Lying In The Gutters

Mon, January 31st, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-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 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.

As I said, from the 10th to the 13th of February, I'll be in Los Angeles with work.

On the tenth, we're getting a few LA people out for a bit of a meal, followed by drinks. Or vice versa.

Current venue of choice is Toi On Sunset, opposite Meltdown Comics around 7pm. Shout if you can make it.

AMERICA'S BREAST COMICS - Updated 2/2/05 6:00 PM PST (-8 GMT)

[Green Light]The cover to next week's Intimates from DC/Wildstorm differs significantly from the solicited cover image, and fits in with the dress for the series so far.

   
The solicited image.   The actual cover.

There has been discernible retailer disquiet that this features a naked teenage breast on the cover. This is not a Mature Readers series, and even they keep their covers tame enough for most US community standards.

Amid speculation the colorist didn't hide the "nipplage" as much as may have been intended, is it time for DC Comics to have its own nipplegate?

Ah, I love America.

UPDATE: DC Comics have instructed retailers that this issue of The

Intimates has been made returnable.

PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

[Yellow Light]I understand that Edgar Wright Jr., director of "Spaced" and co-writer/director of "Shaun of The Dead" is to direct a movie based on the Oni comic book "Scott Pilgrim" by Bryan Lee O'Malley, for Universal Pictures.

Deep breath. And out again.

You read it here first. Yes, I'm talking to you, Harry Knowles.

CANNON FODDER

[Yellow Light]I understand Josh Blaylock, Devil's Due publisher is so pissed off with the creative team over the lateness of "Cannon Busters" from Devil's Due he's threatened to cancel it.

However, it seems that there have been a serious of disastrous events in the lives of every colourist who has been brought onto the book by Udon Studios. Repeatedly, each individual has suffered a personal tragedy in their family life.

For those waiting on the series, patience and understanding is advised.

TRANSFARMERS

[Yellow Light]I hear the ink is not quite as dry on the "Transformers" license between Hasbro and Devil's Due as I might have implied. And that this week a number of publishers were flying out to meet and greet the Hasbro boys...

I've also been told that Devil's Due may have balked at some of the terms demanded by Hasbro and may have passed on the license. Or at least, passed on it for now, as it currently stands. Certainly their relationship with Hasbro and the generally well accepted and well selling "G.I. Joe" has made them the most favoured publisher. But contracts are contracts.

Diamond's almost unique decision not to cancel the ordered "Transformers" books, but keep them active for the next publisher to use without starting solicitations from scratch is due to a very hands on approach from Hasbro. Expect the next publisher to have to deal with that kind of thing a lot.

I understand that Josh Blaylock is doing a live interview at YoJoe.com later today (10am Central Time) and will be answering a lot of the speculation.

CEREBUS RISING

[Green Light]Dave Sim's "Cerebus" trade paperbacks are going up in price. In preparation for this move, Dave Sim wrote a letter to every Diamond comic shop, and signed each one. It read:

"Dear Comic Store Partners:

"I'm writing to you today a little over a year after the completion of the 6,000 page Cerebus storyline to gratefully acknowledge your support in making a place for the World's Longest Graphic Novel on your store shelves even as Gerhard and I, in turn, renew our own long-standing commitment to keeping the comic-book market as the sole means by which we distribute Cerebus, High Society, Church & State volumes 1 and 2, Jaka's Story, Melmoth, Flight, Women, Reads, Minds, Guys, Rick's Story, Going Home, Form & Void, Latter Days and The Last Day to the worldwide graphic novel audience.

"Over the years, we have taken a great pride in the fact that our 500-page graphic novel, high Societywhich debuted in 1986 at $25 US still bears that same cover price today. Throughout the ensuing nineteen years and up to the present day, we have managed, consistentlydespite the unpredictable fluctuations of the direct market's various "boom-and-bust" cyclesto maintain each of our publications at their "initial release" price levels. It is, therefore, with no small amount of regret that we're announcing today for the first time in the history of our company price increases on all sixteen of the Cerebus trade paperbacks.

"A number of factors have gone into the decision, which include higher paper, printing, shipping and mailing costs and, most particularly, a strengthening Canadian dollar (which has seen our domestic currency increase nearly twenty percent in value over the past year against its US counterpart) and, of course, the revenue shortfalls which have inevitably resulted from the absence of the monthly Cerebus comic book from our publishing schedule.

"Thank you again for your continued support of our nearly-three-decades-in-the-making project. If you have any questions, concerns or requests for promotional assistance, I am always open to suggestions and can be reached at the address below. Still no e-mail, I'm afraid, but I do promise to respond within fourteen days of receiving any retailer correspondence.

"May God continue to bless our worldwide comic book nation.

"Sincerely,

"Dave Sim

"PS: Sorry for the form letter, but I did sign each one personally. The new prices and Diamond order codes are on the back."

Can anyone remember a nicer way a company has ever increased prices before? Even Stan Lee's appeals to customers about an extra nickel or two never felt so heartfelt. Or, indeed, personally signed.

Thanks to Comic Swap of 110 South Fraser Street, State College, PA 16801 on 814-234-6005 for transcribing the letter for me. Everyone go there and buy things.

APPROACHING HORIZON

[Green Light]"Event Horizon," the Heavy-Metal style anthology from Mamtor, Liam Sharp's new publishing outfit, is in March's Previews. It gets quite the write up, in the Staff Picks section from Robert Mandle.

"Mark your calendars for May, for the greatest anthology I've seen in a long time is about to come out. Slick and savage, brutal and beautiful, everything in Event Horizon is gold. I could go on and on about the work of big name contributors like Liam Sharp, Ashley Wood, and Steve Niles, or entice you with the prospect of seeing the first time work of creators whose stuff you will definitely see again, but they'd just be words. Like the black hole definition, where no information of events occurring inside the event horizon can get to the outside, there's nothing I can say that will do it justice. You have to see this book for yourself. It is aptly named, for reading this book is an event, and May is just on the horizon."

My six page "Chase Variant" story with artist Saverio Tenuta appears within the 120 page volume. I previewed the first page a while back, here, unlettered, is the second page.

RADIO DAYS

[Green Light]BBC Radio 4 broadcast the fifth in its series of Chain Reaction interviews, with Stewart Lee interviewing Alan Moore. Yes you all know about it now. And the Alan Moore/Brain Eno interview is due at 6.30pm GMT this Thursday.

What did surprise me is that I got so many emails asking me more about this Radio 4, surprised that such interviews were available on radio, especially online.

BBC Radio 4 is the greatest contribution the UK has made to civilization in the twentieth century. Everyone could do with listening to it a little more. It's free, there's no ads except for itself, it's available online, and it's addictive. Drama, magazine programmes, comedy, news and the most relaxing invention in the world, The Shipping Forecast. Zen radio. Get more.

GREEN BALLS

[Green Light]Radio 4's sister station BBC Radio Five Live (news and sport) also had film reviewer Mark Kermode talking to Paul Greengrass about his upcoming Watchmen movie. You can hear his whole show here for the next week. You'll have to listen to a lot of film guff but then...

Paul Greengrass describes "Watchmen" as "the greatest graphic novel ever written" with "important things to say about the world." And that "twenty years since, it's a prophetic novel whose time has come."

Currently in preparation at Pinewood Studios in London, no one has yet been cast in the movie, because as Greengrass says, "It's an ensemble film. You can't cast them part by part, you've got to cast them all as one." He expects to be able to say more in a couple of months time. First, they've got to construct the sets, which may take six months.

He does feel challenged by Doctor Manhattan. "He's a 100 foot high blue man. He's naked in the book, which presents a very big challenge. That's an awful lot of blue testicles. Get it wrong, and the critics will say 'what a load of blue...'" Cue collapse of studio team in laughter and agreement.

Greengrass concluded saying, "It's a lot of balls you've got to juggle."

RAYNING WOMEN

[Green Light]This week Steven O'Connell, the President of Echo 3 Worldwide, publishers of "BloodRayne" comic asked if I'd like to judge the costume contest at San Diego this year.

Of women dressed up as "BloodRayne."

Sadly, I won't be going to San Diego this year, but if you're a rumour mongering heterosexual male whose spent much of his life reading comics, and fancy the opportunity to ogle a lineup of damaged women who've decided that their life can only be complete by dressing up like this...

Well, feel free to get in touch.

Blair Marnell, I'm looking at you. Failing that I suppose Tom Spurgeon will do.

ALTERNATE HERO

[Green Light]This is the alternate cover for the announced "Hero Squared" mini-series follow-up to the one shot.

CUMMING HAVE A GO

[Green Light]It's not just comic book creators who have feuds. Our own little Scottish Nightcrawler seems to have had a bit of a catfight with the X-Men director, Bryan Singer.

"I think he's really talented. I'm very proud of the film. I think it's a great film. I didn't enjoy working with him on the film."

READ MY JOHNSTON

[Green Light]Just started a weekly review feature. One comic, suggested by the site, reviewed for 1000 words every week.

Well, it's not like I've got a lot on, is it?

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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