Lying In The Gutters

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

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

This is the thirty-sixth weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry's premier rumour column and gossip sheet. So, harmless harridans, 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 Joe Quesada.

My official e-mail address has also changed. Check the bottom of this column to update your records.

No, not talking about Epic, this week.

ONE MORE YEAR, ONE MORE YEAR

[Yellow Light]Further to the LITG report a few weeks back about Dan Didio seeking out talent for the books, to push DC titles back into the Top Ten, the flagship title for this approach, Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee on "Batman" looks like it might too get a shot in the arm. I hear that Didio is negotiating a second year on the title for the pair.

Geoff Johns' exclusive contract with DC has also raised eyebrows - he's on more than Brian Bendis at Marvel and as much as the likes of Mark Millar, Grant Morrison and JMS.

Previously, the higher Marvel pay was seen as something DC could not and would not match. Not anymore. Looks like that open-chequebook approach we mentioned might just be working.

RETURN OF AN OLD FAVOURITE

[Green Light]And you thought you'd seen all the original Art Adams "Authority" artwork, before Paul Levitz' micro-management sucked the balls off of it? Okay, sorry about the image in your minds now, but here's a better one. Another couple of shots of the George-Bush styled President, before he was amended to look like the accountant off of "Scrubs."

ROCK STEADY

[Yellow Light]Salvador Larocca, the artist on "X-Treme X-Men" and upcoming artist on Namor, has been talking about his work - and it's not all on the Marvel party line.

The original was in Spanish. Translators have been working night and day to approximate a translation. Oh, okay, they haven't. But here's my best guess. But remember, a lot can get lost in translation.

Salvador first told fans about "God Loves Man Kills II," the story arc he was doing with Chris Claremont in "X-treme X-Men."

"GLMK II was not imposed, they just asked Chris if he would like to make a sequel, since the movie is partially based on GLMK, and he said 'yes.' (Well, if he had said "no," someone else would have done it, so..... ) and the fact that they let us publish it in 'X-Treme' will probably help us with the sales, and that's the most important."

In a later post, Salavador said, "About GLMK II, at first I was going to do it, but thanks to last minute changes, I won't now…" and "In addition, the latest events may keep me away from 'X-Treme' for some issues, I am waiting more news from the boss."

He continued later with more details… well, what he felt he could share.

"I don't know the details of what they want to do with me (well, actually, I know, but I prefer to be cautious, these things change by the minute), and when it's certain, I'll make it public."

Then, "No, unfortunately, it doesn't have anything to do with the X-Men. It's something that really doesn't interests me, but it's a 'friendly' invitation from Bill Jemas, and to him I can't say no if I want to renew my contract, it's a 'yes or yes' offer. Like it was with Elektra.

"And because, for them, Jemas has the preferential choice, they remove me and put me where it interests them.

"Can you notice I'm not happy?"

Later…

"I'll be away from 'X-Treme' for some months, don't know how many, maybe six or more.

"At least that's what they told me.

"About what I want to do, I think they know what I want, but they pay me for the exclusiveness and they put me where they want, it's their right.

"Things are this way, either you are flexible, or you get fired because you are not profitable (and I assure you there aren't many exclusive contracts left at Marvel now). For them, my name sells (but in this occasion that doesn't make me so happy) and they use that in the project they consider adequate for them or the company.

"They know that 'X-Treme' sells by itself.

"Even though it bothers me, that's the way it is.

"You consider us artists, but the truth is that we are workers like everywhere else, and we are submitted to company decisions. We may have fans, but the situations are the same, and who says the contrary is lying.

"Now it's this: 'You are with us or out'... and this is what there is."

He later confirmed, "My last issue for now is #24 (no matter how much it saddens me), and yes, I'll keep doing the covers for 'X-Treme.'"

Once the "Namor" news hit, "About 'Namor,' yes, it's certain, remember who is the boss and who pays me a contract that is close to its renewal, which I was reminded by them from the beginning.

"The plans are for 6 issues, but with such illustrious writers, it can get cancelled before that.

"And remember, you can decide things. I can't. Unfortunately, nowadays, the editorial necessities at Marvel are above the desires of the authors.

"The case is that the 'Namor' movie is close and they guaranteed me I'll enter the production crew, which I doubt, but you never know, I say....

"Even though it's not a project I'm crazy about, I intend to do it well, even if it's not for me. Since it was Jemas himself who insisted that it was me, I should be happy."

Salvador later clarified his positiion in the face of criticism.

"A professional must be that, a professional. You can't always do what you want. To be able to do one thing, sometimes you have to do another.

"In addition, it won't be so terrible, drawing Atlantis, etc, it can be beautiful and the movie guarantee some sales and my participation on it (and we know what it means to work in Hollywood).

"Understand that Jemas is the president of the company, not the elevator guy, he is the one who pays my exclusive, and it would be a little suicidal and unfair to say him something like you said.

"Also, I haven't read all the scripts, and don't want to prejudge.

"In any case, I've drawn worse things."

And later, "About 'Namor,' I'm already drawing it, and if they offered it to me, is to take it away from the Tsunami line, once that the concept of the launching has changes a lot since the announcement.

"It seems like 'Namor' will be getting a lot of attention in the near future, and that benefits me.

"It's not so horrible, actually.

"At least don't prejudge it, once you see it, you can give your opinion."

As to what happened to the original artist, Mizuki Sakakibara, "I'll be drawing it ['Namor'] from #1."

"The Japanese woman was fired because the work she presented had no quality, covers included."

"Everything is new (in term of graphic aspect)."

"And the scripts still show a young Namor."

As to whether the solicited cover would be changed, Salvador wrote, "The cover will be new.

"This woman they hired based on her portfolio, when she began doing pages it was not the result they wanted, Jemas fired her and talked to me…

"No, he doesn't have a flat head. He is 17 and has long hair.

"They want it (the hair) to cover his ears when he is on land, that's imposed by the script. He will be a slim guy (also because of the script), and, as far as I know, it won't be comparable to Byrne's work, it's a very different point of view.

"I hope this helps you to give it an opportunity.

"Gotta let us try, and once you see the results, then criticize if that's the case."

And as to who would follow Salvador on "X-Treme X-Men," he clarified

"I forgot to say that my substitute is 'Igor Kordey.'

"He will be inked by Scott Hanna. I believe Igor will do a great job…. you can't believe what he is capable of when not rushed."

Talking to Salvador Larroca via e-mail, he asked to add a note about how he feels now, a few days after these posts. Remember, english is not Salvador's first language, but I believe he

expresses his feelings very well.

"Some of those things were said when it was announced to me and I said to some friends, and I was disapointed for not drawing the GLMK2 book, work that I was very interested in doing, at that point I was furious, but I'm profesional and I did the best for me and my career.

"The true is that the first notice that I had about 'Namor' was when it was anounced, in the first wave, much before they offer to me, and then it didn't look too promising. Now things are different, lots of things have been changed, and the idea looks much better.

"The idea of changing 'X-Treme' for 'Namor' looked to me an step back, but now after getting more info, I think that is a very push to me, and I owe say"

DARK HORSE CROMICS

[Yellow Light]I hear Kurt Busiek is writing the new "Conan The Barbarian" series coming from Dark Horse Comics.

I guess, if you can't actually move to Tampa, Florida, this is the next best thing.

TRIGGER HIPPY

[Yellow Light]Frank Frazetta is a man who likes guns. That's not a crime, well, at least not where he lives. However, he does have rather a lot of them. Everywhere. On tops of wardrobes, bookshelves, windows, dressers, all over the house, all loaded.

He's got a large tupperware box with twenty handguns, in the larder. All loaded.

Mrs. Frazetta isn't such a big fan. As she scolded him once, when he was taking his guns out to show visitors, waving them around "put it away Frank, you took out the window just last week."

SWEETENING THE POT

[Red Light]Does the fact that Marvel is currently suing Sony spoil the well-founded rumours that Sony was to buy Marvel?

Not a bit of it. Indeed, it appears that it wasn't a clear-cut acquisition, there are some Sony figures who need that little bit of a financial push to agree.

And what better way than to get rid of a potentially damaging lawsuit… than by buying the litigant?

Let's see, eh?

MEGA-MOMENTS

[Yellow Light]A few tiny bits that were thrown up by Megacon this weekend:

Paul Jenkins has said that Flash Thompson will NOT be coming out of

his coma any time soon.

Dark Horse has said that Peter David isn't even on the schedule yet

for any Rocket Comics book. Apparently he and the publisher can't come

to an agreement about what type of book they want to put out.

Also Skottie Young has left the Rocket Comics book "HELL" because he couldn't do that and

the Human Torch gig.

MAKING HIS MARK

[Green Light]Over the weekend, I was mailed a transcript of Mark Alessi's opening speech at the CrossGen Panel, in which he took up the first ten minutes to slag off Marvel.

Comics Continuum got something similar up and running sooner, so rather than just running something another website has already done (and better, I might add) let them tell you all about it.

MORTADELO AND FILEMON BEAT DAREDEVIL AND ELEKTRA

[Green Light]One week before the "Daredevil" movie came out, there was the premiere of "La gran aventura de Mortadelo y Filemn" ("Mortadelo & Filemon's Great Adventure"), a Spanish film based on the most popular comic ever created in Spain.

Two weekends later, the film has remained in the number 1 spot in the Spanish charts, beating the likes of "8 Mile" and "Solaris," having earned about 12 million Euros so far.

While no great shakes for Hollywood, those are gigantic figures for an Spanish film, making it the first huge smash hit movie of the year.

An all-ages humour book, well known in Germany, Italy or Scandinavia, look for this film to break open barriers across Europe… and maybe South America as well.

The first two books of the Spanish black-and-white reprint of "Tomb of Dracula" are on sale. Marvel US have yet to announce a resolicitation of an English version, cancelled despite beating "X-Men" and "G.I. Joe" preorders, and not resolicited as a result due to fears of the cost of restoring the art.

Well, chaps, Marvel Spain have done that for you. Time for another Shield-style TPB?

PORTRAIT FINISHED

[Green Light]Just finished a one-page piece for the upcoming "Alan Moore: Portrait Of An Extraordinary Gentlemen" graphic anthology from Abiogenesis, celebrating the fiftieth birthday of our medium's one true genius. Order your copy this month from your local retailer - it may be the only way you'll get it!

Also look for another Alan Moore tribute volume from Two Morrows Publishing later in the year.

TOMMY IN THE AIR

Part Two of the most bizarre Waiting For Tommy interview I've ever done, with Joe Quesada is currently up and running. Take aspirin.

Next week's interview subject is intended to be Jimmy Palmiotti… if he gets back in touch. Maybe I scared him off?

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:rich@twistandshout.freeserve.co.uk (which often gets full, but it'll reach me during the day)

  • 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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