Lying In The Gutters

Mon, March 7th, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

This is the last Lying In The Gutters for a while. Despite some people's belief that each article takes fifteen seconds to write and research, it generally takes between fifteen and twenty hours a week.

So, with a new one still on the way, I'm stopping for a short while. Call it a sabbatical.

At some point, in some form, Lying In The Gutters will return.

But for this last column, it felt fitting that I cover all the bases. Every single one, a regularly repeated aspect of Lying In The Gutters

A STORY ABOUT A COMIC BOOK JUMPING COMPANIES

[Green Light]It appears that IDW is the front-runner to publish "Fallen Angel" once it ends its DC run with issue #20.

"Fallen Angel," creator owned by Peter David, but published in the DC Universe, has had a troubled history at DC, though survived longer than other similar attempts to launch brand new titles. Partly this was due to intentional speculation that the central character was Linda Danvers, the Supergirl from Peter David's cancelled series of the same name. And a dedicated fan base willing to make their views known to DC and other fans also gave DC reason to support this book, despite failing to sell as well as they might have liked.

But recently, it was made known that "Fallen Angel" had finally been cancelled by DC. But David made it clear that all was not lost.

Horror comics publisher IDW have made it clear that they wish to continue the series. And I understand that David is working on scripts past the DC-cancelled issue, involving the origin of the central character, the Fallen Angel (and in doing so will clarify that the character is not Supergirl or Linda Danvers or anyone else from the DC Universe).

It's interesting to note that while sales of the series were insufficient to justify continued publication from DC, they would make the title one of IDW's best sellers, and very profitable indeed.

However DC has been loath to let other "creator-owned" projects leave in the past. Certainly the contracts usually give DC extended options, renewals and exclusive rights to publish and represent the properties, even if they no longer wish to publish them.

Both Peter David, IDW and DC Comics declined to comment on this story.

However, I'm also told that the cover originally intended for issue 20, before the George Perez "Sachs And Violens" cover replaced it, is being considered as the cover to launch the first issue from the new publisher.

A STORY ABOUT DC CENSORING ARTWORK

[Green Light]Bloody Newsarama. Running the same DC-censoring-artwork story I was going to run in my last Lying In The Gutters, would have been the perfect article for the last issue, considering the LITG history with the likes of "The Authority," "Tomorrow Stories," "80 Page Giant" and "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen."

But the CMX-altered artwork on "Tenjo Tenge" doesn't seem to stop with the Lister X compiled changes or the AnimeOnDVD forums side by side comparisons.

It's much more involved with the question as to why DC decided to translate a book labelled 18+ in Japan (with their laxer restrictions), yet solicit it is a Teen Label book in the USA?

The editor's note in the back of the first volume of "Tenjho Tenge" is incredibly disingenuous. It reads "We have worked closely with the author and original publisher to prepare the American edition according to Oh! great's wishes. The author approved limited revisions in order to make his work more accessible to a wider American audience."

The Mike Miller defence there, ladies and gents. But with customers already threatening to return their purchased copies, and other adult manga storming the charts, this doesn't appear to have been the ideal solution.

The content, despite a few removed panty shots, and breast explosions, is still not suitable for teens as the US market stands. And there is certainly the possibility of an aggrieved parent going postal.

I understand there is considerable disquiet over this at DC as to how this situation both arose and was dealt with. Look for a solution in the near future.

Especially considering the first volume of the series is relatively tame. By volume ten, it's fairly inconceivable as to how DC are going to alter the artwork to make the following sadomasochistic visuals and content acceptable for a Teen audience.

I don't think drawing on a bra or two is going to do it.

A STORY NOT ABOUT WIZARD

[Green Light]This article has been removed at Wizard's request.

A STORY ABOUT A WOMAN IN A CHAIN MAIL BIKINI

[Green Light]It's not news that a reduced price comic will sell well. Whether it's 9c, 10c or 25c, sales will always get a boost as retailers find the opportunity to get people to try out new comics for pennies. But of late the effect has not been as strong as when DC first tried it. You can rely on tens of thousands of orders, but not the hundreds of thousands of yesteryear (about 2002 by my watch). Diamond removed reduced price comics from the chart, because of their statistical corrupting nature, but recently it seems there's been little need.

Turns out "Red Sonja" from Dynamite Entertainment may reverse that trend. I understand that the issue #0, released for just 25c, might just break a hundred thousand orders.

Spinning off from Dark Horse's success with "Conan" (often being the only non-superhero book in the top fifty), "Red Sonja" #0 is written by Mike Carey and Michael Van Oeming with Mel Rubi on art.

And, the most important thing, she's got breasts. Two of them, so that helps.

A STORY ABOUT GAYS AND COMICS

[Green Light]I would have called this piece "Chickens, Otters And Bears." But no, I had to be clever-clever.

The gay adult comic book art website BritDoodz hosts a gallery of illustrations of young athletic men with their cocks out.


But the artwork looked very familiar indeed, reminiscent of Jack Lawrence's work on "Lions, Tigers And Bears," by Mike Bullock and Jack Lawrence.

A quick root round the IP address shows that the site is registered by Theo Bain, another ex-APC artist and currently working with Mike Bullock as well, on "Gimoles."

However someone was trying to cause trouble for Jack and Theo, emailing a bunch of people to "expose" their supposedly sordid little secret. Hell, even their old publisher APC got worried and tried to do some "damage limitation."

Pathetic, malicious and also quite sad. This is the twenty-first century. So, with Jack and Theo's permission, I'm turning the tables.

Their work here is fantastic. Publishers, give them more. I've already had a few gay guys and straight women drooling over these pictures, and quite happy to shell out their pennies.

A STORY ABOUT STEVE PUGH

[Green Light]"Hotwire" was a character created by Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh for

"A1." It was never published.

This year, in "A1 BoJeffries Terror Tomes" #1, the series reprinting Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse's classic "The BoJeffries Saga," will also see the first published appearance of Hotwire in a story called "Filthy," written and drawn by LITG-favourite Steve Pugh.

Feast your eyes.

A STORY ABOUT MESSAGE BOARDS AND TROLLS

[Green Light]A troll is defined on the Internet as someone who posts with the intent to stir up trouble and nothing else.

Usually, if a troll causes problems on a message board, he or she gets gagged or banned. If they return, their IP address may get banned.

Many comic companies and comic creators have had to deal with the troll problem in their time, with a variety of solutions.

AC Comics have found a brand new one.

The Femforce message board is run by fans, but sanctioned by AC Comics. Some of the writers post there as well as fans. One fellow known as Wizard Of Northampton decided to start trolling.

And so Paul, the individual who runs the message board, decided to engage in a little cyberstalking, and posted his life's details on the board in a mocking manner, and has threatened to use them to ruin the Wizard's life if he continues to post on the board. And AC Comics staff seem to have approved of such tactics.

Bloody hell. John Byrne should take notes.

A STORY ABOUT COMIC BOOKS ON BRITISH TV AND RADIO

[Green Light]Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's "The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch," published as a graphic novel by a fair few publishers, is now a BBC Radio 3 drama.

Dedicated to highbrow and cultural music and expression, once known as The Third Programme, BBC Radio 3 is home to mostly classical music, arts documentary and experimentation, such as The Wire slot, in which this programme appears.

It's broadcast from 10pm-11pm on Thursday and will be streamed for the following month here. Dave McKean and Ashley Slater provide music for the drama. The programme is directed by Lu Kemp.

Also, on Saturday, BBC Radio 4 broadcast "Is Superman Jewish," with novellist Howard Jacobson investigating Superman's Jewish roots and how his life parallels the Jewish experience.

This is streamed here until next Saturday

Comic Relief is a bi-annual charity fundraising show that's been running for twenty years on BBC1. This year's all night show, Red Nose Day will be on Friday, and events have been running for weeks (including sales of the Little Britain Comic Reflief DVD).

Last time, Steven Moffat wrote a hilarious Doctor Who parody "The Curse Of The Fatal Death" starring Rowan Atkinson, Jonathan Pryce and Julia Sawalha, with the Doctor also played by Richard E Grant, Hugh Grant, James Broadbent and Joanna Lumley.

This year's equivalent is a major Spider-Man parody, with Rowan Atkinson, Mackenzie Crook, Simon Pegg and Tony Robinson.

Expect torrents the second it goes off air.

A STORY ABOUT DREAMWAVE

[Yellow Light]More of a goodbye really. Turns out there are creators owed money by Dreamwave not on the creditor list sent out two weeks ago, such as Josh Burcham still owed $2,520.

And one individual asked if I remembered the resignation of Ross Rojek during the CMI Holding/AnotherUniverse.com debacle a few years ago, where goods were not delivered, licenses not paid and the company collapsed owing a lot of people a lot of money?

One of the other people to resign alongside Rojek as part of the settlement agreement was Bob Matson, who went on to become Dreamwave's most recent business manager. He's now working for Dream Engine, and doing unpaid consultation all over the place.

Also, as pointed out by everyone, the "secured" cars on the list I printed, probably means they're owned by leasing agents.

But if you want to vote for Dreamwave as Canadian publisher of the year, go for it!!!

A STORY ABOUT EUROPEAN COMICS BEING REPRINTED IN THE US

[Green Light]I understand Marvel US are looking into reprinting the Captain Britain story from Marvel UK/Panini to reprint in Marvel Milestones this summer.

Certainly good to see classic Cap still being stocked by the colonies.

A STORY ABOUT PRETTY THINGS

A strip by Travis Charest called "Spacegirl/"



More as they arrive here.

DC-CUTION

[Yellow Light]Expect a swathe of DC resignations/dismissals in the upcoming months. Politics and personnell are getting intertwined as never before. Compgate was just the start. It's getting nasty in there.

Also, I hear Diana Schutz is going through the annual attempt by DC to hire her from Dark Horse. If Karen ever chooses to leave DC, they'll offer Diana the Vertigo line.

A STORY ABOUT PANINI'S TAKEOVER OF THE WORLD

[Green Light]After adding Spain to their dominion in January, Panini has already conquered a new market. It was revealed in this Argentinian board by an ex-employee of the current South American Marvel licensee Conosur, that "Comics Conosur ya no editara mas comics de Marvel en la Argentina. La razon: No se nos renovo el contrato. La razon? Panini/ Marvel se viene a instalar en Chile o Argentina a editar Marvel para toda Latinoamerica."

Or for us plebs, "Comics Conosur will no longer publish Marvel in Argentina. The contract hasn't been renewed. The reason? Panini is going to establish in Chile or Argentina and publish for all Latin America."

This probably won't include Mexico, as there's a standing licence. And Panini already has the licence in Brazil.

So the continent of South America should do Panini. For now.

But it looks as if DC is also returning to South America. Their new publisher seems to be counting the seconds...

And back across the ocean, it looks as if the DC Spanish rights are moving to Panini as well, replicating the German and UK market where Panini publishes both DC and Marvel, rather than the previously thought Planeta. See what happens in May when DC's contract with current Spanish publisher Norma expires.

A STORY ABOUT SPEAKEASY

[Green Light]Page from the upcoming Speakeasy "Beowulf" project. Drawn by Dub. Make sure you get yours....

A STORY ABOUT SOME WEIRD CASTING CALL

[Green Light]Casting for Marvel's "Black Widow" movie?

No.

A STORY ABOUT DOCTOR WHO

[Green Light]The first episode of the new series is spreading around the world. Apparently leaked from a DVD sent to a Canadian broadcaster, it got intercepted, copied and torrented.

But it looks like it'll be great Saturday early evening entertainment.

It's not trying to be adult like "Battlestar Galactica," this is a proper family programme. Fun, interesting people, actual scary bits for the little ones to cuddle up to granny, and Eccleston does that infectious grin thing that Troughton, Pertwee and First Baker could do.

The first episode is from Rose's, played by Billy Piper, point of view. A young woman, working in a London department store, whose world goes horribly wrong when the Doctor invades it, and blows up her workplace. Repeated meetings makes his plan clearer to us, if not her. The audience gets dragged back into Doctor Who (which is good, because he's been away a while). Piece by piece, he's made clearer to us, while still not telling us anything about him at all.

Its influences are more "Cold Feet" and "Cutting It" than sci-fi. It's incredibly British. Flaws all over the place, but with a pace that lets them drop. It feels like an early evening BBC drama. Just one that goes strangely, horribly wrong.

Little bit of dodgy CGI, not even up to the recent Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased)'s standard, but way in advance of old Doctor Who, but the main actors are great, the TARDIS looks fantastic - like the industrial revolution crossed with a whale's stomach, and the dialogue is top notch.

"If you're an alien, how come it sounds like you're from the North?"

"Lots of planets have a North."

Oh don't worry, you'll get it eventually. The theme tune is the one from the sixties and seventies with a little sparkle. And Bryan Hitch gets his deserved credit.

A STORY ABOUT PROBLEMATIC ADULT COMIC BOOKS

[Green Light]No, not CMX. Not yet.

I'm talking about the Funky Winkerbean.

Thursday's
Friday's
Saturday's
Sunday's
Today's

Anyone a little worried about where this is heading? At what point will the CBLDF be involved?

And now a run down of some of our favourite Lying In The Gutters people...

A STORY ABOUT WHAT MARK ALESSI HAS BEEN UP TO

[Green Light]So what's the bad boy of Lying In The Gutters been up to of late?

Well, Mark Alessi recently married his fiance, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of CrossGen, Jennifer Hernandez (who had received a 4ct diamond engagement ring about 6 months b/4 CrossGen filed bankruptcy).

He sold his house and bought a new $800k property.

He bought two new Lexus' for them both.

He started a new Company called Elite Associates, Inc.

In which he installed all the fixed assets (computers, desks, furniture, equipment) from the CrossGen office, as Disney didn't want any of it, estimated value $250k.

Although for anyone with gritted teeth, remember. Mark Alessi lost millions on CrossGen in the end. Allow him a little luxury.

A STORY ABOUT JOHN TADDEO

[Green Light]So John Taddeo may not have gotten Crossgen, but he didn't walk away empty handed. Turns out, besides the Greg Land artwork to "American Power," John also managed to purchase the entire compound of equipment. Printers, computers art tables and boxes upon boxes of unsold Crossgen comics. So the question is . . .why?

John Taddeo was seen at the Valiant auction with Billy Tucci. John's company took over the colouring of Tucci's "Shi."

Taddeo already has a project with ex-Valiant Bob Layton.

What were the reference sketches and character turns Taddeo was explaining to Gene Colon?

Join the dots with a big black marker and it takes the shape of Assassination Entertainment.

Featuring a ten-minute animated unfinished short to promote "Zoom Suit," a new animated comic book. Involving all these folks, ex-CrossGenner and ex-Valiant creator Bart Sears and Billy Dallas Patton.

"Zoom Suit." A new comic by Bob Layton, Bart Sears and Billy Tucci.

It looks like Captain Pugwash in space.

A STORY ABOUT THAT COVER

[Green Light]Before it was taken off the site on Friday, John Taddeo also had a comic named "Codename: Superpower" listed with a very familiar cover listed with New York Times best selling writer Steve Alten ("MEG," "The Lock," "Goliath") is taking up the writing chores on the newly retitled "American Power" from Assassination Entertainment.

How the gimp mask will feature is anyone's guess.

A STORY ABOUT FRANK CHO

[Green Light]"Shanna" ends with an over the top (but under the covers) battle of survival and self discovery. Issue 3 gets a new colourist in Jason Keith ("Doc Frankenstein").


"Zombie King" #0 lets Frank go all disturbing on us with disgusting, degrading horror. Picture a warehouse full of zombies, handful of security guards, several local gun happy rednecks, cabinet full of guns, and a nuclear bomb. You have "Zombie King."

"Liberty Meadows Collection Book 4" and "Liberty Meadows Colored Sunday Strip Collection Book" will both come out later this year. Just in time as Hollywood has come calling...

A STORY ABOUT ALEX DE CAMPI

[Green Light]Alex De Campi at Newsarama.

"I'm more of an auteur than a mainstream writer, anyway."

Let the backlash commence!

A STORY ABOUT FRAZER IRVING

[Green Light]"The End Is Nigh" is a new project released for Bristol this year, with work from "2000AD" creators including Frazer Irving. And the first issue is all zombies...

He's also got a release date for his Frankenstein book... 19th of May in the US and the UK...

And some very expensive version for those with money.

A STORY ABOUT JUST ONE PAGE

[Green Light]Every year, LITG covers the "Just One Page" project, where comic book professionals around the world create one page of work (writing or art) for charity. The deadline's the 31st of March, so give "Just One Page" magazine organiser Adrian Brown a shout.

The third magazine will be launched at Bristol. This year the theme is "Best Battles" and "Top Team Ups". Previews here, pledges here.

Also associated with "Just One Page" is "The 24 Minute Mini Comic" at the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing on 19th March.

"Just One Page" is also looking for sponsors (who'll get their money back) to help cashflow.

Email Adrian Brown at just1page@aol.com

A STORY ABOUT ME

[Green Light]"Chase Variant" appears in the first volume of Event Horizon, in this month's Previews from Mam Tor. More chapters in subsequent volumes. Apparently Steve Niles and Brian Holguin are on board for all twelve issues of volume one. And the "Fucking Savages" serial will eventually turn into a barbarian Avengers for grownups. Here's a picture from that.

Newsarama asked me to write about "V For Vendetta." Caused a bit of a hoohah. I'm told, even altered studio policy on one or two matters. Getting picked up all over the place...

"The Comics Journal" featuring Brian Bendis on the cover and me on the inside reached the UK this week. Not too shabby. I should use the photo in there, it's better than most. Only one real correction - CBR have mentioned to me that they've already run a story I'm working on, rather than asked me to remove a story they're about to run. Aside from that, seems fair.

I'm off now. Baby hasn't made its toboggan run down the birth canal yet, but any day now.

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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