This week saw the release of Jed Mercurio's new graphic novel, Sleeper. Mercurio is the writer and creator of massive hit BBC TV show Line Of Duty and one of many tipped to be the new showrunner of Doctor Who. The first volume was co-written with one of his actor regulars Prasanna Puwanarajah and was drawn by Coke Navarro, who drew the poster for one of Puwanarajah's stage productions. The first volume of a planned sci-fi space epic, one person who is very not happy is Ed Brubaker.
Ed Brubaker is a crime comic book writer and cartoonist, known for writing crime comics such as Criminal, Pulp, and Reckless, as well as superhero-themed books such as Gotham Central, Batman, Daredevil, Catwoman, co-creating The Winter Soldier for Marvel, and Sleeper for DC Comics/Wildstorm with Sean Phillips back in 2002. You can see where the conflict may be arising. In his newsletter, Brubaker writes;
SLEEPER was the first major project that Sean Phillips and I did, way back when we started our partnership at Wildstorm/DC Comics (our first collaboration was an Elseworlds book called GOTHAM NOIR). It's the only book we don't own outright, though we do have a pretty decent stake in it, and it helped put us on the map as a team. It's also a book that's been under constant Hollywood interest or development. Sam Raimi and Tom Cruise tried to make it at Sony, WB recently had it set up with Ben Affleck attached to direct… and the various trade and hardback collections of it have been in constant print for about 18 years now.
Anyway, a month back it was brought to our attention that Jed Mercurio was launching a series of graphic novels entitled Sleeper. I've talked about my enjoyment of Mercurio's TV shows before in these newsletters, so I was really unhappy to hear this. Somehow no one in the entire comics industry had heard about this book of his until it was already at the printer. Needless to say, WB owns the copyright and trademark to Sleeper as a series of graphic novels (and TV and film, I believe) and obviously they were more than concerned. So from what I understand there are a lot of legal things happening with them and the other publisher right now.
We will keep an eye on the courts to see if anyone gets served…