Lying In The Gutters

Mon, March 24th, 2003 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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This is the thirty-ninth weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry's premier rumour column and gossip sheet. At all times, 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 Linda.

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

Oh and war? What war? I'm sorry, I haven't got time to dilly dally with such trivial obsessions, not when there are comic gossip and rumour to talk at length about. I mean please, try and get a sense of perspective. I do wish the Americans would work out the difference between the Iraqis and the British, but hey, it's hard, we're all foreigners, I know.

TIT FOR TAT

[Green Light]Mark Millar and Frank Quitely's story "Tit For Tat," from the upcoming "411" comic, is published in full at Marvel.com. It's an absorbing short story, suffering slightly for being more of an illustrated narrative than using the strengths of a comic, but it's certainly a quality piece of work describing sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and how one man tries to break the cycle of violence. Worth the price of admission.

So, which person decided that was the perfect place to run the fun-loving Irish-stereotypical Lucky Charms ad, followed by the ever-so relevant UCG - "Real Fighters. Real Fighting. The Ultimate Fighting Championship" game?

For fuck's sake.

TALK ABOUT AN UNFORGETTABLE INTRODUCTION

[Yellow Light]And talking of "411," the original introduction by Dr Helen Caldecott that she said Bill Jemas refused to publish, "When he read it, he got so angry that he threw it away and he refused to publish it. He said it's because I'm angry." That Steven Grant referred to in his column didn't have a functioning link. This should do.

Shame, because it tackles a number of issues that Bill Jemas' own, and increasingly improving, "Marville" does.

"It was then that I realized that when the scent of blood metaphorically enters the male nostril, it triggers the psychological imperative to kill - a primitive autonomic reflex located in the male midbrain. This must be a relic of their Troglidaic [?] days."

and

"The pathology of the primal killing reflex embedded in the primitive midbrain is legitimized at all levels of society. It is activated in the news by religious zealots, to justify their own freedom as opposed to others' (like the fundamentalist Christians that control the Republican party in the White House at the moment.) It is used by commerce to sell films, video games, comics and books. It is used by governments to foster a spirit of intense patriotic support in a disparate and wavering constituency. And it is used by huge military corporations to encourage massive military spending throughout the world."

and

"Women are giving birth to monsters. The incidence of congenital anomalies has gone up three times. They are terrified to deliver babies - babies with cyclops (single eyes), babies with no eyes, babies with anencephaly (no brain) just a nubbin of midbrain. I've delivered such a baby -cough, cry suck, sneeze and die in a week. The trouble with this is that the half-life of uranium-235 is 4.5 billion years. So they are going in again to use it again."

But what am I saying? You read it yourself. And make sure you think about Marvel while doing so…

TRUTH HURTS

[Green Light]Apparently Spike Lee's company has been trying to get the film rights to "Captain America: The Truth."

However, after Marvel were legally obliged to divulge that the suit with Joe Simon is still ongoing, Spike Lee's people felt they had to pass.

DEVIL IN DISGUISE

[Yellow Light]The red-labelled Transformers-moves-to-Devil's Due that got fair more airplay that I ever thought. Personally I thought the He-Man-moves-to-CrossGen would have been the bigger story. Anyway.

Since publication, it's been noted that much of the information therein came *from* speculation on the Allspark message boards, as opposed to inspiring it - but not all. While much of the rumour was denied in the piece itself, infamously reliable Hasbro source Orson scotched the rumour in totality. However there are rumours afoot that the original emails originated from a disgruntled Hasbro employee, aiming to cause discord between Hasbro and Dreamwave.

It hasn't worked. If anything they're now closer than ever before.

99% PERSPIRATION

[Green Light]Comments on last week's story about Micah Wright's allegation that "Stormwatch" from Wildstorm and the upcoming "Human Defense Corps" from DC has, shall we say, certain similarities in concept, came thick and fast at Micah's Delphi forum.

Ex-Wildstorm editor and current "Puffed" writer, Jon Layman, wrote "It's my understanding that most DC editors don't read WildStorm books."

Richard Pace wrote "The inspiration had more to do with the post-9/11 glorification of regular heroes: EMTs, firemen, police and soldiers. Seeing that Marvel had already covered the first three, Ty thought it was odd no one was doing anything with soldiers.

"Ty's always been a fan of war comics, this ended up as an opportunity to do some. I'm pretty sure Ty hasn't read your 'Stormwatch' -- last time I was over at his place I flipped through this big dump-bin of comics to see if there was anything cool. I pulled out one of the Wilce issues and commented on how bad a job he was doing and, IIRC, Ty was surprised that Wilce was drawing comics again.

"Ty had already written issue three or four at that point and I got to see pencils for the first issue already."

"Nope -- sorry, Micah, you're not on everyone's radar."

Micah responded, writing "For the Record: I don't think Ty Templeton is ripping me off. I -DO- think that DC should have taken a second to think over whether or not they want to be stealing the wind from one of their own books.

"I get yelled at every time I want to lampoon a DC character or have a character who is too close to a DC Character just stroll through my book... and that's one HELL of a lot smaller 'crime' than lifting the entire premise of a book.

"And sure, maybe Ty Templeton is too busy to read his freebie box from DC. Me, I take the time to at least skim everything DC sends me to make sure I'm not duplicating a story from someone else. In addition, it was Dan Raspler's JOB to make sure that his books didn't have storylines too similar to other DC Books and it looks like he fell down BIG TIME here."

Pace replied "Yup -- but I wouldn't be the first one to agree that Raspler was a lousy editor."

As to the upcoming "Stormwatch" trade paperback and questions at to whether the Jukko/Midnighter fight scene would be expanded by four pages as once suggested, Wright confirmed it, adding "Lots of Extras, as well... We're fixing mistakes from the individual issues and adding in the text which I wrote for the never-posted StormWatch Web Page (or so I'm told)."

POSSESS IT

[Green Light]Liam Sharp, Geoff Johns, Kris Grimminger and David Baron appear to have a new project in the works. Called "The Possessed," it's coming out from Wildstorm in July and Liam describes it as "The Exorcist" meets "Aliens." You can look for more information when it appears, here.

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

[Yellow Light]The Team Red Star announcement that they, as part of Archangel Studios, were to leave CrossGen's CGE imprint (just as the contracts for He-Man joining CGE were being signed) caused some to puzzle - why were they leaving?

I've been passed another e-mail from an Archangel Studios staffer on their departure which reads "'The Red Star' will once again be published independently under the Archangel Studios banner. We realized our relationship was driven more by mutual admiration than an underlying business need. They weren't really making any money off us, nor could they provide services we really needed. So we parted as friends. Honest. Speaking of 'The Red Star,' though, we do hope to announce some fairly cool news soon... The deal ain't finalized just yet so I'll have to leave it at that. Oh, and we're launching a new series called 'Assassin' this July. ---"

MESSIAH COMPLEX

[Yellow Light]Will Hurricane Studios, currently producing "Violent Messiahs" for Image and "Snake Plissken" for CrossGen up sticks? Will they join together with Hey Superhero and CrossGen escapees Team Red Star as a publisher or at the least share booth space at conventions? Who can tell…

It might not be that much of a loss for CrossGen though. The latest bizarre rumour is that Top Cow are considering jumping to the CGE imprint. The relationship between Jim McLaughlin and Mark Alessi is a strong one…. but is it strong enough to pull an Image founding studio away? While a CrossGen source confirmed the companies were in talks, a Top Cow spokesman denied there was any truth in it whatsoever. A good thing for Image then, what with MV already leaving for CrossGen and rumours about the possibility of Devil's Due going solo, Dreamwave style.

CROW ROAD

[Green Light]

Comicon Pulse, Warren Ellis and other picked up on a certain eBay listing by James O'Barr's ex-wife, selling off her marriage proposal. It included the comment, "Won't go on about how saying 'yes' was probably not the smartest thing I ever did in my life...Anyway, you get the original letter, the envelope it came in, and all these little pieces of paper he got from a Doritos package that he threw in for whatever reason! An interesting little item for those Crow fans who thought they had everything!"

But another item she's selling is a birthday card to her from James, to which she adds "As you can tell, James and my mother never did get along - okay, truth be told, they hated each other. A whimisical collectible!"

"Whimisical" indeed.

NO MOORE

[Yellow Light]Alan Moore has threatened to resign from mainstream comics for a while now. His ABC was originally reported to end after the first year, then the second. However he's kept coming back for more.

All good things, however, have to come to an end. It seems that "Promethea's" ending at issue 32 has taken some by surprise, but artist JH Williams III confirmed it in an interview in January. I'm told, however, that the comic story itself will end with issue 31, issue 32 being an epilogue to the series. That seems fairly certain. The new rumour is that November, the date of Alan's 50th birthday, has been chosen as his date to retire again from mainstream comics, and the shutdown of the ABC line. It was ten years ago that he decided to be a magician. What he's doing for his next trick is yet to be seen.

What this means for unscheduled titles, continued "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and "Top Ten Season Two" is yet unknown.

RETRACTION REVUE

Scott Dunbier e-mailed me to point out that although 17,000 orders may indeed seem low for the new "Danger Girl 3D" volume, as I commented earlier, it appears that it was a reprint…

Oops.

Apologies all round.

CHECKERED VISION

Checker Publishing have recently been criticised for printing the book "Supreme" from scans of the printed comic as opposed to using original art or digital files… although some have stated that the 1950's style sections actually look better this way.

The official line from Checker is that, yes, they were working from jpeg scans, as Rob Liefeld is no longer in possession of digital files, if they exist. There are 9000 first prints of the first Supreme volume, out of an expected lifetime print of 100,000, and subsequent prints will use new, in-house pre-press capabilities, allowing Checker to make improvements to the resolution of the art. Errata in the front and back of the book, also criticised for inaccuracies, have also been corrected.

For individual consumers, Checker will exchange -- at no cost for shipping or book -- second-pressing copies for stripped covers of first-pressing copies if they are mailed to: Paul Dubuc Checker BPG 17 N. Main Street, #31 Centerville, OH 45459. Those who keep their first printing will then have an increasingly rare item.

However private e-mail I've received indicates that things might not have been quite so smooth between Liefeld and Checker over exactly what was agreed to have been supplied. Nevertheless, things look like they've been sorted now, and Checker intend to publish "Judgment Day" at some point in the near future.

What with all these Alan Moore collections of his odds and sods coming out, may I add a few thoughts? The very short DC prose stories he did on "Batman" and "Superman" would fit well into the new collection. Then there's the third bastard child of "Warrior," and one of my favourites, "The BoJeffries Saga," a very British version of the Addams Family. Could really do with putting back into print. As could "Pictopia," a short story he created with Don Simpson for "Anything Goes."

Then there are all those "Time Twisters" and "Future Shocks" from "2000AD"… someone? Anyone?

BAGGED

[Yellow Light]Guterati Sway reports to tell me that Jason Pearson, famed artist of "Body Bags," posted on the Jason Pearson Showcase yahoo group;

"Okay, so I don't post as often as I should but here I am . This one will be short this time. Let me set the record straight - There is no Cliffhanger series. It was mentioned once but that's all. The job for 'Hellboy: Weird Tales' is a 12 page Liz Sherman story that I wrote and drew. It will be out in issue 4. It was pushed back because of scheduling difficulties. I thought I could make it in time for issue two because I wanted to be in as early as I could but I was wrong. There's the twenty page section in the 'Tesla Strong Jam' due out in May or June and there's a four pager in 'Action Comics 805.' I was helping out Pascual. Right now, I'm working on a 12 pager that Geoff Johns wrote and then there will be the 'Global Frequency' issue. I haven't been given the script yet, but I am expecting it pretty soon. After that I'm taking it one job at a time until I get on a monthly. You heard me! Monthly! I did it once and I can do it again. People are saying I can't do it. Well, keep on saying it. It's just fuel for the fire as far as I'm concerned. So now you heard it from the horse's mouth."

We certainly did, Jason, we certainly did.

MEMPHIS BLUES

[Yellow Light]The Memphis warehouse for Diamond Comics Distribution has been the subject of a number of stories over poor service, but for some the situation is still a problem.

Daniel McAbee, manager of comic store Tangled Web wrote on The Comic Book Industry Alliance forum, "I have basically received ONE correct shipment out of the Memphis warehouse since it started and wondered how many others out there are still having routine problems with DCD-M?

"For us the routine weekly shipment problems are mostly due to damages related to poor packing but semi-regularly, missed titles that we never receive. Our newest weekly problem has become getting multiple boxes in the same shipment that are mostly empty. Last week we received four (4) 200 ct. boxes that each had less than 50 comics in them and this is becoming routine.

"EVERY DCD-M shipment from STAR/TRU has items missing and damaged and this hasn't changed or improved in quite a long time. Calls to Eric Beck (DCD CS Manager) have yielded no useful results and my calls and e-mails to Roger Fletcher and Steve Geppi have only been addressed by Mr. Beck with the standard 'We know we have problems and are working on it...' statement.

"Nearly every week, we send DCD pictures like the ones attached below to show that we aren't just being picky and to try and help them SEE what they are sending so that they can try to address the problem areas. Each time I get a call from Mr. Beck who apologizes profusely and gives the 'working on it..' line. Calls and visits to my local competition tell me that I am not the only one in the area having these same problems. Everyone here probably gets something from Memphis since STAR/TRU orders are filled from there so I genuinely ask; How is DCD-M for you?"

The thread gave a number of different accounts, but a general lack of satisfaction was concurrent. And here are a few of those… interestingly shipped packages from Diamond's Memphis Warehouse.

COVER STORY

[Green Light]To those commenting on Marvel's increasingly sexualised comics covers, for titles intended for younger readers, a quote from the still-astoundingly-good article by Gary Groth on the mourning of Marvel's Sales Head, Carol Kalish; "Once I witnessed a retailer timidly question Marvel's strategy of filling their comics with sex and violence; Kalish's reply, which was almost refreshingly free of the specious nod to morality to which less assured marketing tacticians would resort, was that little boys liked sex and violence and Marvel was in the business of selling comics to little boys. Hence and therefore."

MONK FISH

[Red Light]Anyone heard of a TV show called "Monk?" Okay, not me, I live here in the UK and we haven't got it yet, but I'm told that some people in the US seem to like it.

Anyway, Gutterati Caliber tells me that the producer and story editor of that series, Andy Breckman, is one of the many people tapped by Marvel for the Epic line.

Is this a good thing? Tell me people, I'm in the UK and so as I'm sure you are all aware, only get to watch "Are You Being Served" and "Red Dwarf" all day.

MOORE AND KIRBY

[Green Light]Just one of those photos…

[Alan Moore and Jack Kirby]

USENET SCHMOOZENET

[Green Light]The new online awards, the Squiddies, have been announced. For the third year in a row, I've won Best Journalist. And for the third year in a row I'm going to deny any responsibilities, ethical or otherwise, that such a position might bestow upon me. I'm still going to be posting whatever reckless or irresponsible rumours come my way. But I promise, I'm going to at least check most of them out.

WAITING FOR DISTRIBUTION

[Green Light]I've been threatening to write this essay for a while now. Exactly How To Get Distributed By Diamond, the unofficial version. Basically, there's an official process which stop 99% of submissions getting into Previews… and then there's my way. The first Waiting For Tommy part is already up, the second part goes up on Wednesday.

Then… more interviews!

And talking of plugging Nick Barrucci, a warning. Nick Barrucci will be in the UK again this weekend. Last time he was here, he took the Hildebrandt brothers on a whirlwind tour of London comic shops. So if you're flicking through the racks in comics Showcase or Gosh and in comes a New Yorker who decides to jump on you, challenging you to a drinking game involving all underground stations run, if you value your dignity.

Retire home and watch him on QVC UK, 9pm till 11pm, March 31st. Keep his hyperactive madness inside the box, selling comics to people with more money than sense, and soon more comics than sense. Although, hey, I'll take one of those signed limited League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Oh and that signed Maxx toy. Oh and maybe…

Damn the man. You know the only reason I do those Waiting for Tommies for him is because I'm in hock to the sum of fifty-three grand, spent on exclusive limited shite, right?

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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