Lying In The Gutters

Tue, May 27th, 2008 at 2:48pm PDT | Updated: May 28th, 2008 at 5:57pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 159

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.

Eve is now sleeping from midnight to five am. This is a good thing. Which means the column may go a little more indepth again. Which means the traffic lights are back. Red lets you know I think this rumour is bunkum, but it is still one being spread about. Amber indicates I think there is a heavy bias involved here, or it just seems a little dodgy. And Green as far as I can tell (as far as I can ever tell) is the real deal, junior.

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

THE SANDS OF TIME

[Green Light]I understand that Neil Gaiman has been approached to write for the popular TV series "Doctor Who," for broadcast in 2010.

So what's going on here? Let's find out.

THE MAN WITH TWO HEARTS

[Green Light]Well we all know Russell T Davies is leaving "Doctor Who" after next year’s four episode non-season.

My wife will tell anyone who listens that when Eve was born three years ago, she wasn’t sure what I was more excited about, her birth or "Doctor Who" coming back. I think that's a little unfair, but I do remember watching "Father's Day" with Eve in my arms blubbing like a baby. And now we all watch it together.

Not only did Russell bring back one of my fondest childhood memories, but he turned it into the country’s prime television icon. More people in the UK are exposed to science-fiction through modern "Doctor Who" than everything else put together. It’s a social phenomenon in a multi-channel, online splintered world.

The online geekish criticism Russell gets for his work seems so minor compared to his huge and continuing achievements with the series. Complaints about deus ex machinas, power of love ending, discarded plot points, and out of kilter humour seem like pointing out that Mohammed Ali had a pimple during his big fight. They mean nothing compared to the pure joy, excitement, the spread of genuine subversive ideas under a cosy blanket while simultaneously binding the family unit for a shared experience. And doing it all with bloody Doctor Who as well.

It’s quite possible he’s actually helped reduce violence, and increase social cohesion in the country as a whole with this silly, brave, wonderful television show.

Thank you Russell. We’ll miss you. Please keep writing episodes.

ONE LIFE FURNISHED IN EARLY MOFFAT

[Green Light]So, what does Steven Moffat showrunning "Doctor Who" mean (apart from giving old LITG columns a Google lift)?

Well, we all know his "Doctor Who" work �" "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances," "The Girl In The Fireplace" and "Blink." Some of us also know "The Curse Of Fatal Death," "Timecrash" and "Continuity Errors." If you like early "Buffy," "Veronica Mars" and early "Smallville," then "Press Gang" will knock your socks off. Along with "Hitchhikers" and "The Goons." "Press Gang" made me want to write in the first place, managed to make sex symbols out of Julia Sawalha and Dexter Fletcher and given its time slot, probably pushed the boundaries more than Russell T Davies’ "Queer As Folk" did. One episode may have had the "honour" of being swiped by Alan Moore for "WildCATS" while abother featured a Colonel X character seemingly drawn straight from Jon Pertwee's Doctor.

Steven went on to write "Joking Apart," the absolutely perfect sitcom farce, and "Coupling" which seemed to try and top each episode for impossible swallowing-its-own-tail structures, reaching a pinnacle with "Remember Me," as well as a character who ran a comics-and-sci-fi shop. And then there was the genuine fear and invention of "Jekyll." Still gives me chills that one.

Steven is also writing the upcoming "Tintin" screenplays, a new sitcom called "Adam And Eve" and there is still talk of his Bruce Willis-less movie "Me Again" and a revival of "Press Gang" with the original cast.

As for "Doctor Who?" Well, some people see Steven as transforming Doctor Who into something very different. That’s not true, Steven has been a cheerleader for Russell’s work on the project from Day One and will continue in that vein. Indeed, he may well fight aganst what is expected of him. But odds are we’ll get some more fun time travel stories out of it, maybe a slight tweak towards intricate structure, and some interesting geek-friendly names.

Such as the rumour running around my BBC sources that Neil Gaiman being approached to write an episode for 2010. That would be this Neil Gaiman, comic author, fantasy novelist, screenwriter, poet and writer of the Duran Duran Biography 1985. With possibly the most non-committal non-confirmation I’ve ever read. And I’ve read the responses of current Labour ministers.

In fact when I asked Neil if he’d care to comment, he pleaded the Francis saying, "You may very well think that, but I could not possibly comment."

I do very well think that. I do.

Of course, nothing will actually have been commissioned by the BBC at this stage, and there's many a slip 'twixt cup and prosthetic lip, but it's looking good.

So who else? I hear mention that Rob Shearman, who wrote "Dalek" for the Christopher Eccleston season and reportedly had a parting of ways with Davies, has been approached to return to the series.

The one question I really want answered is, as a straight man, will Steven pursue a lesbian agenda on the show?

And as for a new Doctor in a few years time… Dexter Fletcher? Robert Bathurst? Richard Coyle? James Nesbitt? Gina Bellman?? Explore the Moffatverse yourself...

And you know, it was Steven who requested that Jenny survive at the end of "The Doctor’s Daughter," so…

PLASTIC RAPPING

[Yellow Light]That Gail Simone/Ethan Van Sciver mystery project from last week? I'm told "Plastic Man."

UPDATE 5/28/08 5:55 PM PST: Or not... Gail says, "No offense, but it's not Plas."

SPECULATION CORNER

[Green Light]As "Ben 10" becomes "Ben 10 Alien Force" look for the current 4 inch toys selling for about $5 to be discontinued. And suddenly go for around $30 instead. Fill your boots, and wait a short while...

Expect an upswing in demand for "Skaar: Son Of Hulk" shipping this week, with media coverage tied into the movie. That's a book to flip quickly though.

"House Of Mystery" #1 also saw numbers run thin when it hit the shelves. Again, any you can mop up and flip might be lucrative.

ADDITIONAL HOUR

[Green Light]Scott Lobdell will be joining the crew for future issues of the anthology "Eleventh Hour" from Markosia.

MARKING A TRADE

[Yellow Light]John Taddeo once had a trademark filing for "Shogun Warriors." When his attempt to win over Acclaim's Valiant did not come together, he released "Zoom Suit," in homage to his favorite issues of "Iron Man." And the Kothari Group acquired all trademark filings to Valiant that were filed by another unknown group. And John Taddeo abandoned his filing for "Shogun Warriors."

Now Diamond Select Toys has filed for the trademark. Though they’re probably in a good position to know Tommy and Bandai currently share the "Shogun Warriors" rights.

I wonder if Diamond was the group who filed under Valiant Intellectual Properties?

Any other trademarks that companies should be careful of?

WAY BACK

[Green Light]Despite Joe Quesada's protestations, more evidence that Steve Dillon was officially lined up on the new "Deadpool" book - Daniel Way confirms it in this podcast...

TRAILER CRASH

[Green Light]The Russian "Wanted" trailers kick arse. I like how they've altered the lettering as well.

ULTIMATE MILLAR

[Red Light]Mark Millar has been gleefully talking about his "Wanted" and "Kick Ass" movies on Millarworld, as well as saying there should be "TWO Millarworld flicks out in 2010. Exciting stuff. Plus a huge bit of news I only got last Friday nobody here will guess in a million years."

People gave some jolly good tries. Kevin O suggested, "Hmm, could that be Captain America Mark? Set in World War II? Smells like the Ultimates to me! I did guess it in a million years!"

Which might have sounded a little far fetched until Scott Wilkinson added, "That was also my guess, he wouldn't let all those notes for the proposed WWII series with McNiven go to waste."

Of course. The never published "Ultimate Captain America" set in World War II replaced by "Civil War" in Millar and McNiven's schedule. Add that to the first issue of "Ultimates" and that's a go. Mark Millar is writing "Captain America: The Movie."

It feels eerily possible, doesn't it?

Millar replied to LITG enquiries saying, "Ha! Nice guess, but it's not Cap. Cap would be cool and I heard they're using a lot of that stuff from the first few ‘Ultimates,’ especially in terms of structure, but this is something else entirely. I can't say what it is yet, but some kind of announcement will be made over the summer. In the meantime, I'll just have to contend myself with my four creator-owned movies and work on my gorgeous tan."

You've got to love him, haven't you?

SIGNATURE PIECE

[Green Light]I understand Batman/Losers/Constantine artist Jock is working on a promo piece for "Hancock."

I really want that film to be good. Even more than "Wanted." The trailer is excellent. Please let it be a new "Men In Black," and not a "Wild Wild West."

SEXUALLY PRURIENT THOUGHTS ON THE COMICS INDUSTRY

[Green Light]"Studio Space" from Image, the book looking and talking to artists wallowing in their creative hottubs is out this week. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

Steve Dillon: "I spent the whole summer drawing the werewolf story whilst my girlfriend and her mate were sunbathing topless in the garden. I was stuck upstairs inking hairs on werewolves and I will never forget it."

Frank Miller: "I was first introduced to EC Comics, believe it or not, when I was in boy scout camp. My father was a scout master and he got me in underage to be in the Boy Scouts. So I was at boy scout camp and there was a copy of a little paperback called Tales of The Incredible running around. I remember opening it up and seeing my first Wallace Wood woman and feeling all kinds of hormones explode all over my body."

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]Sea

Side

Cthulu Fish from Cthulu Tales #2.

Dagon Industries Cthulhu Fish

Copyright 2005 Jarred Wallace

There’s a very specific kind of Swipe File where someone swipes their own work and gets paid for it twice. Warren Ellis did this with the killfiled script for "End Times" in "Ultimate Secret."

Well, Mark Texeira has just done it for Steven Spurrier’s "Ghost Rider Annual" #2.

Previously seen here:

Damn fine work! Again!

MEMORIAL DAY

[Yellow Light]The fired/pushed out/left screaming list, posted by lucyhoney23 (Mrs. Sean Collins) on the Wizard message board after the firing of Kiel Phegley from Wizard Magazine.

alejandro arbona
pat mcaallum
brent fishbaugh
thorin mcgee
jeremy smith
rick marshall
sean collins
suzzee uy
jeff walker
mel caylo
karl cramer
rob felton
jim silver
savas abadsidis
martha donato
kiel phegley

this is not an all-inclusive list of course.

there are only certain people on this list that i can personally vouch for. however, there are enough that it was months and MONTHS ago that i had to ask myself, "does wizard want quality writers and staff, or do they want to JUST keep afloat?" with every firing, the answer became more and more clear. as long as they're able to get something in print, it's all good. no need to work for excellence--as long as we're just holding it together at the seams.

i don't need to wish kiel luck--i know he'll be just fine. good luck, wizard, holding things together after letting yet another talented person go.

Over on ex-online editor Rick Marshall's blog, he's been ruminating on the loss.

Including the observation

In other Wizard-related news, just before the news went out about Kiel I received a series of emails from other ex-Wizard staffers and freelancers. Several of these messages had subject lines featuring variations of "You have got to be fucking kidding me!" Apparently, Wizard World Conventions created their own page on Facebook recently, and then proceeded to send out invitations to "become a friend of" WWC. Among the people receiving these invitations were several former employees who the company "let go" unceremoniously within the last 6-8 months.

A following from James Nominus was far more damaging however, alleging that Kiel's replacement was hired due to other... substances.

Wizard once investigated running a print version of Lying In The Gutters, when it was pointed out that they'd lose all their DC ad revenue if they plumped for it. Probably for the best.

IN-CENT-IVE

[Yellow Light]Okay this one’s been sitting in my head for a bit.

Marvel do not pay royalties to comic creators. They pay "incentive payments" instead based on rising sales plateaus. So if your book sells well in the US, you do very well out of it, too. But they do not give any such payments on foreign publication of their comic books.

One creator once complained to me that his low selling Marvel comic sold more in Spain than in the USA, but he didn’t see a bean.

One big fly in the ointment is that Marvel Europe, including Marvel UK, is not a Marvel company. It’s the European magazine and sticker publisher Panini, who snapped up full reprint rights in perpetuity it seems as part of the Marvel bankruptcy agreements. Any payments they now give to Marvel are small and cover full reprint rights.

While at the time Marvel needed to maximise any and all payments to deal with bankruptcy, in retrospect it looks like not one of the best publishing decisions they’ve made.

And what money Marvel do get, they keep. It does not get shared with the creators of the books, no matter how much, no matter how many copies sold or how much money they receive.

Recently Tom Brevoort justified this policy saying, "Ethically, I think it's all very straightforward. Marvel creators are paid very well for the work they do, and the conditions under which that work is done are all laid out to them. Nobody's pulling the wool over anybody's eyes, or being sold a bill of goods. And if you're a creator whose work is popping up in a lot of ancellary places, there's going to be a benefit to you, whether that benefit takes the form of bonus payments, higher page rates up front, or any of a number of other options. This is all part-and-parcel of the deal-making paradigm, and is much easier for us to administrate than the seemingly-simpler process of paying for foreign reprints, etc. Like our editorial staff, our accounting department is lean, and the revenue derived from overseas editions isn't so great that it woul justify the manhours it would take to determine that somebody was owen a three-dollar check for a sstory that had appeared in Zimbabwe and to cut it. So we find other ways to recompense our creators--ways that you don't (and shouldn't) hear about, because they're not directly tied into a specific program."

Now, the majority of publishing deals are far from what Tom describes. They are large print runs of books by one publisher distributed across Europe, India or East Asia. And Marvel is not being asked to track each sale, merely to divide they moneys they do receive.

It can be done. It has been done. Mark Evanier once pointed out that Marvel did this happily with "Groo," tracking each foreign sale. And Jean Marc l'Officier stated this happened with the Stan Lee/Moebius "Silver Surfer" graphic novel until the bankruptcy.

And while Marvel may well, as Tom says, find other ways to compensate creators, a number of them don't think they are being. However, as Tom states, it's not as if any of them are going into this blind.

But add that to the non-payment of any fees for the millions of comics being distributed in the Marvel Digital Comics Universe and there's a small groundswell of murmuring discontentment. Once the recession bites harder, expect that mumble to up the volume.

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. Anyone for a game of Mario Kart?

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.

TAGS:  doctor who, neil gaiman, plastic man, mark millar

Lying In The Gutters Home | Lying In The Gutters Archives

 
Lying In The Gutters

Send This Article to a Friend

Separate multiple email address with commas.

You must state your name.

You must enter your email address.