Lying In The Gutters

Mon, April 23rd, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 101

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 thirteen 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.

Happy St George's Day!

OFF FOR A SHERMAN

[Green Light]Sherman Alexie, author of "Smoke Signals," "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and "Flight," who also wrote the introduction to Jason Lutes' "Jar Of Fools," has two projects at Marvel. One is a mini-series starring the Native American mutant inventor Forge, the other is a mature readers Daredevil MAX series.

CANADIAN DREAMING

[Yellow Light]The business dealings for Pierre-André Déry have come under increasing amounts of scrutiny of late.

The three companies in question are that Pierre is or has been involved with, employing creators to create content for other publishers and studios, are Grafiksismik, Dreamwave, and Capitain Blitzkreig.

Pierre-André Déry is still a member of the board of Grafiksismik, but not of Dreamwave II. However, Dreamwave II is owned by Déry Capital Inc, controlled by Pierre's brother Christian Déry. And Capitain Blitzkrieg is owned by Valerie Martineau, Pierre's long term partner.

All are accused of not paying creators. With the first two out of action, and the third potentially going down the same route...

I spoke with Pierre over the weekend and he told me "Grafiksismik went bankrupt in the fall of 2005 after being unable to collect tens of thousands of dollars owed by Speakeasy... At the time every Grafik staffer were up to date with their payments with some freelancer debts remaining. The former stockholders have been slowly (Meaning too slowly, but still as fast as they can) paying those freelancers from their own pockets with a couple left unpaid to this day. When we'll be done paying freelancer debts this fall, it'll will have taken two years to pay up everyone the money we expected at the time from Speakeasy.

"While I have freelanced for Capitaine Blitzkrieg in different capacities in the past, I am not currently affiliated with this studio, I've been working full-time for a video game developer for over a year."

I asked Pierre why freelancers report dealing with him over such debts, and whether he was in touch with his brother or his partner, (or indeed how I was able to contact him via a Capitaine e-mail address) to no further response.

I have been informed elsewhere that Dreamwave II closed down last summer and that Christian is currently based in Hong Kong in the toy industry and that he sold a number of the Dreamwave II titles back to Dreamwave I and Dream Engine co-founder Roger Lee and that Roger and Pat have parted professionally. Roger Lee will launch the titles with a team of his own later this year.

Neither Christian nor anyone from Capitaine Blitzkrieg returned emails at time of going to press.

GRAVE DIGGERS

[Green Light]"Children Of The Grave" creators Casey Maloney and Tom Waltz are reforming for an upcoming IDW Publishing and Simmons Comics Group ongoing title "ZIPPER," created by Gene Simmons.

Casey has been drawing Star Trek for IDW and Tom is IDW's new assistant director, but is also involved with Charlie Foxtrot Entertainment and writing "Indy - Race Of The Galaxies" with German Torres on art and created by Gene Simmons for the Simmons Comics Group in support of the Indy Racing League. Tom also has a short story called "Crude" illustrated by Spanish artist Esteve Polls appearing in the first issue of "Gene Simmons House Of Horrors."

Anyone get the feeling Gene Simmons likes comics? Or at least likes having his name on them?

STUDIO SPACED

[Green Light]Some pages from Joel Meadow's book featured last week, "Studio Space," featuring essays and photos of modern comics greats in and around where they work.

Still in need of a publisher. Do get in touch, people.

FIGHT FILE UPDATED

[Green Light]Regarding last week's Fight File…

Darick's version:

Convention Journal, day 1:

It was a gray evening in Seattle when I left the convention center. Word was out that a mad man was about and I needed my sharpest eye, my keenest wit and swiftest moves if I was to return to my hotel in one piece, if at all.

Spotting an available seat in a rugged, blood red SUV waiting urgently at the curb, engine revving with a demon growl each time the driver gunned the pedal, I darted for the steel beast. The back seat was empty and I saw my chance. With a wary eye to the darkening sky and a quick scan of the area around me I made my move.

I asked the grizzled driver if this was my ride and he turned to me, and locked my eyes with his one good one and said "You look like you've been to hell. I'll take you back." and lit his cigar stub. A woman sat beside him in the front seat, eerily silent.

The match flame illuminated the jagged scar beneath his eye-patch, and that scar told me that he knew what Hell looked like.

I got in, not wanting to waste a moment. The wolves come out at night, and the thundering sky was turning darker by the minute. I had not yet finished my sigh of relief and settled into my seat when the vehicle shook, and a roar came from outside. "WHO THE FUCK IS THIS NOW!?" the voice bellowed, and I turned slowly to look over my shoulder out the dirty back window.

The back end of the mighty truck was being lifted and shaken by a mighty figure and I knew time was no longer on my side. I tumbled out of the back seat hoping to distract this fight away from the vehicle.

There we stood, face to face, Scott Kurtz and I. At that point, he was only a legend and a stranger to me. "That's my seat, and my ride," he said with a grim determination. Only one if us was going to ride away from that convention center, and I had already left the back seat.

I swiftly went to my art bag and withdrew my trusty samurai sword that my father had brought home from WW2 after pulling it free from his bloody thigh and killing it's previous owner. It had tasted blood before and it was thirsty for more. A tumble weed blew by between us. Lightning split the sky, the light catching my blade and making it gleam in the dusk.

Kurtz laughed as I stood in combat readiness and seemingly from nowhere, two giant rusty, spiked maces appeared in his hands and he began swinging them in a hypnotic figure eight motion.

I leaped and swung my blade at his throat, only to have a mace collide with my shoulder, and knock me to the ground. I rolled, but before I could get to my feet another mace shattered the pavement mere centimeters from my skull.

Moving quickly I grabbed the chain and pulled him off his feet and he fell to the ground. Kurtz collided with the side of the rumbling SUV, and at that point, while he was momentarily stunned, I put the blade to his throat. I looked him in the eye and snarled "If you want the ride that badly, it's yours."

At that point I withdrew the blade from his neck and with a slight bow, put the blade away. He was a worthy opponent, but no one had to die that day. I walked away into the angry, scarlet horizon, rumbling with the coming storm as they drove away.

That seems to be the level that this story has grown to, so I thought I'd oblige. The far less intriguing version is this:

While out front waiting for my ride back to the hotel I saw a familiar face behind the wheel of the SUV that had brought me to the show that morning. The back door was open and the back seat empty, so I approached the SUV and asked if it was my ride back to the hotel. Chris, the driver, told me it was my ride and invited me to jump on in. There was a woman there who I didn't know in the front seat and no one else in the vehicle, so I assumed all was good.

While sitting there waiting to leave, I heard someone, whom I'd never met, cursing behind the vehicle, wanting to know who the hell was in his seat. "Who the f**k is this now?" I hear him complaining. This would turn out to be Scott Kurtz

Realizing this person was upset and concerned about the amount of room there would be in the SUV, I got out and offered him his seat back and said that I'd be happy to take the next ride, as I was in no particular hurry and since he was clearly upset. I thought I understood that it was his wife in the front seat, and I said "By all means, ride with your lady."

At that point Scott had calmed down considerably and said apologetically that he didn't mean to be an ass-hole about it, and I joked that I must be the ass-hole, since I was the one who took his seat. We shook hands briefly and with a laugh I said to blame Chris, and off they went.

I don't know Scott, and it seemed he was a nice enough guy, just confused about who had taken his seat, and I might have been the same way if I were in his position. I'm still surprised about the level of controversy this incident has achieved.

Scott Kurtz's version:

Emerald City Comicon. After the show on Saturday.

There are five of us: Myself, Angie, Kris, Dave Kellet and Brad Guigar. We all want to get back to the hotel and a staffer offers to take us back in his SUV.

"Can we all fit?"

"It'll be a squeeze, but yes."

So the SUV pulls up, Angie gets in the front seat, we open the back and realize we're all not going to fit. So Dave says "I'll get in the back and sit in the hatchback section. You and Kris get in."

We say "are you sure? Are you okay back there?"

He says "Yeah, I'll be fine and starts to get in."

Brad agrees to take the next shuttle back and we feel like shit leaving him behind and tell him we'll meet him at the hotel later. Suddenly, someone jumps in the SUV and says "You going to the hotel?" and the staffer says "Uh... yeah." and the guy says "Perfect."

So now we're all looking at each other and we have no idea what to do. Dave and Kris and I are all standing there in a moment of awkward silence.

I say "What the fuck?" and start laughing. "Is that a fan? Who is this guy?" Then I look at Angela and say "Just go to the hotel, we'll catch the next one."

So the guy jumps out and I realize he's with the show and I feel like shit. And I say "Oh god, I'm sorry. We were just all trying to fit in." and he says "No, no. Just be with your lady. Get in."

So then on the way home, we're informed it was Darick. And everyone starts telling me I need to find him the next day and apologize. But I was too embarrassed to.

That night we hear the story has already started making the rounds and getting embellished. By the time I get home, I joke, the story will be "did you hear Scott punched Darick at Emerald City???!"

So. Did you hear Scott punched Darick at Emerald City?

OUT

[Green Light]Jon Malin is the artist for Rob Liefeld's "Nitrogen" #1 & #2 and the Robert Kirkman half of "Supreme Sacrifice" #0. His next project is a creator owned title called "Outlaw." He's writing, drawing, colouring and lettering the book while holding down a day job, but this is the kind of thing we can look forward to.

DIAMOND RUNNING

[Green Light]"Runoff" by Tom Manning from Oddgod Press has just got a nice quote from Guillermo del Toro for the final book.

"Tom Manning has created a world that is as bizarre as it is recognizable. As scary as it is moving. The terse plotting and vivid characters in Runoff collapse the sweet flavor of Americana into a cyanide capsule that is easy to swallow, easy to like, and hard to survive. May we all get poisoned by Tom more often."

How did they get the quote? Turns out Guillermo del Toro is in talks with producer Lloyd Levin (Hellboy, Watchmen, Boogie Nights) to get the film rights for "Runoff" and this just helps sweet the pot.

Ironically, while Hollywood is sitting up, the comics industry is lying back down - Diamond orders for "Runoff" are down and the third book may not even get solicited through Previews. LITG previously reported on Diamond's current, harsher terms, and this looks like another casualty.

If only some gossip site somewhere could make the right people aware of the current situation, and either help increase retailer orders or persuade Diamond to continue soliciting the book and keep it in stock, at least until Manning or Oddgod are allowed to officially announce the film deal.

HARDLY A FIGHT FILE

[Green Light]Andrew Kardon, ex of Wizard, on the delay over the WizardWorld.com launch/relaunch.

"According to the banner ads on the site and the full page ad in the last 2 months of Wizard, there's a big honking contest tied to the launch... which if you read the fine print, ends April 30, 2007. I wonder if they'll launch the new site before the deadline."

Only for current Wizard employee, Rick Marshall to reply, "Funny how that works, eh? As if you weren't already aware of the possible reasons behind the delay, Mr ex-Wizard employee.

"When the site does launch, any planned contests/deadlines that need to be changed will certainly be changed.

"I'm just one guy, dang it."

I'd tell you more, but it seems that after writing about Wizard, my IP address has been banned from the website forums. So thank you Anonymous.org.

DEATH AND TAXES -- Updated 11:45 PM

[Yellow Light]Towards the beginning of last week, the storefront for Silver Bullet Comics had a notice on it from the North Carolina Department of Revenue saying the property contained on the premises had been seized and that unauthorized entry was forbidden.

UPDATE: Owner W Alan Davies tells me, "We were only closed a few hours while we went to straighten it all out. Seems our change from Sole Proprietor to Corporation in the middle of last year made for some errors we did not know about. Luckily, our fine officials appreciate quick resolutions."

Not quick enough to stop rival stores signing up customers however, or sending round said photo...

PUBLISHING HOUSE OF CARDS

[Green Light]Steve Horton, writer of "Strongarm" for Image has a new unpublished comics pitch with artist Lee O'Connor of 2000AD and Ronin Studios. But they need a page rate deal.

It's called "Gambling Souls" and is a crime/poker story with a touch of the supernatural. Horton is using his own experience as a live tournament reporter and extensive writer for poker magazines.

Anyone who is interested, get in touch.

SWIPE FILE I

[Yellow Light]From Mark in Dallas, Art imitating life, with help from Greg Land.

SWIPE FILE II

[Green Light]Take a bow…

SWIPE FILE III

[Red Light]There have been lots of lazy tired media reports comparing still frames from the movie "Oldboy" to frames from the video address by the Virginia killer Cho Seung-Huito. Now, while I'm happy for more people to get into the Swipe File game, these are coincidences and you'd get similar frames if you videoed anyone waving hammers or guns around.

For example, Tim Bradstreet, who poses for his own covers of art...

Yet no one would see Deadpool as the inspiration for...

Personally, I blame Tomb Raider. East Asian Tomb Raider of course.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]This week, the Nightcrawler edition of the Classic Marvel Figure Collection shipped from Eaglemoss, along with the expected indepth magazine on the character. I wrote the summary of his life that appears at the front - except I wrote it in 2005, so it was nice to catch up!

Brendon Connelly has a look at the first few script pages for "Dark Knight Returns" over at FilmIck.

X-Men benefit comic book to raise burns awareness

Neil Gaiman's Lady Justice gets traded.

Who's afraid of the big bad cock?

SMALL PRINT

Next week's column may be delayed a few hours. Hold strong and watch an illegal "Doctor Who" torrent while you wait...

As always, I've got all sorts of fun stuff selling on eBay right now, you 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. 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.

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