Lying In The Gutters

Mon, October 7th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

Welcome to the fifteenth 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 peeve. 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 sense of frivlity - 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.

Next week will most likely be a shorter column, I'm off for a week. Which means in two weeks time I'll be missing a column. Anyone fancy volunteering to fill-in for a week?

AGENT EXIT

[Green Light]I understand that Gail Simone, writer of "Agent X" and subject of previous week's story on creative unrest over the title, has chosen to leave the book.

A favourite writer of mine ever since she wrote a pre-You'll All Be Sorry article taking the complete piss out of this column, Simone has risen through the new comic book writer ranks, working first on "Simpsons," then "Deadpool" as well as "Killer Princesses" and more. Newsarama recently reported she was writing for "Birds Of Prey" and on the Warren Ellis Forum, she alluded to the possibility that she might be pitching for a Superman project.

However, her decision to walk off the project may be a little moot...

MARVEL TO CANCEL TITLES

[Yellow Light]I understand that around four titles are to be cancelled and a number relaunched as part of a new Marvel profitability drive. Marvel have made the decision to cancel or reboot a number of lower-selling titles but titles which have already recently been rebooted without a significant increase in sales may be cancelled altogether. Titles I've heard mentioned heading for the dumpster include "Soldier X," "Agent X," "Spider-Girl," "Black Panther" and "Thunderbolts."

MUTUAL MASTURBATION - CROSSGEN AND COMICON PULSE

[Yellow Light]Picture CrossGen in a top hat, riding jacket, perched upon a white horse, with sideburns and a piercing glare. He leans down, picks up Comicon Pulse by the waist, hoists her onto the saddle and together they ride to his palatial country house, surrounded by thick shadowy brambles and a lake for skinny dipping in.

Last week CrossGen sent an email out to CrossGen fans and people on their

Comics On The Web list, extolling the Comicon Pulse website, and linking to

all their recent, very favourable articles.

It's been noted of late that much of Pulse's reportage has appeared to be

CrossGen puff pieces. While enthusiasm and a stylish sense of writing has

proved a refreshing change to Newsarama's staid and serious sense of self,

Newsarama don't ask questions phrased in such a way as "What made Ivan Reis

perfect to draw this story?". Well not any more... that Avatar interview was

a long time ago...

It seems that Pulse has been printing favourable articles about CrossGen and

has in return been plugged and praised by the company to its fans. And on a

couple of occasions, has been used as a voice to reply to stories printed by

other websites - often without referencing where that story originally came

from. In one case, forcing Newsarama's Matt Brady to plug his site - ahem -

reference the original article through the Pulse message boards. You know,

Doran and Brady used to give me such stick when I did the same over similar

issues on Newsarama...

CrossGen's relationship with Comicon grew closer after Newsarama left for View Askew hosting, transferring their sponsorship to Pulse. With web budgets tight, CrossGen and Pulse are renegotiating so that the sponsorship amount will be reduced. To make up for it, CrossGen have sent out a newsletter to their fans and subscribers plugging Comicon Pulse over and above other web sites that maybe CrossGen has a problem with. Indeed, the opening of the letter began "As Heidi MacDonald and Jen Contino, the editorial staff for Pulse, continue to distinguish themselves as straight-forward comics journalists who like to focus on facts and not innuendo." Everybody clutch their handbags...

This is not a new policy, there

have been similar deals with sites such as HeroRealm, Newsarama and others.

However, this involves targeting subscribers that other websites have

recruited, with ads for their competitors...

HEROES REALM - JILTED LOVER

[Yellow Light]Imagine, if you will, a young girl sobbing on her porch. She is already showing, her acts of passion have left her with the consequences. She cries, because she knows in a palatial mansion, her lover is wooing another and she has been tossed aside like a rag doll. A wet, teary rag doll who some one has just urinated on.

HeroRealm, of course, used to be CrossGen's most favoured of websites. One

of the original Comics On The Web partners with CrossGen, as the site took a

decidedly anti-New Marvel stance, so an enemy's enemy became their friend.

They doted over CrossGen, providing positive uncritical feature after

feature. They demanded exclusives and got them, as well as free full page

HeroRealm ads in Crossgen's books. However, as other, faster responding

sites began to get exclusives from CrossGen as well, HeroRealm began to see

her lover as someone who would dilly and dally with all the princesses in

that land and started throwing tantrums.

A CrossGen mail out this week brought that to a head.

Comics On The Web was a venture set up by CrossGen to sell online viewing

rights to their comics. They franchised the recruitment of readers to a

number of fan and news sites, these sites taking a cut of signing-on fees.

But this letter has been sent to everyone who signed on from many sites, but

promotes just one of them. It promoted a number of recent articles about

CrossGen, printed by Comicon Pulse, with links to them all.

George Berryman, head honcho of HeroRealm posted

"We've been less than thrilled with the way CG's been doing things recently.

That's putting it in polite terms. It made Alex and I sit back and

re-evaluate how we covered CG around here."

"Also I'm not really thrilled with their titles anymore. About a month and a

half ago I dropped all the CG monthlies in favor of FORGE and EDGE but have

since dropped those as well as the trade paperbacks. Most of them would be

fine if it weren't for the d@mn sigil theme. It was interesting for awhile

but it never went anywhere."

Not only one lover spurned, but two! The afore named Alex added

"I've been pissed about this all day. So let me take a moment to go over this."

"This morning CrossGen sent out a mass email to all users of C.O.W. on the

web. This was to any user no matter what portal they signed up through. They

then went about suggesting that all these people, be it that they signed up

through HR, Silver Bullet and so on, visit Pulse. CrossGen used resources

that we provided them (i.e. subscribers that signed on through our C.O.W.

portal) to promote a competing site."

"Now while I appreciate that Steve and the rest of you were awed by the

f#cking Dixon interview, that doesn't make what they did right! The fact

still remains; it is suicidal to continue to promote C.O.W. if they are

insistent upon using whatever contacts we give them to promote other sites.

It isn't in HR's better interests to let this slide by without voicing our

displeasure."

"Anyway, I wanted to get this off my chest. I'm pissed beyond all reason. I

got this and I suddenly understood what sabotage meant. That's a crap

discovery."

While this is a legitimate marketing practice, and CrossGen have done

similar for HeroRealm before, CrossGen should beware the wrath of a website

spurned!!!

MATT BRADY'S DARK SECRET

[Green Light]One other fact that came out through reportage of CrossGen and Chaos' dealings was that Matt Brady, senior writer for Newsarama, was owed money by Chaos!. Brady now states that once he started reporting the case, he waived any claim to the sum, and now admits this was also a fact that should have been reported up front.

FEELEY GROPED

[Yellow Light]Anyone get a feeling of deja-vu when reading "The Filth?" No, not just for "Invisibles" readers, but the name of the star, Greg Feely.

David Langford has pointed out that, better known as a sci-fi critic, the real Greg Feeley has caused a lot of sci-fi writers to get their revenge by writing him into their stories, and Grant Morrison is the latest.

Portrayed as a sad lonely man addicted to ladyboy porn and now believed to be a paedophile by his neighbours, lines from "The Filth" that could be taken out of context include:

"Greg Feely's just a para-personality… that's him running out of your nose."

"I'm washing Greg off my tits. Para-personas corrupt fast outside the bloodstream."

"Smells awful"

"Well, that's "Greg Feely" all over."

Oh Grant…

I also hear more about the "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (also featuring Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer, remember) as having the Phantom Of The Opera as the big bad, with an army of thugs and a Mongolian fortress… Oh, and Alan Quartermain isn't an opium druggie anymore.

MIDNIGHT GETS ANOTHER DAY TO SHINE

[Green Light]On the DC Message Boards, John Rozeum posted about the future of reduced-to-a-mini-series "Midnight, Mass."

He writes "Sometime in 2003 there will appear a NEW 'Midnight, Mass.' mini-series. I know, it's not an ongoing, but don't rule that out yet, either. It's still being discussed, and the two things that will most determine if that will happen will be response to the 2nd mini-series. Hopefully some buzz will generate from the favorable response to the 1st series and there will be a bigger push for series #2. The second thing is the non-comic book M,M. project, which I still can say nothing about.

"Concerning the new mini-series. It is actually a mini-series. Issues 1 and 2 will be a prologue story, and issues 3-6 will be the main story. All I will say at this point is Magellan will be back. I have no information about interior artwork, covers, or anything else. I am hoping to get Jesus Saiz back to draw it."

"Now, you can jump up and down."

Damn, now I've got to take the trampoline out of the attic again.

I'VE JUST MET A GIRL CALLED MIRANDA…

[Miranda]

[Green Light]More on the new Doctor Who spin-off comic, entitled Miranda. It's about the Doctor's 'daughter' in the far future and the first issue should be out in November from new British publisher Comeuppance Comics.

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES...

[Green Light]Welcome to Marvel's blooper reel.

"Spider-Man Peter Parker #50" has increased in size from 32 to 48, and in price from $2.25 to $3.50. Ethan Van Sciver is no longer pencilling Marvel Comics' "New X-Men #134," Kieron Grant has stepped in. Apparently 133 was just taking Evan too long to draw - and he's no longer exclusive to Marvel.

"Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do" 4 and 5 have been cancelled and will be re-solicited. Marvel seem to be on a new mission not to solicit work if they think there's a chance it will be late. This has yet, however, to affect "Amazing Spider-Man," which has neither caught up with the issues it missed, nor even its current schedule. No wonder it's not having the "13th" issue like other Marvel titles. And while "Tangled Web" is also in a pickle schedule wise, at least it's had two double-sized specials over the year.

Could this put the Spider-Man relaunch back from February to March?

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:

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

  • mailto: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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