Lying In The Gutters

Mon, June 23rd, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

This is the first anniversary of Lying in the Gutters, the leading comic industry gossip and rumour column. I've been at CBR for a year now and, despite some people's ideas, have not even been approached about going elsewhere. I was thinking of running a look-back-over-the-year column, but far too much happened this week. Comicon Pulse are printing an interview with me, check them out to see what, if anything, I say. Read all about it!

This is the fifty-second 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 lime and rosemary marinade - 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. I blame Brian Bendis calling me an arrogant asshole in "Powers."

MARVEL - STATE OF PLAY

[Yellow Light]This has been my life this week.

The following article is made up from talking to a large number of sources, from Felicia the fangirl who brought down imagecomics.com, to Marvel staff members, to a number of professionals who both work for Marvel and who work within the industry. I have also joined a number of dots between different jigsaw pieces and created a mixed metaphor of my very own. But it's surprising how things slot into place so easily,

Well, what a fun week that's been. For those joining late, I interviewed a fangirl who goes by the name of Felicia in this week's Waiting For Tommy, who scooped the net with her story about Mark Waid being fired off Fantastic Four, to be replaced by Bill Jemas, caused the Brian Bendis message board, where she posts, to crash under all the traffic. I like traffic, so clearly I wanted a bit of that.

In the interview, Felicia talked about Marvel, internal politics, the decision making process and the relationship between Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas.

Marvel's response was for various people to e-mail me as to how it didn't matter. To post on other Web sites how it didn't matter, and it's only six guys on the Internet talking about it (and crashing Newsarama). In fact quite a lot of Marvel execs told quite a lot of people how they weren't bothered, they didn't care and really, it wasn't an issue. At length.

As for the whole Bill Jemas-taking-over-"Fantastic Four" rumour, Marvel state that the new writer, Roberto Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa, was in place at the beginning of last week, before all the rumours kicked off. And that, the online fuss didn't change their online plans at all.

Other sources, within and without Marvel paint a different picture. One of X being recruited for FF, the work to be later co-written by Bill Jemas, and then Bill Jemas taking over - but that as a result of the online kerfuffle, that scenario is not the case, or it won't be credited as such.

Marvel also have put forward the explanation that this is people getting mixed up between a FF project Bill Jemas was writing, and the ongoing monthly series. However, since it seems Tom Brevoort, the editor of "Fantastic Four" was the one who told Mark Waid that he would be replaced by Bill Jemas, that doesn't make as much sense. After all, you'd expect the editor of the book to know who was going to be writing it. Mind you, this is Marvel.

I understand that Marvel's hunt to track down just who Felicia is, and what her relationship is to Marvel, is still underway. This includes using a mixture of IP addresses and requesting moderator access to a number of fan message boards where she has been known to post. Oh, and asking the staff at Dynamic Forces, after they published my interview.

Recently, Marvel have been inviting staff members into groups to tell them that they are family, they should be loyal like family, and why is all this leaking going on?

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One editor was heard to comment that he remembers all the things that happened at Fleer before bankruptcy, and he knows exactly how far Marvel are along the same path. And the phones have been ringing across the city. Most Marvel editors are believed to have been in touch with DC of late, looking for job opportunities. One who hasn't, is Axel Alonso, although DC have been headhunting him back. A combination of an increased salary, keeping his separate office when other editors are having to share, the prospect of replacing Joe Quesada as Editor-In-Chief when Quesada decides to leave, and a lack of desire to work with certain individuals at his old company have seen Axel stay at Marvel.

When Joe Quesada was young and fresh, he made much mention of hiring the right creators for a title, then letting them do what he hired them to do with minimal interference. That really is pretty much history these days, with Bill Jemas especially taking a hands-on micro-management approach to many books. Some are exempt - Joe Michael Straczynski recently confirmed that he had a contractual agreement that his work would not be editorially altered. Neil Gaiman seems to have something similar. Mark Millar seems to avoid much editorialisation. Brian Bendis welcomes it, stating that he gets ideas from Joe and Bill, and that what wins through is a great story.

However, on the other hand, "Marvel Boy" II is not happening because Bill Jemas wants to change the script, and Grant Morrison doesn't.

And freelancers repeat the common accusation that not only do they get copious notes on changes to be made, but often those notes will then contradict each other.

One scenario is that books are being made to appear more like the upcoming films well in advance - and that the credit for the ideas in the film when they eventually emerge will then be taken by the comics side of the business - "Namor" is seen as a good example of this. It is also believed that Bill Jemas wants to improve his Hollywood links this way for a future career. This won't happen easily within Marvel, as Avi Arad has quite the beef with Bill over… well… pretty much everything. Bill wants Marvel to be bought by Sony, Avi wants Universal.

But what about the rest? It appears that this may be an advanced version of the Red Queen's Race, running as fast as you can so that you can stay in the same position. The micro-management may be a symptom of a far larger cause - self-survival. There are moves, it seems, to isolate the publishing side of Marvel. Despite recent increases in profitability, and indeed a history of profitability through the bad times, it's still a small part of the money coming in these days. And since so much time and energy is spent on the publishing side, with such small profit, is it really worth it when that attention could be spent elsewhere?

The ghost of "X-Men: Hidden Years" comes back to haunt new Marvel.

Joe and Bill are involved in arguments within Marvel to preserve the publishing wing, as the very lifeblood of the company. Internally, the argument has been made that the titles and properties could be licensed out to other publishers, but Bill argues that what Marvel would lose is control over their very bloodstream and future.

So control must be visibly demonstrated, and demonstrated to be financially beneficial if Marvel are to survive. After all, what good is it to show a very successful book, with little editorial input? What's the point of the editor then, why can't the book be licensed and a cut taken?

Could this be the trade off for fans? Accept a high degree of editorial involvement in your favourite titles, in return for having a Marvel in existence to publish them?

HUBBLE BUBBLE

[Yellow Light]Marvel have spent a lot of time and attention on the launch Epic book, "Trouble" by Mark Millar and Terry Dodson. Gutterati Felicia confirms one of the worst kept secrets is that the book, that's already been expressed on numerous message boards, that Trouble will reveal that May is Peter Parker's mother, raise issues of abortion and what the cast all do to fix the situation, highlighting the "great responsibility" theme of Spider-Man. Hence all the equivocation around whether or not the book will be in Marvel continuity, with the "fans" being allowed to make their own mind up and have the final decision.

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Felicia tells me that Marvel have reserved a spot in the New York Times to promote the title, Marvel, Epic and themselves. The "Hulk" film will be used as a grabber for one article which will then inspire a couple more, selling the Marvel story, and Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada, to the general public. They also believe this will put a plaque to New Marvel in Spider-Man history permanently.

And, because it's part of Epic, if the reader reaction goes all clone-saga on Marvel, they can pull it right out of continuity.

Mark Millar responded saying "A couple of interesting, pretty close comments here, but also off the mark to some degree. The honest truth is that the contents of 'Trouble' are so watertight that nobody except Bill and Joe (who conceived the idea), myself and Axel know the real story. Even the Dodsons and the Marvel staffers who've seen the pages don't know the full deal because lots of our communication has been verbal and we haven't even been dealing with email because we understand it isn't always secure. Therefore, this isn't really that accurate, but there's a couple of points I'm surprised to see there."

Entertainment Weekly's "Trouble" review was a bit of shock. It read "Don't let the come-hither Mary-Kate and Ashley wannabes on the cover fool you: Not even a teen would read something this banal. An apparent imagining of Spider-man's Uncle Ben and Aunt May in their adolescnce, the first of five installments details how sure-thing May gets Ben's Spidey sensee a-tingling. Spending the summer working at a Dirty Dancing-style resort, they laugh at authority, go skinny-dipping and then get it on in what has to be the hokiest safe-sex SA of all time. (This inexplicably, from the talented 'Ultimate X-Men' writer Mark Millar.) Do yourself a favor and rent 'Little Darlings' instead... D."

And as for Felicia, well, look for her return with something bombshell-esque next week.

AT LAST, A TOP COW/ASPEN STORY

[Green Light]Forgotten about them, hadn't you?

I understand that Mike Turner instigates a sit down meeting with Marc Silvestri last week. And that the situation between the two people and the two companies seems to be heading for a resolution.

Talking of Top Cow…

RISE AND FALL

[Yellow Light]"Rising Stars" is late. The superhero series by "Babylon 5" writer J Michael Straczynski has not seen an issue released for months. Many presumed lateness on behalf of the writer or artist, but it goes a lot deeper.

For the last few weeks, Lying In The Gutters has been hearing references to issues between J. Michael Straczynski and Top Cow, and that as a result, JMS has held back the scripts to the last three issues of the "Rising Stars" series. Online, all JMS has said publicly is that there were some "issues" that were being worked on.

Here's what's been uncovered.

In 2002, JMS was writing the screenplay for the "Rising Stars" motion picture for MGM and Atlas Entertainment. As usual, the project went through multiple drafts, notes being given and incorporated, until a draft was reached that MGM liked enough to send the producers out to look for directors. JMS declined his oft-taken producer status due to his commitments on the TV series "Jeremiah."

However, again not unusually in the world of film, as JMS continued to deliver scripts for the comic, he heard nothing back from MGM. However, rather than the project simply going dead, I understand he was totally shut out of the process.

According to one comment he made online, JMS only learned about the Russo Brothers (hot newcomers and proteges of Steve Soderbergh) signing on directors and to do a "light rewrite" of the screenplay the same way everybody else did; he read it on comics2film.com.

Apparently it's Writers Guild policy for a new writer on an original project to be brought on to meet with the original writer. Guess what didn't happen.

Now, the Russos were supposed to be doing a very simple polish on the script. But instead they decided to do their own version of the movie, and totally threw out JMS's script.

Again this is not uncommon. What is unexpected is that JMS was never even informed about this. He was still waiting for an expected polish of his script to come in.

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Since this was all going through Top Cow's much-trumpeted media exploitation interests, JMS contacted Top Cow many times over the following months to check on the status of the "polish," but was told each time, from the offices of Spike Seldon and Chris Carlyle, that no script had come in yet.

Sources close to JMS suggest that even though he was still delivering comic scripts, he may have started to slow down on delivery a bit, because he was getting a bad feeling about the situation.

He was right, and the whole situation came to a head because of a chance meeting.

According to an email sent from JMS to Top Cow, JMS was returning from Vancouver when he ran into Chuck Roven at the Vancouver Airport. Roven is head of Atlas Entertainment, producers of "Twelve Monkeys" and "Three Kings" and "City of Angels," and the company that will be producing the "Rising Stars" movie. According to the email, JMS asked Roven how the script was coming. Roven told him that the Russo Brothers were working on their third draft, that the first two drafts had been very good, and they were doing a lot of work on the third draft.

So two drafts of the movie, based on JMS's series, had come in, and all the while he was being told by Top Cow that no drafts had ever come in.

The email sent after this, to Top Cow, demanded copies of the scripts at once, but received what JMS believed were delaying tactics. Finally JMS emailed back to say that if he didn't have the scripts in hand within 48 hours, he was going to sever all relationships with Top Cow.

Within 24 hours, the scripts that had supposedly never been there, were couriered to JMS's home.

The new drafts, according to our sources, has nothing to do with JMS's original screenplay. I'm told "the comic was about taking the clichs of comics and turning them upside-down. The new screenplay puts them all right-side up again. The whole thing has just been dumbed down"

The big finale involves the main characters constantly beating each other up with trees. Okay, sounds good, we all like a bit of tree-on-tree action, but not quite in keeping with the tone of the book

So at this point, it looks as if JMS is holding back the last three issues of "Rising Stars" until this situation can be resolved. According to a source close to Jim McLauchlin's office, JMS has asked to meet the Russos (which again was something that was supposed to happen anyway) and to give notes on the screenplay and to be involved creatively in the process.

So far, he believes Top Cow have done none of these things.

JMS has not yet been invited into the process, indeed he believes he has been specifically been cut out by Top Cow management. Many editors there reportedly knew nothing of what was going on until matters came to a head. Rumours are that Top Cow insiders are furious that JMS wants to be involved, and feel they can wait him out.

I also hear that JMS is yet to receive any of the money from any of the merchandising from "Rising Stars," or the novelizations of either "Midnight Nation" or "Rising Stars" and that Top Cow accountants have been asked to look into this.

When contacted for comment on this, JMS replied, "I can't argue with the events as you've described them. That's what happened. Suffice to say that it was a shock and disappointment to find that Top Cow would so deliberately and deceptively cut me out of the process. I mean, it's one thing to lie so blatantly, but another to tell a stupid lie that can be so easily punctured. As for the screenplay, to be fair to the Russos, it's actually closer to the original books in a few places than my draft was, but the rest is a complete disaster, and if it were to go forward as is, I would really have no choice but to totally disassociate myself with the project."

Matt Hawkins of Top Cow replied to the allegations saying, "I wish we had the kind of power in the Hollywood process as stated, but unfortunately we do not. The writing decisions for the 'Rising Stars' movies were ultimately made by the studio. If the 'Rising Stars' comic scripts are being held up specifically because of this, we've only been notified of such recently and only through reading the posts on the Internet. The assertion that we've done nothing to try to remedy this is untrue as we have been talking with the studio and powers that be about how best to fix this and have been trying for months to have a sit down with Joe to discuss the entire situation.

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"We've always felt Joe was a spectacular writer and both myself and Jim McLauchlin have been trying very hard to work this out as we would like Joe to create and write new projects for Top Cow. That may seem unlikely at this point, but we continue to hold out hope. We continue to work with Fiona Avery, who was brought to us by Joe, on several projects including a brand new one launching this October called 'Cursed.' We have also done two recent spin-offs on 'Rising Stars' written by Fiona ('Bright' and 'Laurel Darkhaven').

"The idea that 'Top Cow' insiders are furious is insane, there is a great deal of concern over this and we're doing what we can to try and fix the situation."

FINALLY A DC-RELATED STORY

[Green Light]During an interview with the Sunday Herald newspaper, Alan Moore mentioned to the journalist that all of "League" 2 had now been written and that volume 3 will give more details of Mina's history with Dracula. Since ABC is shutting down, yet "League" is planned to continue, Moore has told DC that at the first sign of trouble, he'll take the book elsewhere - and would have no difficulty finding a new publisher.

This might be why the soft-core sex scene between Quartermain and Murray went through so easily without a Mature Readers label. Looks like there'll be no more pulped issues or refused stories if DC want to hang on to this one.

ROD FOR HIS OWN BACK

[Green Light]Regular Gutter Snipes may remember mention of a planned graphic novel by journalist Craig McGill, named "Know The Provo," the research for which got him physically threatened by loyalist sectarian groups, as it concerned the details of a three hundred name hitlist being made public.

His latest prose book, Human Traffic, lists two upcoming graphic novels on the back, "Know The Provo" and "Hotrods."

"Hotrods," whatever it may be, is being drawn by Tony Rollinson, whose work appeared in Lee Barnett's story in the "Trailer Park of Terror" comic a few weeks ago.

When quizzed on the comments in the new book, McGill said: "Yes, those are the next two projects. Both are more or less fully scripted - there's been some delays recently - all my fault I hasten to add - and while there is no publisher attached to the projects there is one who has first choice on both projects and I'm going to honour the promise of letting them see the books first.

"As for Provo, which will be drawn by the incredible Lucius Romero (and his work can be seen at Dark Horse here, yes there was some hassles from loyalists as you reported last year, but I found it bizarre that some people with links to the republican movement also took offence at this book coming out.

"How I dealt with both while managing to get the book out and stay alive forms a coda to the end of the story. I can also give you a slight scoop in that I'm a couple of weeks away from announcing a very interesting comics-related project that will be of great interest to fans of UK writers, but I don't want to say any more until contracts are signed."

I wonder if he's pitching to Epic?

SKIN COLOURED

[Green Light]Okay, back to Marvel. Some reporting of the Skindex story, Marvel's decision to legally force the PC game support fan Web site to drop 'skins' modelled after Marvel characters for players to use for their characters missed one little factoid - that previous Marvel entities had both known and supported the existence of the site.

It's a cold harsh world out there.

MOTH PUNISHED

[Green Light]"The Moth" one-shot by Steve Rude, has been cancelled by Image. The reason given is that Marvel made legal representation over what was seen as a similarity between the Moth logo and The Punisher movie logo. And apparently Image capitulated.

Steve is now looking for another publisher for "The Moth" and is in talks with Dark Horse. The first issue is completed and Rude hopes it can be published by the end of the year. If you, or someone you know might be interested in publishing "The Moth," go to Steve Rude's Web site and tell them I sent you…

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Allegations that Marvel will next be looking into suing hospital X-ray machines are yet unproven.

MORE WRIGHT STUFF

[Yellow Light]"Stormwatch" writer Michah Wright has been responding on his message boards to a retort by Joe Quesada to Micah's own statements reported here last week.

And Micah's always good for a quote.

"If this snide dig is intended to be a swipe at me, I'd like to remind Joey Q of a few things: I was invited BY EPIC to come in and pitch to THEM. They had the material for three weeks prior to my arrival. It's been 3 weeks since I showed up. That's six weeks without so much as 'Fuck You, Micah.' That's unprofessional, end of story.

"Remember, I was there by THEIR invitation. They called me in to pitch them. When I showed up, they had NOT read the material and they had no idea of who Modok or AIM were. These people are the ones who want to play in the big boys game of Film and Television... well, if you want to play in the big boys game, you've got to play by the big boys rules, and one of the rules is that if I'm coming in to pitch you a film or TV show, then you'd better have read the fucking material before I get there. Especially if it's a remake of an old film your studio did back in the day.

"See, I know this because I've sold films and worked in television. For the last 9 years. For the Number One cable channel on Earth for SEVEN of those years. My worst-rated television work has been seen by -minimum- thirty times Marvel Comics' #1 selling book (do the math... 4.5 million viewers = 30x150,000 comics/month).

"Everything else I reported in that post is WHAT THEY TOLD ME. Such as the 2000 unread proposals line. So if you don't like it being repeated, then DON'T SAY IT TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY MEET WITH YOU. I dunno, worst case scenario, I was so stunned by their rudeness at not having read my material that they said 200 and I heard 2000. Either way, it was an astronomically high number, one that will only grow larger, not smaller as time goes on.

"As for this theory that I'm trying to scare off everyone else from pitching to EPIC in hopes that my pitch will be accepted, feel free to Go Fish. I did my EPIC pitch as a fun romp, I had a good time writing it and everyone I've shown it to or explained it to (with the singular exception of the person I pitched it to) has thought it was hilarious. Not my problem Marvel doesn't want to pick up good books. I got what I wanted out of it, end of story. Am I going to cry myself to sleep that I won't get paid half my going rate to write and edit an EPIC book? Please. I'm already published in this field. In my initial post I say quite clearly 'GO AHEAD AND PITCH EPIC -- the worst thing that will happen is you spend some time creating a portfolio piece that no one will read.' Is that not the worst thing that could happen? Some guys spends his time practicing his craft but doesn't sell anything? Hell, that leaves plenty of room for GOOD things which could happen, like your book being bought (or, miraculously, read). I TOLD THEM TO PITCH IT ANYWAY, so don't try to change the context of my words.

"Finally, there were further, more unpleasant incidents which happened during my exciting trip to Marvel/EPIC, but which up until now I've left unsaid, including a face-to-face meeting with Joe Quesada where he wouldn't even make eye contact with me, and a near-fatal meeting with another one of Marvel's big editors who made sneering comments to me like 'we don't have time to break in new writers with no experience' and 'there's just no room at Marvel right now for B-grade creators' which pissed me off so much that he's lucky I didn't have any convenient sharp objects to throw at him. You'll note that I've also avoided naming any names in the Epic snafus... it's not like I set out on some kind of 'here's my horror story at Marvel, don't go there and pitch' campaign... someone on this forum asked how the pitch went and I gave a VERY redacted version thereof.

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"Looking back on it now, all in all, it was the most unprofessional meeting I've had in years, beginning with the front door being locked and no receptionist on duty when I arrived, and continuing to the fact that the front lobby is hung with old posters which were dated when I was in high school, curled and yellowed with age, posters posted up over other posters, wads of tape stuck to the walls. The lobby carpet and furniture was so alive with stains and fungus that I feared for my clothing to sit down. Shall I go on? Believe me, I'm FAR less picky and choosy than the power-suit-and-tie wearing Hollywood assholes that they'll have to deal with to get more films made. Here's a free tip: when you've got film studio VPs coming through, you might want to think about steamcleaning the carpets more than once a decade.

"So maybe now I'm dead at Marvel because I spoke out. Big deal... I couldn't get any of them to answer my fucking emails in the first place. The kindly people at EPIC were the ONLY ONES who ever showed any interest, which is why I've refrained from naming any names. Incidentally, I don't really blame them much for not having read my material... whether 200 or 2000, there were A LOT of people ahead of me in line and there are only 3 people reading proposals. I note that Joe didn't bother to address that little number problem.

"Again, it's not like I'm some weirdo off the street who's dying to write the 'Avengers' or something... they were the people who said they wanted something different than the everyday Marvel series, a book about people not about other comic books, etc. When I gave it to them, they couldn't be bothered. Joe A.I.M. would have been fun, but I'm not going to die because Marvel will never read it.

"I tell you what, though... you just know that none of this shit would be happening if I was British. :)"

But Joe Quesada wanted a word. Or did he? In an e-mail earlier today, Joe wrote;

"I was just going to let the Micah thing go since it's meaningless to my day-to-day, business but also because he's going to go down most likely as one of those creators who is known more for the things he says on the net than his actual work. Especially the things he says about Marvel because he's spoken out about other publishers and that stuff burns out quicker than flash-paper.

"Since that's pretty clear to me then why not do the brother a favor and get him some play from the EIC at Marvel. Okay, Micah, here it is, you have my attention and Marvel's publicity machinery behind you for the duration of this little response. Of course, I also realize that the more you talk about us the better it is for Marvel and me and the more it keeps everyone else out of the headlines, so go for it!

"I have some incites and some advice I would like to give Micah and perhaps young creators can take some of this to heart.

"Lets talk about Micah, the man who has sold films and worked in television for the last 9 years and for the number one cable network for seven of those years. The man whose worst rated television work has been seen by -minimum- thirty times Marvel Comics' #1 selling book (do the math... 4.5 million viewers = 30x150,000 comics/month). I like to mention that because there isn't an e-mail I have from Micah that doesn't mention it or some variation of that. Heck, from what I've read, there is rarely a post or an interview with the guy where he doesn't bother to slam you over the head with his accomplishment outside of comics. It leads me to wonder what the guy is trying to prove?

"Imagine if your favorite creator did that every time they were being interviewed or sending an e-mail. It would certainly make someone like Stan Lee pretty long winded.

"Advice number one. Micah, can it, no one gives a $#!*. Let the work speak for itself.

"Micah you claim to have met me face to face, jeez, I'll be honest, I don't even remember meeting you. When I heard you had visited the offices I asked people if I was even in. I do know we weren't introduced so the fact that I didn't make eye contact with you is no surprise. I have no idea what you look like, you could have been a delivery guy for all I know. Also, if I had happened to be engaged in something important (imagine that) then it could be a possibility that I may have not have focused on you being there. But here's the thing, so many creators that come by the office get this and understand it.

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"When they see that someone in an office environment is busy and doesn't have time to be social, they understand that there are pressures at work and things that have to be dealt with. They don't take this personally. Apparently this is not the case with you, Micah, the man who has sold films and worked in television for the last 9 years and for the number one cable network for seven of those years. The man whose worst rated television work has been seen by -minimum- thirty times Marvel Comics' #1 selling book (do the math... 4.5 million viewers = 30x150,000 comics/month). You are someone who is obviously easily snubbed because you are Micah Wright, the man who has sold films and worked in television for the last 9 years and for the number one cable network for seven of those years. The man whose worst rated television work has been seen by -minimum- thirty times Marvel Comics' #1 selling book (do the math... 4.5 million viewers = 30x150,000 comics/month). By the way Micah, most people that want to sit and have a chat with me call me ahead of time and make an appointment.

"Advice #2- Make an appointment with the EIC if you want to have a chat with the EIC

"Advice #3- Don't be so self important, Micah, the man who has sold films and worked in television for the last 9 years and for the number one cable network for seven of those years. The man whose worst rated television work has been seen by -minimum- thirty times Marvel Comics' #1 selling book (do the math... 4.5 million viewers = 30x150,000 comics/month).

"As for the editor you spoke to about doing Marvel work, he knows who he is and spoke to me about that meeting after you publicly disclosed it. You walked into the number one money making office in comics and this editor was very clear about the type of writers he was hiring. He was as frank with you as you are in your description of your trip to Marvel. It's obvious that Micah Wright, the man who has sold films and worked in television for the last 9 years and for the number one cable network for seven of those years. The man whose worst rated television work has been seen by -minimum- thirty times Marvel Comics' #1 selling book (do the math... 4.5 million viewers = 30x150,000 comics/month), can't handle the frankness that he likes to dish out. You complained about the Epic editors (who have a lot on their plates) not getting back to you and then you're upset with another editor being up front with you about where you stand?

"Advice #4- Just accept rejection gracefully. Take the advice given and either pitch with that advice in mind or don't. Marvel doesn't owe Micah Wright, the man who has sold films and worked, oh never mind, you all get the picture, Marvel doesn't owe you anything!

"As for your comment of our offices being dirty, if we would have known that that was one of your stipulations for a workplace environment we would have told you to stay home.

"Advice #5- Our offices may be messy but our checks are pretty gosh darn neat.

"Advice #6- If cleanliness means a better freelance work place, go work for someone with nice offices.

"Micah wrote, 'So maybe now I'm dead at Marvel because I spoke out. Big deal... I couldn't get any of them to answer my fucking emails in the first place.'

"Point one, Micah do you remember sending me an e-mail that you hadn't heard back from EPIC? Do you remember me e-mailing you right back telling you that I would look right into it? Gee, that sounds like a pretty immediate response and from the EIC of the company no less. Oh, and I believe that someone either e-mailed or called you that day. Point two, no Micah, you're not dead at Marvel and you're welcome to pitch. I try not to let people saying stupid things keep me from hiring someone if they turn in something that we would like to publish. Say stuff consistently and we have a problem, make a hot- headed mistake and we forgive very quickly. However, you now have to deal with an EIC who has spoken as bluntly about you as you have about Marvel, a Senior Editor who is taller than both you and I combined who is looking forward to your stabbing attempt and a group of editors who are sick and tired of your endless career outside of comics bragging. You're also going to have to learn to be patient and accept rejection with as much grace as all of the young amateurs we've been working with. See this isn't a top cable network, heck it isn't even public access, it's just a comic company that is very short staffed with very hard working people trying to do the best they can. It's sometimes tough to make everything stop when Micah Wright shows up.

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"Finally, after reading your initial rant on Marvel and then bringing it to my attention, EPIC editor Teresa Focarile couldn't figure out why you were so upset. Especially since after your meeting with her you continued to e-mail her very politely still looking for a gig. I asked T to forward me these emails and I found one particularly fascinating. Now I hate doing stuff like this but since you found it important to air out your visit to Marvel Comics and since we love the attention?

From: Micah Wright


Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 4:37 PM


To: tfocarile@marvel.com


Subject: This Morning / Tomorrow / Joe AIM / American Cross

Hello Teresa!

It was great meeting you today. I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me and I apologize if I seemed to groggy or not funny enough... I'm usually more on than that, but all these nights of getting up at 5am for radio spots have me on the ropes.

Incidentally, right after leaving your office, I also got word that I've been booked onto Democracy Now, the nationally syndicated show we were speaking of this morning. My publisher is ecstatic... he says it's good for 20,000 sales. Now if I can only get that Daily Show slot...

"The rest goes on as you try to sell her your project. I'll tell you this, this sure doesn't sound like a guy who had a bad meeting at Marvel but it sure sounds like a guy saying he got up on the wrong side of the bed. And the tail end sure sounds a lot like the Micah Wright that I've come to expect."

Thanks for that Joe! And, of course, for all you Epic wannabees out there, (or indeed, in here), there's Theresa's e-mail address, courtesy of Joe.

PORN ON!

[Green Light]Both Steven Grant and Antony Johnston have confirmed last week's Lying In The Gutters report on their involvement with Avatar's Vivid Video porn graphic novel line. Steven has described his as a "crime comic" using the actresses Kira Kener, Briana Banks and Sunrise Adams.

THE FIRST ANTARCTIC PRESS STORY I THINK I'VE EVER RUN

[Green Light]Ben Dunn, founder of Antarctic Press and creator of titles such as "Ninja High School" and "Warrior Nun Areala" has sold his stake in the company. As part of the deal, Antarctic gets to keep NHS and "Warrior Nun," while Ben Dunn will own his spin-off series such as "Shotgun Mary."

Dunn has published through Image of late, look forward to seeing some more work from that direction.

EMPIRE BUILDING

[Green Light]With all the fuss over Mark Waid's "Fantastic Four," some might have missed out that "Empire" is coming out from DC very shortly. Issue 0 is due to ship this week, reprinting the Gorilla issues 1 and 2. I've seen pencils by Barry Kitson of subsequent issues, they look gorgeous. So all you message board moaners, put your money where your mouth is and pick up "Empire."

And for those of you still going on about the Diana/X-Statix appearance (which, you know, I told you all about in April), check out the Daily Mail on Tuesday - just in case they run anything…

WHITE OUT

[Green Light]The latest in a run of comic industry analysis, Todd Allen's White Paper. Discuss.

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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