Lying In The Gutters

Mon, June 19th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 57

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.

FLYING FRIED

[Green Light]This week's column is late because I've been out of the country. Sunning myself in Southern Italy at the cost of the Italian taxpayer. Why? Because I wrote a comic book about the Flying Friar.

Published by Speakeasy earlier this year, it was a liberal retelling of the life story on Saint Joseph (San Guiseppe) of Copertino, a figure I discovered whilst idly googling. The book got a little press in the London Times and Guardian, Catholic newspapers, and then the Italian press. It created such a storm in the town of Copertino that the mayor of Copertino invited myself and my wife Janice over to see the town that had inspired such a tale, and to stay in a hotel next to Grotella, which played such an important part of his life, and where they were having a festival the next day (while also showing Italy Vs USA on the big outdoor screen)

Wow.

First of all, Copertino is located in the "heel" of Italy, surrounded by olive and lemon trees, with beaches on all sides. Close to the city of Lecce, it's a wonderful working Mediterranean town, with St. Joseph as the central figure. There are statues, there are arches, there are frescos, there are carved doors depicting the man and his life. Coming across the first statue, I realized just how big a deal this really was. And on my first night there, I took part in an outdoor stage theological and philosophical discussion about St Joseph and his modern relevance. Which ended up on the television and in the papers, with me taking up most of it. I've never really experienced the star lifestyle before, but wherever we went, we were feted. We dined with the mayor. People came up to us in the street demanding their photo taken with us. Free food, free drink wherever we went. Most enjoyable. But I also got the impression that Copertino makes everyone welcome, whether or not they've been in the papers.

English is hardly spoken, but we found a common understanding (much of which I have to say was down to our guides, drivers, translators, organizers, hagglers, secretaries, personal assistants and now close friends Paulo and Rosi). The food was fantastic (I would heartily recommend the sea food and gnocchi at "Arena delle Stelle" and the pizzas at "Phoenix") and the architecture and general ambience of the place was so warm, genuine and fascinating. It has really won a place in our hearts.

We also saw Lecce, a combination of astounding cathedrals, piazzas, walkways and shoe shops. The beaches with the most clear sea I've ever seen (as well as the best ice creams I've ever tasted). And we were left with the impression that there is so much more to see. Our thanks to all the people of Copertino who made our visit so wonderful and you have won a place in our hearts.

While "The Flying Friar" is currently available for download in English, the book will be published in Italian in September by ItalyComics, to coincide with the date of St Joseph's Feast Day. Janice and I are already working out the logistics of coming back in September. We have to.

Of course, on the flight back, the airline Alitalia lost our luggage. St Joseph would never have done that. So hopefully we'll have better, less blurred photos next week.

FIRST SPOILER

[Green Light]Earlier last week, Marvel was threatening comic book websites that they would withdraw cooperation with any future Marvel articles, stories or features if they published the "Civil War" 2 spoiler that Marvel let out themselves in the in First Look editions of "Thunderbolts" #103. Even The Great Curve got an internal warning now that they're the Blogorama. And Marvel were thrilled that the Internet rallied in keeping this a secret - for the benefit of all...

However the next day, Marvel arranged to splash the reveal all over the New York Post before readers could get to the shops to buy the comic for themselves - and it spread out to other US and UK news sources, again before the readers had a chance to buy the comic. It's one thing avoiding spoilers on the John Byrne board. Another thing when it's the bloody BBC.

Sometimes the left hand just doesn't know what the right hand is spinning.

TEXCLUSIVE

[Green Light]Marvel's new upcoming exclusive announcement is that they've got Mark Texeira. Now, if you were Marvel and you had Tex as an exclusive, which book would you put him on?

Exactly.

BLACKMAIL

[Yellow Light]A Gutterati reports: "I was at the Grant Morrison signing at Forbidden Planet on Sat. June 10. I asked him about his upcoming Vertigo projects, and he mentioned that 'Sea Guy' will continue with The Slaves of Mickey Eye. He also mentioned that he had to 'hold '52' for ransom' to get DC to publish. NO 'Sea Guy,' NO '52.'"

'Seaguy II?' Put me down for a copy immediately...

WOLVEREED

[Green Light]From RobLiefield.Net: artwork from the "Onslaught Reborn" project for Marvel.

Goodness.

AVATAR OF THE LIVING DEAD

[Green Light]Screenwriters of "Night Of The Living Dead," George A Romero and John Russo, are working on a comics-only prequel to the film. In September, Avatar are publishing "George A Romero's Night of the Living Dead: Back from the Grave" - a short story and behind-the-scenes features, with #1 of the 3 part series shipping in October, with art by Sebastian Fiumara.

Look for a number of George A Romero/Avatar series in the near future.

FUDGE DREDD

[Red Light]Forget Spider-Man, John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra are working on a 35 part origin epic for 200AD/Megazine that will reveal Judge Dredd's face after 30 years...

I think he'll look like the guy who won American Idol.

UPDATE: There may have been some mistranslation here. Rufus Dayglo posted on the 2000AD Online message board this weekend that this may be a combination of an interviewer, Carlos Ezquerra's slightly imperfect English, and a lack of opportunity to correct. Firstly the "Origins" series is a 5 part prelude, and 23 episodes proper. And more importantly, according to W.R. Logan, a longtime friend of John Wagner, "I've read every script and in every one John stresses that neither Dredd or Fargo's face is shown."

Of course, Dredd's face was unitentionally shown a while back when Simon Fraser drew Dredd & his brother Rico as cadets without helmets in a Wagner written story. Didn't go down well.

MACCAM HATTER

[Green Light]"Alice In Sunderland" is a Bryan Talbot graphic novel work in progress that LITG has been following for some time. Earlier in the week, Bryan told me, "The book is going to be published in the UK by Jonathan Cape (Random House) and in the States by Dark Horse. As far as I know, it'll be out in February... After four years work on the book I've very pleased to be able to say that!"

For more sample pages, see here.

PHONEY GRAM?

[Yellow Light]"Phonogram" is a to-be-published comic that's been getting a bit of attention (from this column, to boot!) But will all the attention be welcome?

One reader writes, "I was in an occult bookshop in London near the British Museum the other day when I overheard a strange conversation. I didn't catch all of it, but what I did hear went something along the lines of:

"Dammit, this looks genuine... Actual Theban script, how could they know about that?... they shouldn't be publishing stuff like this.."

"and to finish it off:

"THEY'RE MESSING WITH POWERS THEY COULDN'T POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND!"

"Naturally, I was extremely curious and wanted to find out what he was going on about, but with that outburst the guy that was ranting (who by the way looked strangely like Kylie Minogue, even though he was bald and stockily built) legged it out of the door, looking around if as expecting something to be chasing after him.

"I glanced over to the shopkeeper's desk to see what he'd been talking about.

"It was the preview postcard for Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's PHONOGRAM.

"I swear that's a true story."

A quick recap with Kieron later and he confirms the Thetanicity on the cover. And that "the actual logo has Theban in it, too. The letters between each of the main ones are Theban... Commonly used by witches. Appeared in about 1500 or so. Apparently invented by Honorious of Thebe"

Kieron went on to say, "The week after Kitten actually did the cover, he had incredible bad luck from physical injury to his computer blowing up." As to the comments, "Heh. Bloody witches getting all uppity at us stealing their magic. We're all about meddling in things man was not meant to meddle with. We own Menswear Albums."

Enough said, I think.

JOBS FOR THE BOYS

[Green Light]Hey comic book retailer! Ever feel in the doldrums because life's not what it's cracked up to be? Well you're wrong. It's the 4th most desired job according to men. Just behind video game designer, brewer and toy creator and way ahead of casino host.

So think on! You're living the dream!

COMICS SHOWCLOSE

[Green Light]LITG is proud to present a report on the very last day of a London comic shop after twenty-five years.

Comic Showcase: A positively Final Appearance

Wow, My last day at work, and I arrive to a cue. Yes we had a cue of people waiting to get in! All right it was a cue of two, but a cue none the less. So that was how my day began, at 9:30 am Saturday 17 th June 2006. The last official trading day of Paul Hudson's Comic Showcase. Then at about 3pm that afternoon the first beer was cracked open and the floods of people came, we had Dave Gibbons, who signed my Watchmen trade and drew me a wonderful sketch of Rorschach, Gary Leach, John McCrea, Kevin O'Neil and Woodrow Phoenix. As well we had a presentation in which Paul was presented with a this is your life style book, which featured many contributions from many comics pros. Customers and ex members of staff myself, included. And we had Paul "monkey boss" Hudson Dancing like a monkey for the very last time.I Believe that the whole day was committed to video tape and may well be doing the rounds at comic conventions in the future, a screening at Bristol anyone? We Had Drunk People, one ex staff member passing out in a chair, tears And various other things I wont mention because technically I still work for Paul And I very much value my last pay check, needless to say, the empty fire extinguishers say it all….

Pictures to follow as soon as I remember where my camera is.

God that Tequila was a bad Idea!

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]Adam Hughes Gets American Flag Wrong Shock Horror.

The last word on lesbian Batwoman?

Mike Wieringo On John Byrne.

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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