Steve finally got a chance to shine: he wrote a comic in which he revamped the boring old Hercules as a brutal mercenary who wants nothing to do with those pansy-ass gods. And Hollywood optioned it! They made a $100 million movie with The Rock about it! Of which Steve got $0.
He was paid less than the person who airbrushes The Rock's arm veins.
According to this interview with Alan, every contract Steve signed with Radical Studios, the publishers of the Hercules comic, included a clause saying he would get $15,000 if the thing was turned into a movie -- which would have come in handy, considering he lived modestly and a big chunk of his savings went into caring for his terminally ill brother. However, the clause was sneakily removed on the last contract Steve signed before the adaptation became official, because the two pointlessly evil old businessmen from the Eddie Murphy movie Trading Spaces are real, and they work in Hollywood.
Being Britishly polite and not wanting to make a fuss about it, Steve conceded he messed up by not reading the entire contract again, and the only thing he requested of the studio is that they please not use his name to promote their piece of shit movie. Unfortunately, Steve suddenly passed away in March 2014. And of course, the studio put his name on the poster.
"Oh, that's all you ask? How about go fuck yourself?"
How You Can Help Him:
You can't. Alan called for a boycott of the movie, which probably explains why it made $210,000,000 and not $210,000,046. So far, anyway. You can help it not make that much more, but it won't make a difference for Steve at this point.
I swear the next entry has a less depressing ending.