Lying In The Gutters

Mon, February 28th, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-ninth 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.

All a bit of a blur this weekend. Nothing popped out yet, but it can't be long. Looks like there will be a very special and last Lying In The Gutters next week. Probably heavy on the photos, if everything goes the way it's looking. We'll see.

Until then, let's do a run down.

HANDFUL OF DUST

[Yellow Light]With such scurrilous rumourmongers like myself, it's good to see at least one comics magazine doing some decent journalism, interviewing Pat Lee about the fall of Dreamwave without mentioning Dream Engine, McDonough, Patyk or the variety of deceptions the company undertook. Looks like Lying In The Gutters could learn a lot.

Sadly all we're left with is the list of creditors, with a little identification of the debt where instantly known.

DREAMWAVE PRODUCTIONS OF THE TOWN OF MARKHAM, IN REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF YORK, IN PROVINCE OF ONTARIO

Mailing List   Creators   What?   Contingent

1 ADAM PATYK $18,400.00 $18,400.00 TF Writer


2 JAMES MCDONOUGH unknown


3 JAMES MCDONOUGH $26,286.00 $26,286.00 TF Writer

Secured

4 BMW GROUP FINANCIAL SERVICES CANADA $56,000.00 Roger's BMW Z3


5 BMW GROUP FINANCIAL SERVICES CANADA $58,000.00 Roger's BMW X5


6 IMAGE FINANCIAL SERVICES INC. $10,294.00


7 NATIONAL LEASING CORPORATION unknown Equipment


8 NORTHSTAR LEASING CORPORATION unknown Equipment Leasing


9 STEELCASE FINANCIAL SERVICES LTD. unknown Office

Furniture Lease

10 TEDDY AND ANNE LEE $141,000.00 Pat & Roger's parents


11 TELETECH FINANCIAL CORPORATION unknown

Unsecured

12 407ETR $60.00 Toll Highway


13 ALAN WANG $13,733.00 $13,733.00


14 ALEX MILNE $4,330.00 $4,330.00


15 ANTHONY WASHINGTON $343.00 $343.00


16 BELL CANADA $730.00 Telephone


17 BELL CANADA $963.00 Telephone


18 BELL CANADA $1,077.00 Telephone


19 BENJAMIN LEE $6,720.00 $6,720.00


20 BRIAN AUGUSTYN $1,324.00 $1,324.00


21 C & C OFFSET PRINTING CO. (NY) INC. $24,679.00 Printing


22 CANADA REVENUE AGENCY $6,300.00 Canada Tax Office


23 CANADA REVENUE AGENCY unknown Canada Tax Office


24 CANON CANADA INC $70.00 Photocopier


25 CITICAPITAL TECHNOLOGY FINANCE LTD $662.00 (this place shares the same address with #11 Teletech Financial. It could be the body in charge of their asset clearance).


26 DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTOR unknown


27 DON FIGUEROA $15,435.00 $15,435.00


28 EDWIN GARCIA $2,375.00 $2,375.00


29 ELAINE TO $20,501.00 $20,501.00


30 ERIC MICHAEL BURNS $478.00 $478.00


31 ERIK SANDER $2,059.00 $2,059.00


32 ESPEN GRUNDETJERN $6,375.00 $6,375.00


33 FEDEX $5,983.00 Shipping


34 FERD POBLETE $6,010.00 $6,010.00


35 GUIDO GUIDI $2,716.00 $2,716.00


36 GWL REALTY $36,608.00 Office Rent


37 HASBRO, INC. $494,442.00 TF Royalty


38 HEENAN BLAIKIE LLP $1,663.00 Lawyer


39 IMAGE FINANCIAL SERVICES INC. unknown


40 JEREMY TIONGSON $10,096.00 $10,096.00


41 JOE NG $2,114.00 $2,114.00


42 JOEL BENJAMIN $3,678.00 $3,678.00


43 JOHN NEY RIEBER $1,550.00 $1,550.00


44 JOHNATHAN HO $444.00 $444.00


45 JOSHUA PEREZ $1,642.00 $1,642.00


46 JUSTINO DAVID PENA $2,206.00 $2,206.00


47 KE JIANG $630.00 $630.00


48 LIN JIAN LONG $161.00 $161.00


49 MARCELO MATERE $4,045.00 $4,045.00


50 MATT HANSEN $658.00 $658.00


51 MILLER THOMAS LLP $1,787.00 Lawyer


52 MORGAN THOMAS $8,753.00 $8,753.00


53 MOST MANAGEMENT (CAPCOM) $9,195.00 Capcom Royalty


54 MTS ALLSTREAM INC $3,514.00 Long Distance Carrier


55 PATRICK BUENDIA $555.00 $555.00


56 PAYMENTECH CANADA $75.00 Credit Merchant Services


57 PITNEY BOWES $85.00 Office Appliance


58 QUEBECOR WORLD LEBONFON $4,685.00 Printing


59 QUEBECOR WORLD MONTREAL MAGOG $243,917.00 Printing


60 REED EXHIBITIONS $3,345.00 Trade Show


61 REGENT PUBLISHING SERVICES LIMITED $1,742.00


62 RICH YOUNG $16,412.00 $16,412.00


63 ROBERT ARMSTRONG $420.00 $420.00


64 ROBERT RUFFOLO $805.00 $805.00


65 ROMULO ADALBERTO SOARES DA SILVA $3,237.00 $3,237.00


66 SHELDON LAZAROVITZ unknown unknown


67 SIGMOND TORRE $600.00 $600.00


68 SIMON FURMAN $16,674.00 $16,674.00


69 STAR CHOICE $128.00 Satellite TV


70 STUART NG $956.00 $956.00


71 SUSAN LOU $3,953.00 $3,953.00


72 TALENT PUN $1,800.00 $1,800.00


73 TELLUS MOBILITY $655.00 Cel phone


74 UPS unknown Shipping


75 VMC GROUP $1,154.00 Marketing services (Trade Show Booth)


76 WEB OFFSET PUBLICATIONS LIMITED $38,947.00 Printing


77 WINTERBELL $4,520.00 $4,520.00


78 XL LABORATORIES INC $3,284.00 (Associated with poster printing)


79 YVONNE POON $210.00 $210.00

Number of creditors printed = 79


Total $1,364,248.00 $213,204.00

One very different aspect comparing the fall of CrossGen and DreamWave, was that with CrossGen they owed a lot more, but the money was mostly to corporations. With Dreamwave, a much greater percentage, over a quarter of a million, is owed to creators.

And look how much Hasbro are owed... whatever deal the new Transformers publisher has with Hasbro may include some recoupment of this loss, in exchange for the existing Diamond orders.

We mentioned the Lee's parents as a secured creditor, and the apparent circumstances behind those last week. But just how did all those cars end up being listed as "secured?"

ROCK THE MILITARY

[Green Light]Joe Kubert is creating a six issue Sergeant Rock series.

'RAQ THE MILITARY

[Green Light]Joe Sacco on Iraq for The Guardian last Saturday. 37 Megs but worth every pixel. It's what your broadband was made for.

GOD'S BACK

[Green Light]Not quite sure why this hasn't been covered by the news sites, but left to bloggers and message board writers the net over... but let's let Amazon make the Ultimate Surprise official. Marvel informed retailers of the resolicited name change about a week ago.

BUGS BUNNY? OR JESSICA RABBIT?

[Green Light]"Buzz Bunny" is the name of the lead character in the upcoming "Loonatics" series, reinventing the Loonie Tunes characters, including Bugs Bunny, for a new century.

However, it is also the trademarked name for this little device. (Adults Only)

Picture the licensing possibilities!

HARVEST FESTIVAL

[Green Light]Steve Uy, whose "creator owned" series at Marvel "Eden's Trail" saw his work rejigged and rewritten against his wishes, has a new project, a follow up to "Feather" called "Jova's Harvest" in the works. Here's a taster.

FANTASY BOURN

[Green Light]Fantasy novelist Mark Chadbourn has signed to do a hardcover graphic novel with Bo Hampton for Desperado and Image, set in his own fantasy world.

On his message board, however, some of his readers share their own comic creation stories. One in particular sung out ... from Sassi, an Australian... "My friend and I spent a long time collecting "Lara Croft," "WitchBlade," "Fathom" and assorted comics along those lines... ahh... we were almost contracted to draw for one we were so good, until they found out we were GIRLS and under 14."

Can't have been Top Cow though. They'd have gone through hoops for talent with those attributes. It's called guaranteed publicity.

ADAMS WEST

[Green Light]The return of Neal Adams to Batman with Frank Miller reported here last week is firming up all over the place. There's even a possibility that it may form the second "All-Star Batman And Robin" arc.

SPOT BLACK

[Green Light]Everyone likes original art.

Sadly, no one has yet bought Jackson Guice's splash page from the front of "Action Comics" #0 yet.

I wonder why?

ADAM'S ZEST

[Yellow Light]Adam Hughes is the new cover artist on "Catwoman," and he's been going to several S and M clubs for reference.

It's a hard life.

EDDY READY

[Green Light]All three covers to "Eddy Current", on their way from Atomeka...

CAMPBELL SOUP

[Green Light]J Scott Campbell has really been putting WildsiderZ art around the place.

Keep your eye here for more...

CANON FODDER

[Green Light]Mark Millar's recent statement that the Scottish Cardinal of the Catholic Church had a go at him for "The Authority," made me wonder how I'd missed that particular one. But it's there in black and white on the net.

Soon after, Cardinal Thomas Winning of Glasgow died. There's a lesson there.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

[Green Light]Talking of which, SuperHeroHype have confirmed that Bryan Singer has cast a heterosexual young man as the 15-year-old Clark Kent in the upcoming "Superman" movie. Clearly all those conspiracy theories about continual homosexual casting subtexts to the movie are garbage.

His name? Oh, it's Stephen Bender.

What?

CATASTROPHE

[Green Light]Spotted! Grant Morrison in the Oran Mor, West End of Glasgow, giving detailed instructions to his new Cat minder/House sitter before going on to espouse the virtues of Chaos Magick.

You know, just in case there's a leak or something.

HALF BLOOD PRINCE

[Yellow Light]Someone who wishes to be known as "Disgruntled Ex-Wizard Employee," which you know, really narrows it down, wanted to comment on rumours that Wizard stocked up on Valiant back issues before promoting the comics in their back issue guide.

"A quick correction on the Wizard/Valiant connection. Wizard actually started up nearly exactly the same time as Valiant, with both companies launching their first issues at the San Diego Comic Con in what I believe was the summer of 1992.

"I was at the show representing a large collectibles retailer, and met with the Valiant guys, and my talks with them led to my company making a pretty decent sized investment in the first year or so of Valiant comics, until the company I work for folded. At that same convention, I was introduced to the Shamus family, who professed a love for my writing skills in the ads I did for my company, which subsequently led to them asking me to freelance some ad work for them in issues #2 and 3.

"When the company I worked for went belly up after an ill-advised large foray into the sportscard market, I was offered a job with Wizard fulltime, and was there from roughly issue #9 or so until I quit around issue #39, working in the Editorial department, as a staff writer, doing some design work, promotions and even calling up deadbeats for back advertising debt.

"At no time during the rise of Valiant did Gareb's Mom have ANY large scale amounts of back-issue Valiant books in her store, I know this for a fact because I sold her/the Shamuses the only two full runs they ever had in the shop. Mrs. Shamus was notoriously conservative in her ordering, which was odd for the gluttonous times the comic sales market was in, but that also probably saved her from having a back room full of 'Darker Image' #1 cases like most retailers back then.

"Wizard and Valiant's rise were pretty much simultaneous, and I have to admit a lot of that had to do with me---I did a lot of the Valiant coverage, including the 'State of Valiant Address' roundtable interview, as well as being the Editor of the 'Valiant Special' Wizard did. My Valiant relationship ended up being a very strong one after that first San Diego meeting, and being clued into the actual numbers that Valiant was printing by Jon Hartz back then made me quite a bit of money down the road. Valiant's subsequent demise was their own fault, but the owners (Steve Massarsky, Jon Hartz, Bob Layton) made themselves a very good deal with Acclaim to sell the dying imprint, then hot-footed it pretty much out of the comic book business, bags of money in hand."

All very interesting. Then the embitterred thing kicked off.

"Of course, this in no way is to say that Gareb isn't in cahoots with those folks he sells stuff for now, being CGC's biggest butt-boy afterall. He backdoors the 1/2 issues to retailers, and really is basically such a 'Editorial for Ad Revenue' whore now, it's amazing anything that's not made by Marvel or DC gets a plug at all. I could write a book about all the shit that went down there, just in my three years, as I was privvy to a lot of dealings in those days, as I had a lot of industry connections, and the Shamelesses were only too happy to use me for them (I could write a book actually, but who other than a batch of industry pros would care about such dreck). Mrs. Shamus does indeed use her son's connections for her store these days, make no mistake about it---but she never broke the bank off of Valiant.

"As one added fun note, I know for a fact that Gareb Shamus hasn't read a comic book since he started that magazine, and has never written his 'Gspot' or whatever they are calling it this week in the front of the magazine."

And people wonder why I've never been asked to write for Wizard... And from one story of the past, to a more immediate Wizard issue.

THE B SIDE OF WIZARD

[Green Light]"Wizard: The Comics Mega Magazine" #162B is a special issue of Wizard shipping next week on March the 9th between issues 162 and 163. Treated by the company like a regular issue, it concentrates on the crossover between comics and -movies, as well as including the "Wizard Edge" magazine as an inset section.

However, Wizard decided, due to the schedule of the book, not to solicit it as normal through Previews, or even as a Previews Update, allowing retailers to order as many as they want, but instead to send retailers as many copies as they'd ordered of issue 162, and allow returns for unsold copies. However it appeared the retailers would be billed for these immediately, including shipping, only getting a refund when they return copies.

The Delphi Forum, the Comic Book Industry Alliance were the first to notice this and brought board member Stewart Morales from Wizard to account.

This practice has been approved by Diamond before, over product from companies that may have been missed out of Previews once month by mistake. "2000AD" was used as an example.

However, in this case Wizard is a major selling magazine so this is a lot of dollars being heaped onto a retailer's cashflow without warning. It's heavy, with increased shipping cost issues. It may have an impact shipping two weeks after one normal issue and two weeks before the next, reducing the sales opportunity of those non-returnable issues. And traditionally Wizard Special issues have sold less than usual. The publisher however sees this as a standard issue slotted in between regularly numbered issues, which would sell as well as a normal issue.

Advertisers were approached to advertise in this special at the same time as issue 162, so the schedule doesn't seem to have influenced the decision to solicit the magazine in this way. From a number of accounts, it seems to have been a bit of a trojan horse, to see how the retailers responded and see if this would be a way to continue business in the future.

There are also legal issues over the responsibility of ownership of unsolicited product sent to a seller, and it's quite possible that legally retailers could refuse to pay for something they never asked for.

However, after some talking back and forth, Wizard and Diamond have backed down. Retailers will not be invoiced for this issue of Wizard until after the returns deadline. And each retailer can request for their delivery to be cancelled or reduced. But this hasn't been widely reported and interested retailers might be inclined to talk to their Diamond representative about this. There is still an issue over freight, especially amongst non-US retailers, but a resolution is expected there.

It has proved a learning experience for distributor and publisher alike. And a successful rallying cause for involved retailers.

LIGHT AT THE END

[Green Light]Lying In The Gutters makes SSS Comics ads...

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!

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Be seeing you.

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