Lying In The Gutters

Mon, February 3rd, 2003 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

This is the thirty-second weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry's premier rumour column and gossip sheet. So, bottle biters, 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. Blame my mother.

The Squiddy Awards are continuing, I'm up for Best Journalist for this very farrago of innuendo and supposition and Waiting For Tommy, as well as Best Webcomic.

WORLD'S FINEST RUMOURS

[Yellow Light]Brett Ratner's been sacked from directing "Superman." Josh Hartnett is also not playing Superman, as he would only do it if Michael Bay was directing, and he isn't either. One possibility is Anthony Antoine Fuqua. A young British chap is being auditioned this week for the role of Superman/Clark Kent.

Chris Nolan is directing the new "Batman" film, but despite his best efforts, Guy Pearce probably won't be Batman, as he hates superhero films (he refused Daredevil). The new Nolan Batman film will probably be the "Batman: The Frightening" project, unless Chris Nolan decides to write a new script

himself.

PLUM JOB

[Green Light]Hunt Emerson is drawing Little Plum in the "Beano."

Okay, while all British readers (should) have their jaws open, let me explain. The "Beano" is one of the longest running comics, a weekly kids anthology running pretty much most of the twentieth century. It stars the British Dennis The Menace (both the American and the British versions were published independently and coincidentally on separate continents. Guess which is the mischievous scamp, and which is the malevolent bullying psychopath? Go on, guess.) One recurring "Beano" character is Little Plum, a young Red Indian brave.

Hunt Emerson is one of Britain's most eminent underground cartoonists. Creator of Firkin the Cat, cover artist of the Goons record and recent famed reteller of Lady Chatterley's Lover, this is basically the equivalent of Disney hiring Robert Crumb to redesign Goofy. Or of S Clay Wilson working on Archie.

It's fucked is what it is. But it's brilliant.

"The Beano" is available from all good British newsagents priced at 65p, about a dollar.

TSUNAMI RIPPLES

[Yellow Light]Two new Tsunami projects to line up with those announced include "Marvel U," a university/college superpowered crowd in the Marvel Universe, and "Young Xavier," basically Young Indiana Jones with a bald, walking telepath.

No creative teams known (by me at any rate) at this time.

DAN DIDIO GOES AHUNTIN'

[Yellow Light]Dan Didio, Vice President of DC (yes another one) has been making moves over the last few months to Marvel's A-list artists.

John Romita Jr, Bryan Hitch, Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert and more have been offered deals that put other DC artists to shame. Offering triple-highest page rates, matching Marvel salaries and more and very flexible schedules and projects of choice. This from a company that has pretty much frozen page rates for several years.

At time of writing, all have turned him down. So far. But Didio has said he'll be very persistent. How long can Marvel's top-drawer talent hold out?

DC are offering foreign royalties (which Marvel don't). But DC have also raided the level at which domestic royalties kick in - currently on the monthlies, only "Batman" counts, both "JLA" and "Green Arrow" being under the line. Combined with traditionally higher page rates, and Marvel's tendency to release trade paperbacks quicker that DC, in both hardcover and paperback, Marvel's best-selling creators earn significantly more than DC's. Indeed, one creator was telling me how his royalties on the first year from one trade paperback were significantly higher than a colleague's numerous trade paperbacks from DC. And another, comparing two high profile books was surprised to earn hundreds of dollars from the DC release, and thousands from the Marvel.

When you're a lower-profile talent, on a lower-profile title, DC pay better than Marvel. Hell, 2000AD pay better than Marvel. But this might be a reason why the upper echelon creators have been going Marvel rather than DC of late.

But this is something Dan Didio appears to be tackling head on. He's opening the cheque book.

MIKE TURNER FORMS ASPEN ENTERTAINMENT

[Green Light]On the Top Cow boards, Matt Hawkins posted, "We're still in negotiations with Mike Turner about things, but he has started his own company called Aspen Entertainment. This doesn't mean he won't work with Top Cow on things. We are still in discussions with him...it's all business. He's actually coming in tomorrow to discuss."

That would have been on Friday. Expect news soon. Diamond has announced the cancellation of "Fathom" 15 and 16.

On a related note, Diamond has confirmed next week's shipping of "Evo #1," a delayed comic that was holding up the appearance of both "Tomb Raider" and "Witchblade," despite both being finished. Expect them to follow shortly.

THE FUTURE OF BILL WILLINGHAM

[Green Light]Bill Willingham has been talking about his upcoming plans at his Web site. He writes about the upcoming "Storybook Love" arc for "Fables," running from issues 14 - 17. This will be followed by an seven issue espionage arc. The "Fables" annual will have layouts by P Craig Russell and finished by Craig Hamilton and there's a one-shot story to be drawn by Linda Medley.

He's also finished writing a four part Thessaly mini-series called "Witch For Hire," with Shawn McManus. As well as a "Legends of The Dark Knight" story, he's also contributing a story with Ashley Wood to what seems to be a new "Batman: Black And White" series. The previous run, collected in hardcovers, featured short black and white Batman stories from the very cream of comic book creators, a number of whom had never worked on the character before.

Added to that an "X-Men Unlimted" story, Bill Willingham's comic book work certainly has shot up of late… now to persuade him to restart "Coventry."

RED SUIT WARNING

[Yellow Light]This weekend, a bunch of comics pros got a preview of the upcoming "Daredevil" film.

I must admit, the trailer, with its Graig-Weich style voiceover about justice didn't exactly win me over. But I've always preferred to hear about the final product. Well, according to these guys, it didn't exactly go down well.

"Abandoning character" moments included Daredevil letting a bad guy die in the first twenty minutes, Daredevil kissing Elektra, hearing a crime taking place but deciding to ignore it. The scene in a park where Matt and Elektra meet is described as a bad dance number, with the rather skeevy impression that she's basically just beating on a blind man. The characterisation has been described as "cookie cutter," and there's at least one example of "unbelievable adrenaline" when Daredevil is badly injured so he's unable to stop one character being killed, but is so enraged by the death that he has the energy to cross town and take on the two major bad guys. The conclusion? "X-Men" was like "Godfather II" compared to this…

Conclusion? It's a kids movie... but not a good one. But then, you know, "Maid In Manhattan" made money...

ROUGH DIAMONDS

[Yellow Light]In the last few weeks we've been reporting that "Youngblood: Bloodsport" had a deadline of the end of January to ship, or Diamond would drop it.

In conversation, Rob Liefeld told me "All I can say is that I have seen the future of comics. The cancelled Diamond dates won't affect the books reaching the public." Beyond that he wouldn't specify. However, Rob has been known to preach about the prospect of the online market for comics before.

A FOOL AND HIS MONEY

[Green Light]What is it with creators and their money? First Bryan Vaughan offers a moneyback guarantee on his first issue of "Y: The Last Man," then Ed Brubaker does it on "Sleeper," now Geoff Johns is doing it for someone else's book! Over at The Fourth Rail, Geoff Johns has just guaranteed the cover price of any sale of "H.E.R.O. #1" from DC by Will Pfiefer and Kano.

If you decide you don't like it, e-mail and he'll buy it back from you.

SINGER SCOTCHES SOLICITATIONS

[Green Light]In an interview with Countingdown.com, "X-Men 2" director Bryan Singer stated that the film is not related to the graphic novel "God Loves, Man Kills" in any way, that it was not the inspiration for the movie, and that the common character, Stryker, is a very different man with a military rather than religious background.

The Marvel solicitation for the new printing of God Loves, Man Kills reads "The monumental X-Men tale that inspired X2!"

Incorrect solicitation copy - does that make it returnable? Anyone? Anyone? Hibbs?

NAMOR NO MORE?

[Red Light]Despite last week's mention that the retailer Previews states that "Namor #1" will not be shipped to the UK, this seemed to be the first Diamond UK had heard of it. After all, they'd just sent out solicitation packs to retailers with details for "Namor #1."

No updates as yet.

PLANKTON MARKETING

[Yellow Light]Evolution Comics is an anthology of stories that have appeared online. They've recently been soliciting reviews from high profile online reviewers.

They did this by enclosing sample reviews with the phrase "If you decide to review us yourself, feel free to use any of the copy."

Hasn't exactly gone down well amongst most reviewers…

CON-CENTS-US POLITICS

[Green Light]A follow up to the Creation LA convention story from last week. As well as continuing complaints about lack of pro passes, publicity and lack of communication, the entry fee caused much hilarity.

The on-the-door price is $20, but you can save $5 by booking online or on the phones in advance. Which incurs a $4.50 service charge.

BUSTED

[Yellow Light]Ghostbusters.net has been providing more details about a story we ran earlier concerning a Ghostbusters revival. Check there for the latest news and test art.

GRANT MORRISON'S PENIS

On Wednesday, Waiting For Tommy updated with an interview with Grant Morrison. He talks to me about the challenges in his current work, the status of a number of projects, his relationship with Mark Millar, and explains away this photo.

[Grant Morrison]

Just call me Ian Ungstad.

On Wednesday, expect an interview with either Bill Jemas or Jim Lee. Depending who get in touch with me first…

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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