(1) SDCC REPORTS LOSS; ALSO WARNED BY STATE ABOUT UNFILED RETURNS. Petréa Mitchell at SMOF News broke the story to her readers that San Diego Comic-Con’s nonprofit corporation suffered an $8 million loss in 2020, and has been warned by the state of California the corporation is delinquent in filing some required federal tax returns and reports due to the state, as reported by the Times of San Diego: “Double-Whammy for Comic-Con: $8M Loss and Threat to State Tax Exemption”. The 2020 loss is declared below in the screencap of a California Annual Renewal Registration Fee form they have filed.
Comic-Con is at risk of losing its nonprofit status, the state says, only days after the giant tourism draw signed up with IMG in a licensing deal amid a reported $8 million loss in COVID-stricken 2020….
But last Nov. 18, Comic-Con filed its annual registration renewal fee report, which said it had $3.97 million gross revenue in 2020, when the pandemic forced suspension of Comic-Con. Its gross expenses that year were $11.98 million. (Its total assets were $42.4 million.)
The letter to Comic-Con said it has until May 15 to file a state form. Bonta said that if IRS forms aren’t sent to the state Registry of Charitable Trusts within 60 days of April 7 — or June 6 — two things would happen:
- His office would notify the California Franchise Tax Board to disallow Comic-Con’s tax exemption. (“The Franchise Tax Board may revoke the organization’s tax exempt status at which point the organization will be treated as a taxable corporation … and may be subject to the minimum tax penalty.”)
- Late fees would be imposed for each month or partial month for which reports were delinquent. “Directors, trustees, officers and return preparers responsible for failure to timely file these reports are also personally liable for payment of all late fees.”
(2) KGB SHOTS. Ellen Datlow shared her photos from the (in-person!) Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series event on April 20 where Robert Freeman Wexler and Victor LaValle each read form forthcoming work.
(3) FOUR TO DRAW TO. Fanac.org has posted the video of a Minicon 15 (1979) panel “History of the Future” with Ted Sturgeon, Clifford Simak, Lester del Rey, and Gordon Dickson.
Minicon 15 was held April 13-15, 1979 in Minneapolis. In this recording, four of the most respected authors of their time—Theodore Sturgeon, Clifford D. Simak, Lester del Rey and Gordon Dickson—have a free ranging discussion on topics from earlier science fiction views of the future, to what the literature has “missed,” and the relationship of technocracy to then current society.
Lester del Rey is at his most opinionated, getting laughs and applause, as well as exhibiting his encyclopedic knowledge of the field. There are discussions of freedom vs governance, the problems of finding information, and, triggered by a question from the audience, a long discussion on education.
Simak tells a deeply personal story about his son’s experience in the public school system, and the other authors speak of their own experiences with education. There are predictions, anecdotes, and a few surprising revelations…
Thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording.
(4) HER TWIN FROM ANOTHER PLANET. The linked article talks about a science fiction film titled The Day Mars Invaded Earth and how the author, Hal Bookbinder, used his genealogical skills to sleuth out more about the twin actresses in the film: “The Day Mars Invaded Earth” at the JGSCV Newsletter.
While watching old movies. I often Google the film to learn more about it and its cast. “The Day Mars Invaded Earth” was filmed in 1962 and released in 1963. Among its cast are Betty Beall and Barbara Beall who play counterparts in the same scene, shown at the bottom. Betty Beall plays the teenage daughter of a NASA scientist who oversees the landing of a probe on Mars. After destroying the probe, unseen Martians create a duplicate of him to foil further attempts to land a probe. They then create duplicates of his family to cover their tracks. The NY Times panned the picture. Very little is to be found on either Betty or Barbara….
(5) POTLATCH. Ian Frazier shares some humorous confessions with readers of The New Yorker in “The Literature of Cabin Fever”. One paragraph reminds me that once there was an annual convention by this name (and with something of the same gift-sharing philosophy).
…A big excursion for me was to drive to the town of Kalispell, some twenty miles away. I was writing on a brand of paper called Potlatch. Such an interesting name for copy paper—Potlatch. I ran out of my first ream of it, and when I was buying more at an office-supply store in Kalispell I told the salesperson about potlatch—how it was a Native American word that meant a kind of party in which a chief or even just an ordinary person gave away stuff to other members of the tribe. “Giveaway” is a rough translation of the word into English, I told the salesperson. The potlatch was a system for showing status and spreading the wealth downward, I said. As I looked at the reaction on the salesperson’s face, it sank in that I was not in a normal frame of mind….
(6) WHEN AND WHERE DID HUMANS EVOLVE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We all know the basic story, archaic humans and then modern humans evolved in Africa and then migrated to the rest of the world, held SF conventions and went to the Moon (the Americans even did it without Cavorite!).
The problem is, is that the fossil record only provides snapshots. A fossil tells us that this species lived at this place and at that time. What it does not do is tell us when that species first evolved: it is very unlikely that a fossil discovered will be the remains of the first representative of a new species. So, what to do?
“Climate effects on archaic human habitats”, rResearch published today in Nature has taken a novel approach. We know from fossils the environment in which archaic and modern human species inhabited. What the researchers have done is link this into deep-time climate models and in turn linked that into an ecological model. The idea here is that given a certain geography, location and climate, it is possible to work out the ecology of a locality.
Due to climate change, climate models have really improved the past one-third century and now have a good resolution and are capable of modelling back into glacial times (‘ice ages’ in common-but-inexact parlance). This means we can meaningfully identify when and where certain environmental types arise and wane as climate changes. Knowing the environmental preferences (from where fossils were found and conditions back then) of various human species, it is possible to see when and where the environmental conditions that could sustain these species begin and end.
The bottom line is that the researchers propose the following scenario: about 850–600 ka, H. heidelbergensis, which may have originated from H. ergaster in eastern Africa, split into southern and northern African branches, the latter of which included northern African and Eurasian populations.
The intensified dispersal into off-equatorial regions may have occurred during periods of high eccentricity around 680,000 and 580,000 years ago, which increased habitat suitability in otherwise inhospitable regions. The southern branch then experienced considerable climatic stress in southern Africa which could have accelerated a transition into H. sapiens. The Eurasian populations of the northern branch split around 430,000, possibly giving rise to Denisovans, which populated parts of central and eastern Asia. Inside central Europe, H. heidelbergensis, then experienced strong local climatic stress and gradually evolved into H. neanderthalensis between 400,000 and 300,000 years ago.
(7) LIGHTYEAR TRAILER. Disney Pixar’s Lightyear is coming to theaters on June 17.
Check out a new trailer for Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear,” revealing new details about the upcoming sci-fi action adventure. The definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy, “Lightyear” follows the legendary Space Ranger after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda. A new poster and images are also available.
(8) JEAN COCTEAU REOPENING. George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, NM will reopen May 6, when people will get the opportunity to “Be the very first members of the public to sit in our new theater seats, hear the new sound system, and enjoy a transformed theatrical experience at the Jean Cocteau!”
It will kick off with a weekend of classic films hosted free of charge by the Jean Cocteau Cinema and Beastly Books, and they’re taking a poll to determine which five films from a curated list of 10 classics, including titles picked by GRRM, will be shown. Vote here. Voting ends Sunday, April 24th.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1976 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] The mark of how good a series is not how great the pilot is but the first episode after the pilot. Forty-six years ago this evening on ABC, the second episode of Wonder Woman aired, a curiosity titled affair called “Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Von Gunther”. In it she got to take resurgent Nazis on in form of a Nazi spy ring known as the Abwehr who are active again and who are targeting Steve Trevor for imprisoning the Baroness von Gunther, their leader.
The Baroness Paula von Gunther was created by William Moulton Marston as an adversary for his creation Wonder Woman in Sensation Comics #4, 1942. Though she disappeared during the Crisis on Infinite Earth years, Jim Byrne brought her back in 1988 and made once again the Nazi villainess she once was.
This episode is based off “Wonder Woman Versus the Prison Spy Ring” in Wonder Woman #1 (July 1942). (The title comes from when it was reprinted later.) In the story, Colonel Darnell informs Trevor that an army transport ship was sunk by a German U-Boat. Believing the Nazis must have had a traitor inside the Army, Darnell orders Steve to interrogate the former head of the Gestapo system in America — The Baroness who is now serving time in a federal penitentiary thanks to Wonder Woman. Note that this episode made Trevor responsible for her being captured.
So how was it received? This episode ranked twelfth in the Nielsen ratings, shockingly beating out a Bob Hope special which ranked twentieth.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 21, 1911 — John Lymington. Between the late Fifties and the mid-Eighties, he wrote twenty-six genre novels, an astonishing number but only a fraction of the estimated 150 books he wrote overall. His short genre fiction is published in his Night Spiders collection. He’s not made it into the digital realm and I’ll admit that I’ve not heard of him, so I’m hoping the brain trust here can tell me about him. E0sF says helpfully that this was the pseudonym of UK author John Newton Chance who wrote a lot of the Sexton Blake thrillers. Come on folks, tell me about him! (Died 1983.)
- Born April 21, 1922 — Alistair MacLean. I’ll admit that I know I read at least a handful of his works when I was much younger. ISFDB lists four novels (Goodbye California, The Dark Crusader, The Golden Gate and The Satan Bug) as being genre though I personally would say they are thrillers with genre elements. Clute at EoSF agrees saying that they are “Cold War thrillers which make use of sf McGuffins”. (Died 1987.)
- Born April 21, 1928 — Dee Hartford. Miss Iceland, companion of Mister Freeze in two episodes of that Batman series. She also had appearances on Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Land of The Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Yes, she was very pretty and that really counted in that time. She appeared on “The Bewitchin’ Pool” which was the last original episode of The Twilight Zone to be broadcast (though it was not the last one to be filmed). (Died 2018.)
- Born April 21, 1933 — Jim Harmon. During the Fifties and Sixties, he wrote more than fifty short stories and novelettes for Amazing Stories, Future Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, If, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and other magazines. Most of his fiction was collected in Harmon’s Galaxy. ISFDB says he has just one novel, Sex Burns Like Fire. He’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
- Born April 21, 1939 — John Bangsund. Australian fan from the Sixties through the Eighties. He was instrumental with Andrew Porter in Australia winning the 1975 Aussiecon bid, and he was Toastmaster at the Hugo Award ceremony at that con. His fanzine, Australian Science Fiction Review, is credited with reviving Australian Fandom in the Sixties. And he was the instigator of the term “Muphry’s law” which states that “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.” (Died 2020.)
- Born April 21, 1965 — Fiona Kelleghan, 57. Though an academic to the bone, she has two genre stories “The Secret in the Chest: With Tests, Maps, Mysteries, & Intermittent Discussion Questions” and “The Secret in the Chest”. Of her academic works, I find most fascinating Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work which last was revised in 2012 for the paperback edition. Wikipedia shows her Alfred Bester, Grand Master: An Annotated Bibliography is a work in progress.
- Born April 21, 1971 — Michael Turner. Another one who died way, way too young. He was a comics artist known for his work on Witchblade,Tombraider / Witchblade one-off, the Superman/Batman story involving Supergirl, his own Soulfire, and various covers for DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He would die of bone cancer. A Tribute to Michael Turner with writings from people who knew him and a cover done by Alex Ross would be released to cover his medical expenses. (Died 2008.)
- Born April 21, 1980 — Hadley Fraser, 42. His first video acting role was Gareth in the superb Tenth Doctor story, “Army of Ghosts”. He’d later be Chris in The Lost Tribe, a horror film, and play Viscount Raoul de Chagny in The Phantom of The Opera, as well as being Tarzan’s father in The Legend of Tarzan. And though not even genre adjacent, I’m legally obligated to point out that he showed up as a British military escort in the recent production of Kenneth Branagh’s absolutely smashing Murder on the Orient Express. Branagh just directed his second Agatha Christie film in which he plays the Belgian detective, Death on the Nile.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Hey, I used to sit in a green chair and read to my daughter just like in Hi and Lois. All we needed was a punchline!
- Dino Comics knows the truth is out there.
(12) HE’S STILL READING. “Samuel R. Delany’s Life in Books” for the New York Times Magazine is a strong series of reminiscences all tied together by the printed page.
…I was brought up with a series called “My Book House,” edited by Olive Beaupré Miller, which I still refer to. Those books introduced me to mythology and history, to the “Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” the “Kalevala,” the legend of Dick Whittington and early stories of Johnny Appleseed. In them, I got my first images of what Shakespeare’s childhood must’ve looked like, and the great wagons on which the traveling mummers rode around and presented their plays. The drawings were wonderful. They were particularly important to me because I was dyslexic, and I got a lot of my education through images. The very first thing I read all the way through was a Bob Kane Batman comic book. My father wanted to stop me because he objected to comics, but my mother said, “No! He’s reading!”…
(13) MEET THE FILMMAKERS. Enjoy this featurette on Everything Everywhere All At Once.
(14) NETFLIX ORIGINAL ANIMATION ON DEATHWATCH. “Netflix kills the Bone show as its Original Animation department pretty much falls apart” reports A.V. Club. Yesterday streaming service Netflix saw its stock price plummet by record amounts in response to a dismal Q1 earnings call.
…Amidst the chaos, The Wrap released a quieter report this afternoon, one focused on the company’s once vaunted Original Animation department—reporting, among other things, that Phil Rynda, Netflix Director of Creative Leadership and Development for Original Animation, had been let go from the company this week, and that several high-profile animated projects, most notably the much-anticipated animated adaptation of Jeff Smith’s beloved comic series Bone, were dead at the service.
The Bone show is a blow, for sure; fans have been waiting for Smith’s all-ages adventure comic, seemingly a natural fit for animation, to get a worthy adaptation for years. But the report, written by Drew Taylor, also delves into Netflix’s overall treatment of animation creatives, who were once lured to the company with promises of creative freedom, and are now frequently tossed stacks of data to justify the company’s limited advertising for, and support of, its animated shows.
Case in point: The company’s slow response earlier this month to the news that Elizabeth Ito’s excellent (and already canceled) City Of Ghosts had won a Peabody Award. Ito was forced to basically launch a single-person campaign to even get the service to acknowledge the victory; this, after Netflix kept her in suspense about whether the show would get another season….
(15) THE HEAT IS ON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Radical emissions cuts combined with some atmospheric carbon removal are the only hope to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, scientists warn.
Further to last week’s research reported in File 770, the UN’s IPCC have upped the ante, as this week’s Nature says: “IPCC’s starkest message yet: extreme steps needed to avert climate disaster”.
Humanity probably isn’t going to prevent Earth from at least temporarily warming 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels — but aggressive action to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and extract carbon from the atmosphere could limit the increase and bring temperatures back down, according to the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)….
(16) I GO TO PIECES. “Lego’s Star Wars Day Offerings Include a new 1,890-Piece Ultimate Collector Series Version of Luke’s Landspeeder” – Gizmodo has the story. (Or should I say, ad?)
May the 4th is just a few weeks away and just like the Death Star targeting a defenseless planet, there’s nothing you can do to protect your budget against the onslaught of Star Wars merchandise enroute, including a new addition to Lego’s pricey Ultimate Collector Series line.
As with all of Lego’s UCS models, the new Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder puts previous Lego versions of the vehicle to shame with an incredible amount of detail and new parts you won’t find anywhere else…
(17) BRAZILIAN ANIMATION. Speaking of blocks… In Escalade, Luciano Fulgi and Paolo Muppet explain what happens when you want to tower over your neighbors!
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, says the producer has forgotten so much about this series he refers to hero Newt Scamander as “Nugget Scaffolding.” The writer explains many puzzling plot twists in this film (such as how villain Grindelwald, played previously by Johnny Depp, has become Mads Mikkelsen) by saying “magic!” MANY MANY TIMES.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Linda Deneroff, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
Someday I’m going to do an essay on the different versions of Murder on the Orient Express that have been done as there’s a fascinating story to be told. The Albert Finney version is my favorite.
It might just be you and me, Cat. I seem to have unknowingly tripped something and no notification was emailed announcing the new Scroll.
I came by, but didn’t have anything worth saying.
(Also, I cut a finger and have a bandage on it, and it’s making my typing worse than usual.)
Folks, can you help me out here? I’m trying to remember a novel from either the 80’s or 90’s where a sufficiently advanced civilization creates a world with the Norse gods and a medieval society for them to fight, all for the civilization’s entertainment. However, the creators screw up and both sides figure out what’s up.
But I can’t recall the title.
Anyone able to help me out?
I’m here since I was wondering “Where’s my File 770 fix??” So, checked the site, found the new ish and here I am.
I just assumed a Twitter announcement had dropped around its usual time while I was doing other stuff (yes, there is actually life beyond Twitter…sometimes), and came straight here.
10) Don’t recall ever reading any of Jim Harmon’s fiction, but I do recall his name as author of non-fiction THE GREAT RADIO HEROES (1968). As I recall, it was both informative and frustrating, because he made the old shows sound interesting, but back then available recordings of the broadcasts were scarce.
14) Cancelling/curtailing the animation department (and, I hear elsewhere, deciding to go to a two-tier, cheap-with-advertising/higher-priced-ad-free, system like some of the other streaming services) feels like stockholder-panic business decisions. That seems, in turn, to trigger customer-panic membership decisions, as in cancelling accounts.
I subscribe to Netflix (and HBO Max) for streaming, but also kept my long-time Netflix DVD account; their DVD inventory is still huge, and useful for films and shows not on streaming. If Netflix increases its price too much, I’m more likely to drop the streaming service than the DVD service.
Michael J. Walsh: Be very qwiet — we’re hunting wabbits!
Mike Glyer says Michael J. Walsh: Be very qwiet — we’re hunting wabbits!
And these are the killer rabbits Grimjack encounters known as Lupoos, so let’s not annoy them!
Sneaky Scroll on a secret mission…
I was wondering why I didnt get an email , but saw the announcement via Twitter. So, all good (except Netflix cutdown on animation obviously, but thats a different nees story)
The last notifications were emailed in connection with a post I put up around 12 hours ago. The notification system has not worked on any post since then. I just had a customer support chat with my ISP who seemed clueless about the nature of the problem. So I will try again in the morning when there’s a different shift on.
The tweet that had the link to the 4/21 Scroll was written manually by me, it wasn’t system generated.
So now we’re all in the dark together for the moment.
(14) Netflix seems inclined to make every wrong decision they can as quickly as possible now. From canceling hugely popular series rather than pay the creatives upgraded salaries, to putting all their money into their own development system (with mixed success), to raising prices while making a massive profit. Call it the stock holder Stockholm syndrome, where corporations are not responsive to customers but to those they pay dividends too… including their own execs.
Like others have said, if they keep it up, I’ll join the exodus, particular if they go with an ad-plus-monthly-cost model (I’m paying to AVOID ads, numb nuts). My viewership has declined a lot in the last few years and I can’t think of anything other than “Stranger Things” that has been a must-see for me on their network. Certainly there’s stuff I’ve enjoyed (The Santa Clarita Diet; Arcane), but I can live without them. It’s entertainment… tons and TONS of that elsewhere. I no longer find television shows as “must experience.”
Count me as someone else who didn’t get the notification.
I doubt Netflix is going to do only a subscription model that has advertising in it. What I expect them to do is levels of membership, one with advertising, one with not. That’s fairly common now.
I don’t subscribe to Netflix — I do Paramount +, Peacock and Britbox.
I will pay — well, not an unlimited amount of money, but definitely some amount of money to avoid ads. I started a free trial of YouTube Premium and will probably keep paying for it just so I don’t get the ads.
That’s also one of the reasons I haven’t really watched anything on Tubi — they have content there I’d love to see (original Iron Chef episodes in particular), but I have a very strong aversion to anything that has not just ads, but full-on commercial breaks in the middle of whatever I’m watching. (And they don’t offer an upsell to an ad-free version, at least not as far as I’m aware.)
Going to try and “resubscribe” to the blog and see if that works.
14) Self inflicted wounds at this point, Netflix. And yeah, as echoed above, ads are a great way for me to give up Netflix.
I published two posts overnight. I received a subscriber notification for one of them. Mystery compounded.
I’m not subscribed to your notifications; I just check your site daily. And thanks for your shoutout to Potlatch. I was on the committee for every Seattle iteration.
I concocted a crime fiction awards post and published it just now to test whether the notifications are going out. I got one. We’ll see if the trend continues later today with the Scroll.
FWIW, I did get multiple notifications today — Imadjinn, Crime Fiction and Premio Urania. (I mean, one notification for each post.)
Netflix has been pulling the plug on new shows, regularly after just one season despite the shows doing well, so I have become disinclined to get invested in Netflix shows.
“The Good Place” is an exception, a 4 season completed story, which was brilliant & which I have re-watched. But that seems to be more the exception. Netflix does not allow for a series time to find its feet & its audience; no slow-burn series under Netflix’s watch.
“The Santa Clarita Diet” got 3 seasons, ending in a cliffhanger. Where does that leave its fans?
“The Good Place” originally aired on NBC so Netflix doesn’t get any credit for its longevity.
Netflix was originally built on a model of picking its programming cheap from network like CBS and NBC before they started doing their own streaming services in the quise of Paramount + and Peacock. Then that cheap programming became very expensive.
And developing their own programming isn’t the answer as Netflix is a smorgasbord, not something where a select number of programs is what is going to attract most viewers. They need lots of programming developed elsewhere picked up cheaply. If they can’t that…
Thank you for the correction. “The Good Place” was only ever available on Netflix in New Zealand. So, not “The Good Place” then.
I can think of one notable Netflix series that got to complete its story, “Sense*” which got two series. But that was only because it got extra for a proper finale so it could wrap up its storyline. It’s a terrific series but watching it during lockdown made it more surreal: so many crowd scenes with no signs of masks/ social distancing. I now wonder if Netflix ever funded any of its series to completion.
Well, Stranger Things is going to get a 5th season which will be its last, and five seasons is what the showrunners already planned out. But I can’t help thinking some of the reported $30 million (!) Netflix budgeted for each episode of the 4th season could have gone to prop up other, smaller, shows.
Soon Lee says I can think of one notable Netflix series that got to complete its story, “Sense*” which got two series. But that was only because it got extra for a proper finale so it could wrap up its storyline. It’s a terrific series but watching it during lockdown made it more surreal: so many crowd scenes with no signs of masks/ social distancing. I now wonder if Netflix ever funded any of its series to completion.
The Wiki page on this series is fascinating. Apparently one of the major Porn sites., xHamster, offered to financed a third season but the producers turned it downed as the site was strongly anti-transgender.