An open letter to Last Unicorn fans from Chris Rickert

I was eight when The Last Unicorn came out in theaters. I’m surprised my parents took me to see it, I’d already been removed, screaming, from Disney movies that terrified me. Somehow a demonic bull, a sexually perverse tree, a screaming harpy devouring a witch – these didn’t faze me at all. They just seemed to be the real inhabitants of a real world I hadn’t been able to find for myself yet. Years after the movie release, I found out that the author and screenwriter, Peter S Beagle, had never been paid for the movie, even though it was a cult hit on VHS & DVD. Even though it’s hard to find a kid from my generation who didn’t immediately recall that tree, or the bull, or the magician who can’t really handle magic. Somehow Peter had gotten passed over in all the success.

It was a relief to hear that someone had stepped in to help. I called this person, thanks to a mutual friend. I volunteered to help Peter, to help the man who was fighting on his behalf, to help anyone who could, in turn, help Peter.  The battle over the movie payments was won. Success followed, with promises of more success to come. Or so I thought. What followed is already public record, or it will be soon as lawsuit filings are posted. If I’ve been unwilling to talk about the details or read the links to gossip about this it’s because I’ve been actually dealing with it, signing declarations for lawyers, strategizing on the best ways to help Peter now that we know who the good and bad guys are for sure.  (in case you have any lingering doubt, Peter’s just fine, mentally and otherwise, and anyone who tells you differently  should be treated as highly suspect)

I’m going to be selfish and talk about myself for a minute, because my story is now inextricably linked to Peter’s and to the fate of his world.  I offered to work for nothing, or for whatever could be spared to help me cover bills. Some months there was pay, some there was not, but I was never paid at the market value of my work, and at the time I believed that this was my own investment in Peter’s future and in my own.  I also want to make it clear that Peter is not the person I was directly working for, he didn’t know anything about what I was paid or the actual value of my work. Unlike others, Peter was a joy to work with and treated me with immense kindness and respect at all times. I worked for years with the understanding that pay commensurate with the level of my work would be given to me as deals were signed. (Kiddos, never ever work without a contract, even if you think you’re helping save the world) I worked with the understanding that when deals were signed I would be given significant help covering bookstore needs and upgrades. I worked with the understanding that I had a place in the amazing things that were just down the road. I think you know where this all ended up.

My personal savings covered the bookstore’s needs and my lack of pay. It’s long gone now.  I work seven days a week so I have a small income to start rebuilding my life, and so I don’t have to give up my bookstore (it’s touch and go every single month).  What happened to me is nothing compared to what happened to Peter, what is still happening.

You can help. Please read the links (it’s okay if you don’t make it past the summaries at the beginnings, we’re not all lawyers) and please spread them. Use my note as a preface, write your own, add your thoughts, whatever you want.  But please, help us free the unicorns.

Legal filings for you to read:


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