21 March 2007

Help Peter S. Beagle

This is a call to help out a brilliant writer.

Peter S. Beagle is one of the most important modern fantasy writers, even though his output has been slim compared to many other major writers in the genre. He is best known for his novels A Fine and Private Place and The Last Unicorn. The latter book had a profound effect on many readers (myself included) for its literary and poetic approach to a well-known fantasy trope. I would easily rank The Last Unicorn among my favorite of all fantasy works.

An animated version of The Last Unicorn was released in theaters in 1982, based on Beagle’s screenplay. Rankin/Bass, the company that created an adaptation of the last third of The Lord of the Rings for TV in 1981, produced the film, and the result was excellent and faithful to Beagle’s novel, gaining its own legion of fans. Even the songs from the band America worked well. (I can’t believe I just wrote that!) Unfortunately, the film’s life after the big screen led to legal trouble for Beagle. Granada International, the successor to ITC Entertainment that once held the rights to the film, has not paid Beagle his contractual royalties for the sales of nine hundred thousand DVDs and VHS tapes of the movie sold worldwide. A small publisher, Conlan Press, has helped Beagle with proceedings against Granada International, and hopefully some good will come of it and Beagle will receive his fair compensation. Sad to say, although he is a well-known and respected writer, Mr. Beagle, like many fantasy and science-fiction authors, isn’t an extraordinarily wealthy man.

Here’s how you can help support him: a 25th Anniversary Edition DVD of The Last Unicorn is now available. Conlan Press has promised that half the money from the sales of copies of the DVD purchased through their website will go to Peter S. Beagle. He’ll even sign your copy! If you love this movie, this is the only place where you should purchase it. Support artists’ rights: let’s take down the Red Bull and release the unicorns from the sea!

And if you’ve never read the novel, get it now!