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Today In Obvious

Someone Tried To Kickstart A Where the Wild Things Are Sequel Book


Why do people think they can get away with crowdfunding something that doesn’t belong to them? 

In what must seem like the most obvious story of the day, Kickstarter removed a project on their website intent on creating a sequel to the late Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. But let’s look at the details, shall we?

It was actually HarperCollins Publishers who had Kickstarter remove the project. According to The Hollywood Reporter:

The project from U.K. illustrators Geoffrey O. Todd and Rich Berner intended to raise £25,000 for a book, Back to the Wild, that would share the story about what happened to Max and the creatures he encountered. The book was also going to be dedicated to the memory of Sendak, who passed away a year ago.

Trying to crowdfund something like that sounds like…well it sounds like a really stupid and illegal idea. Here’s the synopisis for the intended project:

Sophie is Max’s daughter and she too is excited to hear about the strange Wild Things, but time has elapsed. Max in our world, is now probably in his 30s and the Wild Things have been ‘marooned’ for almost 30 years – what has happened to them in all that time?

THR linked to the cache of the Kickstarter page in which the creators didn’t seem to think using Sendak’s creations would be an issue even though they themselves linked to an old interview with the author in which he said, “People said, ‘why didn’t you do Wild Things 2Wild Things 1 was such a success’. Go to hell. Go to hell. I’m not a whore. I don’t do those things.” Kinds of reminds me of the whole Alan Moore/Before Watchmen situation. But in this case, Todd and Berner had absolutely no connection or ownership of Sendak’s creation.

“Having read the original story of Where The Wild Things Are many times, we always wanted to know more about Max, the creatures and what happened next – but Mr Sendak did not want to produce a sequel,” wrote Todd and Berner. “However, we have listened to his advice in the interview above to ‘take the dive’, to make our own work.”

“Our own work.” Ironic.

The team wrote a bit more under the “risks and challenges” section of their Kickstarter page that might raise your eyebrows. “We know that the original story is a very hallowed text, but we also note that Where The Wild Things Are has been made to move on, most notably in the recent Spike Jonze movie, which indicates that the essence of Where The Wild Things Are is not sacred or frozen in time,” they said. “We have also been very careful not to impinge on Mr Sendak’s copyright and have taken the necessary legal advice around this whole project.”

As to that, after finding out about the project, HarperCollins submitted a DCMA notice that read:

The infringing material is a proposal to create a “sequel” to WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, entitled “Back to the Wild,” using the characters, scenes and copyrightable elements of the original work. Any such unauthorized “sequel” would clearly violate the Estate’s right to create derivative works.

Kickstarter removed Back to the Wild with six days to go and £694 pledged of their £25,000 goal.

(GalleyCat via The Hollywood Reporter)

Previously in Kickstarter

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  • http://www.damanique.net Damanique

    Somehow the most upsetting thing about all this is that the creator of such a wonderful story apparently said “Go to hell, I’m not a whore”.

  • Anonymous

    This is the same debacle that happened with Young Justice and Green Lantern a few months ago. I’m almost a little annoyed with the success of the Veronica Mars movie fund because I feel like it’s now inspired a bunch of people who have no idea how rights issues work to go and start a Kickstarter whenever their favorite show or comic gets axed. That’s just not how corporate properties work.

    I know it’s silly to blame the movie and I don’t REALLY do that but just yeah. I wish people would take five seconds to ponder the legality of what they’re attempting before starting the next “Hey let’s raise money to bring back Dollhouse!” fund.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi
  • Anonymous

    If you want to write a fanfic, then write a fanfic. Trying to get funding for it though is just not okay.

  • Lady Viridis

    … famous writers of children’s books are not allowed to be people? Have you ever seen the difference between Roald Dahl’s kids books and his adult books?

  • Lady Viridis

    … famous writers of children’s books are not allowed to be people? Have you ever seen the difference between Roald Dahl’s kids books and his adult books?

  • Lady Viridis

    Well, with Young Justice/Green Lantern, the company in question did at first speak with the rights owners and tried to acquire the legal rights to continue the shows based on a lot of fan support. The problem is that they continued to ask for money even after Warner Bros. said “thanks but no thanks.”

  • Lady Viridis

    Well, with Young Justice/Green Lantern, the company in question did at first speak with the rights owners and tried to acquire the legal rights to continue the shows based on a lot of fan support. The problem is that they continued to ask for money even after Warner Bros. said “thanks but no thanks.”

  • http://www.damanique.net Damanique

    Oh, sure, they’re allowed to be people. Just not ecstatic about the whorephobia.

  • MeatyStakes

    I looooove fanfic, but trying to get people funding your fanfic is just… urgh.

    Like, come on!

  • plat0n

    And you take upon yourself to judge and label things inaccurately. So thats that.

  • http://iamanenigma.wordpress.com/ Scandalous

    This could have been beautiful. I hope they still do it.

    For those complaining about fundraising for a fanfic what makes it much different than someone funding for their cosplay costumes?

    I wish this was still up to support. I would have liked to have seen their take on it… perhaps they could have done it where the estate and what not got major portions of it.

  • ruxepokutivi

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    If you listen to interviews with
    the man, you’ll see how he could say something like this. Try Terri
    Gross’s last interview with him on Fresh Air before he died or even
    Colbert’s interview with him. Fascinating, hilarious, won’t take any
    guff, and obviously loves treating kids with respect.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Against the author’s express wishes, but still “dedicated to him.” Made without permission from or profit to any of the copyright holders. And entirely defeating the point, not only of the book itself, but of Maurice Sendak’s entire body of work. (That is: here is a surreal thing. It will have no explanation. It needs no explanation. The children will get it. The children will answer their own questions creatively. Anyone who needs an official, held-by-the-hand explanation is not someone for whom this book is for.)

    No.

    Hey, let them still make it. People have made new Calvin & Hobbes comics–and they put them online, profit free, shared from fan to fan. Because they don’t need them to be official.

    And really, that’s a new twist on an old chestnut: “how is funding a copyright infringing story to be published any different than funding a costume?” Does anyone really use Kickstarter to fund costumes? Or just for a cosplay business. Either way, not the point.

    A costume, a piece of fanart, it is what it is and nothing more. It does not exist in the same format as what the work it is derivative from does. THAT is why most companies don’t get antsy about them–because these companies trade in stories. Books, comics, television shows, movies, etc. That’s why you can sell a print but not a fancomic.

    It shouldn’t really need explanation. It’s sort of like explaining how water is wet. Or, maybe more to the point, like explaining how Where The Wild Things Are “works.”

  • Dain Q. Gore

    It’s in the quote. It’s the label he used, and it’s his opinion. if she takes offense to the way he used language when referring to a kid’s book, she is allowed to do so.

  • Brian

    Oh, man, Roald Dahl just hated everybody and everything, and loved it all at the same time. That guy was awesome.

  • Dain Q. Gore

    And telling people to go to hell…that part was just for fun, then.

  • Sorta Starlette

    What happens to the money when something like this gets taken down? Does it get refunded? I’ve always been so curious about stuff like that…

  • Robert Vary

    The money only actually gets paid from the funders to the project owners at the end of the funding period. So, for instance, if the Kickstarter for this had thirty days to raise its £25,000 and succeeded in doing so, the raised money would only be transferred at the end of the thirty days. What you see “raised” during the funding period is people promising to pay that amount once the funding period is up (done automatically through Amazon, say.) Since this project was taken down before its funding period was up, no money had changed hands yet, so there’s nothing to refund.

  • Adam

    Book authors who make millions for trad publishers are offered millions to turn out trash that makes them richer (even Snookie got a big money contract). Maurice didn’t want to sell out for money, and I don’t see a problem with the fact that he doesn’t think much of those who sell out for millions of dollars.

  • Sorta Starlette

    Gotcha! Okay that actually makes a lot of sense… thank you for explaining! :)