Lying In The Gutters

Mon, October 21st, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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Welcome to the seventeenth 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 Aunt Sally. And yes, I know I was meant to be away this week - the wife's work demanded we cancel our holiday and our Rome trip was postponed. Good thing too, the boiler burst on Saturday and we needed the money to repair it. Now. Remember the rumour rules. Red light means it's bullshit, Green light means I think there's an element of truth and Green means you get bet your life on it. Or someone's life. Not mine, I've been wrong before. Take everything you read with a sense of scathing abuse - 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.

LICENSE-BREAKERS IN DISGUISE

[Green Light]Worldwide fans of Dreamwave's Transformers revamp have been quaking in their little robotic boots. It transpires that Hasbro has demanded that no Transformers comics be distributed by Diamond, or others, to countries where competing licensing agreements occur, or are likely to occur.

Australia has been first hit. With the delayed issue 6 of Dreamwave's "Generation One" title about to ship, those who've bought the first five issues in Australia, won't get the sixth. Or any more. But it looks like the UK and other non-US territories will be hit next.

The licensing of various Hasbro Trademarks in North America, it appears, are not international. So that all Transformers related merchandise released in the USA, that is not specifically licensed for each individual country, is actually not allowed to be sold here by retailers. You can only buy directly from a US retailer- apparently this should always have been the case, but it's just being enforced now.

A letter has gone out to certain retailers from Diamond, saying "Last week while attending the Frankfurt Bookfair, Diamond representatives were approached by a Hasbro Vice President who let us know that we were not authorized to sell any Transformers material outside of North America. The Diamond reps took the displayed items down and called the home office immediately (actually 6:15 EST to John Obara's home) and let him know what transpired. We called Dreamwave and a few of our other vendors, and found that this information was correct, and that it would be necessary to cancel all outstanding international orders immediately. We regret that this is the case, and truly wish that we could sell you the items, but the books and other items are not licensed outside of North America."

An Australian publisher has bought the license to reprint and release the Dreamwave "Transformer comics in Australia now, but as to when the comics will be published, and as to how long fans will have to wait, well… I'll just have to tell you!

The Australian Transformers comic will start publishing with the "Generation One" comic sometime between December or February, depending on when they get the picture files from Hasbro. It will be essentially the same in content, but in a smaller A5 format. To make up for the much smaller size, expect new artwork and new commissions. The "Armada" comic would then start to be released around Feb-Apr, and any future Dreamwave Transformer comics would have a similar 8-9 month delay. At the moment, these comics will be sold in newsagents and not comic stores, but that may change as the release date gets closer. The license only applies to comics, so Dreamwave posters and other materials will not be made available in Australia until some business buys a license to produce and distribute them here.

It is currently unknown how, if at all, UK fans, who make up a sizeable amount of retail orders for "Transformers" will get their hit. Perversely, the Titan Books Transformers trades of older Marvel material, published in the UK, have the licensing non-exclusive, so they can be sold worldwide.

This will also affect "GI Joe" and other Hasbro licensed titles immediately. You know, this could possibly put a small crimp in the nostalgia market… foreign sales can and do make a sizeable chunk of sales for US publishers. And if no licensor can be found…

Envision hundreds of US buyers making a tidy packet sending Transformers comics across the world to thousands of desperate pleading Transformers addicts,

This is going to make the "Elseworlds 80 Page Giant" a picnic. Nick Locking is said to be considering topping himself.

EVICTED FROM THE HOUSE

[Green Light]With Comicon Pulse reporting that Bill Rosemann has left Marvel Comics, Lying In The Gutters has heard that Lynne Yoshii, assistant editor to Andrew Lis has also been made redundant.

With talks of realignment at Marvel, I understand that Lis, recently criticised by online fandom over Gail Simone's decision to walk off "Agent X," has been taken under Axel Alonso's wing.

The current situation sees four publishing groups being created within Marvel, headed by Marvel's senior editors. One run by Ralph Macchio, another by Tom Brevoort, a third run by Axel Alonso and a fourth by Mike Marts. Macchio has two associate and one new assistant editor. Brevoort has two assistant editors. Axel has one editor, one assistant and one brand new assistant editor. Marts has two assistant editors.

LOOKING FORWARD FOR NOSTALGIA

[Green Light]It transpires that the next round of nostalgia comics are going to take a different approach than Image, DC and Dreamwave have of late. Look forward for these companies to start publishing more tongue-in-cheek revisitations to our youth. No names yet, but it can't be long.

THE HOUSE CAT

[Yellow Light]As Igor Kordey and Darko Macan confirm the cancellation of "Soldier X," mere months after the Cable relaunch, I still hear "Black Panther" and "Agent X" being reported as other cancellation targets - the original party line was that around four titles are being considered for immediate cancellation.

I now hear that "Agent X" has had a reprieve, though Ron Zimmerman will not write "Agent X." His current work at Disney will prevent him from writing more than two books a month for Marvel.

However, "Black Panther" has come up again as destined for cancellation.

"Black Panther" is probably my favourite Marvel title I read. I enjoy "New X-men," "X-Force," "Hulk," "Amazing Spider-Man," "Ultimates" with the rest of them. But "Black Panther" has a complexity and a structure that combines classic storytelling of yesteryear, with a number of edgy and modern narrative techniques, dialogue Buffy would slay for and an overall consistency and reality that's absent from many hot titles. If you've never read it, start now. Issue 50 wasn't so much a new story arc, as it was a totally new beginning for the title in every sense. Go buy, while you still can.

TV SHOPPING

[Red Light]Remember when Lying In The Gutters did a bit of a blind-item on the "Starman" TV series? Well I've also been given a list of three more projects that are currently being shipped around to TV companies to see if anyone bites… "Green Lantern," "Dr Fate" and "The Spectre." It's possible Tribune Entertainment might be interested in one. Possibly. You never know.

PARK LIFE

[Yellow Light]Andrew Park has been approached to draw a new X-Men ongoing series to coincide with the release of "X-Men 2." Look for something a little closer to the look of the movie to entice new readers with - and relaxing the grip that the first movie has on the other titles.

MIND GAMES

[Yellow Light]Psylocke fans who've been in doldrums about the permanence of her death might look forward to an eventual return in "X-Treme X-Men" sometime in the between issues 20 and 25. And if you can't wait that long (or if it doesn't work out) watch for "Paradise X."

LIMBO IN… WELL… LIMBO

[Green Light]Dreamwave, not content with having to deal with foreign distribution difficulties, are also having a problem with upcoming project "Limbo City" by Brett Booth.

With issue 1 and 2 being cancelled, Booth's wife Jesse posted to his board:

"I did not particularly want to talk about this because it's stressful and some members of the fan community tend to be judgmental and caustic regarding things about which they know nothing. Our friends and board regulars deserve an explanation, however vague, so here it is:

"Brett and I are in the midst of an ongoing crisis. Before you ask, no one is dying and the dogs are fine. However, it is very serious and we are under a good deal of stress, so our health is suffering and the last few months have been very...disorganized and unpleasant. Brett says that 'Limbo City' will be resolicited in January. Dreamwave has been really cool and decided to resolicit rather than ship late, which is fine with us."

I've been asked to point out that "Darkminds" from Dreamwave has not been cancelled, rather has stalled due to a change in artists. The Chen sister will complete issue 4 and a new team will complete issues 5 to 8.

THAT OLD CHESTNUT

[Green Light]And yes, indeed, I have been asked by Marvel to pitch for "Marville," but that's all and I understand the competition is tough. Let's see how it goes, eh? As to what happens with the column if such an unlikely event occurs… well I'm in two minds. Running Lying In The Gutters could be seen as a conflict of interest, but I guess that if there's any attraction to me writing the book, much would stem from the fact that I write the column, sales and attention piggy backing off that. So guys, while it's probably not an issue yet (and probably won't be for a while), what do you think? Talk about it here.

PLUGGED DRAGON

[Green Light]I have been asked to plug the Savage Dragon Companion, out this week. 64 pages long at $2.95 I was asked if I would compare the value, penny per page, with the recent Marvel Encyclopaedia.

No.

I will buy the SD Companion though.

BREAKING, NO BROWSING

GREEN

A little story from one of my favourite comic shops, in Nottingham, UK. On their Web site, the owners write:

"Page 45 was broken into the other night - great big boot through the glass pane next to door, and someone dashed in - hopefully shredding their shirt or better still their back in the process - but took absolutely none of our stock. They didn't even look at it. Now, if I'd found the 'Jimmy Corrigan' hardcover open, and a little askew, indicating perhaps that the would-be thief had at least glanced at the bugger and decided, on careless consideration, that 'The Guardian' had it wrong and in actual fact it wasn't for him (or her) after all, then fine, I could accept that. But no, contrary to our boasts, it appears that we do still have some way to go before the criminal classes are persuaded that there really is a comicbook for everyone.

"(Although we did receive a bulk order from a prison last quarter. Amongst the titles, two copies of 'From Hell.' Which is reassuring.)"

DYNAMIC PLUGGING

Over at thge Dynamic Forces site you'll find more Waiting For Tommy. Before Wednesday, there's a gallery of silly comic creator photos, on Wednesday and after, it's a comic book fashion parade. I'm totally serious. check it out for fun and definite frolics...

RECRUITING IN THE GUTTERS

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

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  • AOL Instant Message me at TwistRich

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Be seeing you.

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