Lying In The Gutters

Mon, May 22nd, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 53

Welcome to the most popular and longest running comics column on the internet. In its various forms, Lying In The Gutters has covered rumours and gossip in the comics industry for twelve long glorious and quite scary years.

All stories are sourced from well-connected individuals and checked with respective publisher representatives before publication. Mostly. The veracity of each story is judged by me and given a spotlight - Green is the most reliable, Amber means there's likely an interest involved or the likelihood isn't set and Red means even I can't quite bring myself to believe it.

Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced.

Thought Of The Week - Am I the only one to hear that no Stormtroopers or Jedi Knights assisted police at the Motor City Convention? For shame.

BAD CARD

[Red Light]There's been a virulent rumour that's come to me from a few very high-placed sources in the comics industry to the effect that Mark Waid has dropped out of dialogue duties on "52," though his name will be still on the book.

This has been denied to me by DC, and directly denied by "52" writer Greg Rucka who says, "I don't know whether to laugh at this or to cry, man. I have heard nothing about this, and frankly, I think it's bullshit. Whoever your source is, they're yanking your chain on this. As of 8pm PST, it's news to me, and that's after speaking to Mark."

"52" is DC's biggest project for some time, with a lot of investment resting on it. With issue 25 already written and 17 fully finished, it's no wonder that a few otherwise rumours get loose.

THAT CORRIDOR SCENE FROM X-MEN 3

[Green Light]From RichAndMark.com...

Brokeback Mutant

FANCY THAT

[Green Light]Erik Larsen on March 7th 2006:

"Both Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri will be reprinting their contributions to the Image hardcover shortly.

"Jovial Joe Keatinge has suggested that I do the same. He thinks it's one of the few #0 books that actually makes sense and that it should be reprinted as an inexpensive single issue that could be slotted into your Savage Dragon collection right before the first issue of the initial 'Savage Dragon' miniseries.

"I tend to think that it's too soon and that it would be a slap in the face to those who shelled out the big bucks to buy the Image hardcover. I'm thinking people would be pissed off if it was put out as a single issue so soon after the hardcover went on sale."

Previews on May 16th 2006:

SAVAGE DRAGON #0
story by ERIK LARSEN


art & cover by ERIK LARSEN


August 30 o 32 pg o FC o $1.95

THE ORIGIN OF THE SAVAGE DRAGON!


Representing the titanic tale of how Savage Dragon came to be from the sold out IMAGE COMICS HC! If you've ever wondered where the Dragon hailed from or how he came to be - this is it! Formatted and priced to fit in right before the first issue of the three-issue SAVAGE DRAGON miniseries, this issue sets the stage for literally everything that has happened to the Dragon from 1992 onwards!

Looks like the popular vote won!

NO FRONTIER

[Green Light]Last week, Amazon.com listed Darwyn Cooke's Absolute "New Frontier" for only 13 bucks, due to ship in October.

It promptly rose to #3 in the Amazon book charts.

Sadly a few days later, all orders were cancelled…

Including mine. Bastards.

DAREDEVILIN THE DETAILS

[Green Light]Coming from Marvel. "Daredevil" Vol 1 HC. The mended version. Now with fixed pages, text and issue 12 that they missed out the first time, all for just $5 more that the original version I've got sitting on my bookshelf.

Arse.

CHAREST SHIFTERS

[Green Light]Art from Travis Charest's upcoming "Dreamshifters."

RED BULL AND VINEGAR

[Green Light]Once upon a time, a comic book fan flew to England, stalked Warren Ellis to his favourite Essex pub and bought him a can of Red Bull.

He's now started a comic book publishing company.

That's how comics works, folks!

DEVIL'S DUE TURNS TO CRAIGSLIST

[Green Light]Chicago-based? Want to work in comics?

Check out Devil's Due's listing.

CAMPING OUT

[Green Light]Alex De Campi, creator of "Smoke" and the upcoming heavily-anticipated "Kat & Mouse" from TokyoPop, has been pitching in Cannes and blogging every minute she can.

Here is her film pitch video.

Here is her latest music video.

Here is her staring into the headlights of an oncoming truck.

LAYING CABLE

[Yellow Light]Last week's CBR interview with Alex Ross touched on the inspiration behind "Kingdom Come's" Magog. It seems to have struck a nerve. Ross said. "What I was stealing from was - really only two key designs of Rob's - the design of Cable. I hated it. I felt like it looked like they just threw up everything on the character - the scars, the thing going on with his eye, the arm, and what's with all the guns?"

This led to the start of an "Alex Ross hates Rob Liefeld's design of Cable but admits to ripping them off" thread on Rob's messageboard at Heroesrealm where, unsurprisingly, Ross's swiping led to an outpouring of derision and scorn from Rob's fans. Luckily Rob was on hand to cool down the Ross-hate posting: "I don't think anyone is truly upset, more amused than anything." and "Comics is like sports or politics....feel free to vent and share your hostilities...but if they're too nasty about anyone, they'll be deleted. There's a difference to 'I don't like your art Rob Liefeld' and 'You're art makes me puke.'"

Rob Liefeld then asked his readers to list as many Cable ripoffs as they could, starting with "Warstrike by Malibu."

When Magog from "Kingdom Come" was mentioned, intended by Waid and Ross to sum up the nineties hero, Rob replied "Ross is such an A-hole...." and later "Cable has literally made me a gajillion dollars. Rossy-poo is just jealous Magog didn't do the same for him. Nice try though."

There was an interesting back-and-forth over Rob's statement "Bishop IS the single biggest Cable rip..." Karl Altstaetter, an Homage Studios house artist during Jim 'n Whilce's Punisher and X-Men days, and later for Rob's Extreme Studios replied: "Bishop was never meant to be a Cable rip…it just turned out that way...he was never meant to even be around for that long..."

Rob disagreed. "Sorry Karl, the rest of us saw a big guy with tatoo/scar-ish eyes, with guns, from the future. He's the most obvious Cable rip of them all, intent aside."

Karl countered with, "Bishop was meant to be a cross between Lobo and Chuck D...the M tattoo came from the Days of Future Past story...he was meant to come from a different future...which got all screwed up in the Romita issue...the original story was to have this guy come back...from a future where the X-men were soldiers/cops...he would end up dieing in the present and the issue would end with the X-men finding the young Bishop in the present and hopefully teaching him a different path in life...but that's not the story that came out...

"Oh well..."

There are some Cable-spotters who of course look further back than "New Mutants" #87. And this is where the conspiracy theories start. Tanner from "2000AD" has the look. Especially since Rob attributes the creation of Cable to the initial sketch and design, rather than a character, personality or history.

However he differs from Rob's clarified criteria "a big guy with tatoo/scar-ish eyes, with guns, from the future" Tanner's perfectly normal eyes rule him out, sadly. Back and to the left. Back and to the left.

So what about this fellow? "…an imposing human in his mid-fifties whose rugged and grim demeanor hides a terrible secret: a body that is half cybernetic. The left half of his body, which is cybernetic, is normally covered with syntheflesh; a small scar above his right eye.... In battle often wears a suit of blue battle armor and carries a variety of weapons included a repeating blaster that his enhanced strength allows him to easily wield."

That would be the Star Wars description of Valance The Hunter, a character created by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson, designed by Simonson who first appeared in Marvel's Star Wars #16 in 1978.

The Hunter was also middle aged, had two-tone hair, liked big guns with knives attached, wore shoulder pads, bullet belts, pouch belts, wrist bands etc. etc. etc.

His first appearance:

An internal shot

A later look

Rob Liefeld is also a self-confessed major Star Wars fanatic. And Dan Fraga, ex-Liefeld stablemate, has previously mentioned "Star Wars" #16 as Cable's starting point. And The Hunter was designed by Walt Simonson, Louise Simonson's husband, the writer credited with creating much of Cable's initial personality and purpose.

Rob denied Louise Simonson had any such input.

"That's just plain untrue. God bless her, she's a fantastic talent but she had nothing to do with Cable's creation or conception. Were it not for Marvel's peculiar business practice of crediting the writer or scripter of the issue where the character first appears as the c-creator, this wouldn't be an issue. Had Bill Mantlo scripted Cable or Deadpool's first appearance, they would be credited with his co-creation.

"I'm happy she has benefited financially as she is a talented and lovely lady.

"He was born on my sketchpad, in response to a request from my editor to create a new tough leader for the New Mutants.

"After I submitted him with copious notes and named Cable, he was integrated into the story immediately beginning with issue #87.

"There was no script or plot that preceded the creation and design of Cable."

Walt Simonson's recollection differs. "The design for Cable [was] originally one of several designs Rob did for a villain (designs done for Stryfe IIRC). Bob Harras liked the design as did Weezie and asked if they couldn't make a good guy out of him. Weezie was already working on creating a new leader for the New Mutants (something Bob was also interested in) and the military background/attitude was always intended to be a part of the character. Weezie was tired of the Prof. X attitude of whiny leadership that was always agonizing over sending the New Mutants into harm's way and thought that an interesting story direction would be to create a leader who knew the score, understood the dangers, and would in fact view the NMutants essentially as soldiers, being sent into battle."

Here are a few other Cable origin stories.

Of course, it's also worth remembering that no one has ever got so upset over who created, say, USAgent. Cable matters, you see…

I took all this to Rob who revealed a previously unknown brand new origin for the creation Cable.

"With all due respect to Walt Simonson, Stryfe was brought to the table months after Cable was created, designed and implemented. Cable was in fact first introduced as a character in an Alpha Flight proposal that I gave to Danny Fingeroth that was green lit and moving forward until an Alpha Flight re-launch was ultimately ruled out, a condition necessary for me to jump over from the X-office. Cable walked in the doors with me when I arrived at Marvel, he eventually turned up in New Mutants and here we are 17 years later. Not Commander X, Not Quinn, Cable.

"Bob trusted me with turning the New Mutants around and after a brief period with Louise Simonson, I was handed control of the title and we created comics history. The book went from the lowest selling X-Men title to the top of the charts. Issue #100, the single proudest achievement of my Marvel career, had four printings and sold 1 million copies. No variants, no trading cards, just momentum from a story and artwork that excited a generation of fans to jump on board, setting the stage for the 5 million copies of 'X-Force' #1.

"As for Cable's influences, look no further than Bruce Willis circa 'Die Hard' meets a certain death dealing cyborg from the future. Cable however, with his mixture of sci-fi-mutant-action-hero-big-guns-pouches-scar-cyborg-fruits-to-nuts character mix did indeed create his own brand of creative spin-offs and rip-offs. Magog being one of the most obvious admitted examples."

"Alpha Flight," I asked? This was new info...

"Well, before I was committed to New Mutants, I was looking for a vehicle that I could have more plot input on and it turns out that they were looking for a new team on 'Alpha Flight.' I was a huge fan and sent in a two year proposal that pre-dates my start on 'New Mutants' by about seven months. Cable was introduced as a soldier from Wolverine's past, who would have worked with the existing Alpha Flight roster. Danny Fingeroth was eager to get me on the series, but when it wasn't going to be re-launched I opted for 'New Mutants' and was able to do a dramatic housecleaning with editorial's blessing. My second issue of 'New Mutants,' there were several new characters of my design and creation that debuted, including but not limited to Cable. The entire MLF roster was created by me, Thumbleina, Tempo, Fourarm, Wildside, Reaper were among the new villians including Stryfe to appear. The book's tone and direction was changed from that point onward. There was little to no resemblance to what had gone before with the previous creative teams. Fans can make up thier own minds as to how much I did or did not contribute to what was a wholesale creative face lift on a book that was facing cancellation as I accepted the assignment."

CYBERFROGGED

[Green Light]Ethan Van Sciver has been a regular at the John Byrne Message Board. Not any more. He writes, "Because someone inferred from my post in a thread about 10 Ways to Tell If You're Too Old to Read Comics that John Byrne inked with Sharpie markers, and this is a BAD thing, some coward has revoked my membership on the board, while running three pages of reactionary responses from Byrne fans.

"As Byrne himself has responded, Terry Austin and Neal Adams both ink with Sharpie markers (they DO>?!) and nobody is saying they are too old to work in this business.

"A smart *** joke is a smart *** joke. Let's have a sense of humor please, or at least allow a two way discussion."

Ethan, how long have you posted at the Byrne board? And you still think this???

SEPARATED AT BIRTH

[Green Light]

Cover to "The Emissary"

Dali's "Christ In Perspective"

MADAM PALM AND HER FIVE LOVELY DAUGHTERS

[Green Light]Also, one reader was most incensed at a comment from Erik Larsen last week concerning "Lost Girls." Specifically the phrase, "but don't try to tell me that a paedophile would make that distinction as he thumbs through the pages of this book and shakes hands with the unemployed."

The response was, "Is Erik Larsen equating or otherwise unnecessarily associating paedophiles with the unemployed. As if he somehow holds contempt for both in equal measure. Or something of the sort. Who am I to judge. But I really couldn't help but pick up on this point. I mean, why and how do the unemployed even come into a discussion on 'Lost Girls?' I mean, what the hell? Is there a point I'm missing? A link I'm not seeing?"

Yes… think "euphemism"…

TWO HATS TONY

[Green Light]This week, Steven Grant talked about the boorish predictability of alcohol levels at comic conventions.

Apropos of nothing, Tony Lee last weekend.

Yay!

30 DAYS OF SPITE

[Green Light]Making the rounds of the internet, and broken out by The Beat, was this diatribe by artist Matt Busch against writer Steve Niles.

Lying In The Gutters have discovered an edited recording of the phone messages mentioned.

Don Murphy, producer of "Apt Pupil," "From Hell" and "LXG" movies, and currently producing "Transformers," used the Niles story as a way to rail against both him and current Transformers comics publisher IDW. And without anyone else offering Steve Niles' version, the internet went a little AvengingTitanCastration TM.

As I understand it, Don Murphy and Steve Niles fell out over film rights to one of Niles' properties. Of course, Steve Niles and IDW had a falling out a couple of years ago over a difference concerning continued media rights to comic properties, so Niles left and now does the majority of his work for Marvel and Dark Horse - neither of which have gained Don Murphy's ire as of yet.

As to the reason behind the phonecall to Busch, Niles told me by e-mail, "These people threatened me, my loved ones and my ex wife. That's how I react to cowards. People taunt me for years, or post coward rants, and I react. I'll work on that. Bottom line, I don't think airing personal or professional disputes is either the right or professional thing do. I'm trying to protect my ex wife, Nikki, who clearly wants no part. The divorce is painful enough without all of this."

SMALL PRINT

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum.

Contact me on richjohnston@gmail.com or on AOL Instant Messenger as TwistRich.

You can also write to me at 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU ENGLAND

Or call me/text me on 0780 1350982 from the UK or 01144780 1350982 from the US.

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