Lying In The Gutters

Mon, August 6th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 116

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.

This weekend, I moved my graphic novel collection one floor. Ow. I put some of it on eBay because, well, I don't want to do that again. I really wish it was all digital right now.

Apparently that Alistair Campbell cartoon I did for Guido Fawkes was a big hit. New ones every Monday.

DODGY DOSSIER

[Green Light]I understand that the long awaited "The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier," described once by author Alan Moore in this column as "not my best comic ever, not the best comic ever, but the best thing ever," will not be published outside of the USA by America's Best Comics, an imprint of Wildstorm/DC Comics, or distributed in those territories by DC's distributor Diamond Comics.

DC sources inform me that the reasons for concern are over issues concerning copyright and trademark of certain literary characters referred to in the book, some that are public domain in the USA but not in other territories who have different copyright laws.

The US states that if a work was published before 1923, or it is 70 years since the death of the author, then it is in public domain. The UK has a similar rule, without the 1923 proviso, leading to a number of creations published before 1923 but not yet out of copyright. Canada, New Zealand and Australia also have no 1923-style ruling, but wait till 50 years after the author's demise, although Australia now has a 70 year policy for work created since 2005.

It was this difference that led to the suspension of the publication of "Lost Girls" until January 2008 in the UK, as only then will it be 70 years after the death of Peter Pan author Barrie.

However, previous "League" books have used characters and creations that are not yet in the UK public domain, such as HG Wells' Martians and The Invisible Man, and Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes and Moriarty.

I understand that the new book goes at length to disguise or hide contentious characters, such as a British spy in the fifties who reports to "M" goes by the name "Jimmy."

However, just as with "Lost Girls," it is unlikely that the book will remain within the US shores, and that UK and other territories will be able to acquire copies through the "grey" market, distributed not illegally but not through official channels. Comic stores in the US will order on behalf of comic book stores in contested territories, even though this action is not permitted under Diamond's terms.

It is unlikely, however, that any of these copies will be distributed outside of the direct sales market, officially or otherwise. DC's redistributor to the UK bookstore market, Titan Books, will not be able to publish or distribute the book.

The book will be distributed in the USA as scheduled.

GREAT SCOTT

[Green Light]As a consequence for the severe and extended political arguments within DC and Wildstorm over the issues surrounding the "Black Dossier," sources both inside and outside of DC report that some time ago Wildstorm Executive Editor Scott Dunbier was sent home on a leave of absence.

Scott did not appear at the recent Comic-Con International in San Diego and his name was removed from programming. I had repeated reports of people asking after Scott at the DC booth to be told that he was either working from home, was sick or had personal problems. His status at the company remains unclear.

Dunbier was an art dealer before joining Jim Lee's Homage Studios, part of Image Comics as editor and then editor-in-chief. The company became Wildstorm and was sold to DC Comics. While Scott's work has been integral to much of the publishing imprint, his specific legacy is likely to be the genre-reinterpreting works "Authority" and "Planetary" and the recruitment of Alan Moore for the creation of "America's Best Comics" after the decline of Awesome. Scott is a very well liked and respected executive in the comics industry and, if he does leave Wildstorm, it is unlikely that we will be without him for long, either with another publisher or on his own terms.

Scott Dunbier was not available for comment.

CRITICAL MORISSON

[Yellow Light]I understand that "Final Crisis" represents what Grant Morrison calls his swan song to the DC Universe. A few years ago, he declared that it was his intention to use the complexity of DC Comics continuity to encourage the DC universe to become a sentient being - this may well be his chance. Morrison has also completed his final script for "All Star Superman."

WAIDING THROUGH

[Green Light]Mark Waid's EiC of Boom Studios, first mentioned in San Diego Dreaming, was after a number of meetings with other companies. I understand from industry sources that he did indeed have interviews with DC Comics over the last few months, but turned down an editorial position. He also had meetings with Marvel at San Diego.

Let's just say that the opportunities at Boom! looks to be something special.

WOLF'S PRIDE

[Green Light]I understand that Marv Wolfman has completed the script for the "Teen Titans" direct-to-DVD movie. He was also rather pleased to have won the Scribe Award (like the Eisners without pictures) at San Diego for Best Speculative Fiction Novel Adaptation for his "Superman Returns" book.

IT'S IN THE BONES

[Green Light]Look for a new Shazam! series from the Johnny DC line, taking inspiration from Jeff Smith's recent series.

DREW LOOKS LIKE A LADY

[Yellow Light]Drew Johnson will be taking over as artist for an established DC ongoing title with a female lead. So that's probably Catwoman or Supergirl...

DARK KAARE RETURNS

[Yellow Light]I understand that Kaare Andrews is in talks with Mike Marts at DC over a Batman book in the style of his recent "Spider-Man: Reign" series. Considering that series was very much a love letter to Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," could Andrews have some role in the much-anticipated "Dark Knight Universe" series that Miller and DC have been promising us? No idea.

GOLDEN RESULT

[Yellow Light]Apparently the Michael Golden situation has resolved itself, to the satisfaction of all concerned, and that everyone's backed away from statements that could have otherwise been legally actionable.

It's good to talk

THUNDER CLAPPED

[Yellow Light]Roy Thomas was going to work on a "JSA" project with Jerry Ordway for DC. However, his plans for a subplot explaining the connections between the original JSAer Johnny Thunder, the '50s western hero Johnny Thunder, and his '80s creation Jonni Thunder were turned down by DC. Thomas' response was roughly that if they don't want that, then they don't want Roy Thomas.

So they didn't.

CITY PLANNING

[Green Light]"Messiah Complex" is the new X-Men crossover event from Marvel. It's also the name of small publisher/studio of LITG friend Ryan Richards, with a www.messiahcomplex.com website.

I'm sure he'll appreciate the extra traffic.

HORN ART

[Green Light]Have comics reached a prominence that they can now inform a stripping theme night at Spearmint Rhino outlets? According to this ad, it seems so.

Reports please from anyone who went. Anonymity as always guaranteed.

A HERO'S JOURNEY

[Yellow Light]So how did "Heroes" land at DC, when producer Jeph Loeb is Marvel's new favourite? I understand the terms the studio demanded were rather unfavourable in terms of royalty payment and non negotiable.

It is quite possible that any publisher with a reasonable overhead wouldn't be able to turn a profit on the book, even DC Comics. However, it is also pretty much guaranteed to be the number one bestselling graphic novel in the month it debuts, so who knows.

Regardless, it makes for good stats and a little fillip on the DC dollar market share.

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]Conceptual piece by Dusso.

Upcoming "Punisher" cover by Arial Olivetti.

CAPPED FOR ENGLAND

[Green Light]The smaller, friendlier, small pressier British convention CAPTION takes place this weekend in now-unflooded Oxford in the East Oxford Community Centre. Saturday 10am-1am, Sunday 11am till 6pm, it's comics, drinks and good times, with Al Davison, Bryan Talbot, Woodrow Phoenix and the usual crowd - you can probably rely on a Jeremy Dennis, Mark Stafford or Terry Wiley to entertain and panels such as "Fulfilling Your Dreams Is A F*cking Nightmare." Sadly I can't be there, so someone have a pint of cider for me.

The website is here. And a map is here.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]Comic book shop The Hero Foundry, hit by the Texan flooding, are running a fundraiser… can you help?

Chicago is coming. Hoh boy. Look for a new ongoing regular artist for "Witchblade" to be announced, starting with issue #116 until about #150…

Alan Moore on Canada's SexTV

Robert Beerbohm, comics dealer, on why he's never setting up at a Wizard World again.

Wonderful Lehrer-ish song from The Consultants, "All Of The Fathers" real player streaming until Wednesday, 12 minutes and change in.

Wasn't "New Avengers: Illuminati" #4 good?

SMALL PRINT

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Maybe.

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And Facebook.

And my Wii number is 0512 2690 8446 2879

Sorry.

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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