Lying In The Gutters

Mon, November 11th, 2002 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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Welcome to the twentieth weekly instalment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry like an insolent waiter. Now. Remember the rumour rules. Red light means it's bullshit, Yellow 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. That's what my therapist always said anyway. Let's start with a big comic book industry announcement.

FREE COMICS DAY ANNOUNCEMENT[Green Light]

I got a free comic in the post yesterday. Hardly unusual, but this was rather lovely. From Slave Labor, called Babyhead Magazine by Chris Jordan, I can only describe it as a mix of Jessica Abel and Evan Dorkin. I've seen his stuff, and previous Babyhead work around, but this publication brings it all together in a stronger condensed form. Go here for more.

I also got a stonkingly strong preview from Roger Mason, continuing his Mice comic in Catfood. Sci-fi on-the-run, imagine a terribly scratchy Travis Charest without the detail with a wodge of Steve Dillon and you'll get close. Go here for more.

Oh alright, something on the DC RRP thing…

MY PULL LIST IS GETTING LONGER[Green Light]

[Losers]"Wintermen," "Losers" (now an ongoing rather than the intended mini), more "League," "Astro City," "Death's Door," "Can't Get No," "Epicurus," "Two-Step"…

I swear, DC are doing it on purpose.

Thankfully I've just started up an order with comix-shop.co.uk - delivering comics on a Friday by hand at the kind of dollar/pound ratio I still automatically convert at before getting a shock looking at the price tag, so I should be able to withstand this heavy pounding on my bank balance.

Look, it's not meant to be this way. Marvel *and* DC aren't meant to both be putting out good comics at the same time. Come on guys, get synchronised.

SUNDAY COMICS[Yellow Light]

Well, yesterday's DC Retailers Conference was widely reported on Newsarama, Comicon Pulse, Comics Continuum and here at CBR. What with Newsarama going down with the demand, Comicon Pulse breaking the DC embargo by an hour or so, and everyone chasing that all important hit, this must have been one of the bigger Sundays comics have had for a while.

But it's always fun to pick over the remnants and see the bits that stick out like thumbs.

Comics Continuum described both "The Filth" and "Planetary" as ongoing? When they've both got 7 or 8 issues until they finish? And DC aren't giving any chances on those last 7 issues of "Planetary," starting the run off in springtime… No mention yet of the DC/Wildstorm titles either. Omac, Mister Miracle etc? Just when are these scheduled for anyway? And still no mention of Alan Moore working for Vertigo?

BTW, no mention of Mark Millar's "Red Son" which he confirmed was meant to be finally scheduled for April. Surely it can't be getting buried already, especially when Newsarama/CSN mention John Cleese's "Superman True Brit" - with what seems a similar premise, this time Kal-El landing in Britain? BTW, one worry, John Cleese hasn't written anything really good since his writing partner Graham Chapman died. Is this a worry?

Well, I suppose they want to save something for next week.

YES, OF COURSE I'M GOING TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE AUTHORITY REVIVAL…[Yellow Light]

One of the highlights of the DC RRP was the announcement of the new "Authority" series. DC has been repeatedly criticised for its handling of "The Authority" in the past, with Paul Levitz micro-managing the comic in its latter days. And the upcoming Robbie Morrison/Frazer Irving "Authority Special" has received a few barbed attacks for featuring an editorially suggested central plot.

The upcoming ongoing series for this summer written by Robbie Morrison will assuage some with its Mature Readers label, although reports that DC instructed pitchers not to explore Midnighter and Apollo's relationship have caused some to accuse DC of "same old, same old".

However, the hand of editorial may still be on the rudder. Mark Millar, who caused DC such upset on "The Authority," made comments along the lines that it would be pretty crap to instantly age the baby "Jenny Quantum" for any continuing series.

Guess what's happening, folks...

BY ANY OTHER NAME[Green Light]

One project that didn't get mentioned in yesterday's DC Retailer Presentation, was Gail Simone's revamp of Rose And Thorn which I hear has been getting some DC people very excited indeed. No artist yet though, but we wait in hope.

UPDATE:

I'm told this was, however, referred to in a DC Comics Rumour Column. Haven't they heard of demarcation? I'll strike, I tell you, I'll strike!!! Then we'll see just how well DC will manag…

No, wait…

MASS MEDIUM[Green Light]

I'd also heard about the "Midnight, Mass" TV series that Newsarama/CSN reported from the RRP, but that it was in development for NBC very shortly. Well, at least that means it turned a RED light into a GREEN.

This Vertigo book was to have been an ongoing series, but was curtailed before the original solicitation to 8 issues, although a second outing was confirmed by writer John Rozum earlier this year, amidst allegations of lack of editorial support.

Look for the series to find a lot more support this time round.

POINT OF STALE[Green Light]

With a number of comic book publishers moving their product into bookstores - just how receptive are bookstores to their product? Gutterati Bookstore Phantom has been working on the inside.

CrossGen Month at Barnes and Noble was one such venture, paying for added prominence in store. I've had reports, however, from prominent Barnes And Nobles that in many cases, the mentioned placement of endcap and waterfall displays of CrossGen books were never taken out of the back room, and the CrossGen volumes were shelved with the rest of the graphic novels.

It's not just CrossGen, either. DC apparently paid a table fee to Borders to place Dark Knight Strikes Again #3 on their front of store opportunity-to-buy tables. And again, many reports were of no tables, and the books sitting spine out on the shelves.

It's a different industry with different people, but Marvel also had problems getting appropriate news stand space for their Ultimate Magazines despite also paying placement premiums.

Looks like the comic industry needs Mystery Shoppers! Bring your own domino masks!

BILL'S STILL THERE[Green Light]

Everyone knows Bill Rosemann's left Marvel, right? It's been in Newsarama and everything.

Well, apparently, it's not quite cut and dry. He's still hanging around, asked to stay on a couple more weeks until November 15th.

So if you want to send him porn, spam or general hate mail as to why Cyclops doesn't have his old visor, you've got a few more days.

BORDER LINE[Yellow Light]

Remember Borderline, the PDF magazine? Run by ex-Comics International news editor Phil Hall that bloomed, crashed and burned with CoolBeansWorld, bloomed again and then sort of went into a PR wilt? Well, it's been coming out still fairly regularly and indeed has started to earn a little bit of money.

So much so that I hear they're planning to buy the rights to an old British comics character and reproduce in their monthly magazine as an exclusive.

I do hope it's "Marvelman."

PLAYHUMANOID[Green Light]

Since Humanoids were so kind to send me a free copy of the rather amusing "Pin-Up Girls From Around the World" by Fred Beltran, Ian Sattler, and Thierry Frissen, I feel obliged to tell you the latest word about that most risible cheesecake volume. It appears that Playboy has been fair tickled by the volume as well and has devoted an article to the publication in the current December 2002 issue.

So, for once, you really can buy it for the articles.

IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU DROKK[Green Light]

"2000AD," when they're not threatening me with legal action, are putting out a bunch of really tasty volumes this Christmas. Continuing their fairly new tradition of monster-sized issues at the end of the year, the lead story is from "2000AD" is "Judge Dredd Vs. Aliens," by John Wagner, Andy Diggle and Henry Flint. And a little bird has sent me some rather nice and allegedly exclusive art from the upcoming strip.

[Judge Dredd vs. Aliens] [Judge Dredd vs. Aliens] [Judge Dredd vs. Aliens]

The issue will also feature a new Slaine story by Pat Mills and Cliff Langley, my favourite Nikolai Dante by Robbie Morrison and John Burns and plenty more… here's some piccies to have fun with.

[Slaine] [Slaine]

SPIDEY ON THE CHEAP[Green Light]

Gutterati Major Joe writes to tell us that you (well, Americans) can get a whole bunch of "Ultimate Spider-Man" for tiny money. Just call (800) 217-9158 and get the next three issues for $3. The offer is valid until March, so you've got time to double-dip if you like.

And you haven't even had to buy the Spider-Man cartoon DVD to get the number…

CROW FEET[Yellow Light]

I hear "Crow" creator James O'Barr has become quite a feature at his local comic shows, drawing demonic variants of Batman and Daredevil for his fans.

Recently he brought out a series of prints to sell - not his own, but of other creators. About ten years old, there's quite a variety.

However, as time has gone by, the prices have dropped. O'Barr clearly needs that basement space, down from, $35 to $25 to $20 to $15.

One enterprising young buyer tried to haggle him down to $10 on a Curt Swan Superman print only to be told a tale. That Swan doesn't sign much anymore, that he's close to being blind and that O'Barr saw him escorted around the San Diego show this summer by some of his assistants, cause he's nearly blind.

Of course, Curt Swan passed away in 1996.

The buyer didn't wait to ask if O'Barr had seen a crow near Swan...

DICK'S FUTURE[Green Light]

Bob Layton writes to clarify Dick Giordano's position at Future Comics. "We've published two issue of 'Freemind' so far--both drawn by Dick. He's inked 'Freemind #2' and pencilled #3. He's currently working on storyboards for the 'Freemind' motion picture deal and developing 'Deathmask,' which he will be pencilling monthly. He comes into our office twice-a-week to aid in administration and business deals. He is also working on the 'Phantom' stuff, as well--making him one of the hardest working men in the biz, I imagine."

Yes, when I mentioned the decades old "The Hobbit" being the best selling Western graphic novel last year, I did inadvertently slip the phrase "English-speaking" from the equation. That damn Asterix.

ALAN MOORE MASK[Green Light]

Smoky Man writes to tell me about a small encounter with Alan Moore. After working on the Italian edition of Pocket Essentials - Alan Moore, he sent him a mask from his Mediterranean folklore traditions. He got back a set of photos of Alan with the mask.

[Alan Moore]

Okay guys… ancient spiritual mask, or highly elaborate drug paraphernalia? You be the judge.

Go here for the full story.

RECRUITING IN THE GUTTERS

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