Lying In The Gutters

Mon, October 8th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 125

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 fourteen long glorious and quite scary years. It is read by more people than the Bible.

I may have just made that last bit up. But still.

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.

Looks like I'm going to be going to the Big Apple Convention in New York this November. Don't ask how, or why, sometimes opportunities just present themselves.

And this weekend I'll be at the Birmingham International Comics Expo promoting "Flying Friar." Here, have some shelftalkers for your local comics shop.

TOO LITTLE ROM

[Yellow Light]I understand that the publishing rights to "GI Joe" are up for grabs. After the success of the "Transformers" and with a "GI Joe" movie in production, Hasbro are looking around.

Devil's Due are certainly in line to retake the franchise, but so are Marvel, who are pushing that the "Transformers" movie which made so much money for Hasbro, used a lot of content generated by Marvel.

One peculiar wrinkle is that Marvel and Hasbro are still in debate over the rights to "Rom." The original patent on the toy has lapsed, so it's all about the development of the property, and who actually did what. There's all sorts of interesting legal questions being asked. Those Dire Wraiths didn't come from nowhere. And the upcoming "Essential Power Man And Iron Fist" had to miss out the issue that featured Rom.

It's all good for lawyers...

PAVEMENT ART

[Green Light]"Gravel" is a new monthly launching in January from Avatar Press with a #0 issue written by Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer. All new material, 16 pages for the #0 issues, no ads, colour for $1.99. The on-going colour monthly series starts in March with #1. "Gravel" features Combat Magician William Gravel from the "Strange Kiss" series. Art by Raulo Caceres ("Crecy" and "Doktor Sleepless" wrap cover artist).

Have some covers.

SUPERDOG

[Green Light]The current Superman actor, Brandon Routh, is to play the lead, Dylan Dog, in the "Dead Of Night" movie, directed by David R Ellis.

OUT AND ABOUT

[Green Light]Been tripping the light fantastic this week. On Wednesday, I went to the "Stardust" European Premiere, courtesy of Freud Communications.

Yes, yes, I know it already came out in the USA. But it's not as if anyone watched it over there.

I've been to a couple of these things before, and they're always good fun, but this time I had the enjoyable experience of walking down the red carpet (okay, in this case a green carpet full of lovely trees with lights) to be called over to the ropes a couple of times by people who recognised me (hi Mickey!). It almost felt like I was famous for about five seconds which gives you a strange tingle - and thankfully can be put back in its box immediately afterwards.

The film is pretty much an all Brit cast with a few odd Americans to spice things up, and as an ensemble fantasy film it really works. The leads are of the bland variety, but the rest of the cast build a convincing fantasy world. The princes/ghosts were superb to a man. Dexter Fletcher acts Robert DeNiro off the screen with the mere twitch of an eyebrow (think Grommit in human form). The sky ship was spectacular, as was its landing. The use of runes and entrails tied the characters into the world itself, as if they were rocks or trees on the landscape. Ricky Gervais is surprisingly good - he plays himself, but the context sees him fitting in perfectly.

It's a wonderful mix and match of characters, ideas, scenery and motivation which became a gloriously entertaining jumble. A lot of people have said it's just like "The Princess Bride." It's not. It's more "Time Bandits." Silly, but convincing.

On the way out, Mark Millar said it was the "film of the year." Mind you, I remember his raving about "Superman Returns," too.

It is good, though. And hasn't Claire Dane got lovely hands?

Paramount wouldn't pay for an after-show party so Matthew Vaughan had select individuals back at his place for a private party. An after-show, I can blag my way in. Private party? I knew a few people who were going, but thought I should probably leave that one alone. I must be getting old. So I ended up in a bar with other cast members who didn't get an invite - possibly even more entertaining!

Mark Millar and Neil Gaiman went.

Thursday, I went to Simon Spurrier's book launch in The Cellar Door off The Strand. A very swish place, it's a tiny bar and is converted from an old underground toilet. Spurrier, known for comics such as "Gutsville," "Silver Surfer" and "Judge Dredd," has received rave reviews for his debut novel "Contract" and the launch attracted a fair few famous comics faces to wish him well. And Tony Lee. And the wine flowed freely.

And Friday, I attended a private showing of the "British Marvel Secrets" exhibition, detailing the work of British creators who have worked for Marvel Comics, from Dave Gibbons to Mark Millar (though somehow missing out Barry Windsor-Smith). The exhibition is organised by Urban Species, an East End design/clothing company with a variety of edgy Marvel licensed designs, art pieces and exhibits. They mostly seemed to be signed by Mark Millar as well. Sadly nothing that could get you arrested.

Oh and yes, they've got the first arc "Iron Man" movie costume on display.

The show continues at the Old Truman Brewery on Hanley Street in Shoreditch until Sunday.

And what was the result of all this gadding about? I've come down with some horrible lurgy. Urrgh.

SCOTT TO TROT

[Green Light]Scott Dunbier's new MySpace page makes it official. He describes himself as "Formerly Executive Editor of WildStorm Productions, an imprint of DC Comics. Currently planning for the future." And his blog reads "As has been reported, I am no longer with WildStorm. Rest assured my family and I are all well and I am optimistic about the future."

His personal description states "Success is the best revenge."

TWO MEN AND A LESBIAN.

[Green Light]Greg Rucka is to join JH Williams on the much delayed "Batwoman" book.

This was meant to be announced during the summer conventions. It's still being delayed - a mixture of managing professional workload, and DC's nervousness about potentially damaging a brand with the publicity a title lead gay Bat-character may bring, and the release of "The Dark Knight" movie.

Stable doors and horses anyone?

DOWN FOR THE COUNT

[Yellow Light]I understand that there are a number of DC creators who have worked on the "Countdown" series who are expressing deep misgivings about their future workload.

LITG previously reported that Mike Carlin was intending to "heavyweight up" the series, bringing in big name creators in light of sliding sales, and now certain existing talent on the series has found themselves not knowing what their next job will be, if it's there at all.

Except they don't know that that's what's going on.

They do now.

RED IS THE COLOUR -- Updated 10/10 at 10:00 AM Pacific

[Green Light]"Green Lantern" #25 will see the debut of the hate powered Red Lantern Corps.

ARCANE SOLUTIONS

[Yellow Light]The Arcana Studios changing creator-ownership offer covered last week has a new wrinkle.

It seems that the call for freelance creators may have something to do with the Editor In Chief of Arcana, Sean O'Reilly, accepting a position at Platinum Studios. Currently I hear it's Vice-President in charge of Publishing, while Adam Rosenblum, originally installed as a temporary Editor In Chief after Jim McLaughlin's sudden departure, will remain in the role permanently.

O'Reilly has moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles for an extended period of time to work with Platinum. There is a possibility Arcana will become part of Platiunum, and O'Reilly has approached several of his Arcana creators to sign Platinum deals.

UPDATE: I hear that Adam Rosenblum, originally installed as a temporary, then permanent Editor In Chief after Jim McLaughlin's sudden departure, has suddenly departed. Anyone want to be a Platinum EiC?

PLATINUM CONTRACTS -- Updated 10/10 at 10:00 AM Pacific

[Yellow Light]From Platinum literature sent out to creators.

"We are making a commitment to the belief that there are creators in the comic book industry who have stories to tell that would translate to other mediums, but who don't have the outlet in which tell those stories and reach those other mediums. Getting your story produced, even if it never advances beyond comics form, is a commitment we're willing to make."

Mike Strang has complained quite a lot regarding Platinum's treatment of him and the comic strip he created, "Weird Adventures in Unemployment," and their inability to do just that.

Last week a strip called "Weird Adventures in Unemployment" started up at Platinum's drunkduck.com. This isn't Mike Strang's story, and he hasn't been credited on-site in any way. This was the first Mike had seen of it.

You can read Strang's account here and here, including a dialogue between Strang and the new writer, Brandon Carr.

UPDATE: I understand that while, initially Michael Strang was uncredited, after his blogpost, a "created by Mike Strang" was added on DrunkDuck, then reduced in font size and "by Brandon J. Carr" added in a larger font.

THE HELLFIRE CLUB

[Green Light]Best headline of the week from ICV2 regarding the appointment of Steve Rotterdam (finally) as Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing at DC Comics.

Goodness, Steve. We didn't know you were the type.

Welcome to comics.

THE WEEK IN TWITTER

[Green Light]Avatarpress: Report: Black Summer #3 SHOULD be out Oct. 10

kellysue: Ringtones: "Le Freak" = Mom; "Secret Agent Man" = Fraction. "Ruby Red Dress" Leave Me Alone refrain = Default

lisaatneptune: "Just Looking" is not the same as "reading comics from cover to cover." Let's keep that in mind, ok.

SKINN JOB

[Green Light]So what has Dez Skinn been doing since he sold "Comics International" (and it seemingly became a quarterly)? Well, he's developing a children's animated TV series based on his "Warrior Magazine" character "Big Ben, The Man With No Time For Crime." This was after he left Marvel UK and Warrior's "Marvelman" was very much their version of "Captain Britain", and "V For Vendetta" their "Night Raven." So Marvel UK put out a Thing weekly comic in the eighties and called it "Big Ben," grabbing the trademark. It has has lapsed now...

Boy, comics can be really petty sometimes. And thank goodness, or I wouldn't have a column.

Dez is also working on "Comic Art Now," a Spring 2008 200-page "comic art directory" for HarperCollins (US), ILEX (UK) and various European publishers. With well over 100 artists work on show (US, UK, Brazil, Sweden, Manila, Tokyo, Singapore, Bulgaria...), plus full contact details, it's intended to give our industry the equivalent of "The Creative Handbook," "The Art Directory," etc. and gives creators a general audience exposure and puts their names/email addresses in the hands of account execs and the like who invariably steal their styles because they don't know how to find them.

Dez tells me, "Uniquely, unlike the existing directories which charge for inclusion, this book's selection for inclusion is based on the quality of the art rather than the artist's bank balance..."

Keep on keeping on Dez.

ALL YOUR ALAN MOORE STORIES IN ONE EASY BITE-SIZED FORM

[Green Light]The publicity machine for the UK edition of "Lost Girls" steps into gear with this Daily Telegraph interview taking place in, yet again, the same Northampton Italian restaurant. (And ooh look, it even quotes Lying In The Gutters).

A new "Supreme" compendium?

Alan Moore's "Ragnarok" examined.

And Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, Iain Sinclair and more discuss the new publication "London: City Of Disappearances" at The Bishopsgate Insitute's Great Hall.

A UK version of the "From Hell" hardcover is available for direct ordering by retailers from Knockabout. Choosing to sidestep Diamond on this one, to order your copies email info@knockabout.com

Maybe this is a dry run for their "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen III" edition?

Talking of which, Amazon.ca customers got their emails this week to state that they would not be shipping "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier." No such reticence from Amazon.com's listing.

FXTACY

[Green Light]Artwork from the second issue of the fan-commissioned "FX" comic, by John Byrne. IDW have agreed to publish the book.

Byrne is charging around $20,000 an issue which breaks down as he states:

"Minimum 22 pages plus cover, pencils and inks. All character and costume designs, etc. Logo design if requested. Script if so desired, plot input if done 'Marvel Style.' Physical ownership and publishing rights to all the work*. No further claim on the property by myself

"In other words, a package that adds up to slightly more than the asking price (with some monies factored in for a representation of royalties that will not be paid in actuality), and if the buyer takes it to Hollywood and makes a bajillion dollars, s/he doesn't owe me another cent.

"*Unless the work contains characters owned by other publishers. If someone asked for, say, Iron Fist meets Batman, for instance. Then, just the physical ownership."

Rather nice art as well.

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]The original "Candy Land" board game.

The "Homeless Channel" trace job.

And familiar lettering from the "Perry Bible Fellowship."

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]There's been a bit in the press about how twice-and-probably-three-times Hugo award winner Steven Moffat has been headhunted by Steven Spielberg to write the "Tintin" films.

Which gives me an excuse to plug Steven Moffat much-loved-by-those-who-saw-it sitcom "Joking Apart." Forgotten by the BBC, officially released on DVD by a fan. And only available here. Fiendishly complex farcical plots, this is "Seinfeld" meets "Fawlty Towers" meets "Blink." If you like well structured comedy, this is the perfect example.

SMALL PRINT

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

My social networking is pretty much all Facebook these days, but I'm around at Bebo, MySpace, ComicSpace and Twitter, too.

I have nothing on eBay right now but check back later in the week.

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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