Lying In The Gutters

Mon, November 26th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 132

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. 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.

DVDX

[Green Light]Did you find the title of the upcoming Wolverine film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" interesting? Expect a bunch of similar films. Not only the previously mentioned "Magneto," now "X-Men Origins: Magneto," but a slate of films, including a number of lower budget DVD releases based on geek-favourite characters.

VERTIGO MAX

[Yellow Light]Feel sorry for Max Fiumara. Picked for Peter Milligan's "Infinity Inc." relaunch, sales weren't as expected and he was fired for his style being too Vertigo-esque. Max was also dropped from "THUNDER Agents" as the book never saw the day.

Thankfully, he's rather liked at Vertigo, but keep an eye on "Infinity Inc." for more editorial experimentation.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING DC

[Yellow Light]It's war within DC editorial right now. I mean, this is nothing new, there is a long history of deliberately engineered conflict within the company in order to encourage creativity on a survival-of-the-fittest model. But with Jim Shooter writing Legion, against the express wishes of a number of staff, increasing concern over the lack of performance of "One Year Later," "Countdown," Wildstorm, divisions have reached new levels.

Basically all bets are off. I'm being told that the "All Star" line will be wound up when the current creators leave the books, to be replaced by a new line more in keeping with the idea of creating new iconic versions of the characters rather than the Silver Post Modern Age of "All Star Superman" and the Dark Knight Satire of "All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder."

How "All Star Wonder Woman" fits into this rumour, I have no idea – Allison Sohn, Adam Hughes partner, recently stated he'd turned down a series of covers to replace his Catwoman cover gig and would concentrate on getting ASWW finished. Could it be part of the new line?

"Countdown" is getting seriously rejigged with regular creators for the book finding their schedule and workload moved all over the place to allow new, hopefully sales-lifting, blood in through the doors. But those whose work is bumped may expect replacement backup work on the Busiek/Bagley weekly title.

Oh and Dead Batman/Todd Batman/God Bruce Wayne? So not happening. You can still expect a status-challenging new scenario, still expect Alex Ross covers and designs, still expect some intricately complex yet instantly entertaining Morrisonia, just, expect something else. Did Internet reaction affect this? Not one jot it seems. All decisions are taking place at a much higher level, and Warner Bros. have made their feelings known.

Of course, from such bedlam and mayhem, often comes inspired madness and creativity. Right now, the place is reminiscent of Jemas era Marvel – no one knows what to do or what is expected of them. Some creators have expressed despair to me, others see an opportunity to do something fresh and exciting in 2008. They are trying lots of things. Some things will stick. Some things will stink. But some will shine brightly.

Whatever happens, industry expectations seem to peg "Final Crisis" to beat "Secret Invasion" in the sales stakes.

LEGAL EAGLES

[Green Light]This week Marvel and DC Comics sent out legal letters to the owners of Z-Cult FM, a torrent site famed for hosting torrent links to all sorts of comics – but most famous for what are known as "0 day uploads," comics made available on the same day they're published in the USA.

Certainly the illegal bit torrent sites are starting to feel the brunt of copyright owner action, though Pirate Bay stays hilariously immune from any attempts. And outside of these systems, the likes of DC++ and Usenet are pretty untouchable, unnegotiable and now suddenly, a lot more popular.

You might have to wait a day or so, though.

As for Marvel's legal digital downloads, there have been a few concerns expressed. One, initially the system only let Americans in, although that "feature" seems to have been fixed now. I shall sign up tonight and see how it goes!

Two, the download system has such poor security, although it appears to be a secure flash system, each page is actually downloaded into your page's image cache. A quick check reveals that you can simply drag and drop every page you read into a more permanent storage facility, in beautiful high res, perfect for illegal sharing.

And three, the payment system for creators is up in the air. Marvel's contracts have been fairly watertight over this sort of thing and this week Dan Buckley, Marvel publisher, stated they'd look at paying creators if the system made a profit. Which is not the normal way round these things work for big publishers. Basically, any Internet earnings for creators are all on the back end. All sorts of items could be set against profit. And a number of creators who have seen their uploads on the Marvel site have been telling me they're not too chuffed. At least with illegal downloads, it didn't take money out of a comic book readers' pocket, which may well have gone on legal purchases of their work, with resulting royalties. One creator told me that as far as he was concerned, regarding Marvel, it looked like another "European publication" deal - Marvel creators receive no royalties for Non-USA publication of their work. Despite, as one put it, their work selling more in Spain than in the whole of the USA.

Of course, any creator willing to rise up against a lack of royalties for digital download sales would also have to be the kind of person who'd never illegally downloaded a single piece of content in their lives - or look like a hypocrite. And there's precious few of those around.

HEART FELT

[Yellow Light]"Unearthing" is a new Alan Moore comic book, based on the same-titled short story published in "London - City of Disappearances." That story, about fellow writer Steve Moore, touched on the subject of Steve Moore's undeclared love. Who then got in touch.

The comic book may well be a successful guide to romance.

THE ADAMS FAMILY

[Green Light]Last week, we looked at the upcoming work of Neal Adam's son Josh. Well, another son, Jason, has a DC Direct sculpture based on his father's designs scheduled for release in July.

GLAD TIDINGS

[Green Light]My graphic novel, "The Flying Friar" is published in the USA from Markosia, on Wednesday. Full colour, spine, lovely backmatter, it's available from all good comic shops. Including, but not limited to SpazDog, Comic Relief, Comickase,Earth 2,Brave New Worlds,Bunjee's,Dr No's,Secret Headquarters,Clem's,Green Brain,Samurai,Cosmic Monkey,All Heroes,MidTown (in fact, they've ordered stacks!),Main Street, New Dimension,Dragon's Lair,Libraire Astro and Another Dimension,

If your shop doesn't have copies and is unwilling to order one for you, Midtown have made the book available at a good price to LITG readers.

The book was published in the UK a few weeks ago and made it into this weekend's Telegraph's list of ideal gifts for Christmas. I can't argue with that! Most shops sold out, but some still have copies. May I recommend Orbital on Charing Cross Road?

Talking of Orbital, they were the first shop in London to get copies of "League Of Extraordinary Gentleman: The Black Dossier," the Friday after it shipped in the US. Selling for around $60, they sold out of their initial fifty copies in hours. More copies are expected at Gosh and the Amazon.com copies have been arriving in the UK all through the week.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]A few shots from New York's Big Apple Comic Convention last week…

Sergio, with artwork from "Groo: Hell On Earth" #3. I read it upside down to save myself from plot spoilers. Sergio is a fond visitor of Greenwich in London, so I had the sad duty to tell him about the fire on the Cutty Sark. No news as to whether Groo was involved.

The amazingly talented and disgusting S Clay Wilson, the true instigator of horror porn, and still refusing to be identified by camera. He was selling pristine mint copies of some of his early work, recently discovered in a collector's vault. I would have bought one, but feared for Her Majesty's Customs.

Adam Hughes, not quite obscured by my thumb. Not even my phone's 5 meg camera can stop me clutching it too tightly.

Netzer! Is he the comic book messiah? Or just a fabulously talented comic book artist? Can't he be both?

David and Valerie - the new royal couple of comics.

Me and… Graig Weich. Yes, that Graig Weich. Creator of "Civilian Justice." Apparently, he tells me that he is actually a liberal, a democrat supporter, and that the book was stripped off anti-Bush pages by its distributor before being published – and he was horrified to see the book interpreted as jingoistic propaganda.

Two men with two women on their mind.

Save the coffee, save the world!

Spider-Man looks like he has an extra spinneret on display. Kaare Andrews, eat your heart out.

Kilmer?

Standing on Broadway, trying to drum up business.

It's a tempting thought, isn't it?

Uh... no thanks.

Comics Village looks at a new model of distribution.

Alex Fitch interviews Jim Mahfood for Resonance FM. In which Mahfood talks about how Disney/ABC ripped off his "Clerks" comic book artwork for the ill-fated animated show, without payment or credit. To the extent where the animators had blow-ups of his artwork in their studio.

Dan Slott wants credit where it's due and until that happens, he's telling everyone that Top Cow Sucks!

SMALL PRINT

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