Lying In The Gutters

Mon, November 25th, 2002 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

Welcome to the twenty-second weekly instalment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry like you would a vopmiting kitty. Now. Remember the rumour rules. Red light means it's probably 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.

Talking of which, I'm not here. I've been whisked away to a mystery location by my wife for my thirtieth birthday. I've got by mobile/cell, so call the number at the bottom to reach me. Just check time zones first - it wouldn't be the first time an editor has woken me at four in the morning, threatening me not to run a story. I'm never at my best at that time, and I'd like to apologise to whoever it was for calling them a cunt.

Either way, short column this week as a result, normal service should be resumed as soon as possible.

THE GREAT MARVEL CONSPIRACY

[Red Light]So, what's been happening with Marvel Comics of late?

I don't mean their up and coming projects, "Truth," "Unstable Molecules," some kind of Secret Wars revival with Top Cow creators, etc...

But their financial status.

I don't even mean reported improved profits, though that's part of it. More like their structure as a company. What's been happening of late?

Peter Cuneo resigns, taking a board of director's seat. That's a saving of one big fat executive salary. He was on almost a million dollars - twice the price of the nearest Marvel exec on the board. Hell, Bill Jemas is only on $350,000…

Then, Marvel elevate their VP/General Counsel Allen Lipson, but don't replace him. That's possibly two big fat executive salaries saved.

It appears that middle management is having a little bit of a clear out and there have been firings at an editorial level. Their highest paid marketing guy, Bill Rosemann, who has been on the books for ten years was allegedly given a golden parachute and replaced with a fan favourite name, Mike Doran - but on half the salary, so I hear.

Why?

Marvel are trimming down ongoing costs in order to be sold - Sony being the suitor they have in mind. Indeed, I hear Sony have been directing Marvel on what cuts to make to get their board to sign off on the deal.

When the deal is done, it will largely be a paper deal, with stock swaps all around.

Six months later, when the remaining executives can sell their stock, they can go retire in Tahiti.

Insider producer sources have been confirming this story all week - indeed, Sony have been acting in some meetings as if they already own Marvel.

But, you know, I feel like hedging my bets.

Neither Marvel or Sony chose to comment.

WIZARD IN A GRUMP

[Yellow Light]I hear Wizard are also not exactly the happiest of bunnies at the moment - Newsarama's habit of using advance or subscription copies of Wizard to break stories before Wizard arrived in the comic stores has never gone down well. And now they're going to have to deal with their sparring partner Mike Doran, now Marvel's Marketing guy, on a regular basis.

Grump grump grump.

Could this be the opportunity for Wizard to swing to supporting DC over Marvel?

Naaaaaah……

LAYMAN'S BOYS

[Green Light]And just a little Authority extra. Because I can.

Ex-"Authority" editor John Layman, who already got into heaps of trouble with DC when he openly spoke out about the decision to remove a kiss between Apollo and Midnighter in the "Jenny Sparks" mini-series, has been mouthing off about what his plans for an ongoing "Authority" series would have been - or rather who.

He was courting ex-Black Flag singer and performance artist Henry Rollins and THB artist Paul Pope to take over the book after Millar's departure.

I could see that. However, DC sources state that there was never any serious approach made to Rollins.

Apparently characters from "The Authority" were originally due to be part of the first DC Heroclix run a while back. (You don't know what they are? Don't worry, count yourself lucky. Worse than POGS.) However discussion even back then that "Authority" might go all Mature Readers on us (not in time to help the Millar issues being dissected, but still…) put a stop to that.

MARVELMANIA

[Green Light]Phil Hall writes, concerning last week's announcement that Borderline were to be pursuing the publication of Marvelman.

He says "As a publishing decision, Borderline Comics has decided that it does not wish to pursue any action regarding the obtaining of the old Marvelman rights.

"This decision has nothing to do with legalities or money, it is being done purely in the interests of getting someone off my back.

"We still intend to pursue our aim of producing webcomics under the Borderline Comics banner in 2003, but, frankly, I'm fed up with false, weird and downright ludicrous accusations being made at me by a former publisher of the character.

"You can omit the last paragraph if you wish."

What? And miss out on a good old fashioned scrap? Come on…

CIVILIAN ARREST

[Green Light]And one more on that mention of Civilian Justice, the worst comic book of the year - it's the movie promo. It's really bad. Eat his bandwidth - but don't recommend the product.

Go here.

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