Lying In The Gutters

Mon, March 3rd, 2008 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 147

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 good 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.

GEARED UP

[Green Light]Lying In The Gutters is proud to out Top Cow writer Joshua Ortega as the writer of the X-BOX 360 title "Gears of War 2." He also wrote the trailer.

VOLT BOLT

[Green Light]What is this Voltron-related image from Devil's Due all about?

WONDER WALL

[Green Light]Unreported elsewhere, according to Wondercon reports, as well as his DC and Image projects, Joe Michael Straczynski will be writing "Captain America" and "Sub Mariner" projects for Marvel.

Any chance of the Human Torch for a full sweep?

UPDATE: There's a reason it wasn't reported elsewhere, it's not exactly accurate. Marvel and JMS have talked about said projects but nothing is firm or set as yet...

THE RELIGIOUS WRONGED

[Red Light]Diamond has been criticised by various commentators over the decision not to distribute the comic book "Mecha Manga Bible Heroes," edited by ex-Archie editor Paul Castiglia. The reason for not distributing the book has been given as purely as religious subject matter, as it was based on the David And Goliath story.

Which seems incredibly peculiar, considering "The Manga Bible" is distributed by Diamond, as well as other religious works from various publishers including, naturally, "The Flying Friar."

What's the real story here?

I asked my contacts, and I understand that it was purely down to the quality of the work. Diamond sells and distributes many religious themed comics, graphic novels, trade paperbacks and, well, these...

WIZARD'S STAFF

[Yellow Light]There's more behind-the-scenes gossip over recent staff changes at Wizard.

Rob Felton, the former VP/Associate Publisher who was let go in December. It appears both Felton and Martha Donato (who formerly managed much of the conventions operations, then had the appointment of Joe Yanarella over her head, as previously LITG'd) went behind the back of Wizard Entertainment President/COO Fred Pierce and arranged a meeting with Gareb Shamus to discuss the company's direction and problems they saw with some of the decision-making process lately. Mostly involving Fred Pierce.

However what the dynamic duo didn't realize was that Shamus and Pierce were really good friends. Hence the rapid dismissal of Felton and the effective demotion of Donato.

There has been some debate internally at the website as to whether readers should be able to comment directly on articles, threaded underneath.

Scott Gramling, the Editor-in-Chief, put the kibosh on that, telling people he did not want someone at Marvel to be able to print out one of the Wizard stories about their products and point to some text at the bottom that says "Joe Quesada's an idiot for that Spider-Man story!"

There are a lot of Wizard writers, past and present, annoyed that all the content before the Wizard website revamp has been deleted. A number of writers had written for Wizard for free with the express understanding that they'd be able to use that published work as reference for future work at other companies, and editors were given this justification as an express recruiting tool for young, unpublished writers to write for low or no pay.

And suddenly a lot of resumes have a lot of broken links.

This included Brian Warmoth's "Cursory Conversations" interview column with webcomic creators, as well as Sean T. Collins' "I Can Has Comix" interview column with notable indie and small-press creators.

As to the new volunteer class of Wizard writers, recruited from their message boards, I understand a number are writing three or four columns a week for no pay. The justification is that there is no money in online only articles, but if they keep writing they might have the chance to get something in print. Cue a couple of minor sidebars in feature articles in the print magazine to keep them sweet.

There may be no such thing as a free freelancer, but this is fairly close.

THE WEEK IN ME

[Green Light]No new baby yet, but it could be any day now.

Five-and-a-half years ago I wrote and drew a 24 Hour Comic. Except it ended up taking 15 1/2 hours. It's called "Soul Less" and it inspired Bill Jemas to ask me to pitch for "Marville" like that was ever going to happen. And it's just been uploaded to Wowio. They've also got "Civil Wardrobe" as well. So, if you're in the USA, happy reading. If not, sorry.

Wednesday sees a Geek Syndicate interview with me.

And next Saturday's Guardian newspaper will have a feature on "The Flying Friar" in its Review Section. Nice.

Back to the radio advertising...

SHOOTING HOOPES

[Green Light]The pages we printed last week in search of a creator, were by Andres Guinaldo for "Sophia: Awakening," a series written by Terrence Bernard for Parasite Publishing.

Nick Miller had created inks based on those pages, for one Josh Hoopes, who then declined to pay for them.

It appears that Atlantis Studios, providing the inked art to Parasite Publishing, had hired Hoopes, rather than Miller.

I understand that Atlantis have now discovered the truth and will be paying Miller and others directly for their work.

Another writer contacts me to tell me he hired Josh Hoopes to pencil, ink and colour pages before discovering Hoopes' history.

So, does anyone recognise the actual artist?

HART BEAT

[Yellow Light]Boneyard publisher Hart Fisher has repeatedly stated that My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way and Dark Horse have claimed "Umbrella Academy" as Gerard's first comics work. And that they are deceiving Gerard's fans and betraying Hart by not recognizing Way's "On Raven's Wings" that Hart published years ago.

The only evidence I can find so far of this is a solicitation of the "Umbrella Academy" TPB where the book is described as "'Umbrella Academy' is the comics debut of Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance!" Every other marketing statement I've seen when the book was coming out described it as his first comic series.

That neither Gerard nor Dark Horse referred to Gerard's earlier work in publicity is not a failing. Hart should not have been hurt or betrayed by it. If anything, it should have been an opportunity. That it became a source of anger, rage and frustration has other sources.

The truth of the matter is, is that "On Raven's Wings," from what I recall, wasn't very good. Which is probably the biggest reason Gerard has for not bringing it up in interviews.

SPECULATION CORNER

[Yellow Light]As predicted, looks like "Kick Ass" and "Locke & Key" are starting to do well.

This week? Place your money on "Young Liars." Vertigo's orders haven't been that healthy of late, and the first issue of a new David Lapham series is to be congratulated, read lightly and then stored in mylar bags and kevlar boards. Then there's "Buffy"#12 this section has been plugging for a few months now. "Cloverfield" writer, extra length issue, and the return of... someone. Possibly hairy. Check who it is, and if newsworthy, grab a handful. And then there's the first issue of Terry Moore's "Echo." Probably worth a peek.

Also, British readers looking for the new IDW "Doctor Who" series, not licensed to be distributed in the UK, might want to try Orbital Comics for a little grey importing... I did!

EAST END PREACHERS

[Green Light]Last Friday's episode of "EastEnders," the popular British soap, took a slight detour, as one of the characters spent three minutes extolling the virtues of the "Preacher" comics.

The episode was written by Jaden Clark. Could we have another Si Spencer or Art Young in the making?

CAPEWATCH

[Green Light]Mark Millar has yet to eat his Superman cape. We will keep you updated.

BRIAN BENDIS - RUMOUR MONGER

[Yellow Light]Over at WizardWorld, Grant Morrison is quoted as saying, "We're going to kick their ass so hard. [Laughs] Marvel had its big year last year with 'Civil War,' which was an amazing event and really changed the Marvel landscape. With 'Secret Invasion,' we've seen the Skrull thing before. We've seen it in the Kree-Skrull War, again in series like the Fantastic Four. They re kind of resting this year. [Laughs] So if you re a Marvel fan, come over here. There s only one book to read this summer. It's simple."

Standard PR bravado. But Brian Bendis wasn't having it, in a thread now deleted, replying "knowing what everyone in the industry knows about what's going on with 'his' book behind the scenes, even jokingly, he really should keep his yap el shutto."

Read to be as an implication that Morrison isn't writing the book, or certainly not on the level being credited.

Bendis later edited the post to add "guys calm down. he shit talked. so what? i thought it was a little beneath him too, but, hey, its comics. he's having a row, as they say.

"same shit gail does all the time. they must teach a class in it over there."

And referring to the old Grant Morrison underwear modelling photos posted on the thread, "and although i pulled a hammy holding in the jokes goofing on that picture, i say let it ride.

"in 2012 when final crisis is done, we'll see what's what."

So, is Final Crisis late as well? Or is that a reference to the end of the Mayan calendar, signaling the end of the world, often used by Morrison in his work?

Cue Gail.

"Yes, you're right, Brian, no one from Marvel ever bashes DC, well stated, sir! Well, except for all the times they do.

"Why did I have to be dragged into this? I defend Marvel and Joey CONSTANTLY. I think I've actually had a total of two serious complaints about Marvel; one, that the early MU females were terrible characters (which has long since been made up by the X-females and others), and the stuff about the 'crazy bitches.' I defy you to find a DC creator who has said more positive things about Marvel recently.

"Other than that, I just gave an interview praising a bunch of Marvel books, I start threads about new Marvel books I'm loving, I mention my love of you, Bru, Beland, Reed, Fraction, and Millar all the time.

"Are you guys REALLY that sensitive? I tease here because everyone teases everyone here. Does anyone here ACTUALLY think Spider-man is gay? Spider-man is one of my all-time favorites. He is at MOST promiscuously bi with a hamster fetish.

"For the record, everyone knows you're not a top professional by accident and that you're not going to turn in some retread story. And I'm pretty sure Final Crisis is going to kick a ton of ass no matter what you're implying is going on behind the scenes.

"I'm looking forward to both.

"They must teach it over there, sheesh, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard DC bashing here or at a con from Marvel guys, I'd have a lot of nickels. Maybe a bushel. Or a peck.

"What happened to our senses of humor, seriously?"

Followed by:

"The weird thing here is, I'm actually looking forward to both of these crossovers and I've had very little interest in any of the big crossovers for a while at either company. They just didn't spark my interest, somehow.

"But I'm all up for Secret Invasion. I love the b-movie promo stuff. I am not a fan of the Skrulls, but done right, which Brian will do because he's great at that stuff, I think the paranoia and infiltration stuff will be big fun. It sounds right up my alley and it's the first Marvel crossover in a while I'm going to be following very closely.

"And Final Crisis is Grant, whom I think is simply a genius. I've kept away from spoilers as much as possible, but I've heard him talk about it at length and it really does seem like an epic in the sense that the scope is just massive. He sold me with the idea that it starts with Anthro (the first boy on Earth) and ends with Kamandi (the last boy on Earth). I think it's gonna be steaming hot.

"I'm willing to bet that these are the most entertaining crossover books in a long while.

"The readers win."

After pages of commentary, Bendis kicked off again

"holy fuck!! this is the dumbest thread full of stupid on the entire internet!!! and that is saying something.

"you see the fucking smiley faces on my original posts?? it means i'm goofing around!!! like grant seemingly was!!

"see how i have no smiley faces here?? means i'm not!!

"who gives a fucking shit about any of this!! what does it have to do with comics or storytelling or art or fun!!

"gail, go outside, you're losing your mind!! you're on here 24/7 taking shots. i mention you once and we get a lecture. you ARE dave sim. so get some air!!!

"comics are fun!! they are art!! none of this thread is.

"go read the killer. its fucking fantastic.

"and if you were el douchy enough to cut and paste my other posts, minus smileys, on other boards, to see if you can start shit or something.... time to do some soul searching, i would think."

LITG is proud to preserve all text... Gail concluded with

"Yikes. The Bendis over-reaction train keeps a'rollin' on!

""Taking shots 24/7?"

"Have you gone nuts?

"Yikes."

And on that suggestion of mental illness, the thread was gone, to be remembered only in clipped smiley-less comments on Newsarama and CBR boards.

This may have been where it started a couple of years ago, but it was nudged along here and there as well.

UPDATE: I am assured that both parties have made up and are good friends again.

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]On the John Byrne Board, Byrne stated in response to a previous Swipe File, "As someone who allegedly writes about comics, Rich Johnston should really learn what a 'swipe' is."

Of course, this isn't just a collection of swipes, which is where confusion may set in. "Swipe File" is itself a swipe from both the previous website that carried its name and the irregular and fairly abandoned feature in "The Comics Journal." It collects and compares, homages, pastiches, swipes, reinterpretations, coincidental similarities and recreations.

Swipe File also doesn't judge. There are all sorts of reasons for why images appear similar. It's merely fascinated by the process of influence, especially in a way that can be demonstrated graphically.

If, as a result, some fans go on a fanboy rampage over it, or certain publishers issue letters demanding creators do not infringe copyright with the images they use, that's their call.

On that note, let's have swipes from the new Greg Land, David Mack!

And to celebrate this week's publication of Jeff Smith's "RASL"...

A more famous publication pronounced the same way.

Just what you'd expect from the creator of "Bone."

LOVELY BRISTOLS

[Green Light]I hate Cosplay.

No really. I hate it. I find it laughable, ludicrous and worthy only of scorn.

So, on that note, The Bristol Comic Con is having a Cosplay competition during their film night.

There you are, wanting to see a film with a few friends and suddenly, across the screen march are 40 year old men in Sailor Moon costumes and 14 year old girls in costumes. If you took a photo of either, you could probably end up arrested by Operation KnickerSniff or somesuch.

Anyway, it is a way to get free stuff from MVM Entertainment, who are giving away £70 boxsets to winners, such as "Best In Show." Or "Best Of Breed" presumably, and Forbidden Planet goodie bags for the first one hundred people with

Markosia comics, MVM DVDs, Imagine magazines and, finally a good idea, popcorn from Orang Utan Comics. If you get really annoyed by the cosplayers, you could just chuck it at them.

The night is hosted by Emily Bastion and Valerie Perez, star of one of the films showing, "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Tears of the Dragon." So she'll get a really healthy view of comic book people, then.

Apparently they'll have one or two world premieres on the night if, and get this, only if the films are finished in time. Fills you with confidence, so it does.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]This year, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is introducing a special comics and graphic novel "neighborhood," to highlight the growing influence of comics and graphic novels on the mainstream publishing industry. Expect a Los Angeles Times booth at WizardWorld Los Angeles. It will take place on April the 26th and 27th., the weekend before Free Comic Book Day.

How to make a graphic novel? Shoot the film first. Here's 8Ball.

Ooh, Steven Moffat is writing a Sherlock Holmes project with Mark Gatiss. Ooh.

LETTER WAR!

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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