Lying In The Gutters

Mon, February 18th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 145

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. But I urge you to use your judgment and remember, context is everything.

The traffic light system is simple. Green means there's a pretty god chance it's true. Amber means the source may be lacking, or have a clear bias. And Red means that I reckon it's bollocks. Still, you never know.

Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced. Please don't shoot the messenger.

TIMELY COMICS

[Yellow Light]There's been a lot of fuss of late about late comics. How they damage publishers, retailers, brands and consumer loyalty. Well, DC are taking a stand and it's gong to be brutal for some.

Sources close to freelancers inform me that DC Comics has a new in house policy for pencillers. Aside from very specific contracted creators (such as Jim Lee), any penciller contracted to work on a monthly book must deliver complete turnaround of 22 pages of work in four weeks. Not a month, four weeks. If that schedule isn't maintained, they'll pull pages and assign them to other creators. And you may run short of future work. A reduction in quality is more acceptable than a reduction in quantity.

Specific examples I've been given include the recent issue of "Wonder Woman" was half Dodson and half Ron Randall. Also why Koi Turnball was dropped from "Jack Hawksmoor." And it has been pointed out that there are already three fill-ins on the new "Legion" schedule.

Creators are also being dropped from exclusive contracts over this new regime. Expect certain publishing vultures to swarm.

WHEN DAIRY CROSSES OVER

[Green Light]Pencilled pages from an upcoming issue of "Hack/Slash."

Oh yes oh yes oh yes. Milk And Cheese are in the Devil's Due House...

COLD STORAGE

[Green Light]Lance Stahlberg of Cold Cut Distribution-buying Rogue Wolf Entertainment stopped by Comic Related. Looks like Cold Cut will be distributing superhero books this time.

Much has been made of Lance's anonymous silent business partner. A little research reveals it may be one David Hitch.

FROM PROMOTION TO PUBLICATION

[Green Light]Looks like Spidey gained a little line weight. Promotional pages for "Amazing Spider-Man" #549 had Spidey sporting a costume web line reminiscent of the Spider-Man movie costume. However, on publication, we saw that replaced by a dark line.

Movie:

Published:

C'mon, people, "Spider-Man 3" wasn't that bad.

NOT SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND

[Green Light]"Lois" is a new autobiographical comic by writer, comedian and exotic danceer Lois Gilbert. In an "American Splendor" style, the first issue features a story by Harvey Pekar, and art by Gary Dumm and Greg Budgett.

Bucking the trend, the book is not being distributed by Diamond, though a number of smart retailers have got their hands on copies.

If you're an interested customer then give your retailer a kick to order directly from Shenton4Sales@aol.com.

X-SAVIOUR

[Green Light]Now, it's not like this column is in any position to pick up on anyone else's spelling mistakes.

But we did enjoy "X-Force" #1's credit for writer Chris Yost, transformed into "Christ Yost."

SPECULATION CORNER

[Yellow Light]USA Today's piece on "Hulk"#2 and the first appearance of the "Red Hulk," with little pre-promotion of this, and both the book's delay and critical response to #1 seeing retailer orders being cut on this one, may well give us an old-fashioned demand-greater-than-supply situation on our hands. Buy copies, put them on eBay fast to take advantage.

Though from the article Loeb says. "The Red Hulk is the kind of Hulk we haven't seen before - a thinking, calculating, brutal weapon-toting kind of Hulk.""

What, like this?

And for another speculation bubble, the new Joss Whedon-penned "Angel: After The Fall" #4 has been severely allocated to comic stores served by Diamond's Pittsburgh distribution centre. More copies will be on their way, but you've got a week to take advantage of a false bubble and scalp some Whedon fans!

Yes, I'm still continuing this feature.

MILLARWHIRLED

[Green Light]The pedants at Blog@Newsarama circled over Mark Millar's statement in UK List over the sales of "Civil War" (boy, those "Google Alerts" are handy aren't they?), describing them as "It's the bestselling comic of the last 15 years."

After this was mocked, on Millarworld, Mark added "Oh wait. It's only the best selling American series of the last FOURTEEN years. Forgive me for rounding up twelve months (rolls eyes)."

Mark then added "If someone can show me another monthly comic series published in the American market that has outsold 'Civil War,' then I will eat my Superman cape. You can go all the way back to the collapse in 1994."

"This is truly pathetic and pedantic, but typical of some aspects of the Internet, unfortunately."

Ahem.

The thread was then locked.

Millar states that the seven issue Civil War series sold 2.7 million, that's an average of 385,000 an issue. Pretty impressive.

But according to Marvel's published Statement Of Ownership, covering the period of 1994, thirteen years ago, "Uncanny X-Men" sold an average of 525,967 retail copies, and "X-Men" sold 593,883.

And Mark, much as I love you, I will also love seeing the YouTube video of you eating Superman's cape.

It should be great publicity for "Kick Ass"...

Unless of course, you actually meant Superman's cake...

Thanks to Bendis Board's Mike Sharp for the figures.

A GERBER AMONGST MEN

[Green Light]Steven Grant said far more about the death of Steve Gerber than I could. But one thing stuck out about Steve not being appreciated by the industry during his lifetime. Which sent me thinking.

Who else are we ignoring right now, who has been rewriting the rules and setting the scene for many?

Priest. Once known as Jim Owsley, then Christopher Priest, his work in superhero comics has been seminal. On books such as "Quantum & Woody" and "Black Panther," he took superhero comics and put them together in fascinating ways. Challenging, experimental and often very very funny, he's been marginalised. This should stop. Can his comics future really be a book from Platinum?

Steve Moore, subject of Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins' "Unearthing," is known in comics for his work with Alan Moore, but he was also heavily involved with the emergence of American comics in Britain, "2000AD" and "Fortean Times." A wealth of arcane knowledge, with an imagination to match, a non-Alan Moore related project is necessary.

Dwayne McDuffie. He understands modern superhero comics so well, yet when he's even assigned work, it's short term. His "Damage Control" recently surprised and delighted a whole new range of readers, his animated work treated the JLA better than any of the comics at the time, and the legacy of Milestone still shames the modern industry. No wonder he finds more respect on the moving screen.

Jamie Delano. Known for "Hellblazer," it's works like "Tainted," "Night Raven," "2020 Visions" and "Hell Eternal," are true delights. His new work for Avatar, "Narcopolis," has kicked off in an astounding direction.

Shane Simmons. Author of the two "Longshot Comics" and the lesser "Money Talks" series and one of the most inventive, creative and consistent creators. Imagine Chris Ware crossed with Groucho Marx. He writes television now. We lost this one, folks.

Dave McKinnon and Terry Wiley, the creators of "Sleaze Castle," one of the finest comic books ever created, and subject to a Lennon/McCartney style split that left it beautifully, tragically yet satisfactorily unfinished, spinning off into "Petra Etcetera" and "Surreal School Stories." If I had the money, I'd publish an "Incomplete Sleaze Castle Omnibus" tomorrow.

Just a few. Don't let them fall. I also hear Ty Templeton and Steve Gerber had a "Howard The Duck" project lined up. Here's hoping Marvel and Ty can complete the comic in Steve's memory.

MILE HIGH CLUB

[Yellow Light]Chuck Rozanski was an attendee at the recent DC RRP, an infrequent meeting between DC Comics and a select group of retailers. Think of it as the Bilderberg group for comics.

As Chuck wrote in his newsletter last week, "one of the requirements for continuing to be invited to future RRP sessions is an agreement to not discuss most of the things that we talk about."

But Chuck does deem it safe to say, "From a comics retailer perspective, however, there are some changes coming down the road that may not bode well. It will all depend on how the implementation of these new factors are handled by DC and Time Warner. Simply put, DC management I trust, greater Time Warner, I do not."

Another retailer who attended was mystified as to what these plans may be. The conspiracy deepens.

JOE BLOW

[Green Light]IDW getting the GI Joe license has received added credence from Phil Kost, credited as military advisor for Devil's Due's "GI Joe: America's Elite" for the past couple of years. He writes, "In case you missed it.... *cough*IDW got it*cough* And I have it on pretty good info that Larry [Hama] won't be involved. (Subject to change, but from all the info I have heard, it doesn't look like he will be writing Joe anytime soon.) I would also anticipate we can expect a re-boot. (This is purely subjective, but again based on things I have heard.)"

That's good enough for me!

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]We're building up that Wizard cover swipe... Bats and Supes found, but can anyone find the Wonder Woman reference?

LUNA CRASH

[Yellow Light]Dave McKean's most recent film project, "Luna" has, reportedly, collapsed. A number of actors have been contacting the UK acting union, Equity, about getting paid for their work.

"Last of the Mohicans" and "River City" actor Maurice Roeves has managed to retrieve about half of what he was owed for a day's shoot. But four principal actors, including Dervla Kirwan ("Ballykissangel") and Ben Daniels ("Cutting It") have remained unpaid since filming finished in November.

Roeves is quoted as saying, "Equity later told me I was lucky I had got some of it back."

Further research reveals that movie financing company Baker Street Finance bit the dust but that the producers of "Luna" are in negotiations with a new buyer to that the fully-shot film can be finished, edited and released. Look for more details (and indeed payments) shortly.

ATLANTIS STUDIO WELL NAMED

[Yellow Light]Butch Kaaran-Mapa writes:

"I'm talking about James Watson and Atlantis Studios

"- I did work for him last August

"- He promised to pay me multiple times, starting in September

"- After two months of non-payment, I read some posts about some people who've had previous dealings with him. Some were paid as late as a year after, some were only paid after threatening legal action, and I think some weren't paid at all.

"There you go. Just be careful when applying to him, make sure he pays you before you do any work."

JR LeMar added "I just want to state for the record that last year one of my artist friends posted a bulletin on Myspace also claiming that he had done work for Atlantis Studios & had never been paid."

Followed by two handy links to correspondence between James Watson and Korby Marks from last year.

Atlantis Studios was the company that took over the Screenplay Competition after the Dabel Bros dropped out of their obligations. Maybe it's catching.

I wrote to James Watson and he told me, "I am aware of an outstanding obligation to Butch Mapa. He and I have talked, and I believe I owe him $420.00 for work done last fall. He is an excellent artist, and I highly recommend him for his talent.

"Unfortunately, throughout 2007 - and especially in the fourth quarter of 2007, Atlantis Studios battled persistent and lingering financial difficulties. We have tried to address the root causes of many of them, but too many outstanding debts are still on the books. Over $40,000 has been paid to various artists over the last 12 months, but we have a long way to go until it is all current.

"It is unclear whether Atlantis Studios as a service will survive the coming year due to these crushing obligations, however, I will send whatever money we receive from current projects to settle our commitments to artists, small payments until all bills are settled. This might take all year, but it is my commitment to clear the books and manage this part of the business more effectively.

"I appreciate your understanding as we struggle through, and try to do something unique in the publishing and entertainment industry."

What, like paying people?

TWO TRINITIES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

[Green Light]So, DC get round to confirming the "Trinity" title. Mind you, two weeks earlier, Top Cow gave you another one.

How many more companies will announce a comic with the word "Trinity" in it?

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]Brendon Connelly returns to Film Ick with a clip from "Where The Wild Things Are."

MJ Hibbert sings about his gig in New York.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre take on "Torchwood" - and it's brilliant.

Oh and Primeval too... especially the last fifteen seconds!

IDW's Chris Ryall knocking down John Byrne rumours.

Note how Byrne's version is slightly rephrased...

Steve Pugh, trying to improve the quality of his pirated comics.

Budgie brings back his Fast Fiction experiment.

Valiant's new website is up... with a space for "independent properties."

Peter David product places the iPod.

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.

You can see my Guido Fawkes cartoon most Mondays here. Here's the latest.

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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