Lying In The Gutters

Sun, March 30th, 2003 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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This is the fortieth 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 society.

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

THE YEAR OF ALAN

[Green Light]This year is Alan Moore's fiftieth birthday.

On his fortieth, he declared himself, to his friends and family, to be a magician. He began worshipping his own gods, wrote a novel, finished "From Hell," took on work at Image Comics that would lead to a new revival in comic book buyers' interest in his work and saw him return to the same mainstream comics he's dismissed ten years previously, though a very different industry. Still eschewing Marvel and DC, he worked mostly for Image Comics, the splintering of which saw him continue work for Rob Liefeld's various companies and then back, under protest, to DC Comics from behind a firewall when they bought Wildstorm.

Recently New Marvel republished his "Captain Britain" stories, Avatar published comic book adaptations of some of his text pieces, 2000AD/Titan brought back into print "Skizz," "DR And Quinch" and "Halo Jones," DC Comics are finally to bring into print colour trades of his "Swamp Thing" stories, as well as the various smaller works he'd done for the company, Checker are collecting his "Supreme" stories, Marvel have shown an intent to republish his "Marvelman" work, "Mirror Of Love" is being recreated by Jose Villarubia, "Pictopia" is to be one of the featured stories in the Two Morrows tribute albums this year, there's a new CD out, his novel "Voice Of The Fire" is to be brought back into print, the "lost Cobweb story" will be published by Top Shelf as well as the completed "Lost Girls." He's even rumoured to be making a small contribution to the imprint he once described as being based on a bad mood he was in ten years ago, Vertigo.

All we need is a compilation of the existing "Big Numbers," a reissue of the "Brought To Light" volume and a new edition of "The BoJeffries Saga," and that's getting to close to a complete set in print. And I understand that someone's already considering the latter.

So what does Alan do, on this, the celebration of his fiftieth year on the planet, with the industry as whole gathering to publish pretty much everything he's written?

Why, retire of course.

THE END OF ABC

[Green Light]Alan Moore is to close the ABC line, at least his involvement in it. Before it ends, he's going to have some kind of mass denouement. Some promised projects will now not appear, such as "Top Ten Season Two" or "Pearl Of The Deep." Continued adventures of "The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" may continue from another publisher. But a number of so-far unannounced projects will soon be revealed, including the big bang ending. Before he goes, he's going to have a mad year writing it all.

And then?

Well, the official line is that Alan is retiring from mainstream comics. This is nothing new, he's done it before after he believed Marvel had done him wrong, DC brought in the Mature Readers label and the whole big-corporation thing got too much for him.

I spoke to Alan last week, and he confirmed that this was his plan towards the end of the year. Alan didn't fancy elaborating, but its believed his collaborations with publishers such as Avatar and more specifically Top Shelf, have opened up new doors he might not have found otherwise, and his earlier work (especially the films) will provide a guaranteed income. We can also look forward to more pieces of performance art.

And, unlike the previous occasion, this does seem to be a permanent retirement. So, no, he won't be writing "Fantastic Four."

But he might well be doing something much, much better.

TRIBUTES FLOOD IN

[Green Light]Already mentioned in this column, Newsarama, Pulse and more, Abiogenesis Press is publishing "Alan Moore: Portrait Of An Extraordinary Gentleman" to coincide with the year of his fiftieth birthday. Compiled by the Smoky Man and Gary Spencer Millidge, there are some new examples of art below (even I've worked up a piece called "Smoke Circles" for the book).

Detail from Stefano Raffaele's illustration. Stefano Raffaele is the artist of Dark Horse's "Blackburne Covenant" miniseries and contributed to Humanoids' "Metal Hurlant" #4.
The current contributors list reads:

Ade Capone, Alabarcez Mendona, Alex Horley, Al Davidson, Alberto Ponticelli, Alessandro Boni, Andrea Accardi, Anthony Johnston, Andy Smith, Angus McKie , Antonio Solinas, Art Brooks & Daniel Acuna, Arturo Villarrubia, Ben Templesmith, Bill Koeb, Bill Morrison, Brad Meltzer, Bruno Olivieri, Bryan Talbot, Carla Speed McNeill, Carmine di Giandomenico, Charlie Adlard, Chris McLoughlin, Chris Staros, Claudio Villa, Dame Darcy, Darko Macan, Darren Shan , Dave Gibbons, Dave Sim , David Lloyd, Davide Barzi + Oskar, Donna Barr, Duncan Fegredo, Dylan Horrocks, Ilya, Eduardo Risso, Emiliano Mammuccari, Eric Shanower, Gabriele Dell'Otto, Gary Phillips, Gary Spencer Millidge, Gianluca Costantini , Gil Formosa, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Jimmy Palmiotti, Giuseppe Pili, Howard Chaykin, Howard Cruse , Iain Sinclair, J H Williams III, James Kochalka , Jason Hall, Jean-Marc Lofficier &Gil Formosa, Jeff Smith, Jim Baikie, Joel Meadows, John Coulthart , John Heebink, John Higgins, Jose Alaniz, Jos Villarrubia, Ken Meyer, Jr, Kevin O'Neill, Leah Moore, Leo Ortolani, Lew Stringer, Link Yaco, Luca Enoch, Luigi Siniscalchi, Marc Singer, Marcello Albano, Marco Abate, Mark Millar, Massimo Giacon, Massimo Semerano, Matt Kindt, Metaphrog, Michael Moorcock, Michael Avon Oeming, Michael T. Gilbert, Michele Medda, Michele Petrucci, Mike Collins, Mike Higgs, Nabiel Kanan, Neil Gaiman, Oscar Zarate, Omar Martini, Paolo Livorati, Pat Mills, Peter Kuper, Rich Johnston, Rich Koslowski, Rick Veitch, Roberto Recchioni, Robin Smith, Rob Williams, Sam Kieth, Scott Mills, Scott Morse, Sean Phillips, Sergio Toppi, Shannon Wheeler, smoky man, Stefano Raffaele, Stephen Bissette, Steve Leialoha, Steve Parkhouse, Terry Gilliam, Tim Perkins, Tito Faraci + Pasquale Frisenda, Trina Robbins, Walt Simonson, Will Eisner, Willy Linthout & Steven de Rie, Woodrow Phoenix, Writer Without Head & Ailtand.

Panel from a 2 page silent comics story by Tito Faraci (writer) and Pasquale Frisenda (artist). Tito Faraci is - at the moment - one of the most acclaimed and versatile Italian comics writers. He writes "Dylan Dog" for Bonelli Comics, "Diabolik" for Astorina and "Mickey Mouse" for Walt Disney Italy. Pasquale Frisenda is a well-known Italian penciler for Bonelli Comics.

Al Davidson Ben Templesmith Bill Koeb Brooks Acuna
Bruno Olivieri Eduardo Risso Emiliano Mammucari Jeff Smith
John Coulthart Rick Veitch

While the former has been discussed and promoted, TwoMorrows are publishing another tribute volume, again with a very impressive cast list, a 208 page book entitled "The Extraordinary Works Of Alan Moore."

[The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore]Edited by Kimota's Gorge Khoury with a striking cover by Dave McKean (shown), an introduction by Leah Moore and an afterword by Amber Moore, the book features original stories by Neil Gaiman & Mark Buckingham, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, David Lloyd, John Totleben, J.H. Williams III, Chris Sprouse, Garry Leach, Scott Dunbier & Sam Kieth, Hilary Barta, Kevin O'Neill, Rick Veitch, Melinda Gebbie and more.

The volume will also reprint one of my favourites, "Pictopia!" with Don Simpson from "Amazing Heroes," recoloured by Jose Villarrubia as well as "Lust" with by Mike Matthews from "Deadly Sins," the original "Old Gangsters Never Die" with Lloyd Thatcher from "The Sinister Ducks" single accompanying booklet, previously unseen work on "Judge Dredd," "Belly Of Clouds" and the prose piece "Shrine Of The Lizard." It will also include an artistic tribute from Alex Moore

It will also feature a yearlong biographical interview with the great man and will ship on July 30th.

A SELF-AWARE DC UNIVERSE?

[Green Light]Grant Morrison has been espousing his theories on comics, magic and the end of the world at the recent sold-out talk at the Institute Of Contempory Art in London this week.

I popped along, with much of the London comics glitterati cliques, Ninth Art, V, Sequential Tart, Caption and many more.

Interviewed by Man-At-The-Crossroads Paul Gravett, Grant talked about his upbringing (a comics reading mother, a sci-fi pulp reading father), his memories of "Flash" stories about his transformation into a paving stone, a puppet, or surrounded by green, and whether of not Grant killed creator Jon Broome when he met him years later.

As well as mentioning that Frank Quitely's next series after "New X-Men" will be a creator-owned project from the two of them, Morrison talked about the basics of life. How it arises from complex systems. And how so comics continuity has become so complex as to support sentience. Expressed his intent to create a comic so complex that it becomes a living self-aware being, as well as bringing that same aspect to the DC Universe, wanting to make the DC Universe realise that it's alive.

He didn't appear to be joking.

Morrison mentioned he has a computer game coming out later this year, that Mark Millar has been banned from writing DC Thompson comics forever after trying to get a team of soldiers including Private Parts and Gunner Rea into a "Commando" script, and how artists Brendon McCarthy pitched a revival concept to "2000AD." Basically Robot Archie reinvented as Robot Andy, based on Andy Warhol, and existing as in immobile lump of metal found by different people each week, influencing their lives often for the worse.

Grant also seemed to express some dissatisfaction with the art on X-Men, when he'd written scripts to suit Frank Quitely, for them to be drawn by someone else. And while he says he tailors dialogue after the art has been finished to better suit the result, "some people can't even be tailored to."

He also talked at length about his voodoo experiences with the Scorpion Loa, who told him to get a scorpion tattoo on his spine. And did he? "Did I fuck, would you trust a six foot scorpion?"

Not me, Grant, not me.

Hey, have some photos…

Click to enlarge.
On The Road To Morrison Paul Gravett Interviews Grant Morrison. Promise! Grant Coming Out Of The Toilets. Never Miss An Opportunity
A Woman. And Another. What Sway Does He Have Over These Creatures. We Steal Grant Morrison's Chips.

SEX IN COMICS

[Yellow Light]This is great. No sooner has Morrison been talking at length about the sigils in his work, than one X-Men Fan site finds a whole lot of subliminal messages that… well… might be an effort on Grant's part to get his readers laid.

I'M NOT HERE

[Green Light]It's true, this column was written Friday night/Saturday morning. I'm away till Tuesday/Wednesday with the wife. Next week's Waiting For Tommy is uncertain… but last weeks, the second part of How To Get Your Comics Distributed By Diamond is alive and kicking.

I'd like you to be aware of the Web site A Welcome Distraction, created by my work colleague and ex-Deadline writer, Cindy George. Go see her crew's stuff.

And I understand that Monday's Ninth Art will have an interview with Alan Moore, with more details about his impending retirement.

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