Lying In The Gutters

Mon, August 19th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

This week I have mostly been reading emails about the size of comics creator's penises. I blame Mark Millar. Onwards.

Welcome to the eighth weekly installment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry by having its wicked way wuith the comic book industry's younger sister. 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 plate of seabass - and if you do repost information here elsewhere, please include a warning to that effect. And a link. Man does not live by hits alone - I wish.

STORMWATCH ONE OF SPIKED 'TIBET' TITLES

[Green Light]Remember those DC storylines concerning Tibet rumoured to be pulled over AOL Time Warner's expansion into China? I hear that one of them was "Stormwatch." The planned second arc by Micah Wright and Whilce Portacio was meant to have involved Tibet. When a DC executive heard this plan, the story was spiked and quickly replaced with a crowd-pleasing Authority guest-star. However this may not reflect DC policy overall, rather the actions of one employee.

VERTIGO TO RESTRICT PROJECTS?

[Yellow Light]I hear the word that, on the brink of their tenth anniversary, Vertigo editors have been given a quiet word that soon the doors will be closed to approving new projects, or at the very least severely restricted. So anything they want to get approved, they should hurry up.

Vertigo are also currently looking for a project for Eduardo Risso to work on while he waits for "100 Bullets" scripts.

WINTER IN THE SUN

[Green Light]"The Authority" one-shot that Newsarama revealed last week? Meant to be "The Authority vs The Sun?" Anyone remember the "WildCATS/Aliens" story reprinted in the last "Stormwatch" trade? Ended with Winter taking the Alien infested space station into the Sun. Winter is an energy absorber. I wonder who it is that Stormwatch-replacement team, The Authority are going to be fighting…

This has been a clear set-up by Ellis from "Stormwatch" that's finally being acted upon. Bet Ellis even thought of the "Winter In The Sun" line, which everyone is bound to use. A number of writers have picked up on this strand and pitched the idea over the years, finally Robbie Morrison and Frazer Irving have the go ahead.

I wonder how long until we get to the bit about Jack Hawksmoor being The Spirit Of Murder, after he killed Rose Tattoo and was suddenly no longer a pacifist…

IN THE WAKE OF CHAOS

[Yellow Light]Over the past year, despite a number of creators and creditors being unpaid by Chaos! Comics, they have been repeatedly assured that this is a temporary measure, recompense will happen any day now, and if people just hold on, they'll get their due. When I first reported that story, an angry Brian Pulido was keen to stress that temporary aspect.

A few weeks ago a number of Chaos Comics creditors received a letter from Brian Pulido and stressing a reorganisation of the company in order to pay them. It never happened.

I understand a number of freelancers were asked to stop work on books, so that lower paid creators can take over the books in question - but they weren't paid either. Some of Chaos's creators and suppliers went out of their way to suggest lower-cost alternatives, but feel their efforts were ignored.

Well it never did get better. I understand that Glass House Graphics, suppliers of art for their WWF books, "Insane Clown Posse," "Lady Death," "Chastity" and "Purgatori" are one of Chaos!'s biggest creditors.

I talked extensively to Dave Campiti of Glass House. He told me "Quite a while back, Brian fell behind, and we had a long talk. I told him every company that we let fall $38,000 or so behind has burned us. We couldn't afford to let him do what Eclipse and Continuity and Angel and others have done to us. He replied, 'I'm good to my word. You will not get burned. You have my word on this.'"

Campiti said that if he'd known about the situation, "we would have accepted ownership of his characters and some reprint rights and files, he could have covered 100% of his debt to us without actually paying us a dime and and Glass House could have generated money from these to pay everyone."

Campiti also adds to the CBR news story "when Hi-Fi dumped Chaos, Chaos came to Glass House for more coloring services without warning us they couldn't pay for it. Certainly, Chaos knew before telling the lawyers 'file Chapter 7' that it was happening, so Brian Pulido could have picked up a telephone and worked out an exchange of character rights or: something, to pay off the debt. But his way of rewarding us for several years of Glass House essentially 'being the bank' and granting him no-interest loans for was to burn us totally."

Campiti names artists he knows as being out of pocket, Wilson Tortosa, John Toledo, Blond, Michael Kelleher, Chris Dreier, Will Conrad, Ivan Reis, Joe Pimentel. Campiti adds "Ivan & Pimentel were the top 'Lady Death' artists for Chaos. For three years, Reis turned down jobs at Marvel, offering a higher page rate, to remain faithful to Brian. Ivan passed on 'Defenders' and other regular monthly series, until recently.

Campiti says "At one point Ivan was going to finally leave Chaos to go to Marvel, because Brian's way of rewarding Ivan for years of exclusive service was to lower Ivan's page rate. This was right after Ivan passed on taking over 'Defenders.' So when Ivan decided to leave, Brian Pulido called personally to beg for Ivan to stay aboard at the original page rate. Ivan agreed, as long as Chaos got caught up on 4 or 5 unpaid issues of work. Ivan kept doing art, but the money never came. Fortunately, Ivan decided to split his efforts and finally began taking on some Marvel jobs, or he'd be destitute now."

So what is to blame? As well as expensive-to-create books which Campiti believes could have found ways to reduce costs without skimping in quality, Campiti sites three attempted launches from Chaos that sucked in money but failed in the marketplace.

"First was their WWF licenses, shot into the direct market only instead of working backwards and locking in smart distribution first. That was the ideal project to go out-format -- you know, do 'The Rock' say, as a Treasury-sized with photo covers, pull-out poster, interview feature as well as the comics, and sell in the stadiums to a captive audience, The direct edition of that would've been almost afterthought.

"Second was their aborted super-hero line. They developed several titles, one drawn by Ivan Reis that died in the water. I think only 1 issue of 1 title came out, and art for the next couple of issues is on a shelf somewhere. (We made suggestions how to incorporate 'Lady Death' into the unpublished material with only adding a few new pages, so none of that art would get wasted and the material could be resolicited as Chaos titles, but the suggestions were ignored.)

"Third was their 'Black Book' line. They at least had the Chaos logos, but they were basically black-and-white books on nice paper. None of those worked.

"Part of the problem I see with Chaos is, no matter how good the idea -- conceptually, financially, or whatever -- if the idea didn't originate from Brian, it didn't get used."

As to other deals from other publishers, Campiti told me, from discussion with Pulido "He said, 'I've had Chaos up for sale for two years. In 2000, CrossGen was, I think, the first company we approached, in and out of the comics industry, and we had no takers.'"

The rumour mill says the next to go is Sirius. However Campiti tells me that, unlike Chaos!, "we're packaging 'Banzai Girl' for Sirius, and their payments have been on-time and they've been great about communication and publicity."

PALMIOTTI ON THE SET!

[Green Light]Watch out, Hollywood types, Jimmy Palmiotti has been spotted on the set of the 'Fast And The Furious 2.' Apparently he gets to drive a golf cart. Watch out everyone! Burn, Hollywood, burn!

LOEB WRITES SMALLVILLE

[Green Light]Jeph Loeb's first episode of "Smallville" is called "Red" and will air in the US in October, the fourth episode of the upcoming second series. For more episode details, click here.

ALL OUR COLLECTIVE MEMORIES AT WILDSTORM

[Green Light]I hear Wildstorm are also in the process of looking at the IPC comic book properties that AOL Time Warner acquired fairly recently. Lots of British fifties and sixties comic book icons, that the likes of Paul Grist and Alan Moore go all doolally over. A way to keep Alan Moore happy, perhaps?

PRO PULPED?

[Red Light]I've heard rumours that the first printing of "The Pro" (out this week, every superhero fan should buy a copy) was destroyed after being recalled over legal dispute with DC over similarities to their characters.

I'm assured by involved parties that this is untrue and it's simply down to shoddy printing.

Damn.

COMIC BOOK CREATORS WITH BIG PENISES

[Yellow Light]After last week's reported San Diego debate over whether John Cassaday or John Estes has the largest penis in comic books, my inbox was inundated with other challengers.

One popular choice was Roy Thomas, namechecked a number of times as having an absolutely prodigious todger.

Frank Brunner was mentioned by a few as was Jeff Jones. Now living as a woman, I was told that "there's an old Studio photo floating around in which Jones is nude (pre-breast days) and it looks like he has three legs."

Again, Robert Crumb was also mentioned by a number of people as having pendulous properties.

Someone told me that a certain editor at DC Comics "*is* the biggest penis in comics" but that's not the same thing and it would be cruel to mention his name.

SUPERMAN/ROCKETEER STILL STALLED

[Green Light]Gutterati Monkeyboy tells me that Dave Steven's "Superman/Rocketeer" project is still believed to be stalled. To be edited by Eddie Berganza, it involves the broaqdcast of Orson Welles' "War Of The Worlds" on Halloween, 1938 as Superman and the Rocketeer try to reign in the panic, individual events being based on actual incidents.

MARVEL HARDCOVERS GO OUT OF PRINT

[Green Light]I understand that Marvel is allowing their recent hardcover collections to go out of print. Both "Origin" HC and "Ultimate Spider-Man" are now out of stock at Diamond and will not be reprinted, although "Origin" will be collected as a trade paperback in November.

Look for them all in your local comic shops now - or on eBay in six months time.

NEW FAN CAMPAIGN, HILARIOUS

[Green Light]"With this comic, the title is 'Battle of the Planets.' With that title, the readers have a right to expect to pick it up, open up the cover and see a team called G-Force protecting Earth and the Federation from invaders (most likely Spectra, but not always). Instead we are seeing the team called 'Gatchaman,' so far we haven't seen the Federation, no space travel, and the characters are not acting like the BotP characters. At this point, the title of the comic should be something else entirely."

This is good stuff folks. Pray you never end up like them.

DIGGLE LAUNCHES WEBSITE

[Green Light]Andy Diggle, ex-editor of 2000AD and current writer for Lady Constantine has just launched a Web site featuring previews of that very book as well as Judge Dredd Vs Aliens and Snow/Tiger. Go there and tease him about his low alcohol tolerance and even sillier beard than mine.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE

[Red Light]I hear a vague rumour that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's next Marvel colour book will be "Captain America:" White. A nice contrast to "Captain America: Truth" then.

DON LOMAX REVISTS THE 'NAM ONLINE

[Green Light]Online book publisher ibooks, which earlier this year published "5 Mad" facsimile paperback reprints under license from DC Comics, will launch its graphic novel line next year. It starts with "Vietnam Journal," a collection of critically acclaimed comics verite stories by Vietnam vet and illustrator Don Lomax.

TODAY TEXAS, TOMORROW THE WORLD?

[Yellow Light]WizardWorld's future plans to end the dominance of the San Diego ComicCon may be as follows:

Increase the amount of smaller shows over different regions of the USA, making conventions more frequent and accessible so as to make San Diego less "special."

Bring more entertainment based programming to all these shows. Attendance by the likes of Ben Affleck and Arnold Schwartzeneggar are morale boosters for convention goers, an acceptance by the great and good.

Set up a West Coast beach head for inland manoeuvres.

Remove the idea of a convention season, by throwing these shows all across the calendar rather than the summer months. Newsarama.vom reported WizardWorld Texas as taking place in the autumn. A Southern Californian WizardWorld would take place in the winter.

LOVE AND COMICS

[Green Light]Lisa Marie Presley and Nicolas Cage have just got married? And last week Cage put his expensive comics collection up for sale? You can just see the pre-marriage conversation they had…

"But Lisa Marie… I named myself after this one…"

*RIP*

"Okay, okay, I'll sell them..."

PAT LEE'S THOUGHTS OVERLOADED

[Green Light]Shortly after we printed the link to Pat Lee's thoughts and personal philosophies, it went down due to "excessive bandwidth consumption."

It's back up now though.

MILLAR NOT TO WRITE VAMPIRELLA

[Green Light]Gutterati Ultimate Nullifier informs me that Mindfire have now also debunked the rumour about approaching Mark Millar to write the "Vampirella" movie. On Coming Attractions, producer Mark A. Altman was quoted saying "While I enjoy Mark's work on 'Vampirella', we've never had a conversation with him or discussed him having anything do with the feature and are, in fact, in discussion with several writers about the project right now."

WAITING FOR WAITING FOR TOMMY

[Green Light]This week, Dynamic Forces will start a new column written by me called Waiting For Tommy. Look for it later this week at www.dynamicforces.com

Yes, Dynamic Forces are partially responsible for the boom and bust of comics. Yes, they're evil soul-sucking monsters. And yes, their premium comics pander to the worst dregs of the comic buying community. But they're paying me money.

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 pseudonym 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. Then tell me where you've put them up - the more mainstream the better!

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)

  • Anthrax packages can be sent to 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU, ENGLAND

Be seeing you.

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