Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-second 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.
No more Rumour Awards. Not for a year anyway.
When the Chinese news media reported the death of Will Eisner, in his obituary, they used a photo of Michael Eisner.
BUT A DREAM
This is the Dreamwave letter sent out to freelancers on January the 3rd.
Dear Valued Sub-contractor,
We at Dreamwave Productions would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to our company. We could't have produced the high quality, exemplary work without you. You always will be a valued member of the Dreamwave team.
Some of our best work can be attributed to our outside contract artists. You should be extremely proud of your accomplishments. We have really appreciated the time and effort that you have put forth in making Dreamwave a notable publisher.
But, after careful consideration and deliberation we have arrived at the decision that continuing in the publishing market would only further damage Dreamwave Productions financially. And so, as a result, Dreamwave Productions has decided to cease publishing operations.
Effective immediately, production on all Dreamwave Production titles will stop. Invoices for any work produced, up to and including today should be forwarded to Dreamwave Productions for assessment. A letter of notification from the "receiving" company will be sent shortly to advise you on the terms of final payment.
Again, thank you. There would have been no Dreamwave Productions without your hard work and dedication. We wish you the best in all you future endeavors.
Human Resources Department
Dreamwave Productions Inc.
Interestingly, Dreamwave doesn't have a Human Resources Department. There are no records that show Dreamwave has gone into receivership. And this is certainly not the type of legal letter that a company in receivership would send out. Could it be that Dream Engine, mentioned last week, will be the "receiving" company? And notice the "cease publishing operations" bit... that still leaves Dreamwave open for other activity.
However the website and phone numbers aren't working.
It appears that new Marvel jobs with Pat Lee and the Dreamwave artists (ghost pencillers, inkers, colorists) were actually signed under the Dream Engine name, meaning all Marvel cheques are going to Pat and Roger Lee's new company. Not to Dreamwave to pay off debts.
Adam Patky and James McDonough also sent out a letter to affected people.
Hope you're doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. As you all probably know from the recent e-mails, Dreamwave as a company has gone into receivership and is requesting that we resubmit all of our vouchers for the money we are owed by them as freelance contractors.
The legal counsel that James and I retained for this matter (Lang Michener LLP of Ontario, Canada) has advised us to request that we all attempt to organize and submit our claims together. By doing so, we have a much greater chance of actually getting our money. If we all submit separately, the smaller individual amounts will be paid only after any creditors owed larger sums.
If we submit one large sum instead, it is likely to be placed higher in the order of repayment, giving us much more of a chance of getting our money owed before their assets are completely depleted.
Our lawyers could arrange for a group retainer fee for all of us, allowing us to each pay a smaller amount to insure that we'll actually get the finances we are owed. Please drop us a line and we can put you in touch with them to get this rolling. Or, if you have already retained your own legal counsel, please let us know and we can have our lawyers get in touch with yours to organize things also.
Either way, please get in touch as soon as possible so we can try to resolve this matter, and hopefully get what is owed to all of us. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask.
Also, if you are aware of any other freelancers who are currently owed money by Dreamwave but are not on this list, please forward them this message. The more of us that are involved, the better our chances of actually seeing a result.
Talk to you soon!
Adam Patyk and James McDonough
I hear their reception has been very positive.
THE TROUBLE WITH ROB LIEFELD
Rob Liefeld has stated that he's decided not to do the second "X-Force" mini-series, offered to him.
This does slightly jar with his earlier public appeals to get Marvel to let him do more "X-Force" and that he'd happily do any work for Marvel if they'd let him. Maybe tempered by his recent criticisms over their lack of advertising (not that Arcade does much either...) but he believes it's not the kind of book Marvel wants to support right now. After the upcoming "Shatterstar" mini-series, that's it.
With the oft-completed but never-published "Youngblood BloodSport" 2 still being tweaked, problems with "Youngblood: Imperial" #0, the "Supreme" one-shot, "Bloodsport Prelude," "Brigade," "Youngblood Assembled," "Bloodsport," "The Allies" and another three or four Arcade titles he's working on, not to mention "Youngblood Imperial" 1. This originally had Rob describing pages 2-9 of the "Roughcut Con" edition as "very inconsistent, bordering on crap" and stating that five pages would be redrawn. On publication last week, only a splash page seems to have been reworked into a vertical double page splash (increasing the page count by one). Oh and this book was originally solicited for publication in October.
It wasn't too long ago that Rob was saying he had let his fans down in the past and wouldn't do this again. That he was 100% committed to "Bloodsport" and wouldn't consider any other work till it was completed.
I like Rob. I find him a very personable individual, with a distinct artstyle that no clone has ever actually managed to master, with a very strong appeal to a certain reader, especially young ones who love the energy in his work. But with so many unfinished projects through his career, it's an epidemic.
I think Rob gets bored easily. Bored from one job, he starts work on another, something fresh. He's in a position to do that, but it does lead his work being hyped and then falling, disappointing his readers. Marvel's editorial have had some effect on that, but he'd still rather recycle pages from other abandoned projects rather than draw something new.
Recently Warren Ellis released a series of Apparat comics, stories with brand new characters told in one issue, with no second issue to follow. I think Rob needs to do something like that. One shots. 22 pages each. Every time, something brand new. Keep his interest up. And each one can be a new movie property!
While many mock, the industry needs Rob Liefeld. He brings something to the artistic table that no one else can bring. And the right publisher could find, if bnothing else, he could draw a very appreciative audience.
Hell, I'd buy copies.
Simon Pegg's discussion of a "Shaun Of The Dead" graphic novel later this year, using the old faux sequel title "From Dusk Till Shaun" was very interesting. Especially since he mentioned Marvel and DC as suitors, and I hear the book has been placed somewhere much more interesting. And relevant.
I'm doing a recording session with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost later in the week. See if I can't change that traffic light...
And now, a correction. The Hitch/Kubert heads-on-bathing-beauties Marvel picture mentioned last week has not been taken down from Ralph Macchio's door... it's still there!
Someone send me a scan.
SUPERMANLOVE - Added 6:00 PM PST
You all know the Superman casting rumours first mentioned in this column last year? About director Brian Singer's wishes for his lead? And then Brandon Routh being cast?
Well, it's spreading. Of the cast currently announced.
Brandon "BJ" Routh as Superman. Previously of Will & Grace.
Kevin Spacey as Luthor. Described by the British tabloid press as "a friend of Peter Mandelson".
Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Currently involved with actor Orlando Beard.
And now I've been told Ian McKellen is being considered for Perry White.
Bloody hell Brian. There's making a point and then there's being obvious about it.
Bryan Hitch's design of the TARDIS for the new "Doctor Who" series (meant to start on March the 26th) is reported to be exactly the same on the outside, but on the inside to resemble coral...
For those Doctor Who fans who can't wait, may I recommend Radio 4's Nebulous, written by and starring Mark Gatiss, one of the new "Doctor Who" writers.
And for those still in a radio mood, Peter David's been talking to
Fanboy Radio. He's writing Hulk for the
rest of the year, as well as an Abomnation mini-series and another yet
unnamed Marvel series. And DC's Fallen Angel is once more in danger of
cancellation. David calls for action by fans and retailers to give
support and keep the title on the rack. David say issue #19 is the
perfect time for non-readers to jump on.
Thanks to Millarworld, some more of the dregs and dreams of Marvel Comics, comics that may be, may have been - an insight into publishing plans - abandoned or still in fruition. There's no guarantee that any of these will actually be published. In fact, you can guarantee certain books will never see the light of day.
this was originally Joe Kelly's name for a Great Lakes Avengers book.
Power Pack Digest
- even smaller small superheroes!
Ian Edginton and Steve Pugh have a new "Star Wars Tales" project on the way. Ever since "Animal Man," I've been a total sucker for Pugh's artwork, and have a page from his "Hellblazer" on my wall next to me as I write this. I'd heard rumours that Steve was considering "leaving the Fantastic Four!" so I'm glad to see that's not the case.
More please, Steve.
Also glad to see Ian's writing after CrossGen fell apart on him. I hear his last conversation with Mark Alessi was a peach.
"Honor Bound" is by Ian Edginton and Steve Pugh, colours by Michael Atiyeh and will be lettered by Michael Heisler. it appears in "Star Wars Tales" 22 and is loosely tied in with the upcoming console game "Republic Commando."
Edginton and Pugh are also working together for "2000AD," and are looking for a publisher for a big, sci-fi epic they've been nurturing. Ian described it as "all spaceships, aliens and things blowing up."
Ian's also got work with D'Israeli on "Scarlet Traces: The Great Game."
"It's the mini-series sequel to the first 'Scarlet Traces' hardcover by myself and the ever delightful Matt Brooker (aka D'Israeli). As with the hardcover it's being published by Dark Horse and picks up roughly forty years after where the last story left off. After four decades of conflict, the British invasion of Mars has ground into a bloody stalemate in the dust of the red planet. However as the captive Martian from the first series said, 'There are worst things on Mars than us.' This time we find out exactly what he meant."
With their "Kingdom Of The Wicked" TPB published by Dark Horse last week, in colour, with a few added extras, it's good to see some of Britain's finest put out their finest work. And find publishers willing to go along with it.
Just how did "What If... Karen Page Had Lived" make it onto the ballot for Wizard's Best of The Year 2004? With Wizard's six-week lead times, and the fact the comic was published in the last week of December, had they really seen an issue before it found itself deserving of a ballot? Even artist Michael Lark was mystified when he emailed round trying to drum up votes.
Probably the same way that Jim Lee won for best penciler two years in a row for his work on "Hush" which was only a year long project.
OH BLOODY HELL
There's been a rumour going round that I'm paid an annual salary to promote Marvel Comics in this column. While a cursory reading of this column should dispel that, you know what pro gossip is like. But, based on the reaction Marvel employees had when it reached them, I'm glad it brought laughter into some people's lives.
Mad, hysterical laughter, but hey. Next.
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:
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Be seeing you.