Lying In The Gutters

Mon, January 6th, 2003 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

Thanks for all the kind words about last week's Lying In The Gutters Rumour Awards. Another one next year. Back to normal this week, with the twenty-second weekly instalment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry like you would an insolent butler. 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.

LIGHTBULB JOKE CIRCLES, LEVITZ QUAKES

[Yellow Light]A joke doing the rounds at DC of late goes like this:

Q: How many DC Vice-Presidents does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


A: Let me check with Paul first.

That's right, the internal DC rebels have resorted to their ultimate weapon: lightbulb jokes.

MARVEL'S SECRET SCHEDULING PLANS, LEAKED BY INDICIA COMPILER

[Green Light]Marvel's been subtly giving away its 2003 publishing plans in its comics. We know that Marvel has been adamant that it will ship extra copies of its continuing series through the year in an effort to promote them. Well, just look in the information box on the first few pages of any of the November or December shipping titles and you'll see when each book has an "extra" issue. Just remove two months from any listed month to get the actual shipping date and you can see which books will have 18 issues released in 2003. If you want to start a deadpool lottery, check out the books that are only listed as "monthly", although by its nature that's totally innaccurate.

Curiously, the ones Bill Jemas was originally talking about bringing out more frequently, "New X-Men" and "Amazing Spider-Man," only have one extra issue scheduled. Here's what's in the books I've looked at so far... anyone else care to add more?

    Alias - monthly

  • X-Statix - May only

  • Tangled Web - monthly

  • Marville - monthly

  • Agent X - August

  • Spider-Girl - January

  • Amazing Spider-Man - July

  • Captain Marvel - July

  • Daredevil - January and February

  • Marvel Double-Shot - monthly

  • New X-Men - May

  • Uncanny X-Men - 18 issues

  • Ultimate X-Men - 18 issues

  • Ultimate Spider-Man - 18 issues

  • Peter Parker Spider-Man - monthly (but Paul Jenkins has reportedly announced that they'll be striving for 18 issues a year on the replacement)

  • Avengers - September and October

  • Black Panther - April

  • Exiles - April, July, August, September (obviously they're not so keen on keeping Judd Winick's scripts going until his DC contract runs out)

  • Elektra - August

  • Iron Man - July

  • Soldier X - July

  • Punisher - April, May, September, October

  • Thor - February

  • X-Men Unlimited - March, April, May

  • Wolverine - May

  • Hulk - May and weekly in June

  • Fantastic Four - August, September and weekly in October.

Boomtime for Marvel, everyone, as Marvel squeeze themselves across the remaining shelfspace. Ah, it's not as if other companies publish any decent comics is it?

JEPH LOEB SNAPS

[Green Light]Over on the DC Superman boards earlier this week, after facing down constant criticism of the direction of the Superman titles as one person asked what were reader's worst Superman moment of the year, "Superman" writer Jeph Loeb snapped. As part of a rant, he replied, "But, you are only filled with hate. Hate for the very thing people come this board to enjoy. Superman. Maybe these stories aren't to your taste, but there are an awful lot of folks who disagree with you. You've made your point. You hate what is happening to 'your' Superman. We get it. You are, quite simply, an awful human being."

A few days later, the thread had been deleted.

JEFF MARIOTTE, LEAVES WILDSTORM, JOINS IDW

[Green Light]Wildstorm editor and writer of Desperadoes, Jeff Mariotte announced in an industry-wide email that he's leaving WildStorm, the company he's worked at for ten years, to move to recent upstart publisher IDW as Editor-In-Chief. IDW have recently received a lot of praise for a number of their projects such as the highly collectable/speculatable "30 Days Of Night" and "Lurid." They also have the licence to publish a "CSI" title.

QUESADA ADMITS DAVID SNUB, DAVID POKES THE WOUND

[Green Light]Joe Quesada has been replying to some of the rumours circling about Marvel snubbing Peter David. While he made no mention of the rumour that "Captain Marvel" has not been given newsstand distribution while both "Marville" and "Ultimate Adventures," also part of the U-Decide competition, have, he does address the absence of any mention of David in his year-end interview and sing at Newsarama.

Quesada writes;

"As I've always said, I'm never going to lie to you guys. If you want the straight answer, here it is and feel free to post this anywhere you like.

"I've heard people say that I'm upset at Peter because of the U-Decide thing and thus omitted him from the song. Nothing can be further from the truth. If Peter wins, I win, Marvel wins, it's that simple. The honest truth is that win or lose, Bill and I agreed, long ago before a single vote was tallied for U-Decide, that we were going into the dunk tank and getting pies in the face for charity, regardless of the results.

"Now some people weren't mentioned in the song, but that's because I ran out of stanzas and the thing was already running way to long as it was. To add everyone in would have added an extra minute to the ride-out and that would have just been too much. Was Peter one of those people, no, Peter was the only one that I omitted on purpose.

"You see, Peter is a very talented guy and I like him personally, but something he does has always bother me and many of the freelancers I've known in my 12 years in comics. And this thing he does, whether he wants to believe it or not, bothers all of his employers and now that I am one of his employers, it bothers me even more. See, I was always taught that if I didn't like a situation and if I couldn't change it, then I should just stop complaining or get the h#&% out of that situation. I also know full well and good, when I was working 9-5 non comic day jobs, if I criticized my employer, I could fully expect my ass to be unemployed the next day. Not only that, I had no reason to bitch about it because it's my own d@$% fault. Peter has always used his column as an excuse for him to critic his employer, a shroud that he wears claiming that he needs to keep his objectivity in order to write the column. To me it's just an excuse to act like an outsider and get the outsiders on your side while being the ultimate insider. It's complete bull and it's not fair to his readership and it's not fair to his employer, you can't have it both ways. In or out, pick one! And look, I'm not even talking about just my tenure at Marvel here, Peter has been doing this since I was aware of a guy named Peter David and his column.

"Let me ask you guys, how many of us can critique our employers/bosses in a public forum/magazine and still expect to keep our jobs? Peter has managed to do this for many, many years.

"So, that being said, I'm sick of it and when it came to writing my song, I didn't feel like writing his name down on a piece of paper or calling out his name. If he wants to be critical of Marvel, fine, the times are now a changin'.

"See, I'm a bit of an idiot myself. During my freelancer days a bunch of us would sit down and giggle at something Peter said about AOLC or Marvel. We would giggle, not because it was so funny, but because he got away with it. I would scratch my head wondering what was wrong with Marvel and AOLC that they would just let him kick them in the groin on such a public level and then still give him assignments and cut him checks. I'm not sure but didn't Peter call Marvel several years ago "'he House of Idea?' Now I find myself on the other side of the desk, he's got a book and I'm cutting him checks. That makes me an even bigger idiot than my predecessors and from this point that changes. Peter's books are dropping like flies at this point, 'Supergirl' being the latest, but I'm going to be magnanimous and give him a grace period and consider stuff in the past, left in the past. If he wants to criticize Marvel policy or Marvel higher ups, he has every right, but as I learned long ago if he doesn't like a situation and if he can't change it, then he should just stop complaining or get the h#&% out of that situation. If he finds himself lacking the strength or conviction to do that, I'll do it for him.

"Even John Byrne had class enough to leave a situation he wasn't happy with."

Quesada continued:

"I received an e-mail asking if what I really wanted was for people that work for me to just keep their mouths shut. It was a great question because it's something I should have addressed in the Peter answer.

"It's not that I want Peter to keep his mouth shut, it's that if you're working for me and you're on my team, then I consider you on my team. If you don't like the policies of the team then you're not. Complain all you want, but do it in private, call me on the phone and tell me about it, don't go on public forums. I get tons of advice and complaints from freelancers on issues of deadlines, rates, policies, what have you. They call me up personally and discuss it and we resolve it. Peter goes public and that's where the problem lies.

"Peter turns the policies he doesn't like of companies he works for into his own personal soap box, I'm just sick of it. There are many creators that Peter has criticized in his column, most of those creators if not all will never work with him because of it. Why should Marvel be any different?"

While Lying In The Gutters is currently waiting for Joe Quesada to fire Kevin Smith's arse, after his public comments criticising Marvel's policies including lack of overprints, David responded in his own webcolumn:

"CRACK A DICTIONARY ...and next to the term 'Pyrrhic Victory,' you'll see a picture of 'Captain Marvel.'

"The book appears to have a lock on winning the 'U-Decide.' Except on his website, Joe Q. has effectively promised I'll be fired if I ever write a negative word about Marvel ever again. Because it means I'm not on his team.

"Me, I didn't know Marvel still had a team. I know, because I used to play on it. Softball. I pitched. Sometimes I was catcher if my knees held up. And Volleyball. There used to be glorious volleyball games.

"And we'd play against other publishers, including DC. And everyone got along. Because there were always public disagreements, jibes, challenges between companies at conventions, etc., but in the end, everyone understood: It's comics, for God's sake.

"Those were great days.

"I miss those days. Days of a sense of community.

"Days of teams.

"Ah well.

"I don't do well with threats."

The conversation continues back and forth at www.joequesada.com and peterdavid.malibulist.com. Come see who blinks first. Also make sure you're checking out the latest rounds between Peter David and John Byrne over a twenty year feud at http://www.acc.umu.se/~alpha/byrne/cgi-bin/board/index.html

READING BETWEEN LINES PROVES FRUITFUL

[Green Light]As Gail Simone's departure from "Agent X" is still being debated, she writes on one board about the recently published "Agent X" #6.

"I'll try to come in and post the actual recap page I had before it was hatcheted up for no good reason."

Those editorial disagreement rumours are becoming more and more likely, aren't they?

WILDSTORM DISCOVER NEW GIMMICK CALLED SEX

[Green Light]Wildstom non-mature-readers books have been going a little further of late.

"League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" features a softcore sex scene, "Global Frequency" gets a lesbian kiss, "Mek" 2 gets to use the word "bullshit" and Promethea's breasts get greater exposure than ever.

The reins have loosened up it seems. Under these guidelines, the scenes "The Authority" got shit canned for would have been acceptable, without needing a Mature Readers warning.

Have Wildstorm finally realised that sex and swearing sell well to kids as well as violence? And are DC letting them? I'm reminded of Carol Kalish's reported address to retailers, "that little boys liked sex and violence and Marvel was in the business of selling comics to little boys".

Retailers however were a little surprised by LOEG's scene and anecdotal reports suggest they'd like a little warning in future.

DC/WILDSTORM LINE UNRAVELS, PUTS PAY TO JOHNSTON'S BEST RUMOURS?

[Yellow Light]Winner of the Rumour Awards 2003's Why Are We Waiting Award, I'm told that the DC/Wildstorm line has been unravelling of late, with a number of expected creators dropping out and others being drafted in to fill the numbers.

Maybe there's hope for Erik Larsen after all!

NEWSARAMA DIDN'T STEAL DARK HORSE SCOOP FROM WIZARD - THIS TIME

[Yellow Light]So why did Newsarama and other sites lead with a rushed Dark Horse Rocket Comics story the other week? And why were they accused from some quarters of stealing the Wizard exclusive story?

It seems that Wizard upped their scheduling of the magazine by one week, forcing Dark Horse's hand and changing their PR burst from something that was going to be very tight and focused into a diffuse push.

And as for stealing from Wizard, Newsarama's actual mention of Wizard as a source in the story kind of knocked that one on the head. Newsarama behaved impeccably towards Wizard's exclusives.

This time, anyway.

VIZ REDUCE PRICES, MANGA WAR COMMENCES

[Green Light]Word comes to me that Viz (the US one, as opposed to Viz Comic in the UK) has been adopting new pricing structures for their manga collections, after some careful Previews watching by an unnamed Gutterati.

Viz have published their books as Regular Editions or Collectors Edition, the first reading right to left in the Western manner, the second, left to right in the Eastern tradition. The latter also has the original Japanese sound effects as opposed to translations, with a separate FX translation section at the back.

It appears that Viz are now cancelling and resoliciting some of those Collectors Editions as Special Editions, dropping the price by over a third in order to compete with Tokyo Pop's left to right publications, from $16 to $10.

And other books have seen prices drop by almost a half, $16 for "Inu-Yasha" Volume 12 to $9 for "Inu-Yasha" Volume 13 without a corresponding page drop. "Vagabond" has also had a similar drop for Volume 5. "Tenchi Muyo" Volume 1 is also only $9.

Looks like Viz are really going to start pushing Tokyo Pop's buttons.

LAST DAYS FOR YOUNGBLOOD

[Yellow Light]"Youngblood Bloodsport" will be published before the end of January. Apparently it has to, or Diamond will throw their toys.

TODD TRIED DIPPING TOES INTO MIRACLEMAN, GOT SCALDED

On the McFarlane website, staff member Brad Gould took time out to explain just why "Hellspawn" had been solicited to feature Miracleman, indeed had Mike Moran as a character, and yet when it came to publication a new cover and a lack of Miracleman was apparent.

He wrote, "I think that Todd was sort of dipping his toe in the water when he was going to put MM in 'Hellspawn.' No sooner was that announced than Neil (with backing by Marvel, I believe) decided to legally challenge our right to do that. It's possible that if the idea of putting MM in 'Hellspawn' had gone without any controversy, we may have taken another step beyond that.

"Anyway, MM has not been totally forsaken by us. (Since you're new on our boards, I'll clue you in on something: Sometimes, Drew and I say things without really saying them. Catch my drift?)

"You may want to occasionally check SPAWN.COM for further news on anything Miracleman related."

MIKE DIANA BREAKS LAW WITH ARTISTIC CONSEQUENCES

[Green Light]An individual has been selling Mike Diana paintings on eBay, with the following story, "Mike Diana, infamous cartoonist, thrown in jail for his zine 'Boiled Angel' over 10 years ago, still faces jail time from Florida authorities, who deny him the right to create art in Florida, deny him contact with minors, force him to pay thousands of dollars in fines, see a psychiatrist at his own expense, take journalism ethics courses at his own expense, and do thousands of hours of community service. Imagine trying to pay rent and live life under those conditions!! Mike was unable to keep up with these gruelling, inconceivable probationary tactics, and a warrant was put out for his arrest in Florida. Mike, now living in NYC, continues to create art, including these new paintings and much more. Help support Mike, and buy these directly from him. I do his websites at: http://www.testicle.com/mikediana.htm where you can find these paintings and much more. Inquire at jefe@testicle.com for more info."

[Mike Diana Art]

You can see these sales here.

DAREDEVIL TO GET BRIT SHOW EARLY

[Green Light]Gutterati Johnny Got His Gun knocks me on the head to point out that according to Fox, Britain will get the film "Daredevil" one whole day before the US (a day and a half if you count the time difference) on the 13th of February.

Just think chaps, Affleck in red leather 30 hours before those know-it-all Americans. That'll teach them for having the Paul McGann "Doctor Who" on before us…

CANCELLED COMICS

[Yellow Light]The word comes down from someone talking to Italy's king of comics, Sergio Bonelli, that two of his long running series are not doing very well and may go to the chopping block if things don't improve.

That may not sound like much for the US market, where series are created and cancelled by the dozen, but Bonelli publishes only a few series, under twenty, and they usually last a very long time. The western comic "Tex" has been running continuously since 1948.

The two series potentially for the chop are "Mister No," about an American adventurer who lives in a Brazilian Amazon forest in the 1950s, created in 1975 by Sergio Bonelli. The second is "Nick Raider," a modern New York police detective story, created in 1988 by "Tex" writer Claudio Nizzi. The secondary books of these series, featuring reprints, annuals and special editions have long bit the dust and the current titles aren't being created by the superstars of the company.

Admittedly, sales on both titles would make them two of the better selling books in the USA. But Italy's market is different.

CONNER HAWKE FIRST LEADING DC SUPERHERO TO BE OUTED?

[Red Light]And you think Rawhide Kid got a lot of attention.

I've been told that, to the delight of certain slashfiction writers, Green Arrow's teen sidekick, Connor Hawke, is to be outed in his ongoing series later in the year. Written by Judd Winnick, also known for gay-sympathetic "Pedro And Me," and for introducing a gay supporting character into "Green Lantern," this is likely to avoid some of the innuendo inherent in Marvel's upcoming Western.

However, this also sounds like fan-wish fulfilment that's fuelled the grapevines, hence the red light. Let's see how this one plays out.

AMERICAN SIGIL

[Green Light]Woozy, hungover fans of teenagers playing close contact sport may have been surprised when sitting down on January 2nd to see a CrossGen logo on the JumboTron at Raymond James Stadium, hosting the Outback Bowl.

Taking place in CrossGen's hometown, Tampa, it was a chance for CrossGen to woo both the locals and the nation. And to stop all that talk about marching on the compound with burning torches.

THE FUTURE OF LITG?

[Green Light]I've been asked, again, especially in the light of Joe Quesada's recent remarks to Peter David, what would I do if I got the "Marville" gig?

Well, I doubt that's even going to happen, but in the extreme case Marvel did foolishly take that particular bait, the column would be either suspended until Marvel had come to their senses and fired my sorry arse, or it would continue as normal. Marvel would have the right to make that call. That would be the same for any major comic company. But of course, that all depends on getting the antifreeze working in Hades.

And currently online at www.dynamicforces.com, Waiting For Tommy re-reports a classic Daredevil/Elektra moment captured in stone. I had fun writing it, hope it comes across. Then on Wednesday, a very special announcement and challenge from Dynamic Forces head honcho Nick Barrucci to me, Rich Johnston. Make sure you're there!

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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