Welcome to the twelfth weekly instalment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry by having its wicked way with the comic book industry's pet chicken. 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 swift toke - 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 - but I could do with the attention.
I hear that Joe Quesada is currently working for Marvel without a contract. As I reported a few months ago, Quesada's initial two-year contract was up for renewal this month - and they're still negotiating it. This is not unique, a number of other highly paid Marvel execs have gone through the same thing. Still.
That "Tom Strong: Terra Obscura" series by Alan Moore, Peter Hogan, Yanique Paquette and Karl Story we've been going on about for the last few weeks? Word is they're going to be using a bunch of golden age characters from the defunct comic company Better/Standard Comics.
Michael Norwitz writes on the Yahoo! Golden Age Group;
"For those of you who are catching up, Peter Hogan is writing an upcoming series from ABC Comics about the Terra Obscura heroes. I've been in touch with him and he has some questions ... hopefully some of you sort can forward me some answers and we can make the series more fun for all concerned!
"From Peter, with a few comments from me in brackets:
"First off, villains. We don't know of any! As a result, we've created some of our own, but it'd be nice to hear of ones we can use in the future (hopefully this mini-series will evolve into an ongoing monthly). So, what we're looking for are villains that might conceivably still be around ie mad scientists, occult/magical types, super-powered ones etc (rather than simple thugs and Nazi stooges).
"Secondly, we'd like to know more about the Ape. All we know is that he started out as a villain. In 'Tom Strong #12' Alan and Chris depicted him as a technically enhanced monkey, and that's how we're planning to use him again for this. On the other hand, if he was originally a human character, we'll have to explain that somehow!
"Thirdly, towards the end of the Terra Obscura timeline you mention a bunch of other heroes that Alan didn't use. We'd like to know more, so anything you can tell us about the Cavalier, the Modern Theseus/Son of the Gods, the Oracle, the Red Mask and Spectro would be appreciated. [note from Mikel: I've sent him the bare-bones specs from Jess's site but none of my other reference books have any details on these characters.]
"Finally, I'd love to actually read Mystico's origin story, if anyone out there has a copy they could send me stats of (or send me as a visual file).
"[One more query: We need to know more about Doc Strange's scientific skills. We know he invented Alusin, but was he generally portrayed as a genius in the stories, or after the origin was he just a muscleman? Any notable inventions/creations after that?]"
The answers started to come in thick and fast - click here to see them or to add your own.
AGENTS IN TROUBLE?
There seem to be what's known as "creative differences" on the recently relaunched Marvel title "Agent X."
On the writing side, apparently editor Andrew Lis and writer Gail Simone do not share the same sense of humour. Which would be fine for most things, but not for Marvel's sitcom title. Cue plenty of conflict along the lines of "but that's just not funny." Gail's career in comics was initially down to her sense of humour - it seems a little late to start objecting to it now.
On the art side, the schedule of the book has been slipping. Although that didn't affect the schedule of the book, it did lead to Udon Studios working into the wee hours - they do have one of the better reputations for "on time" delivery of work. Some have put this problem down to a slow process through Lis, and repeated minor changes such as "make the walls dirtier" - with not exactly timely feedback.
I'm told that things are getting better on the title. But it seems to not exactly to have been a smooth move from "Deadpool" to "Agent X" and a new editor.
Nevertheless "Agent X" is certainly a book that Marvel can be proud of. Critically well received, it's doing a job and chasing an audience that no other Marvel book is doing. I buy it every month.
DARK HORSE ON THE LINE
I hear that Dark Horse are to start up a new "mainstream" line using established writers such as Peter David, Steve Niles, etc. I hear there are six books in the line, but the content is currently unknown. A Dark Horse employee confirmed the existence of the line but nothing else. The bastard.
Glenn Fabry writes on his Web site:
"I've finished the first Daredevil installment, we're currently waiting on Mr Smith to supply #2, due to prior commitments with the Daredevil movie.
"In the interim, 2 projects have arisen: first is another Infogrames piece, the cover and adverts for 'Dungeons and Dragon's' (it's all D's at the minute) for their Xbox game 'Heroes' and then a four-part 'Mighty Thor' story written by my bestest ever friend Garth Cruickshank (no Ennis Really).
"People will talk. I can assure you were not choosing curtains or anything. God only knows which (DD, Thor, D & D) will appear first but I will keep you informed."
Garth Ennis and Glenn Fabry four part Thor story, eh? Well well well. And it's been sitting on his Web site for two whole weeks until I noticed.
WAVING THE FLAG ONE LAST TIME
Right, this is one of those weird ones.
Now that the first anniversary of September the 11th has been and gone, that's it for Marvel's reference to the event, yes? Well not quite. I've been told that what might be described as a 9/11 spin-off is scheduled for next April.
Entitled either "4/11" or "The White Album," it's a hardcover one-shot featuring stories described as "peaceful solutions to world problems," with stories up to twenty pages. The "White Album" is a reference to Beatles's "White Album" and the peaceful message it carried.
A percentage of profits will go towards charity and the creators may donate their salary for the project if they wish. Expect upbeat stories - not a touch of cynicism or nihilism.
Except - I can hardly find anyone whose been asked to do it. A plant? A stooge? Another Uncle Ben story?
Gutterati Brandon writes to report a new lease of life for the truncated "Midnight, Mass" from Vertigo.
On the DC Comics Message Boards, writer John Xombi Rozum answered the question "is there life for 'Midnight, Mass.' beyond issue #8?" with "Yes. I'm not sure if I can say more right now, so I'm not going to. Whether it's as a comic book, or something else, I also won't say at this point. As soon as it can be revealed, it will." He later added "There will definitely be a non-comic book version of 'Midnight, Mass' ... As soon as I can officially say what that is, I will."
Here's to waiting.
The spoils of DC publishing in Brazil have been shared between a number of publishers. Panini gets the lions share of DC Universe books while Brainstore gets Vertigo, Pandora gets Wildstorm and Mythos Editora gets Elseworlds.
Mythos are also front runners to publish CrossGen Comics. A deal between Mythos and Panini should corner much of the non-manga teenage/adult comics market in Brazil.
SPAIN TAKES THE STRAIN?
Gutterati Garcia Ennex writes about Spanish Marvel plans. US readers feeling sad about Marvel cancelling the "Essential Tomb Of Dracula" trade (despite subsequent orders pushing into the top ten books that month) can add the feeling of envy to that. It seems that Spanish Marvel license holder Editorial Planeta de Agostini have announced a new edition of the whole "Tomb of Dracula" series, including annuals and related issues of other titles, beginning in December 2002, as a series of monthly, digest-sized books of about 160 pages, in b&w (very similar to the "Essentials" but pocket-sized).
Of course, if they've done it, maybe Marvel could use their files to print their own version, without spending all the man hours putting the reprint together that Marvel said they thought would have made the book unprofitable?
Until then, anyone got a decent Spanish-to-English dictionary about their person?
GLASS HOUSE OF IDEAS?
Joe Quesada stated in a recent Newsarama article that no-one had guessed the meaning behind the title "1602" for Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert's upcoming Marvel mini-series.
So that's City Of the Lost Sun, Conception of the Flying Friar and Reverse-Marvel Centenary out of the window. The freakiest one I've heard is that in the superhero movie "Unbreakable," Mr Glass's Limited Edition store has the street number 1602…
SPEAKING QUITE FRANKLY
It's true that much of the industry believes Vincent Deighan aka Frank Quitely to be exclusive to Marvel. Indeed it came as quite a surprise to discover he's not. Still all his current work is for Marvel - but for how much longer?
He doesn't think he's seen any royalties from his Marvel work yet and doesn't think he's alone in that regard either. And despite a higher page rate, what royalties he will eventually get he describes as being a fifth or a sixth of DC's. Obviously that no-foreign-publishing-royalties Marvel policy is hurting.
There's also no guarantee that he's with Grant Morrison until the end of his X-Men run and people are just assuming that.
Marvel have tried to get him on an exclusive, he hasn't said anything yet as he doesn't appear to have been offered any cash incentive from them and he wants to go and do some creator owned work with Grant soon.
Vincent did not respond to email enquiries. Marvel did not choose to comment.
"Legends," Ken Lashley's new title from Draxhall Jump is currently two months late. Despite protestations that it's all down to the printer, I hear his own schedule may be contributing to this delay. While writer Mark Askwith is credited as scripting the first issue, I hear he hasn't seen a page from it yet.
As for the stable of artists Draxhall has, one artist/designer Adam Conner, who works on Tidal Wave's "Atlas" is actually Ken Lashley using a different style. Shades of Will Eisner there?
On the X-Fan message boards a fan expressed that he would like to see Jean Paul Leon as the regular artist for "New X-Men" and replacing Quietly. Jim Kruger (writer of "Earth X" etc) commented that "I heard he was now."
Might Leon be replacing Kordey?
TAKE A TRIP
Here's the cover art for the upcoming "Tripwire X: Tripwire At Ten" magazine special. It's handy when your art director is Ashley Wood, isn't it?
Mike Tomas contacted me to give his side of the recent Valiant revival, that Chris Sotomayor explained last week. Tomaras writes:
"I had spoken to Chris Sotomayor, yes I wanted his help because he had the experience of publishing comic books. Now then I went to the people in possession of the rights to Magnus and Solar. They told me to give them a proposal. I did, we had three meetings discussing the project. This started in mid-Febuary, by the end of June I was told that everything was on track, and should be cleared through their legal department and then their president. I was told, and have it on tape that the properties were "UNOFFICIALLY" ours we just had to wait for approval.
"I told Chris this and he said we should get started on the preview magazine we wanted to put together. I told him we should wait until the contracts are signed, he insisted the right way to go about this. Have every thing done, and it be set so as soon as the contract for Magnus and Solar were signed we would be ready to publish.
"Reluctantly against my better judgment I agreed and set forth on the projects. I waited a week in the beginning of July and called the company. I left messages each time. For the whole month of July I called them three times a day, in the mean time I had given Chris the same number to call. He also could not get them on the phone. Which he seems to forget to mention in your article?
"By the end of July Chris kept calling me to get the contracts done. OK, how to get them when you cant reach the people? Finally in the beginning of August, I got a hold of the person in charge of the licensing of Magnus and Solar. He apologized saying that they have been busy with movie and gaming projects. I asked him the status of our bid. He told me that no one saw it yet, and that he would get it done as soon as possible. August 13th Chris calls me and tells me that Image is interested and we would get a sweet deal. Chris went on to tell me to call up the ;icensor and telling him that we had to sign the contracts soon or we would lose the deal. I did just that, I left a message with them telling them.
"On August 15th I got a e-mail from the ;icensor telling that, at this time they are passing on our bid and don't foresee any publishing for Magnus and Solar. Here it is, the e-mail I got:
I wanted to update you on Classic Media's decision on the comic publishing future of Magnus and Solar. After reviewing your proposal with the management team and our multiple medium strategy for these properties, they have chosen not to move forward.
This is not a reflection on the quality of your team. I hope we can find another project we can work on together. As you know our library is very deep.
"Since then I have left numerous messages and still have not gotten a reply from them. Now I told Chris, he gets angry at me for this not working out. What Chris did not mention in his notice is that we have two other projects pending with two other companies. Now then seeing the lack of professionalism on his part, I can only hope that they do not see his article and make us lose these other projects. The projects I am keeping mum about until contracts are signed. If he doesn't want to work with me fine. Things fall through in business all the time, but don't try blaming me for something I had no control over. Like the licensor turning us down. That is just foolish and childish. Totally unprofessional on his part.
"A few days later when Chris calmed down he sent me a e-mail which I will post right here detailing what he told me.
I have a source (I can't name him) that tells me that he has some interesting and somewhat intimate information regarding our dealings with Classic Media. First off he said that Classic Media has never wanted to sell the comic book publishing rights to Magnus and Solar, and when John Fraser was asked at a licensing show in June, he commented that there was a cease and desist order on any parties claiming to own or be in negotiations over the rights to these properties. He also mentioned that John Fraser does not see any future in, nor want to take part in any comic book publishing ventures with any Classic Media characters. Including (and not limited to) Magnus, Solar and the Harvey properties.
It seems that John Fraiser took you for a ride and had no intentions of giving the rights over to us.
And it seems that this was waaaaayyy before any of my marketing/media leaks. You got hosed.
"Which Chris does not mention in his scathing article about me, which if you ask me is even more childish an unprofessional behavior? No one seems to remember the Motown Comics line where Chris was also the editor. Just to remind you it was also a forgettable line of books which came out during the gluttonous period of comics in the mid '90's. So far Chris has issues with other people in the industry and feels that he can attack me because if he tried attacking people at DC Comics he would be turned away. Same at Crossgen, Marvel, and Image. He is apparently a bitter man with problems towards other people. I thought of him as a friend at one time but when he flips out like a child that didn't get the toy he wanted for his birthday.. well it's another story.
"As far as I am concerned I am glad that I do not have to work with a guy like Chris Sotomayor whose true nature is nasty, and his logic flawed.
"In respect to payment of the work that has been done that will be taken care of. The financial advisor who handles that as well as the backers were on vacation. I have informed all artist involved that they will be paid with an added sum of money for their patience in the whole matter. To them I apologize for the delay.
"I would like to apologize to all the fans who wanted to see these books out there.
"I myself among those fans, I am very disappointed."
Nice… if the script hadn't indicated the scene should be red, then "it's more like yellow. The light turns yellow in the Ruby Quartz shield, Emma..."
So not green then. Oops.
And is that Emma holding a lit cigarette a few pages earlier? I thought Marvel heroes didn't do that sort of thing anymore...
I get more confirmation that Titans will be cancelled after issue fifty. And with Suicide Squad and Deadman gone and Doom Patrol hanging by a thread, that could be one nervous editor. Except has anyone ever seen Andy helfer nervous?
I also hear that the book will be relaunched with Geoff Johns.
SPIDER-MANGA: ISSUE COUNT DIFFERS!
Why does C.B. Cebulski and Newsarama refer to the Spider-Man Mangaverse as a "five-issue" limited series, when Diamond keeps listing it as three? Do they know something Steve Geppi doesn't?
PETER DAVID CAN TALK FREELY AGAIN
Peter David's Web site is back up. Down for a few weeks, it currently seems to be functioning. Go see David talk about Supergirl, Captain Marvel, Star Trek and Israel.
JOE JUMPING ON RUMOURS
Rumour stamping can be just as fun as rumour spreading. This is a quote from Joe Quesada from his message board.
"The following has been going around.
"From joequesada.com: "Alias looks to be moving from MAX to Marvel Knights, another nail in the coffin of the MAX line - looks like MAX is being cancelled slowly and quietly rather than being shown the door in one go.""
"Someone here posted this rumor, okay no harm no foul. Now for starters it's not true but what's really careless is that someone posted it elsewhere as coming from joequesada.com and the assumption on the net has been that I said this.
"Please be clear when you post things like this to attribute the author.
"Please pass this around."
My pleasure Joe!
The current Waiting For Tommy features a Wildstorm pitch, Amanda Conner's sordid past and Jim Krueger's mixed up Web site. The new column on Wednesday will have stories about Tom Baker in the Body Shop, the Posh And Becks of comics and some serious waffle.
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:
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Be seeing you.