Lying In The Gutters

Tue, February 10th, 2004 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

Welcome to the eighty-fifth chapter in the latest volume of the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Over ten years damnit! Written by British comics commentator, me, Rich Johnston, it's read by comic book professionals and readers alike. Loved and hated equally, every Monday (ish) it brings the stories not-quite-ready-for-primetime, a look behind the curtain, a sniff of the toilet seat, the worst and the best that the comics industry can inspire. Go in with your eyes open, your blinkers off and a peg on your nose.

As for the trafficlights, RED means that the story is unlikely to be true, and you should read that with that context. AMBER signifies an identifiable agenda/slant or bias in the source that may affect the work, or that the source isn't clear, or another factor that might bring the piece into doubt. GREEN means that the story feels right to me, mygut instinct says go for it. However, as is often the case, while the gist may be correct, the detail may be wrong - and in fact I may be having an off day and the whole thing may be wrong.

So there you go.

This column did not appear yesterday, as it coincided with Julie Schwartz's funeral. I'll be raising a glass with friends on Thursday to his memory.

JOE PUBLIC

[Green Light]I love Joe Quesada. No really, I love him. He's a clever, intelligent and provocative person. He's a great editor-in-chief, he's a fantastic artist and writer but the way he plays the media, the fans, well, it's *genius*. Fried gold genius.

Take his SilverBulletComicBooks interview with Brandon Thomas.

Quesada: …this stuff about Whedon and Cassaday doing New X-Men is just a nasty rumor.

I know, I know, I can hear the people groaning all the way over here where I'm sitting. I just figured it was time to set the record straight so that there wouldn't be any disappointment later on. I've heard everything from Whedon to Gaiman to Vaughan on New X-Men and none of it is true in the slightest.

Thomas: So it's not Whedon, it's not Gaiman, and it's not Vaughan. Who is it, and after all this "hype" over Joss Whedon, is the reality as exciting as the rumor?

Quesada: You'll just have to wait and see.

Brilliant.

You see, it is of course Joss Whedon and John Cassaday on "Astonishing X-Men," as LITG pointed out last week.

It's Austen and LaRocca as the new ongoing team, rather than just a fill-in, on "New X-Men"… as LITG is, well, pointing out now.

A MATTER OF REPUTATION

[Green Light]On that note, Quesada refers to another topic, that of trust, and refers to an incident at Chicago.

I'd like to make one of my policies clear at this stage.

One of my personal rules I've developed as a gossip columnist is that I only repeat information received, in this column, with the explicit permission of the person who gave me the information, unless it's on a public stage (online or offline). I do not repeat information I simply overhear.

The information that some people have entrusted with me to keep quiet, has never broken out - at least, not from me. Some people consider me the most discreet, trustworthy person in comics - because if I did leak stuff I was entrusted with, well then, my reputation at keeping sources' identities secret would be in tatters.

Just so you know. Feel free to pass this on.

PANDORA'S BLOCKS

[Yellow Light]There have been a number of online allegations of late that Pandora, a Brazilian publisher, has been "bootlegging" editions of "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen," after both they and Devir published editions. With question marks now raised over their versions of "Strangers In Paradise," "Judge Dredd" and a number of Avatar projects, they even announced the publication of "Zenith" books… when recent rights histories between "2000AD" and Grant Morrison have restricted their publication even in English.

William Christensen of Avatar made a number of responses to some Brazilian Web sites about how he's aware of the books, wasn't aware that an agreement had been reached between the two companies, hasn't seen money from their publication, that they were stealing the books, and hadn't responded to communication. Robyn Moore, publisher of "Strangers In Paradise" expressed a similar story and both talked about possible legal action. And Jamie Boardman of Rebellion expressed the view that the "2000AD" books were being published illegally.

On Pandora's side, they seem to have had trouble contacting the publishers involved but believe that rights to have been correctly acquired.

Sounds like court to me.

For more on this story, go here, here, here and here.

So how did this all come about? Christensen told me "They originally signed a contract to license 'Dark Blue' and 'Strange Kiss.' But they never paid for it. Not a single dime. So I never sent them CDRoms with all the files for printing. I couldn't get ahold of them for some time, and then I found out from another party that they printed the books by shooting off copies of our printed US editions! When I confronted them, they did indeed acknowledge that they pirated the books and promised payment to me. But they never have and now it has been months since they last returned my e-mails. I have sent them over 100 e-mails that have gone unreturned so far."

HANDS UP

[Green Light]Avatar has a new Joe R Lansdale book on the block - and it looks like Lansdale is joining the Avatar regulars. "By Bizarre Hands" is a six-issue monthly series, adapting Lansdale's short stories, and there are plenty more to come.

Here are some of the Jacen Burrows covers

SPIDER-MAN. I THINK.

[Green Light]In the recent "Ultimate Spider-Man," it appears in one panel that Peter Parker was coloured using Mary Jane's colour palette. Spider-Man with blusher and lipstick? I don't think Avi Arad would approve…

OH FOR THE WINGS

[Yellow Light]I understand that the recently shipped Hawkman figures have a common defect - many of them had snapped wings in transit. Cue mad speculator rush for undamaged wingspans and Diamond running out of replacements sharpish.

CHUCKED AGAIN

[Yellow Light]Pity Chuck Gibson. Not only is he still down thousands from CrossGen, but he's just been bitten again, this time my 88mph.

On an inkers Yahoo group, he writes:

"Thought it was all cool because I got some money up front, but it was just enough to dangle me along. Same old story--they want the art, but they don't want to pay, owe me money, blah, blah, blah....

"Everyone stay away from any dealings with Sebastian Clavet or 88MPH studios. You've been warned. Full of promises and then no delivery. You've been warned This guy's another smooth talker that doesn't back up what he says he'll do."

Inker Serge Lapoint went straight to the source. "Okay, first off, Chuck, I think you are over-reacting a lot. You are slandering a guy's name and not stating all the facts. When I read your mail, I contacted Sebastien myself since I know him and was slated to ink this book myself before getting an offer for a regular animation gig.

"First off, an employer, whoever it shall be, is obliged by law to pay you 30 days max after delivery of the job. You received money for 3 'Tron' covers, some upfront, even though you actually only did 2 since the book was cancelled. Then, you agreed to do GB in my stead since I had other obligations. You have received to this day 850$ for the GB work (100$ a page, the rate you agreed to, including a remaining 250$ for the double-spread planned Tron cover), of which you have delivered 16 pages, plus a cover for upcoming issue 4, the last page received on February 5.

"So you haven't yet been paid for 9 pages, which were done in the last 2 weeks. You were hired on January 15th, so for you to do a first batch of pages, to invoice and then received payment you normally wouldn't even have received your first check. Yet, you have been paid for a cover and 7 pages. Even Marvel or DC won't pay you for work not yet delivered, or even a week after invoicing. Ask anyone on this list.

"I think you are being unfair to Seb and his effort to put this book out. I'm not saying he's perfect and everything is fine, but I've known him for a while, and I know he is of good faith. I don't see why you post this when you haven't even met your deadline, and it's only been a day since you delivered the last inked page you did. You might be going through difficult time in your personal life, but I.M.H.O. this is not a reaction that I think is justified."

The dialogue, continued with Chuck stating that promises made to him were broken, and that he was deceived by the ongoing situation, and that he wasn't provided with the materials to do the complete job.

A number of other professionals contacted me privately to express their satisfaction with how Sebastian had treated them. But what has come out of this is a growing unease about working outside of Marvel and DC, with reports or late, partial or non-payment being common now across the industry.

Chuck is having a sale to meet this month's rent. Look here to see if there's anything you fancy, as well as this Byrne/Austin artwork.

OBSCURE SEQUEL

[Green Light]There will be a sequel volume to the recently finished ABC mini-series, "Terra Obscura," by the same creative team, Alan Moore, Pete Hogan, Yanick Paquette and his inking crew.

DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

[Green Light]Recently, Lying In the Gutters reported duplicated text in the "Daredevil" Hardcover. Here is the page from the original issue, as well as the error pages. Feel free to cut the correct one out and add it in your volume… but also notice how the content of the missing text is all about an echo… which is then replaced by an echo of the previous page.

Hardcover Page 19 Hardcover Page 20 Original Page 20

Thanks to Leighon for being handy with a scanner.

HARVEY MOON

[Green Light]The Harvey Committee have asked me to remind comic professionals that the deadline for submitting Harvey Nomination Ballots is now only a week away - Sunday in fact,

You can download a printable version here.

Something very valuable about the Harveys that makes them distinct from Eisners - Retailers can't vote. Why is that a good thing?

Truth is, most retailers don't order most comics. And for many, the ones that stick in their mind are the ones that sold well. The Harveys, if it works at all, does so by restricting the award to the artform itself rather than its commercial aspects. In theory.

If you work in comics, it's time to let them know what you thought about artform this year.

BLOGGITY BLOG

[Green Light]Who do I think I am, Dirk Deppey?

Want to read more Alan Moore? Especially introductions to fantasy architecture? Here you go.

Tell me that this isn't the half price deal of the century?

Are you British? Do you like comics? Do you fancy being made a tit out of in front of a Channel Four audience? Then go here

Then do you want to be taught Spider-Man comics and porn at the same time? This course teaches hardcore pornography alongside the 9-11 issue of "Amazing Spider-Man."

I don't think Avi Arad would like *that* either.

Quote of the week: Ninth Art's Shipping Forecast

WILL THE NAME GAME NEVER END?

[Green Light]I have taken advice that last week's column about pseudonyms should have referred to "James Fry," not "Jim Fry". I understand it's along the lines of calling Priest "Chris" or calling Superman "Supes" in John Byrne's presence. It's just not done. Apologies.

STUFF RICH LIKES

[Green Light]I hear Jerry Springer The Opera is coming to Broadway. New Yorkers, get tickets to this now.

I saw it years ago at a small fringe theatre near me, as a work in progress. It was brilliant then, but the new polish the National Theatre in London gave it, as well as the money from the West End production have made it a real class act. Juxtaposing the fact that opera is a bunch of gaudily dressed fat people screaming with the fact that Jerry Springer is exactly the same, this is the natural heir to the Threepenny Opera, just with even more dick jokes. And not every musical show can boast numbers such as "Chick With A Dick With A Heart" or "Three Nipple Cousin Fucker."

And when the show goes to hell, well, all heaven breaks loose. Jesus' comeback to Satan is worth the hefty price of admission on its own. If you're coming to London, it's the only essential show to see. Let's see if New York feels the same way.

The Ripple Effect is a new novel by comedian Dominic Holland. Set in the world of small town football, it uses my personal favourite dramatic technique, the tiny action that spirals out of control. It's very clever, very tight and very engaging farce on a grand scale. Go here to find out more, go here to buy it.

Oh, and I also liked the Waiting For Tommy interview I did with Ethan Van Sciver. It got quite emotional at one point. Refreshingly honest is the phrase I'd use. Look for another newsmaker this Wednesday as well…

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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