Does Tom Clancy preview the products attached to his name? - The Intrepid

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Does Tom Clancy preview the products attached to his name?

The Tom Clancy media empire reminds me a little of Garfield. This bloated unfunny cat has become a mainstay of modern media, despite the fact that nobody really likes him. Have you ever heard anyone utter the phrase: “Wow, that Garfield comic was really funny.”

Tom Clancy is similar. While the books he wrote are entertaining at times, just like Jim Davis’s original strips, the endless slew of garbage that is produced under his name these days is staggering. Like Garfield, Tom Clancy is a brand. His name can be slapped on any inferior book, game, or movie, and it’s guaranteed to sell.

To date, Tom Clancy has written over twenty fiction and non-fiction titles and lent his name to over fifty titles written by other authors. You can always spot a Clancy franchise cover jacket from a mile away. Clancy’s name appears in giant font and takes up a quarter of the cover, while the poor sap who had to write the book is only credited in tiny font at the bottom of the cover.

While Clancy’s book franchises and movie deals are lucrative, his name seems to have more weight in the gaming industry these days. Clancy games usually tend to be first person shooters, but some RTS (real time strategy) games are sometimes thrown into the mix.

The latest Tom Clancy game, EndWar, explores the possibilities of a third world war. The game, which is set for release in November, is based on the book of the same name. The game combines RTS (real time strategy) gameplay with a mass-multiplayer turn base setting.

As of 2008, 38 titles games or expansion packs have been released under the Clancy franchise. Overall, Clancy games have a mixed record, but they tend to better received by critics than his book franchise.

So, does Clancy read, play, or watch any of the projects attached to his name? Probably not.

Earlier this year, European game publisher Ubisoft bought the intellectual rights to the Clancy name, including all books, games, and movies. While Clancy still receives royalties, it is clear that he no longer has any role in any of the projects attached to his name. Perhaps if a Rainbow Six movie is ever made, Clancy will act as a consultant, but if the Sum of all Fears is any indication, this probably won’t amount to much.

The Sum of all Fears commentary track is perhaps the funniest movie extra to ever be included on a DVD. From the offset, it is clear that Clancy and the director, Phil Alden Robison, don’t like each other. Clancy takes every opportunity to point out inaccuracies and belittle Robison’s work.

The funniest part of the commentary is when Clancy suggests that the main villain in the movie, a powerful neo-nazi, could never exist in real life. Clancy then goes on to point out how the movie is inferior to his book in every possible way. Throughout Clancy’s chiding speech you can almost hear Robison’s teeth grinding.

Clancy was apparently one of the executive producers. But, based on the commentary, it doesn’t sound like he bothered to watch the movie until the DVD commentary was recorded.

Perhaps Clancy lent his input to projects earlier in his career, but since he doesn’t even own the intellectual rights to his work anymore, it’s fair to assume that he spends more time managing the Baltimore Oriels than checking out the latest product with his name slapped on it.