Lying In The Gutters

Mon, October 16th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 74

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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "At least twice in the past 2 years I would have been dead by my own hand if I'd had a functional gun in the house" - John Byrne, writing in favour of gun control.

MARVEL'S CIVIL WAR

[Green Light]Me, I like Marvel's "Civil War." Hell, I wouldn't have been comfortable putting "Civil Wardrobe" together if I didn't (out this Wednesday/Thursday, folks!). I'm enjoying the big brush storytelling, the provocative moments and the lurch from event to event that leaves me unsure of anything. Snappy dialogue, clever set pieces, surprising twists, this is very enjoyable comic book.

But online, I seem to be in a minority. The internet is full of people castigating the Marvel crossover series of 2006 (and now 2007). Everyone says the characters aren't off, or find potential plot holes and treat them as chasms. Anyway, I guess I can't see what the fanboy hate is directed towards (though I'm like that with "Doctor Who" as well).

Anyway, it seems to have just jumped a level. Tamora Pierce, writer of Marvel's upcoming "White Tiger" series, has fired her cannons at Mark Millar. She writes a long screed attacking Millar's use of the Invisible Woman in the most recent issue and ends with "These are the days when you wish the characters could just rear out of the pages and sock the writers."

Is it just me, or will Tamara be one of those female comics creators not attending the next Marvel summit?

TOKYOPLOPPED - Updated 3:00 PM Pacific

[Yellow Light]I understand that Tokyopop have fired their entire design team, and have outsourced that side of the business to India.

Tokyopop representatives did not respond to email enquiries.

UPDATE: One Tokyopop employee e-mails to state that the company has outsourced freelance layout production work to India, not inhouse design or permanent employees.

STAGE STRUCK - Updated 3:00 PM Pacific

[Green Light]A few brief poorly taken shots from last week's ComICA weekend first, from the launch of the "Mammoth Book of Best New Manga."

Went to see Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie and Stewart Lee on stage last Thursday, introduced by Paul Gravett, talking about "Lost Girls." A book that can't be distributed and/or published in the UK until 2008 due to copyright reasons. In January of that year, Top Shelf are planning a UK first print to be made available.

A crowd turned out, filling the Logan Hall in the Bedford Institute. This was the building where, in the eighties and nineties, Rusty Staples used to host the British conventions, the UKCACs. It was peculiar seeing the old place again, under such circumstances, especially in the hall where they used to host the costume parades. I was one of the UKCAC helpers through the nineties (well, it got me in there free and I rather fancied one of the other helpers). And there were quite a few familiar faces there that night: Mark Stafford, Joel Meadows, Tony from Knockabout, the employees of Gosh, Forbidden Planet, Orbital and ex of Showcase, the V, Millarworld and a few hundred more.

They also included a contingent from the Icelandic comic shop Nexus, with my old friend Ptur Yngvi Yamagata, looking rather buffed these days. Apparently there's a sizable indie Icelandic movie comic out, using Nexus as a set.

The interview looked at the creation of the book, with rather entertaining diversions into the perception that Stewart Lee was uncomfortable staring at a metallic man in flagrante, Alan and Melinda's realisation just how hippie the book was and the process of attempting universal pornography. Moore was asked how he believed the creators of the three characters would react towards his work -- given Moore's own condemnation of people's interpretation of his own work -- the answer being that these were not the original works, or pretending to be adaptations of the same, but new works inspired by the old. The BBC Today Programme feature came up, where Moore was asked by the interviewer how he'd feel if one paedophile hurt one child after reading "Lost Girls," he said (and I paraphrase) he felt like asking how she would feel if one Government advisor killed himself outside a wood after

being anonymously sourced on the Today Programme. But he didn't.

There was a very jovial tone throughout, helped by Lee's stage talents and his natural affinity for the material being discussed, and the positive feeling towards the work was palpable.

BURN VICTIM

[Red Light]Last week, Newsarama posted a few words intended to suggest that John Byrne would be the new penciller on "Ultimate Spider-Man" after Mark Bagley left (after a near-record breaking run on the title with Brian Bendis - "Groo," under the Epic imprint, still holds the record.).

Joe Quesada stated, "While I can't announce this just this second, I can tell you that it's a fan favorite artist and this person has a reputation for being one of the best storytellers in the business and does it consistently and monthly."

Matt Brady asked "Here at Newsarama we've heard that a certain controversial artist who hasn't worked at Marvel since you've taken over could be taking over the book. Is this true or have we just been "burned" by a rumor?

Quesada replied "I can neither confirm nor deny this."

Such a suggestion seemed to beggar the senses. Both Joe Quesada and John Byrne are fundamentally divided, personally and professionally, both Bendis and Byrne have sniped at each other on a number of occasions and Byrne has been critical of "Ultimate Spider-Man."

And the next day, Byrne was happy to deny the rumour.

From that description, my money's on Dillon.

ABSOLUTE AMAZON

[Green Light]A fair few months ago, Amazon.com listed "Absolute Sandman" at $14.99, instead of the actual price, $99.95. They managed to mix up the initial Sandman trade price with the new hardcover collection.

And while many people took advantage of the pre-publication price, they soon found their orders cancelled. Well, most of them. It seems a number of people, this week, got their copies shipped to them (including one shop which ordered a large stack) at the nominal price.

Cue a lot of other irate customers angry about their order being cancelled. Can anyone say class suit?

"Civil Wardrobe" is $3.50, by the way. Available at your local shop this week, or if they never bothered to order any, try Silver Bullet Comics who are stocking the title especially for LITG readers.

BARR THE SHOUTING

[Green Light]James O'Barr has replied (after about two months) to the enquiry over his unmade Batman project.

"In the mid '90s I did a script treatment and some paintings for a Batman Elseworlds book which Denny O'Neill thought were marvellous enough to ask only 'When can you start?' Unfortunately, shortly after that the Batman film was released and the parameters for what you could now do with Batman were chokingly narrowed and a bevy of new editors were employed to handle the flood of new Bat titles. I was dumped from one editor to another as some hot or diseased potato, no one willing to step out of the box with who or what Batman is or represents and the book just got pushed back further and further while I worked on new projects waiting for someone to come to their senses. Which still has not occurred. As Daniel Brereton was over heard to say "OBarr doing Batman - that would fucking rock!!!What a no-brainer! NO ONE does atmosphere and shadows like OBarr." So, the chance for a talented artist and fan (if I do puff my ego a bit here) to take the next step in the Dark Knight stairwell just rots in the cellar. And the material where Batman is concerned is honestly not much more extreme than Paul Popes 100 Years Batman series (in fact a great deal of it is very similar....great minds think alike, I guess). It is graphic but not extreme. Violent, but not exploitive. And adult, without pandering.

"At Heroes Con last summer, Bob Schreck said he would pass along a message to the appropriate editor, but five months have passed and not a word. I would absolutely do some more pages on spec and tinker with the James Ellroy inspired script (as it has now been made into a film), but the powers that be have to show some interest. 'The Crow' is the best selling independent graphic novel of all time at 3/4 of a million copies-and still selling well in half a dozen languages, so what else do I need on my resume'? Ten years of frustration for a project I just know would be well received by all is eating my inspiration away bit by bit. Perhaps its time to redouble my efforts?

"Best to you all, J.O'Barr"

BUG EATING COMIC SHOP DEALER

[Green Light]LITG passim reported on Brian Hibbs' promise to fulfil his commitment to "eating a bug" if and when "Ultimate Spider-Man" reached issue 100.

Here is photographic evidence.

I dunno. I want a "CSI"-style stomach content report.

SWIPE FILE OF THE WEEK #1

[Green Light]Zarathos by Arthur Suydam

"Pirates Of The Carribean"

SWIPE FILE OF THE WEEK #2

[Green Light]From Punisher 43…

Ryan Woodforde noticed Patricia Heaton at the Emmy Awards.

But who are all the others?

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]Paul Cornell, who wrote the Hugo-nominated Doctor Who episode "Father's Day" (which saw me watching, holding my three month daughter in my arms, blubbing) wrote next week's episode of Robin Hood, "Who Shot the Sheriff?" and he's looking for a plug. There you go, Pauly.

The Grant Morrison Disinformation clips, on being abducted by aliens, "The Invisibles" and more.

Byrne Invades Barnes & Noble

When Borat Met Wonder Woman - a behind the scenes look at how "Borat" was made from one of his victims, and an inkling into material that didn't make the screen.

Robert Kirkman equivocates for killing off Freedom Ring.

GUERILLA SIGNINGS

[Green Light]If anyone in London wants their copies of "Civil Wardrobe" signed, I'll be hanging around in Gosh Comics at 6:15pm on Thursday and at Orbital Comics at 6:15pm on Friday. I'll be the one pointing at copies of "Civil Wardrobe" with a sign saying "buy this comic and I will sign the bastard." What, you think I'm any different in real life than I am in this column?

SMALL PRINT

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