John Carter Sequel Campaign: Did Back to Barsoom volunteers move the needle at Comic Con?

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IndieWire’s Kevin Jaegernauth wrote of the Back To Barsoom John Carter Sequel Campaign Volunteers working their petition at Comic Con:  “Well, you gotta admire their spirit….  believe it or not, these folks have shelled out some cash to back up their word, with a presence at Comic-Con to keep collecting names from folks who want to see the formerly developing “John Carter: The Gods Of Mars.”

Well, San Diego ComicCon is history now and the Back to Barsoom John Carter Sequel Facebook Group volunteers who made their way there and spent four days collecting signatures and talking up their dream of  John Carter 2 are headed back home.  They went armed with loads of enthusiasm and energy and more than thirty raffle prizes contributed by members of the Facebook Group.   What did they accomplish aside from non-stop petition signups?  What were the highs and lows of the experience?  Following is a wrap-up, with links to the various articles that were published, quotes from the participants, and  an image gallery.    It doesn’t quite answer directly the question: “What does it all mean?” — but it’s our hope that it provides food for thought.  Is this fan movement a flash in the pan, or are they here to stay?  

Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc President confident “that we’re going to  convince if not Disney, then someone else to make a sequel.”

ERB Inc President Jim Sullos dropped by several times and had this to say:

”Seeing the fans in action here, I’m convinced that we’re going to convince if not Disney, then someone else to make a sequel.  It’s clear that John Carter is not finished as a movie series.” Sullos was accompanied by Burroughs archivist Cathy Willbanks, who echoed Sullos:  ”The passion and enthusiasm is extremely high, and it’s such an honor to be part of what’s happening.  The push for the sequel, and the excitement form the people who have embraced the film is just wonderful.”

“The Barsoom Corner is really something,” Sullos said..  ”I’ve been by three or four times and the signing group here is enthusiastic 24/7.  They’re upbeat, happy to be there, and volunteering to move this thing along.  They’re doing a crackerjack job, getting 500 signatures a day. We’re very impressed and very happy to see this happening.”

Click here for the full article and a picture of Sullos and Willbanks at the Back to Barsoom Corner

John Carter Fan Gets a Thrill When Kantos Kan (James Purefoy) Pops by the  Barsoom Corner

James Purefoy who played John Carter’s stalwart ally  Kantos Kan  surprised fan-volunteer Patrick Malloy when he dropped by the Back to Barsoom corner on Saturday.    Malloy has written a delightful account of meeting Purefoy and his whole experience at Comic Con.  Following are highlights:

  • Meeting James Purefoy:  “Out of the blue James Purefoy comes walking up with a big smile and introduces himself!  I must had had this funny, disbelieving look on my face, for he looked at me and said in a very flourishing manner: ”  I thought I would stop by and show my support!”  When he turned up, I had two people signing petitions, so trying hard not to be dismissive to them, I put out my hand to give him my best welcoming handshake. He has a good, solid handshake let me tell you!  I finished with the folks signing and then made sure to give my utmost attention to Mr. Purefory. He wanted to know how we were doing with signatures and what type of response we were getting. I  told him that we have been collecting a ton of signatures over the last several days and that the team here has been working hard! I told him how it was very cool and very gracious to take time out to stop by and say hello and that everyone would really be stoked to learn that you dropped by. I wish I would have thought to ask for his autograph, especially one for Jan, but alas, I was too wrapped up in the spell of the moment.”
  • Getting Mistaken For a Disney Employee and Getting Berated For it:  “Everyone had their own particular approach or style, mine being the more low key, warm smile manner.  I met so many very enthusiastic fans of the film (and novels), as well as quite a few who were so livid at the mishandling of the film by Disney.  I made sure that they were given one of the business cards and would find us on FB to join the cause!  I mentioned how the items that we were giving away came from you, the members of the community here.”
  • Only two “trolls” and lots of enthusiasm:  “One gentleman who won the very rare JC opening release pin was so appreciative of how gracious one of our members was in providing it as a prize.  He was truly touched!  Out of all the throngs of people who I came across from 9:30 till I had to leave at 3:15 only two would I consider “trolls”.  The majority of the people were very open and receptive to what we are attempting to do. There were quite a few who mentioned how outraged they were at the mishandling of the film.  So it was really rewarding to connect with those individuals who are just as passionate as we are, and now they know how to find us and join along!”
  • Here is the link to the full article by Patrick Malloy.

Lesser Helium’s Top Barsoomian Tabloid Sends Reporter to Jasoom for “ComicCon” Event

The Barsoomian Blade, one of the major planetary tabloids on Barsoom, sent Herbo Gooli to Jasoom this week to cover the Comic Con in the Jasoomian city of San Diego.   Gooli filed this report, which is getting quite a reaction across all media channels on Barsoom.

We obtained our copy of the article from the Jasoomian editor for the Barsoomian Blade, Jeff Elmo Long who has been handling the Jasoom editorial position for the Blade for 15 years.   As his hobby when not occupied with handling Barsoomian Blade business on Jasoom, he is an editor for the Chicago Tribune.

Fans of the Jasoomian documentary ‘John Carter’ have begun recruiting new members to their ranks at a gathering this weekend called a “Comic-Con.”

Their numbers are swelling in a disturbing trend that some military analysts say could be an indication that Jasoom actually intends to invade our planet.

Or, they could really just want a sequel to what many film critics here on our planet say was an entertaining look at the life and times of the War Lord of Barsoom.

John Carter, of course, is originally from Jasoom — or ‘Earth,’ as the inhabitants call their world.

The prince of Helium has not commented publicly on the film. But his best friend, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark, has reportedly become totally immersed in the celebrity status he has gained since its release.

Click here to read the full report at the Barsoomian Blade

(which gives more on Tars Tarkas’ and Hollywood)

Quotes From the John Carter Sequel Campaign Volunteers

Bob Weis

“While I believe this idea has been shared here before, I believe it’s worth mentioning again. If you look at everything that is being done in this group to get a sequel to John Carter, the love and appreciation we have for the film and the cast, the the enthusiasm and drive for a sequel, the fact the campaign has made the news. I’ve seen this once before when I was in my teens. We are this generation’s Star Trek campaign. To the naysayers who question what success we might have in influencing the green-lighting of a John Carter sequel?  NBC was going to cancel Star Trek in 1968.  It was the fan based campaign that had NBC keep it on the air another season. It was fan encouragement that saw the motion pictures and Tv sequels come about.  As a franchise, Star Trek is coming up on 50 years in existence.  Never would have happened without that fan based campaign.” 

Madeline Gann

Daria and I have been attending Comic-Con for over 20 years now and have seen it grow from something moderate and manageable into the huge entity that it is today. We spent the entire day on Thursday (9:30 am – 4:30 pm) and parts of Friday and Saturday standing at the ‘Back to Barsoom’ table collecting signatures for our worthy cause, so we met a large and varied group of attendees who by and large supported our efforts to get a ‘John Carter’ sequel. 

One of my fondest encounters was with a lady who approached our table and was thrilled to see that we were petitioning for a ‘John Carter’ sequel. She told me that for her 15th birthday, her parents gave her money and that she used it to purchase all of the Mars books! She said that she read and loved the series ….and became a Burroughs fan for life.  As we chatted, I gave her one of our business cards and a pack of the ‘John Carter’ collectible card packs and encouraged her to visit our Facebook page and website.  I was so glad that she found us! She was such a treasure, but I forgot her name. I do remember that she had a metalic green scooter.  If you are reading this, my dear, forgive me and please tell us your name! 

Another person who just happened to find our table was a gentleman named Gene Turnbow who works with Krypton Radio.  Mr. Turnbow told me that he wanted to help us!  He said that he assists fandoms in generating more interest in their groups by doing podcasts which reach 108 countries around the world.  He said that he very much wanted to help us with our efforts to increase our fanbase and would love to discuss how he could help us get the word out to an even larger audience.  Mr. Turnbow handed me his business card and I gave him ours after writing Michael’s and Jan’s names on the back. I said that he could count on hearing from one of them that very day!  It was a stroke of luck that Mr. Turnbow just happened upon our table.

There was very little negativity.  I remember 3 gentlemen who tried to rain on our parade.  At one point, an elderly couple passed by as I was playing ‘barker’ and trying to draw Con attendees to our table.  The husband turned to me and asked, ‘Is that it?!  With all the things going on in the world, THAT’S what you’re concerned about!?’  I apologized for offending him and said that there are thousands of fans around the world who are united for this cause.  Another guy said, ‘You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?  You can’t be serious.  Disney will NEVER make a sequel to that film!’  I told him that the power of positive thought can go a very long way and that there’s always hope. I was determined not to let the few negative comments get me down because at the end of the day, you never know what can happen until you try. 

When I bought my pass for Comic-Con a year ago, I never would have imagined that I’d be spending this year petitioning for a ‘John Carter’ sequel.  It was a fascinating experience and one that I’ll remember for some time to come!

Patrick Malloy

I definitely believe we had a very positive impact upon people and we unquestionably did increase awareness for the film.  A funny moment was when one individual thought that I was some Disney employee at first and began to admonish me on such a poorly implemented marketing of the film.  I started to laugh and said how we are a community of fans that are doing what Disney failed to do and are working hard to get a sequel. He immediately signed the petition and I gave him one of our business cards so he could find us and join the cause! One other attendee who signed our petition had the biggest smile on her face.  She was just in awe of the size and scope of comic con. She was utterly overwhelmed, it was like she was seeing the Beatific Vision! I wish I could have gotten a picture of that, for it was brilliant! So don’t tell me fans can’t influence a network or studio.  It’s been done before.  And we’ll do it again.

Kathy Mix

What really made me happy was seeing the way some people’s faces actually lit up when I said that we want a sequel to “John Carter”.  Most were willing to sign and were very enthusiastic about it: “yes! I really liked that movie!” is what I heard from most.  Maybe we’re fighting against long odds, but it’s wonderful to know so many are willing to join in and make their voices heard.  I truly enjoyed the experience, and was honored to represent our group.

Rebecca Baeder-Garland

At first I was kind of afraid to go. I thought it was because I had to go alone and didn’t really know the ropes, but then I realized that I was a little afraid of what people might think. Would they make fun of us?  Would we be laughed out of there?  I was worried I would be perceived like those evangelists outside the convention center with those yellow signs.  You know, nobody really likes them and at best they are ignored and usually mocked or whispered about.  I felt a lot better when I got there and saw Tom Tarantowicz.  He was modeling his technique for hustling the table, “Hey, did you see John Carter? Come sign our petition for a sequel!”  Nobody rolled their eyes or even scoffed, so I figured we might be pretty safe. I started in right away…… There were several types of people at the convention; the ones who were signing up for everything no matter what it was just to get free stuff (usually teenagers), the ones who just ignored you and walked on, the ones that said, “No Thanks” or “I’ll come back later”, and the rest you had to cajole a little to get them over.  Those who had seen the movie always said that it was good and usually had some comments about the marketing or the title. “It should have been John Carter of Mars!” or “I can’t believe how Disney treated this film!” I only had one negative comment that was made by a man that said he “morally” couldn’t sign it, I asked him if he could do it legally. He liked that line and just kept walking.    I learned more about Steampunk, Firefly, Poison Ivy, whatever kind of character you were I made myself your brother, sister, mama, daddy, cousin. I signed two guys t-shirts with hearts and XOXOs, my God if I preached Jesus the way I preached John Carter on Friday I would be baptizing at least 200 people today. Overall the response was positive. I missed all of the hoopla with Purefoy (Darn) but I did get some big hugs of encouragement from Jim and Cathy of ERB Inc. Would I go again? yes… but not without my Dejah costume and a case of ice-cold beer. If they won’t let me in the with the beer, Coke Zero will have to do.

Debbie Banway 

I walked in and Daria and Madeline had already begun the campaign. I took a clipboard and went out on the floor of Comic Con feeling lost and unsure. Then I decided my best bet would be to approach people standing in line for an autograph, to purchase a toy or get a free t-shirt. They were a captive audience. Here I come with a John Carter shirt and button and a clipboard, asking them have they seen John Carter and would they like to see a sequel.  Rebecca was right when she said it was like cold calling in sales, but I had some success and obtained half a sheet of signatures doing that. The people that signed had seen John Carter and said they really liked it. Then I went to the inside corridor just outside the main hall and went and spoke with people seated on the floor where I got a few more signatures. I went back to the table and it was crowded with people waiting to sign the petition. These people were a mix of people who had seen the film loved it but had no idea that our group existed and those who knew all about our group.  Both were very happy to see us at Comic Con. Kathy Mix and I went upstairs to the 100 years of Tarzan Panel to get some of the Tarzan fans to sign our petition. The room was crowded with very few seats remaining and I found a seat in the middle of a row. As the Panel started they made a point to announce to the crowd to be sure and stop by the Back to Barsoom group and sign the petition for a John Carter Sequel.  I stood up and said the petition is right here.  So eager hands took the clipboard from me and began to pass it around.  It was then I noticed the woman dressed a Princess Dejah Thoris in the crowd.  Determined to get her picture, after the presentation I grabbed up the petition and followed to the hall and asked to take her picture.  I returned to the table and we had a steady stream of people stopping by. We had people who had not seen the movie and were curious why we were there. I felt part of our role was that of Ambassador for John Carter and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I related my own story of seeing the movie not knowing anything about it and now I am campaigning for a sequel.  To those who were curious about the books, we told them about how they were available for free download to kindle. My favorite guy said he had read the books years ago, but after seeing the movie, he wanted to read them again. He mentioned it to his elderly father who said, the books are in the attic, go get them and there they were. He now counts them as treasure.

Media Coverage

Indiewire Article on John Carter Fans at ComicCon Article on John Carter Fans at ComicCon

CNN iReport by Campaign Volunteer Jan Austin

CMM iReport by Campaign Volunteer Khanada Taylor

Image Gallery





  • Happy to hear that ERB Inc. President is optimistic about the future of the John Carter franchise. I had the same thoughts as well that if Disney will not do it, interest someone else.

    One possibility that I thought of, and I am sure others have also, is the possibility of a cable version of the John Carter series, perhaps HBO, Sci-Fi Channel. That venue would certainly lend itself to a more fulfilling telling of the stories than a 2.5 hour film. The only concern would be the production costs, but I am sure HBO could handle it. Just some thoughts.

  • Disney has so much money and so many irons in the fire they just don’t want to cater to their true fans. A deftly silence !

  • K. Michael Carlock wrote:
    “But realists don’t take part in fan campaigns, they don’t put men into the air or upon the surface of the moon (or Mars). Dreamers do these things.”

    Yes and sometimes dreamers get the hearts broken. This dreamer had a dream ever since he was 13-and the result was a movie that unfortunately failed to live up to that dream. I had that dream dashed to bits by a man who didn’t care about it. The results is that yes it has made me a realist. To never allow that to happen again. So if you can get a sequel made without that man it might restore my ability to dream. Otherwise I’ll remain realistic. It causes less disappointment.

  • MCR, you may be right. You’re certainly being realistic. But realists don’t take part in fan campaigns, they don’t put men into the air or upon the surface of the moon (or Mars). Dreamers do these things. Realists cut their losses and move on. I choose to be a dreamer because although risk does not guarantee reward, reward does not come without risk. And it takes dreamers to risk … or to convince realists to risk.

  • Excellent article and love to read all of the experiences from our oh-so-devoted members! I’m so proud of them for all their hard work and impressed with how much they accomplished!

  • Many, many thanks to all of those that went to SDCC to represent those of us wanting a sequel. It’s been too many years since I’ve been to the Con, and there was no way I could have made it this year – but of all the years I’ve regretted missing it, this is probably the one I regret most. I would have loved to help.
    Even if it doesn’t help sway Disney or Hollywood into making a sequel, it was an important presence at the Con for the fan base.

  • You’re probably right. It’s so frustrating. After all these years, all stars seemed to be aligned: a director that genuinely seemed to care about the material, a budget that seemed comfortable enough, and the backing of an important studio, which seemed to promise at least some merchandising, some visibility and a new respect for the novels…

    On arrival you have a director whose passion is debatable (I still think he’s passionate in his own way about the material, but your interpretation that his passion is completely misplaced has some backing), a budget too huge that caused more problems than it solved issues, and a studio that lets down on just about every level where it could have helped, even proclaiming it themselves the biggest flop of all time…

    Now if only I hated the guts of this movie, my life as a fan would be easier! I sometimes envy you, MCR!

  • Pascalahad, what the new bosses at Disney probably learned was in their minds John Carter was a property not worth pursuing. At this point they have other franchises to exploit (Marvel for example) and upcoming movies loaded with-in their eyes-merchandising potential: Oz The Great and Powerful, The Lone Ranger, Malificent, Monsters University and so on.

    Also from a financial point of view they may not feel its worth it to just cater to a small group. As I’ve been reminded countless times the fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs is very small and Disney probably thinks the same thing here based on the box office. As Kevin Jagernauth mentioned in that Indiewire piece, Disney didn’t do much to pursue fans or build up a base before, why should they start now?

    Besides sometimes the fan movement isn’t enough. Even though it saved it from cancellation, Star Trek was cancelled all the same. Even Serenity didn’t generate much box office when it came out (grand total according to Box Office Mojo-39 million worldwide). To a studio money talks and since there was not enough made for John Carter they’re not going to pursue it again. Granted most of that is Disney’s fault-the poor marketing, lack of merchandise-so they made it virtually a no-win situation.

    At this point the fans’ best hope is Jim Sullos’ statement that a sequel will get made outside of Disney. And who knows? Maybe we’ll actually get that great John Carter film, the one that manages to balance being a movie with being respectful to Edgar Rice Burroughs.

  • That’s amazing.

    One thing I don’t get about Disney: OK, they made the lousiest ad campain ever, but by now they (i.e. the new bosses) should have learned from all this. They can’t ignore the existence of the fan mouvement. They can’t ignore the dvd results (even if they seemed to break records only on the first week). Why don’t they do what another company would do: take advantage of this and take the movie fans’ money? Why don’t they put out another printing of the Art of John Carter? Where is that Wolla plush? Where is that extended director’s cut/complete soundtrack? Why don’t they release more widely this great medallion paperweight? Why not just release some mugs, base-ball wap, t-shirts???

    Why the silence? Why does that seem that nobody at all can react in this whole company named DISNEY? Walt, come back please!!

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