Lying In The Gutters

Mon, July 19th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

By the time you read this I'll most likely be flying over your heads.

I'm visiting one of my oldest comics colleagues, Mike Meyer, over in Sherman Oaks, CA (hey, DC animation guys, I'll be like, staying a block down from you..), then driving down to San Diego for the comic convention. Mike and I may be planning much wonder for www.twistandshoutcomics.com

E-mail me on richjohnston@gmail.com, text or call me on 011447801350982 (or 0780 1350982 from a UK phone) if you want to hook up. Tell me if you've got a booth number and you want me to drop by. Otherwise The Field and The Hyatt will be good bets. I'll be with the Comics Unlimited table for the Eisners as well...

Next week's Lying In The Gutters *will* be late - I fly back to the UK on Tuesday and will try to have something up soon after… but hopefully it should be worth waiting for.

Should be a busy con, too. I have projects to discuss with publishers...

One is with Vicious Circle. I'm planning a mini-series from them running between 4-6 issues and I'm artist hunting, if you're going to be at the con this weekend and you'd like to commit yourself to several months of intense drawing, come by booth 4919, a spacious booth next to the Tower Records booth. I will be there, Saturday 2pm with Vicious Circle Project co-founder Jason Sobol to review portfolios and talks to fans.

While you're there the VCP boys might even give you a sneak peak at some of the art for their upcoming release, "Detectives in Space." Or some early character designs from (as mentioned in last weeks column) their future endevor with the Ska band, the Reel Big Fish.

But for now, welcome to the one hundred and eighth 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 traffic lights, 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, my gut 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 buggered. It wouldn't be the first time.

So there you go.

DEATH DUTIES

[Green Light]Brian Pulido and William Christensen have bought Lady Death from CrossGen. They did so before CrossGen filed for bankruptcy.

This strikes me as being a tad on the dodgy side. CrossGen did the same with Lady Death before Chaos filed for bankruptcy, and were forced to pay a lot more to Chaos' creditors by the courts.

But it seems Christensen and Pulido did the deal with CrossGen Intellectual Property, a company which has not filed for bankruptcy.

These legal loopholes, if they hold up, will see Avatar publishing Lady Death as part of their new Brian Pulido line of comics.

And if one comic can escape the sucking black hole of CrossGen, maybe there's hope for others as well!

Here's a look at Lady Death by artist Juan Jose Ryp.

And the Pulido fans, they did rejoice…

[Editor's Note: Look for more details on Lady Death at Avatar Press at 11:00 AM Pacific Time on CBR.]

RESURRECTED ANT

[Green Light]The death of Ant Man in recent "Avengers" didn't bode for Daniel Way's "Ant Man" series, supposedly due later this year.

I here the series has been given a new lease of life and has been retooled for the Ultimate line.

Apparently Joe Quesada loves Ant-Man too much to let him remain squashed.

SOLID CAPES

[Green Light]Here are some early pictures of a Justice Hall statue from "Planet of the Capes," sculpted by Jared Guenther.


BYRNE VICTIM?

[Green Light]So where was this John Byrne piece in the upcoming Dave Cockrum tribute/fundraising book?

Jim Reeber of Aardwolf Publishing answered. "John insulted Dave Cockrum on his blog or website while Dave was still hospitalized. This only came to our attention when Dave's wife Paty called our offices. She said that under the circumstances neither she nor Dave felt comfortable with Byrne in the book. So that was that. Byrne had only sent us a xerox, so there was nothing to return to him nor reason to contact him."

Which is a mystery. No one I contacted could remember Byrne saying anything insulting about Cockrum online, quite the opposite in fact. And the thing is, with John Byrne, he's not one to mince words. If he's got something to say against you, he says it. Just ask Peter David, Erik Larsen, Jim Shooter, Joe Quesada, Mark Evanier, Marv Wolfman or hell, even me.

Dave Cockrum on the other hand

On a lighter note, here's Paty Cockrum wearing the Magneto mask prop…

A1 SAUCE

[Green Light]San Diegoites, make sure you look out for A1 and their "A1 Sketchbook."

Here's an advance look, the cover featuring "Warpsmiths" by Garry Leach and "Hotwire" by Steve "Sexy Beast" Pugh. (Hotwire created by Pugh and Warren Ellis)

The book will also feature Steve Parkhouse on the "Bojeffries," Brian Bolland on "Actress and the Bishop," "Shark-Man" and "Hotwire" by Steve Pugh, Bob Burden on "Flaming Carrot" and his new creation "Pirate Girl," "Zirk" by Garry Leach, "Wastedlands" by Dave Dorman, "Alien Arena" by Alex Horley, "Eddy Current" and "Transmit" by Ted McKeever, and artwork from Charles Vess, Dave Johnson, and more great Garry Leach art of the "Warpsmiths" and friends.

The book is black and white with colour covers and will retail for $9.99

There's also a San Diego exclusive "Bricktop" cover by Glenn Fabry for his one shot, which he'll be signing.

And here are a bunch of mystery images…

I RECKON THEY JUST WANT HIS MOUSTACHE

[Red Light]I understand, through a recruitment agency, that Marvel executives, the owners of Marvel rather than editorial, have been headhunting Dan Didio for an unspecified position.

Dan Didio's current contract is up in six months.

I know, I know, but it's slightly more likely than last week's Jim Shooter story, now officially denied by Marvel and Shooter himself.

And don't get me started on that Elisha Cuthbert debacle.

At least I nailed Jack Black.

And don't take that the wrong way...

FILTH ON THE SCREEN

[Green Light]Grant Morrison and Chris Weston want someone to make "The Filth" into a movie. But not just anyone. He wants Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, the men behind "Spaced" and "Shaun Of The Dead."

"No one else could capture the mundanity and glory of England at the same time... and infuse it with the requisite amounts of black humour and blood. I also think it would be their ideal project to follow up and build on the success of SotD"

So, if Sean and Edgar are reading, or if you know them, or if you know someone who knows them, contact me here and I'll pass it on…

HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

[Green Light]After last week's story about "Ninja High School's" dropped credits, I'm told that James Hanrahan's name does appear in the third pocket digest, and the problem has been fixed by Antarctic for future issues.

Hell, Anatarctic were so concerned about their reputation that they sent me the third issue FedEx. And I can confirm the credits are all there.

Another issue that's been raised is the issue of royalties. Antarctic Press started young. Not only has James not received royalties since initial publication despite repeated prints, but never signed a contract and would have been underage at the time anyway - hell, they all were.

While Antarctic Press has a royalty structure for reprints nowadays for some time now, it doesn't cover work from that long ago - James is unlikely to be alone in this.

I understand that now this has been raised as an issue, it is under consideration at Antarctic Press. I'd expect some kind of catch-all contract, including back payments as well as an official clarification of rights, to be issued at some point.

You know, that's what I call a responsible publisher. There's a problem, they address it, they try to sort something out. And no one has had to call a lawyer, yet.

POWER PAK

[Green Light]Greg Pak, rumoured to be a possible writer for the "X-Men," currently with "Warlock" on the schedule, and a backlog of internally-highly-rated pitches and proposals at Marvel, is also the writer and director of "Robot Stories," released a couple of years ago but still doing the festival rounds.

Nice trailer.

HOW THE WEST WAS PLUGGED

[Green Light]From "Western Tales Of Terror," comes "Western Tales of Terror" #1, featuring Steve Niles, Dan Taylor, Benito Cereno, and more. Six stories, forty pages, here are some pages.

Issue 2 will feature Phil Hester, Todd Livingston, Eric J and Raven Gregory.

Look for "Western Tales Of Terror" at table N16 at San Diego.

SUPER TROOPER

[Yellow Light]I understand Jim O'Brady has bailed from Book One of the new "Starship Troopers" comic, though a replacement has been found (and apparently she's great!) and Jim will probably return for Book Three of Tony Lee's new series.

In related news, Tony Lee and Paul Ridgdon have a deal with House Of Ra to option out "Mythlands" as an animated series in August.

CHASING JENNIFER

[Green Light]So how do you persuade Marvel to trade your favourite series? Try it like this.

Edward Sparreboom: Any chance we will see a tpb for the new she-hulk series? I didn't pick this series up, but I am really starting to regret it.

Jennifer Grunwald: There's definitely a chance, but nothing's ever definite!! ;)

Cue pleading from messageboard posters.

Jennifer Grunwald: All right, all right! We'll do it! ;)

She's such a soft touch, that Jen... however, her reports are not always so well received.

Jennifer Grunwald: There are no plans for anymore Hulk Hardcovers at this time.

::hides under desk::

Course, that Joe Quesada board has been getting more and more attention lately...

TALKING 'BOUT A REVULSION

[Yellow Light]Jeff Mason and I go way back online. We've both bought comics from each other, I wrote a couple of things for his Indy Magazine, he keeps putting together comics I want to buy.

Recently Altenative Comics made an appeal to readers and retailers, as they dealt with the fallout from the collapse of LPC distribution.

But it seemed it wasn't just readers and retailers who notices.

The remnants of Revolutionary Comics has chosen this moment to claim the trademark for Alternative, right on the heels of Mason's plea for financial help from his readership. There was a lengthy and very snide letter from Jay Allen Sanford which Jeff Mason then posted on the TJC boards earlier this week. He then removed it, but the thread remains...

OH TORONTO!

[Yellow Light]I understand Dreamwave are currently doing a colourist recruitment drive.

One unfortunate rumour is that this is to replace colourists who have left because they haven't been paid (or who will leave when they're not paid). Hence the departure of colourists on "Devil May Cry," creators on "Megaman" and even some of the Transformers crowd, their inquiring phone calls and e-mails unanswered. One common thread between the people who've been jettisoned is that they don't live in Toronto, where Dreamwave is based.

Names I've heard include Akira Yoshida, Lou Kang and even the double-headed Brad Mick/James McD creature.

Whether these rumours are true or not, it may be wise to secure some form of agreement about payment terms and late payment terms in a contract for such projects for now... unless of course you do live in Toronto.

CLASSIC SPIDER-MAN

[Green Light]And while everyone's off California dreaming, here's a sneak peak three page sample of issue 105 of Panini's "Spectacular Spider-Man" out 9th of September, by classic Marvel UK artist John Haward, with Jim Alexander writing, David Roach inking and Dylan Teaque colouring.

SWIPE FILE

[Yellow Light]Cover to "Powers" Volume 1 No 1 from Image, their big hope of three years ago.

Cover to "The Forsaken" 1 from Image, their big hope today.

It's close, innit?

SWIPE FILE II

[Yellow Light]And while we're at it...

Akira..

and Ultimates...

Hmmm...

FREE COMIC BOOK MONTH?

[Green Light]Some people don't know when to quit. I hear Comix-Shop.co.uk is running free Comic Book Day all month.

Get there before they go under. Or something.

JUST ONE PLUG

[Green Light]Limited numbers of the British charity comic magazine "Just 1 Page" will be on sale at next weekend's

San Diego Comic Con, thanks to Studio Underhill's Harris O'Malley.

He will be at booth P12 in the Small Press area, with debut copies of "Berserker: The Wild Hunt" #1, and his graphic novel "Between The Cracks: All Miracles Have A Price" as well as t-shirts and prints.

"Just 1 Page" gives US comics fans a great opportunity to find out about the wide range of British comics and creators. From the famous, like Judge Dredd, Andy Capp, John Constantine and Alan Moore, to many less familiar to US folks, such as Face Ache, Frankie Stein and Misty. And there is a special tribute to the very British Bash Street Kids, their creator Leo Baxendale and the comic they appeared in, "The Beano."

The magazine is over-sized 72 pages, 8 with colour, and features pin-ups, single page strips and articles about British comics. It will be on sale for $9. If it sells out, people can still buy copies online for $10 (£6) including postage. All proceeds will be donated to the Trinity Hospice in London.

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:richjohnston@gmail.com

  • 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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