Lying In The Gutters

Mon, January 23rd, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOL 2 COLUMN 36

Welcome to the most popular and longest running comics column on the internet. In its various forms, Lying In The Gutters has covered rumours and gossip in the comics industry for twelve long glorious and quite scary years.

All stories are sourced from well connected individuals and checked with respective publisher representatives before publication. Mostly. The veracity of each story is judged by me and given a spotlight - Green is the most reliable, Amber means there's likely an interest involved or the likelihood isn't set and Red means even I can't quite bring myself to believe it.

Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced.

THE SHILLING FRIAR

[Green Light]"The Flying Friar", my graphic novella, drawn by Thomas Nachlik and lettered/edited by Thomas Maeur, from Speakeasy Comics ships next week.

This morning however, "The Times" newspaper printed a half page splash across page 14 about the comic. And BBC Radio 4's "The Today Programme" picked it up and blasted it across the airwaves. Leading a few of my friends to choke on their toast.

(That's the actual Times newspaper proper, Mr Millar. Not the high school jotter version they publish in Scotland with "added local interest" like a Scotsman tripping over a kerb).

The blogerati have started to pick up on it, but I'm greedy for more. "The Times" is a Murdoch paper, with lots of links all over the world. And I want American coverage. Any one with any contacts they're happy to abuse, email me on richjohnston@gmail.com.

Any shops stocking the comic but haven't told me, email me and I'll let the world know. And fans wanting to jump on the bandwagon, the order code is OCT05-3178.

And, for closure, Avatar have finally cancelled "Rich Johnston's Holed Up" #3. However, it will be resolicited very shortly, with an updated script for added topicality. And probably another media blast. Hell, I've got a reputation to live down to.

AFTER LEE

[Green Light]The successor team to Frank Miller and Jim Lee on "All Star Batman And Robin" will be Frank Miller and Neal Adams.

Neal Adams first suggested that he'd be working with Miller on a Batbook a year ago ...

DINI DINI DINI DINI BATMAN

[Green Light]Another intriguing Batbook on the slate is Rags Morales drawing with the thankfully-not-too-good-for-comics-yet Paul Dini.

FREE COMIC BOOK DEBATE

[Yellow Light]It seems there has been quite an upset internally at DC over their choice for the "Free Comic Book Day" item. While Marvel is leading with an original "X-Men/Runaways" crossover (which DC has apparently known about for weeks), DC are issuing a reprint of "Justice League Unlimited" #1, an already-reprinted-and-already-given-away-with-toys-in-Wal-Mart issue based on the animated series with a questionable future right now.

A number of DC staffers were asked to nominate their choices - and stated their wish to have had something original, something linked to "Infinite Crisis," OYL or "52" - or if it had to be a reprint, why not "All Star Superman" #1 - which would have had the benefit of having this years' movie star in the title.

The grumbles rumble on.

ONE DOLLAH

[Yellow Light]But maybe this might not distract from another upcoming DC $1 comic, like "Countdown," shipping in July, linked to the One Year Later phenomenon...

X CLUSIVE

[Green Light]Yanick Panquette has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel. Expect him on an X-book imminently.

LATEST SHOCK PUBLISHER NON PAYING SCANDAL

[Green Light]Kevin Smith alerts the internet that he has not been paid for any issue of "Spider-Man/Black Cat," no matter how late they were. Not one dime.

Admittedly, he also cops to not actually sending the contract paperwork in, in order to secure that payment, but hey. There's only one recourse open to the net. Burn the Marvel bastards to the ground!!! Snooch to the nooch!

MOORE AND MOORCOCK

[Green Light]I attended the conversation with Michael Moorcock by Alan Moore last week.

Apparently, the tickets had been available since December. But when Alan Moore replaced the previously considered Iain Sinclair as host, it was a race to Blackwells to snap them up.

The evening was an entertaining one - the crowd included Kevin O'Neill, Jose Villarubia, Piers Blofeld and a variety of Millarworld, V and Comic Showcase denizens. Moore took Moorcock through his early work and emergence as a fantasy author in a mutual and deserved back slapping exercise. Naturally you had to be there, and it was probably Moorcock's revelation that, "I'm a card carrying anarchist - actually I am!" at which point he pulled out a membership of an anarchy organisation, that brought the biggest laugh across the audience from even the more hard nosed. The signing afterwards was a little heavily weighted towards Alan Moore than otherwise might have occurred.

I managed to get a few shots without a flash... mostly blurred and moody. Still, the last one of Alan dragging his missus away has a certain ethereal quality...

Alan has another London event coming up. One which, again, I managed to get my tickets before putting on the column. As part of Tate Britain's exhibition "Gothic Nightmares," Moore is presenting a talk on William Blake, Henry Fuselli and superheroes.

On a Saturday afternoon, March the 25th. Click here to book.

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]Let's cast our minds back before the days of Marvel before Joe Quesada, before Bill Jemas, while Bob Harras was editor-in-chief and Marvel was struggling in the throes of bankruptcy. 1997. Warren Ellis had been commissioned to write a pre-millenial, apocalyptical non-superhero series for Marvel, which he called "End Times." However, as part of a company wide consolidation, Marvel declined to publish it, though they would use the title for a later X-Men arc.

The full script can be found here.

In 1999, Ellis referred to the decision, saying, "As far as I know, Marvel simply decided that they couldn't get a toy line out of it or something... it was just dumped, after something over a year of development and writing following a direct request from Bob Harras. Marvel management just got gutless again. The idea of a 12-issue series without superheroes in it scared the shit out of them, I suppose.

"It was a pain in the arse, and annoying, more than upsetting. You get used to the knockbacks. I still think 'End Times' would've been a good thing for Marvel (but then, I would, wouldn't I?) -- going sideways from all expectations and producing a (hopefully) strong piece of adventure fiction that relied on none of the things that've kept Marvel superhero comics propped up all these years... that, ultimately, didn't rely on the superhero subgenre. But what do I know, right?"

The series was to spin out of a published Gambit mini-series featuring a fallen angel and, while featuring no superheroes, was intended to be a company-wide continuity fixer - the end product enabling Marvel Universe books to allow characters to remember reality as they wished.

Almost a decade on, and "Ultimate Extinction" arrives, a superhero-universe arrival of an apocalyptic mind-altering, planet-altering threat, building through "Ultimate Survival" and "Ultimate Secret." And the appearance of an angelic creature.

But the script for "End Times" and the comic "Ultimate Secret" seem very similar indeed.

There are differences. "End Times" has lots of "Ultimates" style scenes. It stars Marvel characters, superheroes, so the plot goes in a different direction. But a hefty chunk of the script and dialogue have been cut and pasted.

Here are a few examples.

Pic 5;


Behind Leary is a man we'll soon come to know as COYLE. He'll be using a false name to Leary. A smaller man than Leary, in his forties, very well dressed in a slightly old-fashioned, musty way. Head shaven or bald. Educated. Piercing eyes. A disturbing air about him. Ed Harris.

Coyle sticks out his hand, smiling a strange close-lipped smile, eyes glittering. Creepy. Something lizardoid about him, the way his mouth moves, the ways his lazy eyes study you slowly, half-lidded.

COYLE;     EDWARD SCHAFFER. WE SPOKE ON THE TELEPHONE YESTERDAY.

LEARY;     DIDN'T HEAR YOU COME IN BEHIND ME, MR SCHAFFER.

COYLE;     NO.

LEARY;     ...AND HAS TAKEN THOSE MONIES TO ONE PAUL MAITREYA, WHO IS SOME KIND OF FAITH HEALER...

Pic 4;


Coyle twists the photo on the desk towards him, admires the beautiful woman.

COYLE;     HE'S A CULT LEADER. CHARISMATIC. SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS, IN THE WAY THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE. AND GREEDY.

COYLE;     HE SEDUCES MARRIED, MONIED WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE, AND FEEDS OFF THEM. AND MY CAROL... WELL...

Pic 1;


Leary breaks into a big smile.

LEARY;     SEAN KEOGH, AT LONG ******* LAST...

LEARY;     YEAH, YEAH, WHADDAYA WHADDAYA... LISTEN, I NEED A FAVOR.

LEARY;     NO, BITE "ME". YOU OWE ME, SEAN. NOW COME ON, GIVE.

Pic 2;


LEARY finds and thumbs a tiny TAPE RECORDER.

LEARY;     CASE NOTES: SCHAFFER. IT'S A LITTLE BEFORE NINE P.M.

LEARY;     AMAZING STROKE OF LUCK. A BUNCH OF UNRENTED APARTMENTS SCHEDULED FOR RENOVATION FOUND DIRECTLY OPPOSITE MAITREYA'S APARTMENT.

LEARY;     THIS'LL BE WRAPPED UP TONIGHT. JUST A CASE OF TAKING PHOTOS AND A LITTLE VIDEOTAPE.

Pic 3;


Leary spins a zoom telephoto lens onto the camera...

LEARY;     A FEW MORE EASY GIGS LIKE THIS AND I'LL BE ABLE TO AFFORD A PLANE TICKET TO EUROPE EARLY IN THE NEW YEAR.

LEARY;     NEW MILLENNIUM, EVEN.

Pic 2;


He reaches the window... looks out, a small smile on his face...

(no dialogue)

Pic 3;


and then turns back towards his flock, as the lights in there dim.

LEARY (off);     THEY'RE TURNING THE LIGHTS DOWN NOW. IF THIS IS SOME KIND OF PERVY CULTIST FLOORSHOW I'M GOING HOME NOW...

PAGE SIXTEEN

Pic 1;


Leary sprints for the top of the stairs --

LEARY;     EASY PLANE TICKET.

Pic 2;


--hurls himself onto the landing, gun pointed down the stairs -- and FIRES.

LEARY;     PANDAS FLYING OUT OF MY BUTT --

Pic 3;

Can you swipe from yourself? If, over a decade, we replace and rebuild most molecules in our body so that we are, in effect, a materially different person, does that make a difference? It's an interesting philosophical point.

But can Warren Ellis get Marvel to pay for the same script twice? Most definitely.

One Warren Ellis project that hasn't had the press yet is "Wolfskin. A violent barbarian fantasy type thing. Look it's got a site and a gallery and everything.

I wonder if he's related to Pete Burns?

EXCLUSIVE VARIANT FOLDER FOR SALE

[Green Light]Are you the kind of crazy cat that can't get enough paying hundreds of dollars to a retailer for a RRP excluisive variant issue of a comic that they got for free? You are?

Then you must check out what one retailer is selling. A binder from the RRP day. Rare as anything.

And what's more, you can keep your other RRP editions in it! That's a double score!!

MISSING IN ACTION COMICS

[Green Light]The new version of the "Across The DC Universe with Alan Moore," "DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore" incorporating The Killing Joke and Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? has had a few glitches.

The introductory page to "Whatever" with the memorial statue misses out the text introduction, including that haunting "This is an imaginary story... but then again, aren't they all?" line. This text was lifted and moved to the opposing page when the story was reprinted on its own, but chopped out all together in this version.

"The Killing Joke" misses out the "endpieces" from the volume, which were part of Moore's script for the book.

Captions are also missing from the last pages of the recently reprinted first Alan Moore Swamp Thing story.

I know Alan Moore wanted his name off this kind of book. I don't know if he wanted captions taken off as well.

And someone might have checked the copyrights in the ads for the new DC trade, headlining "Before Watchmen & the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen There Was..." with both titles noted as being trademark and copyright DC Comics.

"League" is owned by Moore and O'Neill. Or at least it's meant to be. Is this some kind or preparatory strike to stop Moore taking the "League" away from DC/Wildstorm?

No, probably not.

STATUE ESQUE

[Green Light]Adrian Brown is starting his "Just 1 Page" charity event again, where creators send in one page for a themed comic book, the art is auctioned off, and the book is sold at conventions, online and from willing shops.

And he's commissioned another statue for the book from Jesse Farrell.

Here are some shots.

Bid, bid for all you're worth!

INTERVIEW WITH ANOTHER SUPERHERO

[Green Light]Last week, we talked with Mr Silent of the Justice Society Of Justice. This week, his partner Doktor DiscorD.

LITG: Last week I asked Mr Silent about comments Grant Morrison made when writing "New X-Men" - that we were about to see real superheroes - that the time and the influences were right. What is it that makes you create these superhero identities, rather than becoming, say, volunteer policemen?

DOKTOR: Well, this might just be me, but.....cops are assholes. no one likes you when you're a cop. they drive around with a superiority complex, getting fat on public funds and usually harass people who've done absolutely nothing besides being black, being young, and having fun...now this isn't all of them, i know. There are good cops out there, just not enough of them.

I became a superhero for a handful of reasons, but the main one is this: cops (here) are almost completely ineffective...while they're bothering people who aren't causing any harm, people are getting shot.

LITG: Mr Silent talked about an incident with an old lady... anything else been going down?

DOKTOR: Let's see, a few events have taken place. we've broken up a few fights and helped an old lady who's car was being fucked with by kids. i've yet to have to defend myself in a physical manner, thankfully...fighting is a last resort for us. many times our very presence is enough to disrupt the criminal activity.

LITG: And what is your official legal situation - have you had any reaction from traditional law keepers?

DOKTOR: the police have left us alone so far...one of the first nights the Justice Society of Justice (offering twice the Justice of the Leading Competitors) went out, we encountered a group of 3 drunk latinos outside the greyhound station. they were merely drunk and having fun, singing and etc. i have no problem with that sort of 'criminal' activity...we ran into them 2 hours later on patrol and they had turned against each other..all screaming in spanish and trying to fight each other. we tried to break it up and eventually the police pulled up...they sat there for 5 minutes just watching from inside their car and then drove away...how's that for proper conflict resolution procedure?...and people wonder why there's a need for us, sheesh.

LITG: Well maybe, I mean could your very presence create an equal and opposite - super villains?

DOKTOR: well, they are as inevitable as we were. there have already been a few..like that pussy who made the "killdozer"..good thing he's dead, but he would have been a perfect ally if say, zombies took over the earth.

LITG: Oookay. One common comment on message boards is that you'll likely find yourselves seriously wounded or killed. Is this a worry for you?

DOKTOR: these people have obviously never been to indianapolis...to be honest, we've only dealt with one guy with a gun but i said "do you really want to shoot somebody when you're in the center of the state capitol with cameras all over you and an undercover cop in that car behind me?"...his balls retracted and he lost his nerve, then left. some kids on DXM were watching and i told them afterwards "see kids, all you have to do is use people's inherent logic and need for self preservation against them and you won't have to fight."..i think they learned an important lesson when i said that because their faces lit up in recognition...but then again, they were all fucked up on dissociative drugs...if i would have said "gumball toothpaper gas" they would have probably done the same thing.

LITG: Your "Doktor DiscorD" identity reminds me of characters such as Big Ben, Spider Jerusalem, Grifter, and the Droogs from "Clockwork Orange." Do you have any specific influences in terms of superhero style?

DOKTOR: a lot of people say my crime fighting goggles are very reminiscent of spider jerusalem's glasses, but that's purely coincidental. i made them red and blue to go along with my name, you know..Doktor DiscorD?..3-D?...get it?...it's a sight gag, nothing more...heh, a goggle "sight gag"..fuck, who am i, professor pun?..seriously though, i just found some crap that was laying around my house and made a costume out of it, there was no real guidance..we dont have a wardrobe dept.....yet.

LITG: Again, I asked Mr Silent about superhero fiction clichs. Have any of the inner conflicts common in the superhero fictions come true for you? Do you feel a secret identity protects your loved ones? Do they know about your activities, or have you protected them from it as well? Are people trying to discover your identity? And have you been involved with any conversations with people about your superhero identities, without them realizing who you are?

DOKTOR: inner conflicts?..not really, i just see people screwing over others with a blatant disregard for all the good things in life and that shows me i should use the same disregard when considering their right to steal a woman's purse.... my secret identity does protect my friends and loved ones...you never know how many friends the perp might have, and think about it, indianapolis is a small city of 2 million. everyone knows everyone here. you see the same people every day. no sense in not taking precautions.

a few of my "non super" friends know what i'm doing, but they're supportive...i've tried to be as non-obvious as possible. i've talked to a few people that i know while patrolling but only one thought he knew who i was. i denied it completely, of course. most of the time when people talk about our doings while i'm around, i make typical cryptic batman statements like "he's obviously deranged" or some such comment.

the only people who are really trying to see my face are the fan girls who want to see if i'm as dreamy as i really am. all i can say is this, ladies..."wouldn't you like to know???"

LITG: I bet. Any last word for the great unwashed?

DOKTOR: godspeed, and for fuck's sake..let's clean up those streets!

You heard the man. Get cleaning.

SMALL PRINT

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum.

Contact me on richjohnston@gmail.com or on AOL Instant Messenger as TwistRich.

You can also write to me at 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU ENGLAND

Or call me/text me on 0780 1350982 from the UK or 01144780 1350982 from the US.

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