Lying In The Gutters

Mon, July 17th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 61

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.

CIVIL WAR PROPAGANDA

[Yellow Light]So. Civil War Spoilers.

Marvel inadvertently spoiled the big "Civil War" #2 reveal in a "First Look" advance copy of "Thunderbolts," then threatened any website with lack of future co-operation if they reported this - before advertently spoiling the reveal themselves in the "New York Times." All a little clumsy, hard handed and left a few people put out.

Last week, "Civil War: Directors Cut" #1 shipped, reprinting the original issue along with Mark Millar's script - albeit it with a few spoilery sections blanked out. Except one section was not blanked out very well, and it seemed to reveal the identity of the new Daredevil.

Or did it?

Within hours of people posting the spoiler on boards, it seemed apparent that there were more than one version of this spoiler, of this comic even, with different scans showing different possible identities for Daredevil.

Had Marvel really printed five or so variations of "Civil War Director's Cut," each deliberately revealing a fake spoiler, different in every edition? A very clever, very funny way of playing with the internet crowd?

Or was this even cleverer - damage control when the original spoiler was spotted after printing, with additional versions of the scan created by Marvel and then distributed to people willing to engage in disinformation on Marvel's part?

Put it this way. Every copy I have seen myself in three shops, has Iron Fist as the spoiled identity, and that was the first name to be reported online, at the Bendis board. And every copy I've been able to get checked by people I trust (without any ties to Marvel) has had the same name.

The people who posted alternate versions online are:

John R Thomas who writes for Marvel Spotlight and runs the MarvelMasterworks site.

Superbadkarma a producer on the Marvel-cooperating Buzzscope/PopcultureShock site. His post was linked to on the Bendis board by Marvel's Jen Grunwald.

Matt Adler who gets advance Marvel comics to review and gets exclusive Marvel interviews. His post was linked to on the Bendis board by Daredevil writer, Ed Brubaker.

Mike Short says there are five editions out there - Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Ben Reilly, Shang Chi and Nick Fury. And he's a Marvel editor.

Of course this could all be further planned disinformation, and it's actually Bullseye. But I don't think so.

We'll all know for sure just how much we've been played when "Daredevil" #87 comes out on the 26th/27th July. I'm told by a Marvel source that this will be the issue in which the current Daredevil's identity will be "officially" officially revealed.

Of course, it also helps with all this speculation that "Civil War" is a damn fine read.

Other tip-top superhero reads this week are "Sensational Spider-Man" #28 with a cover slightly different from the one advertised which has the potential to become another "The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man" in the collective memory of fandom. Find a copy. While you're at it, pick up "52," if only for the Clark-Kent-out-of-the-window scene. Excellent stuff.

THE DANIEL WAY

[Green Light]One of the first creator-owned books out of the ill-fated Epic line was Daniel Way's "Gun Theory." Cancelled at issue 2. Bit of a blow - nice comic, too.

Well, it's back, and it's debuting at San Diego. By Daniel Way and Jon Proctor, a 500 copy signed and numbered, foil enhanced edition of the prequel will be available from Terminal Press (Table E12) and Epic Proportions (Booth 1735). It tells Harvey (the main character from "Gun Theory") went from being a halfway normal person to being a.. well... a complete fucking void.

PLACE YOUR BET

[Yellow Light]I hear "Hardware" will be the Milestone title adapted as an animated series for TV station BET.

LOTTI PALMIOTTI

[Green Light]Jimmy Palmiotti is an inker-turned-editor-turned-inker-again. Famous for his work with Joe Quesada on Marvel Knights, personal differences saw the penciller/inker team break up, and Palmiotti pursue other projects while Quesada moved on to become Editor In Chief of Marvel Comics.

Well, Palmiotti is editor again. Working on a line of graphic novels for a major film company. Not sure how happy they'll be with his upcoming writing work on both "Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters" which gets really rather political next week.

As for his San Diego presence, his Thursday panel will see him talking to John Heffernan, the screenplay writer of "Snakes On A Plane" and "Just A Pilgrim." Expect Palmiotti's "Bludhaven Six" next week to have the kind of surprise ending that DC continuity buffs are just going to love - about what is underneath Bludhaven.

NEW LINE OF NEW LINE

[Green Light]The New Line/DC Comics deal has been signed, sealed, delivered and probably announced at San Diego. They include the titles previously guttered, but also "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th". There's a reason Avatar have been pushing out so many of late before the deadline…

WOMAN ON WOMAN ACTION

[Green Light]Amanda Conners is working on a new DC female solo book, based on a character who first appears in "52." No, not that one, another one.

LOST TEMPERS

[Green Light]Top Shelf (Booth 1721) will be debuting four items at San Diego. "I Am Going To Be Small" by Jeffrey Brown, "The Surrogates" by Vendetti & Weldele, "The Owly Plush Toy" by Andy Runton and... um... something called "Lost Girls." I don't know if I've mentioned that comic before. It's quite good. Anyway, artist Melinda Gebbie will be signing copies there and then. They've only brought in a few copies, so get in there early.

ROAD OR RALL

[Green Light]Another debut at San Diego will be Ted Rall's new book, "Silk Road To Ruin," which won't be in bookstores until mid-September. NBM at booth #1429 will only have 40 copies on hand, so don't walk, run. Anyone who does the "Lost Girls"/"Silk Road" double, contact LITG with a photo of you holding both. Ted will be also be around to sign the few copies.

THE LOOK OF LOVE

[Green Light]It's time for... a Pre-San Diego Pretty Art Gallery!

By Sam Hart for Tony Lee's upcoming "Robin Hood" series. Say, is that a Flying Friar?

Batton Lash's cover to "Scrapyard Detectives" #3, being given away free at booth 935 from 2-3pm on Friday and Saturday.

Retailers can get free copies worldwide at the CBIA.

J Scott Campbell will be debuting a 32 page, very limited edition full colour sketch book for $20.

Catch him at tables 4901, 4903, 5000 and 5002 under the large "Naked Fat Rave" banner. Yes, I know.

Avatar's big San Diego item is "Lady Death vs War Angel" #1 from Brian Pulido. A new colour comic that hasn't been solicited, yet alone sold, before San Diego. Pick it up (along with copies of "Rich Johnston's Holed Up") at booth 2851.

Pulido will be signing there, as well as George RR Martin for the debut of his "Fevre Dream" Mississippi River vampire epic.

Two-and-a-half years in the making, the final issue of "Elric: The Making Of A Sorceror" by Michael Moorcock and Walt Simonson is shipping next month. Simonson calls it the best work of his career...

Here are a few pages previewing on Moorcock's Miscellany.

Exclusive artwork from upcoming DC series "The Boys" by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, featuring a very familiar face.

More "Fuzz" here.

Veronique Tanaka, a 28 year old French/Japanese concept artist who's produced a rather experimental graphic novel is attending San Diego. If you meet her, make her feel as welcome as possible


Alex De Campi has some uncoloured pages from Book 1 of "Adam In Chromaland" from Luigi di Giammarino, shipping early 2007 from Humanoides…

.. and some inked pages from "Kat & Mouse" Volume 2 to show off.

Chris Yost, "New X-Men"/ "Fantastic Four" writer has a new project, "Killer of Demons" with Scott Wegener, Brent Wachter and Thomas Mauer to shop around at San Diego. Stop Chris and demand to see the whole thing! And is that Mike Oeming getting the watersport treatment?

Here's a Greg Land image

Here's a previous Travis Charest Spider-Man

Can any LITG readers match the other characters to original art?

STARLIN OUT

[Yellow Light]Here's a story that LITG hasn't covered for many a year. But a few cracks have appeared of late...

Two-and-a-half years ago, Jim Starlin was the writer/artist of "Thanos" for Marvel, back on the characters that made his name. But in November 2003, he announced that he was leaving "Thanos" due to "irreconcilable creative differences."

A few days later, Tom Brevoort stated that "...Jim's reason for leaving THANOS had nothing to do with working on 'Thanos'itself; it had to do with another matter entirely."

At the time I couldn't get any further details and the matter remained unresolved.

In May 2004, a fan wrote, "I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Starlin at The Dynamic Forces Fan Fest in April and when I asked him about 'Thanos' he stated that one of the reasons he left was because of conflict over the direction of the series and the use of Warlock as a supporting character (Marvel did not want Warlock to be used for reasons that I don't think Starlin was ever told). I'm looking foreward to 'Cosmic Guard,' the preview art I saw at the show was tremendous. Jim Starlin is a class act who was excellant to us fans. I'm just surprised that Marvel made his departure from 'Thanos' such a mysterious event when Starlin himself was very clear about his reasons. I may not know the whole story, but I now have enough to be satisfied."

In March 2005, in response to questions about a possible return, Brevoort wrote, "Jim left Marvel this last time in such a strange, outspoken way (over what, to me, was a non-issue) that I expect he'd have to repair some bridges with people if he wanted to come back....

"It's more Joe Q than me. And it's a pretty basic thing. If you leave Marvel in a huff and talk trash about the company while doing it, then you have to expect that you're not going to be immediately welcomed back with open arms if you want to return a year or so later...

"He said enough publicly when it first happened to tee Joe Q off. It's been long enough, though, that I couldn't tell you precisely where."

In a Spanish interview from June 2005, Starlin seemed to back this explanation, saying he was told he couldn't return unless he apologized.

This was taken up on the Joe Quesada board where one of the posters wrote:

"when i asked him about thanos he said he quit the book. this was when they gave greg pak the warlock series and he got mad because he wanted it, so he said he quit thanos...

"i think it was at the dynamic forces fanfest they did a couple years ago. i remember it because a couple people after me said the same thing as me (that they were really enjoying his thanos and were sad to see them go) and he said the same thing to them.

"in fact, he was so bitter about it he told everyone to go ask joe quesada (who was also at the con) about the situation."

A few days ago, the matter arose again. Tom Brevoort wrote, "But just to make it clear, Starlin's use of Warlock in 'Thanos' was in no way curtailed, and that's not why he left the series."

And this week Starlin made a number of comments, including:

"At this point in time I do not see myself working for Marvel on any project. Events, that occurred during my last stint on Thanos, make it difficult for me to even consider such a move...

"This is ancient history, as far as I'm concerned. So all I'll say is that my departure from Marvel involved Adam Warlock, who was appearing as a supporting character in Thanos...

"Yes, I was informed I need to apologize for something I did before I again get any work up at Marvel. But I have no idea what I should apologize for, so...

"Strangely enough Marvel doesn't consult with me on their reprint and trade paperback plans. It seems like they're reprinting a lot of my stuff lately but I have no idea what else might be coming down the tubes. As for Warlock, Marvel tends to do trades on characters that are currently popular and I fear most have forgotten my Adam Warlock after the revamped version of the character Marvel did shortly after my stint on Thanos...

"As for Marvel and I kissing and making up... I hope you're not holding your breath on that one."

That's what's being said in public. Except here's a few wrinkles. When Starlin left "Thanos," Greg Pak had not even been considered to write a "Warlock" series, all Marvel had was the plan to create such a series sometime in the future, potentially without Starlin. There were no plans or pitches at that stage. But it was that possibility alone that caused the rift. That Starlin is welcome at Marvel, but that he'll have to make the move - which includes talking to people he may have argued with in the past.

PAST BLAST

[Yellow Light]In the new "Civil War: Frontline" #3, one of the "heroes" shown is Thunderclap. Hardly anyone will know him - he appeared once in a Marvel UK-only Spider-Man strip from 1984 that saw our webbed friend travelling to London to appear on a TV show and have a bit of an adventure.

Boy, when they said they were using obscure characters, they weren't kidding. But also - is it possible that creators Mike Collins, Barry Kitson and Mark Farmer still own partial copyright on that character given the difference in Marvel contracts between the US and the UK at the time?

No idea. Lawyers???

BAY GAY SUMMER OF COMICS 2006

[Green Light]Prism Comics will see Patty Jeres return to San Diego, fronting their gay-bi-lesbian friendly lobbying outreach programme - and claiming a certain clairvoyance over Batwoman last year.

And just look at the prominent gay creators being given top quality assignments right now. "Wonder Woman," "The Marvel Universe" and "Young Avengers" by Allan Heinberg, "Sensational Spider-Man" by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, "Manhunter" by Marc Andreyko and "Infinite Crisis" by Phil Jimenez. Jose Villarubia on "Desolation Jones," "X-Factor," "Manhunter" and more. Then there's "Fun Home," a huge high profile graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, the creator of "Dykes To Watch Out For."

And a plethora amongst the smaller publishers, some gay-themed comics, many not. And now Bob Schreck enters his spiritual home, Vertigo comics…

Well, it's a good time to be pushing Prism.

THE BEST DEFENCE, OFFENDS.

[Green Light]The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Saturday Night Auction is always something else. But they may have topped themselves this year.

Items include the first art released from Eisner's "Life On Another Planet" along with the corresponding colour guide, and pencil rough for a Spirit cover.

The Jack Davis Eisner watercolour piece

The original art to Frank Miller's "All Star Batman Special Edition" #1.

And plenty more including art from "Identity Crisis," "Strangers In Paradise," "Powers," "Gen 13," "Ultimate X-Men," "Love And Rockets"… with premiums and a party to boot.

All proceeds are going direct to the Gordon Lee case, and preparing a war chest for future troubles. Remember, this is an election year. Auction starts 7.30pm on Saturday, sealed bids accepted until Friday at cbldf1@gmail.com. There should be quite the star studded turnout.

NO ACTING ABOUT!

[Green Light]Here's a new twist. WizardWorld Chicago have restricted booth babes! Exhibitors in Artists Alley have been told "Actresses and Models are NOT allowed to set up in Artist Alley. If you are a Model/Actress or an artist who intends to bring a Model/Actress as a guest at your table, please be aware that you will NOT be allowed to set up in Artist Alley.

Which means everywhere else is fine, of course. And Actors are fine as well, it seems. But what if Rosario Dawson wants to sell her comic in the Alley? What then???

REPEATED LEE

[Yellow Light]Forget John Byrne, Alan Moore or "Lost Girls." Back to the numero uno LITG obsessional target. Pat Lee. Previously, with his brother Roger Lee, heads of Dreamwave, a company that spent a lot on the party lifestyle and Porsches (for Pat and Roger), had a secured loan from their parents (which sucked out any capital when the company went bust) and then formed DreamEngine, which was siphoning off the revenue stream from Marvel before the collectors were called in. And who is now working for DC on "Superman/Batman."

Well, it seems Pat Lee and his partners at DreamEngine have had a big falling out. I'm told it's down to how money is being spent without making much for the company in return. And now Pat is no longer a part of Dream Engine. Staff are in dispute with the three parties, as Pat is refusing to pay his staff because he believes that it is the LA partners' responsibilities (which it may well be) - however those artists continue to work for Pat on his comic book assignments. Sound familiar?

Maybe they're being paid for in muffins from Just Desserts...

DON'T LET THE BELLS END

[Green Light]Top Cow are taking "The Darkness" a little literally at San Diego, with a built-in-theatre to their booth, so people can try out the "Darkness" games. The queue should be enlivened by "Witchblade" #100, out for the con, and no doubt a model or two squeezing into the iron glove-bikini combination.

They'll also have copies of "The Innocents," written by David Wohl, art by Bing Cansino, coloured by Haberlin Studios, as well as "Revved," written by Jeremy Hall, art by David Nakayama, coloured by Blond. Apparently they'll have a Revved RX-8 replica from the book, on display, with a chance to enter to possibly maybe win the car in something they've hilariously entitled "The Cow is Loose" sweepstakes.

WRIGHT STUFF

[Green Light]Following the revelation that Micah Wright lied about being an Army Ranger, his comics writing career stopped instantly. I hear he's been blacklisted for writing comics for DC and when he slagged off Marvel, well, that didn't help and as a result he's been less than visible in the last two years, but he's been quite busy working on an upcoming Massive Multiplayer Online PC game called "Huxley."

Now, I've heard of "Huxley." One of the more anticipated games of 2007, from Asian publisher Webzen for the US market. There's also a different game Wright has been working on in the same universe for XBox 360.

Also, it looks like he's kissed and made up with his old war poster parpdy publisher, and there's a third volume on the way. And he's written a 100 page graphic novel and is currently recruiting artists. Could 2007 be the big return of one of comics' wild children?

NILES, BUSCH, WILKINSON

[Yellow Light]A couple of months ago, I reported on artist Matt Busch's diatribe against writer Steve Niles, and posted a compilation of voicemail messages from Niles. This weekend, the third party in that online tussle, Sarah Wilkinson, posted her side. It makes for some uncomfortable reading.

"After months of trying to keep quiet, I feel like I need to clear the air concerning my personal and professional relationships. My post is not coming from a negative place, please know that. The posts made by Matt Busch on May 15th and May 22nd served their purpose: to drag my name through the dirt and make me pay for leaving him. In the process of trying to hurt me, he laid blame to Steve Niles and skewed the truth with everything he wrote about."

Sarah continued, in depth, in the link, and in the comments below. And then Matt added his response, saying "Sarah has finally spoken up about the whole Steve Niles fiasco at her journal. Good for her. Except that she has skewed the truth so blatantly false, I hesitate to even comment. She's really reaching here. Whatever makes yourself feel better, right?" and answers line by line here.

I said this wasn't going to end well.

SAN DIEGO DREAMING

[Green Light]I'm not going to San Diego this year. My last time was two years ago. Then I got a family, so...

Anyway, these are your ten rules to live by at San Diego.

  1. Shower when you wake up. Even if it's the afternoon. The air conditioning will not save you.

  2. Try the San Diego Diet. Have a light breakfast, skip lunch, carry round heavy water bottles and walk the convention floor. In 1996, I lost 3 kilos.

  3. Offer to buy Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, John McCrea, William Christensen, Brian Pulido or Heidi MacDonald a drink, in return for a scandalous comics industry story. You will be repaid tenfold.

  4. Set a budget of $20 a day to buy small press/indie comics. They will love you for it and shower you with free sketches and signatures. Late in the bar, they will spend what little profits they made buying you drinks.

  5. Lie. Boost your profile. No one knows that you're not working for DreamWorks looking for projects to option. Why not pretend to be Warren Ellis, no one knows what he looks like these days. Put on a British or Irish accent and you'll get laid. If you are already British/Irish, pack contraceptives. In 1997, I was propositioned for sex 13 times. Mostly by women as well. Mostly attractive, legal women. Have I mentioned I'm not going this year?

  6. Find a crowd, hang out with that crowd, mock Stormtroopers together, swear on your loved ones that you'll spend every night with that crowd. Next day, find a new crowd.

  7. If you see someone who's work you love, go talk to them about comics. If not, you'll regret you never did. One of my favourite, most treasured con moments was talking to Will Eisner about "Acme Novelty Library." Don't let the opportunity pass you by.

  8. If flying, travel light with a big suitcase. Have a jacket with big pockets to wear on the plane back to get round the weight allocations. However, not even that is going to save you from the might that is "Lost Girls." Buy that from your local comics shop instead… this is not a "Bone One Volume" situation like 2005. Too many "Lost Girls" on those planes and they're going down…

  9. Don't get into a hot tub, don't pick up an artist's girlfriend, don't run around the bar naked singing "I've just balled Jim Shooter, la la la la la la..." It's not worth it.

  10. Anything you come across of interest, text it or email it to me. Breaking stories, behind the scenes industry gossip, anyone running around the bar naked singing "I've just balled Jim Shooter, la la la la la la..." you know, the usual. I feel a post SDCC-column coming on and your report could be next week's lead! Contact details below, as usual.

CHASING LOIS

[Green Light]Slice-Of-Superman

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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