Lying In The Gutters

Tue, February 20th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 92

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: "Maybe Miller and Lee misunderstood and thought DC's 'One Year Later' stunt was literal and applied to the All Star Line." - Patrick Drury, The V.

SO GOOD THEY HELD IT TWICE

[Green Light]This week's LITG is a bit of a pre-NYCC special. New York Comic Con hosts its second event next weekend, in its attempt to dislodge San Diego as the centre of all geekhood. I've been to three San Diego's and this will be my first time in New York, so I'm dead excited. Lets start calling it NYerdCon from now on, eh? If you want to contact me while I'm there (Thursday 6pm to Monday 3am), please do. E-mail me on richjohnston@gmail.com or text me on 011447801350982 while you're there.

UPDATE: I've been asked to chair the "Don't Quit Your Day Job! The Truth About Breaking Into Comics" panel at NYCC on Saturday at 12.40, 1E14, with CB Cebulski, Keith Giffen, Coleen Doran and more. Essential advice for anyone who wants to break into comics from people who have done just that.

I haven't quit my day job. See you all there.

So what are the companies going to be talking about?

KONG DOWN

[Green Light]Markosia has signed the rights to publish a comic version of "Kong: King Of Skull Island" by Joe DeVito, both an adaptation of the novel and an ongoing series. This has the support of the family of King Kong's creator, Merian C Cooper. So expect Markosia publisher Harry Markos to be strutting around NYCC pounding his chest and showing off this kind of stuff.

Talking of Markosia, "The Flying Friar" and "Civil Wardrobe" letterer/editor Thomas Mauer has landed there. He works on prepress and design, and also letters "Starship Troopers" - the second issue of which is just off to the printers. I wonder if he can persuade them to publish "Flying Friar"?

EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT COUNTDOWN

[Green Light]Well, DC kept the solicitations for previously LITG'd "Countdown" issues 51,50,49 and 48 out of the solicitation listings they sent to the press, but they remained in the online catalogue and can be seen here, priced at $2.99 each, with a poster, as well as a signed version of #51 from Dynamic Forces.

What hasn't been seen yet are the solicitation details. Well, I can tell you that each issue will have a different creative team, with Paul Dini acting as "showrunner," "52"'s Keith Giffen providing breakdowns and Andy Kubert and Tim Townsend providing covers.

Looking at May's issues, the first issue, #51, is written by Paul Dini and drawn by Jesus Saiz. "Hawkman" team Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray write the next issue, drawn by Jim Califiore. Then Tony Bedard writes, with Carlos Magno on art and finally Adam Beecham writes #48 with art from David Lopez.

This seems like a perfect way for DC to carry over the large audience that "52" carved out for itself and for lots of happy retailers. Expect lots of early incentives to keep them on board as as well.

Also expect to hear plenty more details about this from DC at NYCC and in this week's Previews. It's notable that on the Diamond website, there is no available "back cover" image file for Previews. Yet. I understand that will update on Thursday.

It's okay, that's what I'm here for.

I'll have a consonant please, Carol.

DEADDEVIL

[Yellow Light]Marvel will announce that the mysterious Bendis/Mack Daredevil project is actually "Daredevil: The End," part of Marvel's run of "final stories" for their characters. LITG already named Bill Sienkiewicz as one artist on the project and I understand Klaus Janson is another. But I understand this will be a big celebratory project for the character, with a lot of ex-Daredevil artists (minus the one everyone is thinking of) getting involved.

CUPID'S ARROW

[Yellow Light]Also expect DC to confirm the marriage of Green Arrow and Black Canary. I understand that the "Green Arrow" title will be cancelled and replaced with "Green Arrow/Black Canary." Probably a good time for that previously-LITG'd "Green Arrow: Year One" series to run as well.

BITS AND PIZZAS

[Green Light]I also understand that both DC and Marvel will be announcing exclusive creators and "stolen" creators - people traditionally aligned to one company, now working for the other.

Friday night's Top Cow/Marc Silvestri (5pm, room 1E16) will announce a Top Cow virgin major creator working on a major Top Cow title (not Paul Dini, that's already been announced) as well as Marc's big project for 2007 in conjunction with another publisher. But not Marvel...

SUMMER STOCK

[Green Light]The new Warren Ellis/Juan Jose Ryp series "Black Summer" from Avatar I showed you the leaked cover for the other week? I've been told it's an eight issue superhero series. This would be Avatar's first superhero comic, and I understand it's likely to be rather extreme. Makes "The Boys" look like "Teen Titans... Adventures"

DIGITAL COMICS

[Green Light]So how are the Big Two getting into digital?

Online editor of The Flying Friar, Todd Allen, is seeing a second edition of his "Economics Of WebComics" thesis being published, with preview copies available at NYCC. From the new introduction, he writes "In October, Saheli Datta, a reporter from Business 2.0, made a number of phone calls to people involved with web comics, asking questions from a financial perspective. You may not have seen the article, and that may be because it's been put on hold."

Todd continues, "DC Comics is arguably the biggest technological laggard among the top print publishers. My understanding is that, when Business 2.0 asked DC about their online plans, DC reported they were going to be launching an online initiative in December 2006. Well, obviously that didn't happen, and Business 2.0 would appear to be waiting to see what the launch looks like, but we are now in an environment where the traditional publishers of print comics appear to be sprinting toward real online initiatives. A little more than fashionably late to the party, DC and Marvel could be missing out on a payday of up to $4 million per year by not jumping on the bandwagon."

Todd writes and justifies that figure with impressive data collation and conservative guestimates. But doing some googling turned up a few interesting points. It seems around October last year, online comics creator and publisher T Campbell wrote about an unsuccessful interview to become DC's online or assistant online editor. These positions haven't been mentioned officially by DC if indeed anyone did fill them, but DC President Paul Levitz did address the opportunities in his State Of The Union address. And it also appears that Marvel were interested in something similar, and were advertising for e-Commerce programmers in December. According to Campbell, however, TokyoPop appears to have junked all their digital comics plans.

But, I understand that Richard Bruning has recently been added to the NYCC webcomics panel - and that DC may be about to announce a major webcomics project. More discussion here and here.

It's a good time for news collation/podcast site ComicMix to announce their intentions to publish webcomics, free, with an advertising model. In March they are launching a number of online comic series by Trevor Von Eden, Mike Grell, Timothy Truman and John Ostrander, to be followed by Bill Hampton and Ian Gibson. Series will include "Grimjack," "Jon Sable" and "The Prowler," with a plan to print a new comic every day, collecting them and publishing in graphic novel form later.

IDW CARDS

[Green Light]Also at NYCC, the debut of a project I've been working on with IDW. The return of those media-manipulating card sets, the kind of things Eclipse used to put out. I still have my Bill Sienkiewicz set. Anyway, "George W Bush and the Weapons Of Mass Distraction" card set, or as I like to call it "Shooting Fish In A Barrel" are previewed at NYCC. And here's a preview of that preview:

IDW ARTISTRY

[Green Light]Well. since I'm clearly a shill for IDW as well now, and will defend any and all nefarious business practices that I have no idea whether they engage in or not, here's some art from "Star Trek: The Original Series" comic by Kelsey Shannon (first announced here on CBR last month with writer David Tischman) and something with a Spike Puppet and ninjas.

EXIT LEFT

[Green Light]"Alan Moore's Exit Interview," the sequel to "Alan Moore Spells It Out," will be launched at NYCC, available at booth A326. There's much that keen Moorephiles will know, but it goes over the DC/V For Vendetta situation, and there are some unusual and unknown details, so it's good to have it down so concisely. Such as the revelation that DC tried to buy Awesome, but only if the deal included Alan's contract. When he hadn't signed one.

Moore's relationship with Paul Levitz is also delved into, as in a history of the comics medium, what has been achieved and what is still to be, the impact of 9/11, and the racism inherent in the comics industry. He cites the fact that had to be pointed out to him, Tom Strong featured the first mixed race marriage in American mainstream comics, let alone the first mixed race child. Gotta say, that made me recoil with a "no… surely… wait a minute, hang on… there must have been… um…". No, aliens don't count. And even if there are precedents, certainly no one in, say, an actual lead role. Remarkable.

A lot of philosophy of life, death and reality and politics, his love of Northampton, and how it all informed his new novel "Jerusalem." The details about "Black Dossier" and "Century" are very entertaining, and we discover Melinda Gebbie is adapting "Angel Passage," my favourite of Moore's spoken word CDs.

Simultaneously, "Grant Morrison: The Early Years" will launch at the Sequart booth.

WHAT ABOUT PAYMENT ON DEMAND?

[Yellow Light]ComiXpress is a pioneer for democratising print-on-demand comic books has stopped accepting submissions from creators, citing trouble with their equipment. However, creators tell me the company has been unresponsive, and also hasn't paid a number of creators for months or years even though they're clearly selling product.

ComiXpress give terms of quarterly sales reports and payments but they haven't been keeping to that, according to these folks, and these and these.

UPDATE: Logan DeAngelis, President of ComiXpress replied to this column. "I honestly appreciate the chance to address this. The creator pay situation is something we're very aware of, and not at all happy about and we are trying to correct it as quickly as possible. And we want to be sure it's very clear that we are in no way trying to 'get away with' anything and all payments due the creators we work with absolutely will be paid out.

"In a nutshell, the amount of work involved in the current way of handling creator sales was too much for our small staff. Every creator we work with gets a customized email, and as the number of creators grew we were quickly overwhelmed. We are a small crew with each of us doing the work of many - these personalized emails were also being sent by the same few that do customer service and billing, each of which really should be its own full-time job. We realized that the system wasn't working and wanted to find a solution that didn't mean hiring more people since our goal is always to keep the print costs as low as possible.

"Our webmaster is working out accounts that would eliminate the need for the personal emails. Sales would be able to be checked in real time by each creator, and payments due could be requested at any time. This is unfortunately taking longer to implement than expected and we are very aware of the delay in getting sales numbers out. Once the accounts are in place we expect there to be no delays whatsoever between the sale of a book and the creator having that information.

"We are a fairly new company (going on 3 years) started and run by comic creators and readers. Much of what we do is trial and error until we find what works and we think the creator accounts are going to be what finally allows us to keep creators as in the loop as we've always wanted them to be."

I must confess, that does sound more of a Val Staples than Rick Olney reply.

SOLDIERING ON?

[Green Light]"Captain America" #25 ships soon. I am of the understanding that a lot of people are going to want a copy of this issue which sets up the whole "Fallen Soldier Son" storyline. Might well be a bit of press attention. You've been warned.

SKINNED

[Green Light]Dez Skinn has abandoned plans to run another Brighton comics convention, after the Birmingham Show moved dates on the 13th-14th October forward, two weeks before his own planned event.

WORLD AT WAR

[Yellow Light]At MegaCon, David Finch was showing off covers from "World War Hulk," without realising he may have been giving out spoilers for the big ending. Highlight the following paragraph for potential spoilers.

The planet in question does its best impression of Krypton.

As for the "Civil War" #7 spoilers circulating... no. Different ballgame. Pick it up tomorrow.

Another unmentionable nibble, teasing Marvel again, you know, if you don't want people to know who gets shot in "Amazing Spider-Man," don't send out subscriber copies early…. especially not to libraries.

FALLING SPIRES

Last year, LITG reported that London's Comics Showcase was to close, but that its Oxford branch would continue.

Sadly, I'm now told that the Oxford Comics Showcase has also closed.

It does seem terrible that in one of the UK's major seats of education, and home to small press convention "Caption," that there be no comic shop at all. I remember when it used to have three…

WELL, THEY SAID IT WOULDN'T BE WANDA...

[Red Light]Gossip reaches me that Marvel have created their own "get out of jail free" card for whatever continuity issues or interminable plot dead ends they find themselves in the future. The recent "Ms Marvel Special," ignored by most, features a new character "Storyteller" who can not only transform fiction into reality but can, if he wishes, change the ending.

Handy if you ever want to reverse someone's marital state, bring a permantently-dead character back to life, or change the ending to a popular mini-series as and when you wish...

FAT FREE* *CONTAINS FAT

[Green Light]The "Tellos: Colossal HC." Collecting all the Tellos work by Todd Zezago and Mike Weiringo.

But there's a fight going on between the solicitations and the content warnings.

"TELLOS is an all-ages rollercoaster of action and adventure, mystery and magic, and good versus evil! The perfect format for the perfect bedtime story-for children of ALL ages! RETAILER WARNING: MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES."

Slaps forehead.

PANINI BITES

[Green Light]Don't want to wait for Neil Gaiman's Eternals to be in softcover? Then don't. Just go to Panini in the UK...

We mentioned their volumes of Death's Head and Captain Britain the other week - but look out for "Marvel Europa: Wolverine," "Daredevil & Spider-Man" (English translations of the much-hyped European stories), "Marvel Masters: The British Invasion," "Captain Britain Vol 2," "Death's Head Vol 2" or "Marvel Masters: Tales Of Garth Ennis?"

See these and more here.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]"The Dark Knight" movie is auditioning people for the role of Montoya.

"Hot Fuzz" is a fantastically entertaining movie. Makes a surprisingly good couples movie to boot. Yarp.

Metronome, the graphic novel by Vronique Tanaka is now available as an animation. The graphic novel is in need of an UK publisher…

Last week, LITG pointed out that "The Boys" #7 kept appearing in Diamond's 'Shipping Next Week' from DC Comics, even though the book had been cancelled and moved to Dynamite. This week, it was removed.

SMALL PRINT

Check whatever I'm selling on eBay, discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

Visit my MySpace or my ComicSpace as I discuss next week's column through the week. Maybe.

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.

Or meet up with me at NYCC!

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