WHAT ABOUT THE "LENSMAN" MOVIE and COMICS?There have been many Japanese editions of the "Lensman" books over the years; for example, Al Lewis's EES bibliography lists "GREI RENZUMAN" from Tokyo Sogensha, a 1966 paperback. Some years ago, the same Japanese anime studio which had done the "BATTLESHIP YAMATO" series (re-packaged as "STAR BLAZERS" in the U.S.) got hold of the rights to the "LENSMEN" yarns and did a screen adaption. Worsel has only two eyes, and looks like a bipedal dinosaur instead of a snaky winged reptile; Clarissa MacDougall suddenly stopped being a beautiful redhead and has BROWN eyes.... There are other noxious details, like Kinnison being a farmboy who gets his Lens from a Crashed Space Hero, etc...... *wince*
The anime movie, "THE LENSMEN," is available on tape and laserdisk. Don't say I didn't warn you. Comics. I've been told there are a slew of "Lensman" comic books out there. If, as I hear, they're based on the Japanime storyline, I'd appreciate it if no one ever shows me one.
Paul O'Connor ( firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ) reports that he was the writer of the comics series. Mr. O'Connor, a long-time fan of the "Lensmen" yarns, who was writing for Malibu Comics, pitched them the idea of doing the series in the late 1980's. He wanted to do the comics with careful attention to the original stories, and hoped to see the artwork done in the style of the "ASTOUNDING" covers. He reports that Malibu was interested, but discovered that the rights were tied up by the Japanese animated property. A couple of years later, he thinks about 1989, Malibu had established a relationship with Harmony Gold, the U.S. company that handled distribution of various Japanese anime products in the U.S. With Malibu's "ROBOTECH" comics doing well, Harmony Gold offered them a chance at another property they controlled, the anime version of "LENSMAN," and the folks at Malibu offered Paul O'Connor the chance to do the adaptation. He agreed excitedly, and was sent a tape of the movie and the first half-dozen episodes of the TV series. He reports having been considerably disappointed by the lack of relationship between the anime and the books he loved. Since there were no English translations extant, and all he had to work from were "nearly unintelligible" script translations, he hoped to work everything up from scratch, using the anime only for character designs and a rough episode outline, since this would afford him the opportunity to use a good deal of material from the books, and get the comics a bit closer to the actual story. In short, he hoped to come close to doing the "Lensman" BOOKS, instead of the anime. At this point, Paul O'Connor was informed by Malibu that they'd been notified by the E.E. Smith estate that Malibu's license pertained ONLY to the anime work, and *not* to the books; they were not allowed to use any of the material in the books. The books were off-limits. O'Connor and the artist, Tim Eldred, were placed in the unenviable position of trying to make something coherent out of what appeared to be a nearly senseless film and TV series. O'Connor says he tried to inject at least some of Smith's spirit of adventure, but felt very constrained by the fact that he was walking through a litigation minefield. O'Connor says that the divergence between the anime and the comic books alienated the Japanese anime fans, and the series was a bust. He adds that he was involved in two "Lensman" comics series, one based on the movie and the other on the first few episodes of the TV series; and that Tim Eldred also did a spin-off miniseries involving some of the supporting characters. (O'Connor had no involvement with the spin-off, and knows little about it.) To quote from O'Connor directly: " A sad legacy. My heart was in the right place, but it was impossible to fight the restrictions on the license. I think the scripts were fun in their own right, but they didn't have much to do with 'LENSMAN'."
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