Merchandise hell

Lila’s drawings were what made The Hayseed Chronicles such a success, but the “publishers had paid her a flat fee, and, in signing whatever contract they had flashed before her, she had passed the copyright to them“. She got no financial benefit from the brand. Not like the author’s children, one of whom describes the “merchandise hell“.

I was there at the beginning. I was the beginning – but if you trawl book shops and gift shops and computer shops and duty-free shops and mail-order catalogues, and ads in this magazine or that magazine, and special offers on the back of certain cereal packets, you will find some of the following: the original five paperbacks (of course), the boxed set of the original five paperbacks, the activity book for older readers, the hardback deluxe compendium edition with the coloured illustrations (or colourized – the originals were black-and-white) illustrations, the board game (‘A throw of the dice decides which entrance you take into the Darkwood’), the PlayStation Hayseed game (‘Do you dare to be Mt Toppit?’), the Royal Doulton cereal-bowl set, the eggcups, the porcelain figurines of Luke, the DayGlo rucksacks, the pencil boxes, the notepaper, the Christmas cards, the T-shirts with ‘My brother went to the Darkwood and all Mr Toppit allowed him to bring back was this lousy T-shirt’ emblazoned on the back (unauthorized, I suspect – I’ll get the lawyers on to it), the baseball caps and the keyrings.

Charles Elton, Mr Toppit, 2009

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