Lying In The Gutters

Mon, September 18th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOL 2 VOLUME 70

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.

BEWARE OF NEWSPAPERS

[Green Light]Last week, an advert I wrote for the Churches Advertising Network seemed to get quite a bit of press.

But it will probably be overshadowed by whatever is in "Civil War" #4, shipping this week. Which I understand has major newsworthy content.

If you don't want to be spoiled, don't go on the internet on Tuesday or Wednesday - and probably don't read a newspaper either. Unplug yourself from all media contact until you walk into your local shop on New Comics Day. And put in earplugs until you leave as well, just in case people are talking about it.

Otherwise it'll be Spider-Man unmasking all over again.

Me, I'm on holiday in Weymouth this week. Are there any comic shops in Weymouth?

BALTIMORE DREAMING

[Yellow Light]Heard along the corridors and open plan seating areas of Baltimore...

The creative team from Dark Horse's "Spy Boy" is reuniting at Marvel. Expect Peter David, Pop Mhan and Norman Lee to work on the "Marvel Adventures Spider-Man" title.

David tells me "I find it hard to think of it as 'coming' since I finished the last of those scripts about two months ago. Basically it's four stories keying off of the classic elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air, with appropriate villains and guest stars."

Howard Chaykin is not just on "Blade" for an arc or two. He's on the book indefinitely... and "Blade" won't be the sum of his Marvel output either.

Dean Haspiel is about to start working on a 100+ page graphic novel.

Barry Lyga, who worked at Diamond and was the face of Free Comic Book Day for a few years, has a multi-book deal as an author for Houghton Mifflin. The first, "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl," targeted at the teen/young adult market, comes out this autumn, and he's about to embark on a book tour.

David Lloyd (along with Jamie Delano) pitched a new spin on "Night Raven" to Marvel, completely bringing the character up to date and changing him, but the pitch was rejected.

Bernard Chang has a graphic novel coming out from Regan Books, written by Neil Strauss, for whom he did illustrations for Neil's book, "How to Make Money Like a Porn Star."

Keith Pollard was at the show, and he's been out of the industry for I think he said 15 years now, doing computer technical support, not drawing at all (although he was sketching at the show!).

Marv Wolfman's working on a Superman video game.

Mark McKenna's working on a new "Banana-Tail" and has a distribution deal this time out.

Dan Slott's upcoming unannounced spin-off from Civil War is "DARK" and not at all funny - no jokes, no puns, just dark.

BRYAN TALBOT TELLS ALL

[Yellow Light]Bryan Talbot has been working in comics longer than most.

Well, now he's telling everyone about it.

He's written a prose pocket book called "Comic Book Legends," recounting tales of comic pros, mad fans and weird con and signings experiences. The urban legends of the comic world made flesh.

He's waiting on a couple of stories to finish, from Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller, and Hunt Emerson is contributing illustrative cartoons.

But he currently doesn't have a publisher.

As a taster, Bryan offered me his least outrageous Simon Bisley story.

Simon's at the San Diego Comicon, doing a session for a long line of fans. The next punter in line produces an Image comic he's just bought for forty dollars, carefully extricates it from its mylar bag and gingerly places it on the table before the Biz.

"Could you please sign the cover?" he asks.

"Sure, mate." says Simon and raises his pen, then stops. Puzzled, he studies the cover, opens the pages and has a quick flip through before handing it back.

"Sorry, mate," he says, "I can't sign this. I don't have any work in it."

Undeterred, the fanboy puts it back on the table.

"I know you haven't but can you please sign it for me anyway?" he persists.

"No, I can't. I never sign any work that I've not done. I just don't do it, okay?" says Simon and hands it over again.

The guy, now annoyed, returns it to the table.

"Look, just sign it for me, won't you?" he whines, "Just do it!"

Simon looks down at the comic then, taking it in both hands, he scrunches it up, rolling into a tight tube and grasps it in his left hand. His right hand reaches up, grabs the guy by lapel and yanks him down so that the terrified punter is face-to-face with the seemingly furious Biz.

Gesturing with the rolled-up comic, Simon growls "Look, I'm going to stick this right up your arse."

A couple of seconds pass as the guy's face freezes in an attitude of horror.

Simon lets go of his lapel and smiles serenely as the fan straightens up and backs off, shaking.

Placing it on the table, Simon slowly unrolls the crumpled comic and hands it back to him.

"Only joking!" he says cheerfully.

The guy didn't ask again.

WE ARE NO LONGER AT WAR WITH EURASIA, WE HAVE NEVER BEEN AT WAR WITH EURASIA

[Green Light]A number of places have already reported on Marvel PR Jeff Klein's insistence that Marvel have never had a policy to only publish books with lead gay characters if they were labelled Mature Readers. And that any reports claiming such were "taken out of context" and "On the record, Marvel never had warning labels on comic books with gay characters, and we never will."

This is not just PR spin. This is a lie or the words of an ill informed PR person.

Weeks after Joe Quesada said that the policy had been reversed. Months after Quesada stated that it was policy and restated and clarified it to me personally when I queried that he may have been mis-reported or mis-represented. It was not Joe's personal view, but rather a responsible company view in the light of increased conservative feeling in the country at the time.

And now, according to Jeff Klein, it never existed at all. Newspeak.

GRATUITOUS PRUDITY

[Green Light]Marvel recently published "Essential Tomb Of Dracula" Vol. 4. With a few... alterations.

The comics were originally published in magazine format on newsstands in the 1980s, without content warning and happily bought by children of the day. It seems peculiar to think that American values have become more puritanical since then but, well, here are a few examples courtesy of the Groovy Age Of Horror.

"Tomb Of Dracula The Magazine" #5 Essential Shadows And Extended Gowns
"Tomb Of Dracula The Magazine" #5 Essential Straps Caught On Nipples
"Tomb Of Dracula The Magazine" #5 Essential Hair, Smoke And Added Bras

So anyway, when people say that Marvel's comics today aren't all-ages like they used to be, point them here...

And at least they weren't smoking.

HUNTED DOWN

[Green Light]Leandro Fernández;s next project after the current Punisher "Man of Stone" arc is a new series for French BD publisher Soleil titled "Hunter," written by Patrick Renault.

And speaking of current "Punisher" artists, Goran Parlov's next job is for Europe, too, in this case, Italy.

Quite a departure from his American works, it's a book called "Volto Nascosto" (Hidden Face), a 14 issue limited series from Italy's biggest publisher Bonelli. Set in the late XIXth century in Rome and Ethiopia/Eritrea during the first Italian colonnial adventure, it's a colossal epic in the vein of movies like "Gunga Din," "Zulu Dawn," "The Four Feathers" or "Lawrence of Arabia."

Parlov co-created the character and he's also drawing the first 94 page issue for an early 2007 launch.

OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE

[Green Light]I already commented on AJ Lieberman's tendency to name "Martian Manhunter" bad guys after international football players, heavy on the Manchester United.

The latest? A NASA Scientist/hitman. Her name? Rio Ferdinand.

VICTORY CALL

[Green Light]Image is planning to publish collections of Jack Kirby's "Captain Victory" and "Silver Star" titles from the 1980s. They're currently looking to get scans of the original art. Can you help? Do you know anyone who has pages? Then please contact Eric Stephenson

DABEL TROUBLE

[Green Light]Last week's announcement that Dabel Bros were publishing through Marvel caused a little hiccup when people thought Marvel were buying Dabel. It didn't help that Wizard Universe reported that Marvel had "acquired" the company repeatedly, and although that was amended when Marvel pointed it out, Dabel had reproduced the article at the top of their front page and left it unamended for quite a while. And when they did amend it, they used the wrong font size for a couple of days, making the change all too obvious...

I dunno, I just thought it was funny.

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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