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Last year after having enjoyed so much my experience writing ‘Wayne of Gotham’ (with the exception below), I wanted to propose two more books in the universe. The first was to be a direct sequel to ‘Wayne of Gotham’ which I envisioned as ‘Sons of Gotham.’ I crafted the proposal for the story and submitted it dutifully through my agent to the powers in publishing that be.
The publishers loved the book. DC Comics loved the idea, too. The proposal, however, then had to be approved by Warner Brothers in Hollywood with whom I had issues before (again, see below).
Their final response was: “it’s a great book, we really like it … and we don’t want him to do it.” They were ‘concerned about having a single author identified too closely with the franchise.” (Engage sarcasm) Now, I’m flattered that Warner Brothers fears me and the possibility that my immense power could damage their fragile Batman license (disengage sarcasm), but would another book really hurt them? Apparently so … which is why I have decided to share the outline with you here since you certainly won’t get a chance to read it the way I had hoped you might.
Speaking of those wonderful lawyers at Warner Brothers… my original manuscript for Wayne of Gotham included some mighty wonderful references to 1950’s culture. When Thomas Wayne is driving down the road with Martha Kane passed out in the driver’s seat next to him, the Everly Brothers were on the radio singing ‘Wake Up, Little Susie.’ I had some wonderful references to Howdy Doody, too, but the most obvious of all was Zorro. The Walt Disney Company ‘Zorro’ television series starring Guy Williams was at its zenith at the time of that part of my story. Bob Kane had often credited Zorro as the inspiration behind the original Batman character. There was even a wonderful reference in the official Batman Encyclopedia to a moment when Thomas Wayne shows up at a gala party in a costume that makes him look like a bat. So I build much of the climax of the book around this party, made the costume a cheap version of a Zorro costume and the stage was set to tie in all these classic elements of the Zorro and Batman in one awesome package.
My editor loved it. DC Comics loved it. Then it went to the legal department of Warner Brothers.
They demanded that every pop reference in the text be taken out. I argued that all of them were specifically crafted to be covered under the fair use doctrine. They didn’t care.
Well, I managed to write around Howdy Doody and ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ became ‘listening to a close-harmony song by two brothers singing about falling asleep with their girlfriend at a drive in’ or some such nonsense. But the Zorro thing really galled me. So, I started doing research into who OWNED Zorro and would they just GIVE PERMISSION to use the character. I found a phone number and dialed it. Much to my surprise, I was put through to the President of Zorro, Inc. (That’s absolutely true, by the way.) I explained who I was and that I was writing a Batman novel under license.
“Really?” the President of Zorro, Inc. said. “Did you know that Zorro was the original inspiration for Batman?”
I acknowledged that and even told him about the reference to Zorro in the party scene. We were getting along great, so I told him about my predicament and asked if he could grant me a license. He asked me how I was using the character so I explained the context of the reference.
“Isn’t that covered under fair use?” he asked.
I acknowledge again that it was but that Warner Brothers Legal Eagles were being a stickler about it.
“Tell you what,” he said. “Send me a copy of the book for my archives when its published and I’ll GIVE you a license.”
Overjoyed, I called up my editor at once. He said he would talk to the Guy at Warners.
And they STILL wouldn’t let me use it … even though the guy who owned the copyright would give me a signed release.
So, for your secret entertainment … here are THE PIECES THAT I HAD TO CUT OUT. I hope you enjoy them as much as the Guy at Warner Brothers didn’t.
Unsold Star Trek Voyager Script
Coming as soon as I find it!