Lying In The Gutters

Mon, July 15th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

SHILLING FOR HITS

I understand that last Monday's column had the second highest unique visitors per single day for a ComicBookResources column ever. I think we can break that. Gutter Snipes? Time to start posting links for the column anywhere you can…

Welcome to the third weekly installment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry - or at the least the bits that make me laugh. 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. But then you never know. 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 dash of lemon juice - and if you do repost information here elsewhere, please include a warning to that effect.

And a URL obviously. Like I said, we're looking to beat that record.

[Green Light]COMIC BOOK WRITER THREATENED

Craig McGill is a Scottish writer, currently working on an upcoming graphic novel about sectarian politics, religious bigotry and violence in Scotland and Ireland called "Know The Provo." It tales the real-life tale of a journalist who comes across the existence of a 300 page document with names and personal details of UK politicians, US senators, Australian lawyers, Hollywood actors and many people with republican leaders. In the words of one person on the list "looking at this list, it can only be one thing - a hitlist for when hostilities resume." But the list is inaccurate and is already being circulated around loyalist groups internationally. Many people on it are total innocents. And in Ireland or America, it's not too hard to get a gun. Or the list.

This graphic novel is the tale of how this story gets discovered, what happens with it and the repercussions, about the newsgathering process, the human cost of what it takes to get a good story and behind the scenes of the list known only as Know The Provo. But I've heard that project has just taken a new twist.

Craig McGill was out in a Glasgow nightclub the other night having a few drinks, when a couple of guys well known to be heavies with shady loyalist connections invited McGill to a corner to have a quiet word. He was told that they heard he was writing a book about Glasgow's loyalists and the list. That he shouldn't bother because he remembers the trouble he got into last time with this (a nasty kicking outside one of Glasgow's more predominantly protestant areas) and they'd hate to see that happen again. Or worse. McGill denied he was doing such a book.

Of course, he is. 96 pages long, in search of a publisher, 2003.

McGill told me "I can't deny what you're telling me. As soon as an artist is in place, there will be more news on 'Know the Provo.'"

TRANSFORMERS SPECIAL

Especially for my friend Nick Locking - a "Transformers" special of Lying In The Gutters. Is there no bandwagon I won't cling to like a panicky psychopathic limpet? None, none I tell you. Onwards.

"Transformers" hit the new nostalgia zeitgeist with a big hammer over the last few months. Dreamwave's debut title away from other publishers broke records and drew the kind of orders that everyone can be nostalgic about. But what about the rumours in disguise?

[Green Light]Others Publishers Pursued Transformers

For a start, Dreamwave wasn't the only company interested in publishing "Transformers." There were a few others, the most prominent being Marvel. They commissioned Udon Studios to create sample "Transformers" artwork for Marvel's presentation.

The others had one thing in common - they all used Pat Lee's "Transformers" artwork from a recent Wizard Magazine in their pitch documents. Whoever won the contract would have employed Dreamwave, Pat Lee or a lookalike.

At one point Dreamwave wanted to work with Top Cow in order to get the licence for themselves, though Top Cow turned them down.

Eventually Adam Fortier stepped in, working on the contract negotiations and suggested that Dreamwave do it themselves with Hasbro, rather than going through another company. It helped that they then told Hasbro that Pat Lee would only do the book if Dreamwave got the gig, instantly dismissing almost all the other pitches with one fell swoop.

In the end it came down to Marvel and Dreamwave. Marvel backed down because of the money the deal would cost them. Marvel aren't fans of spending money on other people's licenses when they have so many of their own to exploit. They may well, however, be kicking themselves ever so slightly over this one.

And Udon ended up using their "Transformers" drawing skills in one of the variant covers to Marville 1.

[Yellow Light]Transformers Schedules Tight

Dreamwave schedules are starting to slip on "Transformers" already. While Pat Lee's artwork has been coming in before deadline, it's all weighted towards the end of that deadline, meaning that inkers and colourists can't get it all done in time.

I have been told that Sigmond Torre has been doing a bit of ghosting for Pat Lee on "Transformers" of late to help the schedule along, especially as Pat's promotional schedule has taken him away from the drawing board. With signings in Chicago, New York and more, someone's got to keep those big robots transforming.

However Dreamwave bod Adam Fortiers tells me that while they are moving schedules around to keep books from being late "We hear it's bad for sales," Pat's not getting help on the book, he's still doing it all on his own.

[Red Light]"I'm Paticus" "No. I'm Paticus"

You can see Pat Lee's member page at AsianAvenue.com here

His first name is Paticus? Sadly I'm told it's just a joke...

[Green Light]Pat Buys Replacement Porsche

I understand Paticus has ordered his second Porsche. What happened to his first one? His first Porsche was driven away while he was having a coffee.

There's no word if the replacement Porsche can turn into a twenty foot robot if anyone tries to hotwire it. We live in hope.

[Green Light]Darkminds On Hiatus?

The current "Darkminds" series from Dreamwave is to be on hiatus after issue 4. I understand artist Jo Chen has some problems with Dreamwave's schedules. The book will be on a pause until a new artist can be found.

Adam Fortier tells me "Yes, after issue #4 'Darkminds' will be on a brief hiatus. The Chen sisters are no longer working on the project, but we will find a great replacement! It was a mutual decision, we didn't kick them off, and they didn't quit. We talked about it together, and decided that it would be better to work on something else."

[Yellow Light]Udon, Dreamwave, Friction

[Dreamwave's offices? Or a thematic point?]
Dreamwave's offices? Or a thematic point?
I understand that most members of the studio named Udon came from Dreamwave. So Dreamwave and Udon do seem to have a bit of a history. When Udon showed a building exploding in the "Taskmaster" comic issue 2, Dreamwave took exception to it being on the third floor in 14th Avenue - where the DW offices are.

Erik Ko of Udon explained "It was meant to be a Chinese triad building in New York city, and the word 14 means bad

[Is this Erik Ko? Or someone who looks nothing like him?]
Is this Erik Ko? Or someone who looks nothing like him?
luck in Chinese. A full view of the building is shown on the next page of the book, and if you count, it is at least 7 stories high."

I'm also told that, in revenge, a character with the likeness of Udon Chief of Operatons Erik Ko was meant to be portrayed in "Transformers 2" as being terrorists holding a cup of noodles. Ko also said "I am very honored to have a part in the top selling book in the industry!" but a source at Dreamwave denies this and says that they don't believe the image even looks like him. But they again, do they know what he looks like these days?

[Red Light]Hasbro Manipulate Comics Market - To Tune Of 200 Copies

The rumour that Dreamwave have manipulated the market to receive number one spots from Diamond continue to be shot down. The first one, that Diamond and Dreamwave had a special deal to ensure Dreamwave's number one successes have already been stomped on. Now the allegation that Hasbro set up an account for ordering comics through Diamond to bump up the numbers also doesn't hold water - while they do have an account (because nowhere in their contract do Hasbro get free copies of the Dreamwave comics), their orders have been less than 200 a month.

[Green Light]Dreamwave To Reimagine Japanese Titles

I understand that the success of "Transformers" in the US has caught the attention of a number of Japanese publishers, talking about licensing their properties for the North American market. Dreamwave's reputation is growing and we can expect to see a fair few newly reimagined versions of Japanese classics. Speculate away!

[Yellow Light]Wildstorm's Man On The Inside

So how did Wildstorm manage to steal "Robotech" from under Dreamwave's noses?

Tommy Yune is a former WildStorm artist. He drew WildStorm's "Speed Racer" and "Danger-Girl: Kamikaze" mini-series'. He left WildStorm last year in order to work on "Robotech" for Harmony Gold. Notice the new art of the classic characters like Minmay at www.Robotech.com? That's Yune.

So Jim Lee already has an agent working the gears from the inside - and it's just a matter of time before the WildStorm-Robotech deal is announced. Early plans call for Yune to draw the covers, ad's and vignette stories. Stories are to be authored by Carl Macek (the original writer of the "Robotech" animated series) with a bunch of Wildstorm favourites on art.

However, I'm also told that DC woke up to the nostalgia market and offered far, far more money that Dreamwave were offering. Yeah, that'd do it.

But I also hear that Udon, that name again, might be doing creative duties on the Robotech series from Wildstorm. Maybe these two rumours can fight it out... with giant fighting robots!

Udon did not choose to comment about being attached to "Robotech." But they did confirm their involvement on "Thundercats" - inking and coloring #0 over J.Scott Campbell - another property that Dreamwave lost to Wildstorm.

Still - which sells more, eh? Thundercats or Transformers?

Talking of which, I hear "Thundercats" initial preorder came in at 90,000 each for issues 0 and 1. While below other nostalgia debuts such as "Transformers" and "Battle Of The Planets," that's the most respectable launch Wildstorm have had for many a year. Looks like the bean counters were right…

[Yellow Light]IMAGE'S NEW SUPERHERO LINE

I'm starting to hear more about Image's upcoming superhero line. Name's being mentioned include "Venture," "The Invincible," "Super Patriot," "Citizen Pain," "Savage Dragon," "Fused," "Super-Star" and "The Fury." Which, if any of them will make it to the line is yet to be confirmed.

But one of the titles will be a revived "ShadowHawk." He's now a 17 year old white kid and he doesn't break backs - the character will be more along the lines of a young Spider-Man. Like in the recent $200+ million grossing movie. Clever boy, Jim.

[Yellow Light]ALESSI CONFRONTS VALENTINO

Marc Alessi was full of beans at WizardWorld. On spying Jim Valentino on his entrance, Mark walked up and said "Jim, I've always respected you, and you are one of the few people I actually LIKE in the industry, but please don't take it personally if we wind up taking some of your titles or talent. I'm just trying to do what's best for our company."

Of course, every time it's been repeated by pros across the grapevine, it's ended up with a "Please don't take it personally when I destroy you" or "But I'm taking you down." But eye witnesses give the slightly more conciliatory version above.

[Green Light]DC/WILDSTORM DO VIGILANTE

Lying In The Gutters has received further information that last week's Wildstorm DC books were correct, so mentally bump them all up to green (although keep an amber on Adam Hughes and "Mister Miracle" - schedules are a funny thing)

The other title in that line, however, is to be "Vigilante" by Rick Veitch and Carlos D'anda.

Knew we'd get there in the end.

[Yellow Light]SIMON BISLEY DRAWS THE BIBLE

I hear that Simon Bisley, he of the flowing locks, wrestling ambition and ability to draw more muscles per centimetre than anyone else, has been painting commissioned pieces depicting bible scenes by a Christian millionaire. We're talking Moses with the tablets, David and the jawbone, basically anything with a bit of action.

Private collection only, I'm afraid…

[Yellow Light]BRAZILIAN DC COMICS TO STOP - THEN START AGAIN

Brazillian Gutterati, T.S.Costa reports in to tell me that after almost thirty years of constant publication, the Brazilian licenser and publisher of DC Comics' superhero line is to cease from September. However, it appears that another publisher, who already sell Brazilian version of Neil Gaiman's work and Pokemon should be taking over fairly smoothly.

[Red Light]GATHOZIAN CHECKS IN

Gutterati Gathozian is on hand to download the contents of his frontal lobes. Still getting a straight RED LIGHT, but you never know. Gush away, Gathozian!

Those crazy "Ultimatisation" of the Marvel Universe stories are still doing the rounds. The latest involves a storyline involving Galactus, Phoenix and The Beyonder, with contributions from the likes of Grant Morrison, Kevin Smith, and JMS. Hmmm…

Look for JMS' "Strange Tales" to debut early in 2003, with his "Dr. Strange" series right behind, and some creator owned stuff in Spring. Wizard are promised exclusivity on this - so watch for the news to break when Newsarama get their subscription copies.

We hear that "Amazing Spider-Man" by JMS and JrJr, will feature the previously rumoured unmasking of Spider-Man as Peter Parker.

If you'd like to join the Gutterati, check the contacts list at the bottom.

[Yellow Light]JOE QUESADA SIGNS OFF

Yes yes yes, everyone's been emailing me about Joe Quesada's sign-off "Many of you are concerned about recent rumors that the regular Marvel U will be replaced in the early part of 2003 by the Ultimate U. I wish I could comment on this but I cannot."

Which means a) it's all been a fake rumour, leaked through various sources to get fans spinning, b) it's not set in stone, but Marvel want to encourage discussion to see fan reaction and c) there's a different version of events being planned that won't go as far as this rumour - and this is just to prepare us.

Or it's true.

Last Friday, Marvel.com linked to Augie De Blieck's Pipeline column. Now Marvel.com's policy on giving out these valuable links are that the articles only cover Marvel and, naturally, are generally positive and full of things Marvel want their readers to go to. This column featured not only the rumours I've been reporting about the Ultimatisation of Marvel but it also talked about other publishers and their comic books.

I guess Marvel really, really wanted their readers to know about it.

[Yellow Light]SPAWN MOVIE STALLING?

I hear there is more trouble with the "Spawn II" movie. The script seems frozen, as the studio want McFarlane and Niles to write more Spawn into it and increase the special effects. Planned more as a Sam and Twitch movie, with Spawn skulking in the backgrounds, the studio say they don't want that - Se7en has already been done. Looks like it's time for the studio's writers to give it a rewrite. If they decide they still want to make it.

Two years ago I wrote about problems at Todd McFarlane's toy departments. There are still problems. This has been a third year for reporting losses, and paying out for licenses has not been making enough to cover the debt. For every "Shreck" sellout, there's a "Little Nicky" gathering dust. With sales and marketing debts worried that they don't have enough to do, Todd's looking forward to going to San Diego Con after his month off. After a little boost that only the comics people can give him, he's hoping to recruit prominent fans to his side in the Gaiman battle and win the war of words online and in print.

Again, I'd like to ask - if anyone knows what Todd's got on Neil, feel free to spill…

[Green Light]TESLA STRONG SPECIAL

In this world where almost all comics communication I get is online, it's nice to do it the old fashioned way now and then. I bumped into comic writer Peter Hogan walking down Charing Cross Road the other day - he told me that he's busy working on ABC at the moment, writing a story for an upcoming "Tesla Strong" special and also a six issue series of which he would tell me nothing…

[Green Light]ULTIMATES: THE DIRECTORS' CUT

On the Millarworld Forum, Bryan Hitch wrote about the Hulk fight scene in "Ultimates 5." Looks like we may be getting an extended version of the Ultimates story in the hardcover.

"Y'know I would have liked more pages too."

"If I could have had all the time in the world and all the space I would have made it double sized as there was so much we wanted to show but couldn't. Hindsight suggested that we could have let it breathe for a further issue and made it a two part fight scene but there you go. It will probably have to wait for the special edition..."

MY FUTURE IN THE GUTTERS

As a result of a rumour started by a certain other rumour monger, a few people have asked me what would happen to this column if I was ever to write a comic book for a major company. Well, even if such a bizarre scenario were to occur, it would be down to them. If they had a problem with the column continuing, it would stop for that period. But the only reason I can think that any company would hire me, is for my reputation on this column, I'd doubt that would be a problem. Not that they're going to or anything. But still.

RECRUITING IN THE GUTTERS

If you've got a story, talk to me. Your identity will remain anonymous unless you wish otherwise. You can choose a pseudinym and join the ranks of the Gutterati. Or be a demon reposter, join the Gutter Snipes and spread the word about stories in this column across the internet, where relevant. I mean come on, there have got to be some Transformers message boards somewhere, right?

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 at TwistRich


0780 1350982 (01144780 1350982 from N America)


Letter bombs can be sent to


8 Robin Hood Lane,


Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU


ENGLAND

Be seeing you.

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