Lying In The Gutters

Mon, July 1st, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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Welcome to the comics industry's newest rumour/gossip column. I started writing this kind of thing ten years ago on Usenet, then wrote it as Rich's Ramblings for my own website. Bought out for two weeks by NextPlanetOver (remember them???) until two comic pros persuaded them to drop it, the column's been at Silver Bullet for the last two years as All The Rage, and now continues under Ian Ungstad's fine design.

And now you lucky lucky people have me over here, Jonah's loose cannon pointing every which way. The traffic lights on each story are my takes on their reliability. Green lets you know I believe it, Amber let's you know I reckon there's something in it somewhere, Red lets you know I think it's quite possibly bullshit. The lights are just an indication - doesn't mean a red can't be true and a green can't be false. Take everything you read with a bucketful of salt - and if you do repost information here elsewhere, please include a warning to that effect.

Boring stuff over, on with the goss.

[Yellow Light]IS TIBET THE NEW GAY?

DC has been through a number of phases in the last few years where creative work was amended to suit corporate sensitivities - and it reached the public. Whether child gun use in "Hellblazer," which saw Warren Ellis walk off the book, "Finals," where preview art had been made available to customers before the changes came down from on high or even cartoon child danger such as seen in "Elseworlds Eighty Page Giant," this was clearly the tip of the iceberg.

Last year it was "The Authority," as the depiction of gay sexuality in a non-Code book was clamped down on in a way that previously might have been left alone. Both Jenny Sparks and The Authority saw major changes made to the work after it was drawn. Despite the events of September 11th being used as the reasons for many of the changes, most of them that were made public were either one-on-one violence, or references to the characters' sexuality.

So what's next? Word reaches me that, with AOL Time Warner increasing their business in China, certain jittery DC staff have been making changes to titles in order not to offend their masters. And mentions of Tibet, a territory much in dispute, have been key.

I understand that one DC book had mentions erased, another had its plot changed, while another a whole arc had to be junked and started again.

Official sources in DC have denied point blank that there's any sign of such activity. Yet a number of individuals within DC disagree.

And what Warren Ellis' upcoming "Global Frequency" will make of this is anyone's guess.

[Green Light]ENNIS AND ROBERTSON ON WOLVERINE

Wolverine is to guest-star in issues 16 and 17 of the ongoing "Punisher" series by Garth Ennis, who will be joined on art duties by his "Fury" and "Punisher: The War Where I Was Born" collaborator Darick Robertson, who fills in for Steve Dillon on issues 15, 16 and 17.

Here's a look at Darick's Wolverine - for more on Darick's upcoming projects, see his Web site.

[Wolverine]
Click to enlarge

[Green Light]MIDNIGHT, MASS, ORIGINALLY ONGOING

So what happened to "Midnight, Mass?" John ("Xombi") Rozum's new Vertigo series that started as an ongoing series but was rapidly reduced to an 8-issue mini-series - for unnamed reasons. This was one of Heidi MacDonald's last projects as editor before she was dismissed - a link perhaps? "Midnight, Mass" has gained both critical acclaim and a small but rabid fanbase.

Rozum wrote on the DC Message Boards "Sales had nothing to do with it as the decision was made back in October, way before it was solicited, so there were no sales figures to base this on whatsoever. Nor does it have anything to do with my schedule. At the same date it was cut down to a mini-series, I had nine issues written, and a rough outline for about 91 more. I was just about to start what would have been a 4-issue arc, followed by a couple single-issue stories, then a five-issue arc (which is mostly completed) which follows up the events in issues #2 and #3. The decision was made solely by Karen Berger. Ask her."

[Yellow Light]AMERICANS, MEET BIG DAVE

Grant Morrison has always said he was only going to write "New X-Men" up till #150 and then leave. But he intends to write them all as soon as he can. So Marvel will be publishing his stuff long after he is no longer on the book.

So where else will we be able to see his work? Well, Avatar are welcoming him with open arms. We're soon going to see more series there by Steven Grant, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Steve Niles, Chris Golden *and* Grant Morrison all at the same time. And, I hear, they pay at least DC money - and no DC editorial restrictions.

Admittedly, they might not have quite the licensing, multi-media possibilities, foreign distribution and general exploitation that DC use. But they're growing in that direction. They might well reprint Mark Millar's "Saviour," or look at the Alex Ross revamp of that same book which Vertigo turned down. And they do genitals. Just remember, don't mention Pat Quinn.

One of the projects Avatar are pursuing to reprint is Morrison, Millar and Parkhouse's entertainingly offensive right-wing working-man homophobic, racist and endearingly sexist hero, "Big Dave," from Morrison and Millar's "2000AD" Summer Offensive. And how aptly titled that was…

[Green Light]MOORE'S NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL AT AVATAR

And, saving the best for last, Avatar are to publish a new Alan Moore graphic novel in October, "Magic Words Volume One." This will be the first of a number of new Alan Moore projects.

[Green Light]KAARE ANDREWS ON ULTIMATE X-MEN

I understand that Kaare Andrews will be a fill-in artist on an upcoming issue of "Ultimate X-Men" - and that issue 25 will be a double sized.

[Green Light]LADYTRON ICON?

Joe Casey made this image available without comment save the date 'August 28th'. Looks like Maxine from "WildCATS" to me - presumably for the upcoming Mature Readers Volume 3?

[Yellow Light]FRANK MILLER, PLANS AT DC

I hear that Frank Miller is rather happy at DC these days and has no real plans to go back to Dark Horse in the near future. Hence their solicited "Art Of Sin City" project, publishing previously created, if not always published, artwork. And while the Dark Knight Universe stories are being planned, I hear Miller has another DC project planned before that, featuring a character he hasn't worked on in quite a while…

[Green Light]DARK HORSE LAUNCH NEW ANTHOLOGY SERIES

It's been a while since "Dark Horse Presents" sat on our comic shop shelves, where comics like "Sin City," "Next Men," "Concrete," "Buffy" and "The Mask" first appeared. Now it seems Dark Horse are getting back into the anthology game with a series called Reveal. One of the first stories will be "Autopilot" by Joe Casey and Sean Philips, as well a "Lone Wolf 2100" story.

[Yellow Light]DC, HUNTING EDITORS

I hear DC is headhunting editors from other publishers. A number of people have been approached to move across town. But, this seems to coincide with a lot of bean counting at DC and the prospect of more dismissals. There are some shake-ups planned - the word is anything towards the end of the sales charts that's not Vertigo is currently very vulnerable indeed. But there are also an awful lot of new launches planned. Expect DC's output to look very different in a year or two.

[Green Light]BETTY VORHIES LEAVES WILDSTORM

Betty Vorhies used to be the foreign licensing exec at Wildstom. She'd been in charge of 'special licensed projects' but unfortunately Wildstorm recently phased our her position, and this past week was her last at Wildstorm.

Betty Vorhies is Jim Lee's mother-in-law.

That'll make for fun Thanksgiving dinners.

[Yellow Light]CROSSGEN AFFECTS INDUSTRY

Just how will the new CrossGen CGE and Code Six imprints affect the likes of Image Central? There was a bit of jaw-hitting-there floor over there when it happened. Before this plan, Image was the only publisher giving high-profile gigs to creators without editorial input - the reason why a number of projects weren't taken to, say, DC Vertigo. But now CrossGen has stepped up to the mat, look for a few projects that would have been a "natural match" for Image to go to CrossGen.

And does anyone really want to be anywhere near the CrossGen stands at the cons this summer? I'm betting you'll see more hopeful wannabees with portfolios than the days of Tundra.

Maybe this will also help Joe Benitz' plans to play certain publishers off against each other over his exciting new projects. I hear he's already talking with Dreamwave and Cliffhanger and has told some that CrossGen are very interested - although it's debatable whether CrossGen agree. I hear both Finch and Andy Park also have properties they are shopping around.

[Yellow Light]NOSTALGIA BOOM, SECRET WARS

Certain Top Cow creators have also been seen all over Marvel of late. I hear both Michael Turner and Marc Silvestri failed to line up work at the Ultimate and X-offices. But Marvel has been stung of late by the eighties nostalgia boom. Despite previously publishing "Transformers," "Thundercats," "GI Joe" and "Micronauts" in the eighties, they've really lucked out of late. Part of the problem is the licensing fees that such brands demand - but Marvel's got a brand or two of its own to play with.

Could the Top Cow guys have found a new Marvel project to work on? And could it be an eighties nostalgia revival of Marvel Superhero "Secret Wars?"

Of course, Turner is still expected to finish "Fathom" and has a fill-in on "Tomb Raider" 35. But the Beyonder beckons...

[Red Light]MARVEL, TO BE ULTIMATIZED?

What more do DC staff like to gossip about than Marvel? The pro grapevine there has it that Bill Jemas is to Ultimatize the Marvel universe, as a number of commentators had predicted. The bean counters have had their say, and noting how well the Ultimates books do, especially at Wal Mart who have a guaranteed sale for another two years, it looks like the Marvel Universe will soon start to integrate with the Ultimate newcomer. Marvel may well have a deal with news stand distributors to give the Marvel line a high profile - if they all go through the "Ultimate" treatment.

And how do DC know all this? Apparently they are under pressure to get the "JLA/Avengers" crossover out, before all the characters change costumes, ethnic origin and identities to the Ultimate versions…

[Red Light]WILDSTORM DC BOOK TEAMS

More on the Wildstorm DC Universe books. I wrote in All The Rage way back that "OMAC" was to be by Azzerello amd Berejmo. I now hear that "Vigilante" is to be by Adam Hughes, and that "Adam Strange" is to be by Joe Casey and Carlos D'nada. I get the feeling, though, that these might be a bit mixed up...

Update 07/01/02 11:05 AM PDT - Cully Hamner, on the WEF boards, states that not only is Hughes not doing "Vigilante," only the "Wonder Woman" covers at present.

These books, and the other titles in the line, will all be mini-series.

[Yellow Light]WILDSTORM CHASING ROBOTECH?

I hear that Wildstorm is trying to get the "Robotech" license. If they land it Adam Warren will be involved. Perhaps on both writing AND art. That's all for now. Let's hope it won't turn out to be another Robodojo...

[Green Light]JEMAS AND FABRY, TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME

By the way, anyone out there got any clue as to what Glenn Fabry's "top secret" Marvel project mentioned in a recent All the Rage is? It evades me, though I hear Bill Jemas is writing it. Problems with script schedules have meant Fabry's taken to this book before finishing "Global Frequency" 3 for Wildstorm. But for a sneak peek, Warren Ellis posted this "Global Frequency" snippet.

[Global Frequency]
Click to enlarge

[Green Light]STORMWATCH, AUTOMATIC KAFKA DEBUT LOW

See where the heavily hyped "Stormwatch" and "Automatic Kafka" from Wildstorm's Eye Of The Storm line debuted on the pre-order charts? 68 and 125 respectively. That's got to hurt. How long before "Automatic Kafka" is only six issues long? And Casey is already there on scripts as we speak…

Of course, this is before they go on sale, sell out in seconds, force reprints and generally cause a big stir and increased orders. Maybe.

Hope "Resistance" and "21 Down" get the kick from the Jim Lee Sketchbook promotion they deserve…

[Green Light]COWBOY WALLY SHOW 2

As well as working on the upcoming "Captain America: Truth" series, Kyle Baker is working on a sequel to probably my favourite work of his, The Cowboy Wally Show.

CW2 should be finished when… well, when it's finished. But here's a sneak peek.

[Cowboy and Wally]
Click to enlarge

[Green Light]JEMAS OPENS MOUTH, PUTS FOOT IN IT

Bill Jemas recently posted to the Newsarama message boards

"Just left a brainstorming session at Marvel. We were coming up with new titles for fan sites."

"The winners: SnoozeArama, Fuss Factory, Idiot Savant Magazine, Silver Bullet Pamphlets, Comic Book Fallacy, Zero Realm."

"Sequential Tart was a hot debate among (1) Sequential Whores (kinda course), (2) Sequential Sluts (even more course, but kinda catchy) and my favorite, (3) Sequential Girls (because Bill know best how to push people's buttons). Those are the choices. You decide."

Read the ensuing row here.

[Green Light]SEQUENTIAL TART, NEPOTISTIC INTERVIEW TECHNIQUE

Something interesting from last month's Sequential Tart, an interview with new comics writer Antony Johnston ("Rosemary's Backpack," this month's Previews, page 269 under Cyberosia). The interview was by Sequential Tart editor-in-chief Marcia Allass.

Who also happens to be Antony's partner.

And the current Sequential Tart also has a feature on Antony's new book. And plenty

of lovely publicity.

See, Bill? That's how you get Sequential Tart's on your good side.

[Green Light]HOWARD THE DUCK AUCTION, GOING, GOING...

The chairity project Just One Page is selling its original art - and theHoward The Duck piece by Steve Gerber and Phil Winslade is out its way out. Click here before it's too late.

RECRUITING FROM THE GUTTER

This column is nothing without its readers and its sources. Find out how you can play a part.

Recruiting The Gutterati

What's the word on the street? Whether you're a pro in the know or a fan who just got lucky, pass it on. Loose lips on message boards, you work in a shop where a pro's been holding court about their latest success, or you're just feeling plain bitchy and want to get your view across without being fired, join the ever expanding crew of Gutter Snipes. Regular reporters can get their own nickname, so you can build a reputation - but unless you wish it, your identity will never be revealed and will be concealed.

Recruiting The Gutter Snipes

Spreading the word. Repost sections from this column (with the rumour warning and the column's web address) to message boards across the internet, whereever relevant, and let me know about it. E-mail bits to friends, pass the word, spread the cause. For example - excerpts from today's column might be posted on the DC message boards, the Chinese politics boards or feminist action boards. Go to it. My pretty ones!

You can contact me at:


twisting@hotmail.com (which often gets full, but it'll reach me during the day)


rich@twistandshout.freeserve.co.uk (which I read every morning - best for graphic files!)


AOL Instant Message me on TwistRich


0780 1350982 (01144780 1350982 from N America)


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