Lying In The Gutters

Mon, November 5th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 129

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.

All stories are sourced from well-connected individuals and sent past 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 next week. It's possible I may be performing "Lying In The Gutters Live" at some point, but if you want to meet up, give me a shout.

Tonight, in Britain, it's Bonfire Night. When we celebrate the capture and death sentence of Britain's most famous terrorist, Guy Fawkes, by burning effigies of him up and down the land surrounded with fireworks. And where children make dummy Guys and sit at supermarket entrances begging for money. It's an odd country, it really is.

"Remember remember, the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot." - Anon. There's plenty of all three this week. Quick, read it before someone makes an effigy of me and sticks it on a bonfire!

THE DEATH OF A BAT

[Yellow Light]In June/July, DC are killing off Batman. Or rather, Bruce Wayne. Robin will inherit the Batman cowl. One of the Robins anyway. Tim Drake. Jason Todd. Or possibly Red Hood. Hey, maybe Jean-Paul Valley, it has been ten years since Azrael.

Either way, the book will relaunch with a nice shiny #1.

Yes, didn't Captain America miss a trick there? I'm sure Marvel will do the same come 2009.

And what of Batwoman? Well, I'm told the launch of the Rucka/Williams series has been pushed back yet again because of the movie, and fears of "unacceptable media coverage." I'm told four issues are fully completed.

Apparently it's okay for Batman to be dead, and a new character take his place when there's a movie out. But not for Batwoman to be a lesbian. At least wait till it's gone to DVD for that brunette bombshell.

I'm reminded of the Warner Bros executive instruction to Grant Morrison and Dave McKean over "Arkham Asylum," that the Joker not be seen dressing up as Madonna in case the cinema audience believed that meant Jack Nicholson was a transvestite.

CALIFORNIA SCHEMING

[Yellow Light]I understand that the issuing of certain Significant Character contracts by Marvel Comics, reported upon last week, is in line with their decision to move the addresses of their contracts to their California offices. I understand that differences in state law will make action against Marvel Comics over ownership or royalties easier to fend off. Especially with those contracts signed.

BRING UP YOUR DEAD

[Green Light]I hear that Jamie Delano, creator of "Hellblazer," is writing a new book for Avatar. And I found these images skulking around online which confirm it. "Narcopolis," a four issue colour series starting in February.

ULTIMATE AND A HALF

[Yellow Light]Next year, as part of the big upheaval in the Ultimate Universe, I'm told Jeph Loeb will write six issues of "Ultimate Fantastic Four" and six issues of "Ultimate X-Men." I'm told that's all the issues of each title that will ship in that period. But the belief is that each book will sell more than twice what it does now.

And "Ultimate Spider-Man" will keep on doing what it does best. Other books may not, however.

KEEP YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER

[Green Light]Of all the people fortunate to have been selected as finalists for the Zuda project, LITG would like to congratulate the decision to select David Gallaher as writer of "High Moon." Why? Well, David's clearly a talented fellow, he's keen to work for DC Comics and his girlfriend...

...how shall I put this? How about I just say it? His girlfriend...

...is Valerie D'Orazio.

Yes, this Valerie D'Orazio.

Creator of the entertaining Occasional Superheroine blog, and probably the leading online critic of DC's publishing policies, from the position of being, well, an ex-DC employee. One who wasn't even fired.

The Zuda talent-editorial-bring-your-significants get-togethers will be fun.

Oh, and she's been elected the new president of Friends Of Lulu too.

It's going to be an entertaining 2008, isn't it?

MARVEL SLIM FAST

[Yellow Light]Anyone else notice something different about Marvel Previews Magazine this month? A few less pages?

Diamond has previously used their power and influence to have their Diamond Select Marvel statues listed for the last few years, while Bowen, Upper Deck and the rest with a Marvel license, have to slum it in the ghetto back pages of Previews Magazine.

Not this month.

Rumor has it that Marvel will negotiate for a better deal with Diamond, because of the placement favours that Diamond Select receives from Diamond Previews.

WHEN WRITERS STRIKE

[Yellow Light]So what does the Writers Guild strike mean for comics? Might we get further word on the likes of "Ultimate Wolverine/Hulk" from Damon Lindelof? A new "Young Avengers" series from Allan Heinberg? All sorts of other projects that haven't even been mentioned but have stalled at the major publishers due to other commitments? And a fair few new ones?

From what I'm hearing, very possibly.

CBR has posted more here.

FOXED

[Yellow Light]Rumor has it that a division of Fox Entertainment is looking to buy Dynamite Entertainment, the publishing wing of Dynamic Forces. In the new world of purchasing IP, with IDW purchased by IDT, Newsarama purchased by Imaginova, expect a lot more of this sort of thing. When reached for comment, Dynamite commented, but is it really a comment?

When asked for comment, Nick Barrucci replied "Rich, first and foremost, I don't know where this rumor started. Unfortunately, we don't reply to such rumors in case (a) they are true, but we are in a negotiation stage, and cannot discuss, (b) they are not true, but they sound pretty cool and (c) we're the only people who don't know about them, and don't want to sound stupid by responding (does that sound stupid). Sorry, will let you know more once we know more."

That's so much better than "no comment" isn't it?

MOUNTED PREVIEWS

[Green Light]Coming down the DC publication pipe, thanks to Chapters Indigo of Canada…

"Starman: The Complete Saga Volume One Hardcover." The first of a series, which will reprint the entire James Robinson/Tony Harris series and the various specials, including the Hellboy crossover.

"JLI: Volume Two HC." Meaning that DC may be committed to reprinting this era of the Justice League - excellent!

There are lots and lots of Joker-related trade paperbacks from, Hardcover "Killing Joke" to the collection of JM Dematteis and Joe Staton's "Going Sane" from "Legends Of The Dark Knight" fourteen years ago to "Greatest Stories Ever Told" to "Last Laugh." Remember the prevalence of Doctor Octopus around "Spider-Man 2?" Think that.

A Jack Kirby's "OMAC hardcover." Makes sense, as "Final Crisis" appears to be Grant Morrison playing with all of Kirby's toys at once.

Talking of which, here's a final collection of the Grant Morrison/Mark Millar "Aztek The Ultimate Man" series as a "JLA Presents" volume.

Is this really ""Ex Machina" getting an Absolute or similar treatment?

Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan's "Demo" series is confirmed as a TPB at DC Comics.

Looks like the Archives at DC are being hurried to an end with "Doom Patrol volume 5" released months after volume 4, as well as the release of the final projected volume of the Golden Age Seven Soldiers. Look for a major restructuring of how DC will run the program.

Lots of nice Minx stuff, too.

And aside from DC, "Journey" by William Messner-Loebs is coming back into print, too.

RACE ISSUE

[Yellow Light]Gutterati Jack writes to let me know that a Brazilian blog has posted what they claim is a design for the Mach 6 car that will be used in the Wachowski brothers "Speed Racer." According to the site, Speed will use the classic Mach 5 at the beginning of the movie, but he will trade it for the new model when a faster car, with more resources and special equipment is needed.

BATTLE POPE

[Green Light]I'm told there's a "Battle Pope" cartoon in the works. These pieces of artwork may bolster that reality.

Hope it lasts longer than "Popetown."

SWIPE FILE

[Yellow Light]"Living With Zombies" is a comedy-horror series about the continuing exploits of two slacker pals who one day find that the world around them has become overrun by zombies. The series was created by Matthew C. Billman and Christopher Herndon in 2003, published in 2004 by Frightworld Studios, and later by Goathead Publishing.

There have been seven issues published, and a trade paperback was published in 2007 collecting all the issues up to date. "Wizard" magazine has twice mentioned the series, once in an article about zombie comics where it was given a full page write-up, and later in an article about the top 40 Independent comics that "Wizard" suggested its readers should be reading.

Matthew Billman was contacted by Dark Horse Associate Editor Mike Carriglitto over a year ago to discuss the possibility of Dark Horse Comics publishing "Living with Zombies." Billman gave Mike a synopsis of what the title was going be like in future issues but never heard back from Carriglitto or Dark Horse.

"Living With The Dead" is a new comedy-horror series featuring stories about the continuing exploits of two slacker pals who one day find that the world around them has become overrun by zombies.

The series was created by Dark Horse owner Mike Richardson and published by Dark Horse Comics.

Mike Richardson writes to say, "Despite the similarities, LIVING WITH THE DEAD was created with no help from the creators of LIVING WITH ZOMBIES. We are not in the business of stealing the ideas of others. Here is the e-mail I sent to the creators of the other strip:

I understand from Jeremy that you are concerned that my comic, LIVING WITH THE DEAD, may have somehow been derivative of your LIVING WITH ZOMBIES. I can see why you might jump to that conclusion when considering the similarity of subject matter, but I can assure you that your concerns are unfounded.

My only exposure to your creation came when I was approached by one of my editors some time back about a possible resemblance to an on-line comic he was interested in publishing in comic form. Because of the possible similarities, I passed on the project and purposely have not EVER looked at it.

LIVING WITH THE DEAD came about this way:

Years ago, one of the LIVING DEAD movies took place in a mall. When I saw it, It occurred to me that all the stuff in that mall was there for the taking. In fact, the whole post-apocalyptic world was full of stuff . . . buildings electronics, wine, cars, etc., waiting for the survivors. As I fashioned the actual story, it seemed that if two buddies survived, they could make lemonade out of the lemon they were handed. First, they find that they can move freely by wearing zombie disguises (zombies aren't too smart.) Their success at blending in allows them build their own paradise. The best of friends. Buddies forever. Pals to the end . . . until a girl shows up. The recent Shawn movie got me thinking about the idea again and as a result, I wrote the comic series. Writer Andy Cosby gave me the title. He thought it would be a good idea to somehow get LIVING DEAD into the title, thus LIVING with the DEAD.

Dark Horse is a company that supports creator's rights. I would never consider ripping off another creator of his/her idea. To the contrary, we have spent our own money to restore content rights to their rightful owners. Since I started Dark Horse, I have continually created stories and characters for our publications. I have plenty of ideas of my own and have no desire or need to steal content from another creator.

I hope your project does well for you, and feel free to call me anytime if you'd like to discuss.

Best,

Mike

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]Jamie McKelvie makes money from the illegal torrenting of comic books.

Martha Thomases on Kyle Baker.

Tickets for the Mark Millar/Jim Lee/Steve McNiven/etc etc etc/Dublin Convention have just gone on sale. Oh and CB Cebulski's going, too.

The show must go on...

"Fearless" is out this week…

Hot Chick Wins Marvel Costume Contest Shock.

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've even started some space clearing on eBay too...

And my Wii number is 0512 2690 8446 2879

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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