Lying In The Gutters

Mon, June 30th, 2008 at 2:51pm PDT | Updated: June 30th, 2008 at 5:01pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 164

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 lights are an indication (and only that) of how reliable I believe the story to be, based on source, context and gut feel. 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.

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

SUMMER CROSSOVER

[Green Light]Most of you know me through this column, commenting upon the gossip and rumour that spreads through the comics industry. And some of you think “wow, someone makes a living writing that."

Well I don’t. Obviously not. I’m a senior copywriter for the UK’s leading radio ad agency Radioville. I write (and cast and make and direct) radio spots. And quite by chance I’ve discovered that a number of marketing employees at a number of Radioville’s clients read this column and are quite surprised when they realise that the Richard Johnston who’s been hard at work creating their radio ads is also the Rich Johnston who delivers them weekly hard core comics goss.

So I wondered how many more of you are out there? If you work in marketing for your company (or, indeed, if you ARE your company) and would fancy working on a radio campaign together, give me a shout. Summer time is traditionally quiet ad-wise, so I could probably get you a good deal from the company as a “friend of the column." Not only will you get effective, creative advertising from a team of the most highly experienced radio creatives around, but I might let slip some of the things that I can’t ever print in this column over a plate of tagliatelle…

There. I haven’t written a self-serving plug like that at the top of my column for ages. It feels good. Onwards.

PLATINUMBER CRUNCHING

[Green Light]Platinum, castigated online of late for non-payment, and specifically in this column for its passive-aggressive reminder to creators of the NDA clauses in their contracts (while breaking those self same contracts by not paying in a timely fashion) has, as promised, begun to pay said creators.

DJ Coffman, the man whose initial complaint broke open the floodgates (at least to my inbox) of unpaid creators writes, "Fed Ex showed up with a check from Platinum paying me up to date anything that was owed to me, so that whole issue is over with. I’m glad they paid me, and honestly none of this would have blown up for me if I hadn’t nearly lost my house and life banking on or trusting that money would show up on time. It is what it is though, and I learned a valuable lesson that there is no job security anywhere, no matter what a piece of paper says. The envelope included a letter saying my “consultant" agreement with them was terminated as of today, which is fine with me, because in my mind it was terminated when checks never really showed up on time in the terms of that agreement."

It is clear from previous columns, that Platinum has decided to punish DJ Coffman for speaking out about lack of payment and cancelled titles.

But those who have chosen to speak only to me are also reporting their payments have been arriving, with requests for more work.

It was around this point that i was planning to break the news that Platinum were the mystery buyer of free comics download service, currently closed for restructuring for a global audience, Wowio. I emailed them both on Friday and again, this morning, for comment. None was received. Instead Platinum sent out this confirmation as a wide press release this morning. Well timed.

So how did this happen?

I'm told there were problems with Wowio's own investors, who may have considered pulling out if they weren't acquired. Wowio then paid Platinum a seven figure cash sum, in exchange for Platinum "buying" Wowio in exchange for stock. And there are two empty seats on Platinum's board waiting to be filled.

There is much criticism over Platinum's management of its current online offering, with their news page still full of their Free Comic Book Day offering, and whose Drunk Duck online comics forum is unable or unwilling to fix simple website script requests from its memeber such as icon images.

And there are Wowio contractual concerns from some creators. People who trusted the folks at Wowio but aren't sure how Platinum may use and potentially abuse the rights granted to Wowio. Especially considering their recent personalized treatment of DJ Coffman's "Hero By Night".

With both companies seeming to have financial issues of late, if it all goes under, there could be a lot of creative properties at stake now...

Declaration of interest, my 24 hour comic "Soul Less" and parody title "Civil Wardrobe," are online at Wowio... when it gets sorted out anyway.

JUNIOR SEEIN' YA

[Green Light]I understand that DC Comics Associate Editor Tom Palmer Jr. has also tendered his resignation, although he has been asked to stay on a little while longer.

Tom was a close colleague of Associate Editor Jeanine Shaefer, who recently resigned to move to Marvel.

Also... is this edition of DC Nation #97 cursed? Kind of like the videotape in "The Ring"?

TOKYOPLOPPED

[Yellow Light]LITG had previous reported that TOKYOPOP would be negotiating the return of rights to its creators of properties, after the current reduction of publishing plans.

Well, it seems to have been all mouth and no trousers. Those who have made approaches buoyed by the news and with prominent publishers lined up have suddenly been rebuffed.

It seems that those who escape the dead claws of TOKYOPOP will be the lucky exceptions, not the rule. And will probably attract all sorts of jealous attention.

GLAMOUR LOOK

The zombie variant cover to "GlamourPuss" #2 by Dave Sim, and a little look inside...

WIZARD CLOTHES... OFF

[Green Light]It usually takes a week for convention gossip to reach this column... but this one took nanoseconds.

At Wizard World Chicago, one of the local strip clubs, Admiral Theater, had a booth in the dealers area.

While there was some fuss made, it was also evident that a number of the models present were wearing more clothes than their equivalent number at regular comic book publisher booths.

Indeed in a photo gallery of people wearing costumes over at ComicMix, the bottom photo features one of the Admiral Girls without any comment at all.

And amid all the stormtroopers, Jedi warriors and the like, maybe it wasn't that odd to find the Army and the Marines recruiting.

Apparently they operate a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as to whether you are or not a cosplayer.

Friend-of-LITG and Chicago-resident Todd Allen also reports rumours of Marvel and DC officially pulling out from Chicago next year, in favour of paying creators to attend Artists Alley.

COMING UP FROM CHICAGO

[Yellow Light]Initial gossip from Chicago... Robert Atkins is the new penciller for IDW's "G.I. Joe" series.

Judd Winick leaves "Green Arrow/Black Canary" after issue 14.

And Marvel is considering a “Cloak and Dagger" book in a manga style... good call!

PANEL POLITICS

[Green Light]Senior DC figures are very unhappy with the Geoff Johns vs Brian Bendis panel at Chicago, billed as "the first ever Marvel and DC joint panel."

DC have had a very fractious relationship with Marvel since Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada took a variety of potshots at the company, including Quesada's comment in the New York Observer, "They'd be better off calling it AOL Comics. At least people know what AOL is. I mean, they have Batman and Superman, and they don't know what to do with them. That's like being a porn star with the biggest dick and you can't get it up. What the fuck?"

This saw DC scupper a number of attempts at crossovers, including a Bendis written Batman/Daredevil special, and the suggestion that Marvel should fire Joe Quesada.

Bob Wayne, DC's VP Sales who attended a Bendis/Brubaker panel years ago and spoke up regarding the Batman/Daredevil non-project, is especially annoyed at not being given advance notice by Wizard or any of the DC people so that he could attend and monitor what happened - speaking up if he felt necessary.

Nevertheless, it was regarded as the best and most buzzed about panel of the convention...

MILLAR'S TIME

[Green Light]While Mark Millar is revelling in the humungously successful "Wanted" (first reviewed here), it's worth giving any news agencies reading some insight in to the mind behind the original comic.

1) Mark Millar attacks foxes in his garden in the early hours, using a remote controlled helicopter.

2) He bought a “Superman" movie prop cape, and threatened to eat it if his sales claims for “Civil War" weren't correct. They weren't. He didn't eat it.

3) He has had the habit of exaggerating a number of his achievements from the spectacular into the impossible, through a mixture of bad maths, sloppy journalism, and general puppy-like enthusiasm.

4) He buys drinks for other people without prompting, loves comics more than anyone in the world, and that love is infectious. Be warned, drink with Mark and you'll swear that "Ghost Rider" is ace.

5) He has already sold his next movie, "Kick Ass," and the Matthew Vaughn/Jane Goldman movie will go into production well before the mini-series finishes. Millar remains a producer on the project.

6) He is gracious when people try out their Scottish accents on him and never corrects people when they mispronounce his name.

7) He appeared on Richard And Judy, but was silenced by Paul Gambaccinni. But does Paul have a super successful movie under his belt and more to come? No, no he doesn't.

8) He is engaged in a number of secret feuds with major comic book writers who have spread false gossip about him. However, he is now richer and more successful than any of them. Victory!

9) He once tried a moustache and regretted it.

10) He is currently thinking whether he can make a very successful career of writing the occasional high concept paragraph and getting people to make a film from it. He very probably could.

TWIT BIT

[Green Light]The first page of the new Warren Ellis/Simone Bianchi “Astonishing X-Men" run.

The Twitter page for xgirla that I registered when I read and reviewed the script three months ago.

Ain't I a stinker?

TWITTING AS CHICAGO ENDS

[Green Light]Warren Ellis: never met so many people called todd in my life

Jamie McKelvie: Clothes sizing update: Small in Uniqlo, Medium in Top Man, Small in H&M, Medium or Small in AA, depending

Ben Templesmith: I am a grown up version of Jimmy Neutron according to Howard Chaykin

SpiralTwist: Christos Gage is coming to Avatar, to feed his darkside. :) Mini seriers and possible oncoming confirmed, but NOT what they are about.

Augie De Blieck: Tried to figure out how much insurance to take on new home tonight. Realized my wife values the complete De Blieck Comic Library at $500.

Pinguino: Ack I forget what airline I'm flying back on

Warren Ellis: And I'm done. These are the red pisshole-y eyes of done. Thousands of comic books defaced by the shaky hand of DONE. End of show.

KellySue: I *have* to do paper flowers this week.

Ian Sharman: ARGH! Just sneezed and farted at the same time! Pain!

YES WE CAN. WEAR A T-SHIRT

[Green Light]

Thanks to Alex Ross, the Obama clothing brand gathers momentum.

Hat Tip to ComicMix.

ADVANCE CANCELLATION

[Green Light]The Buffy Tarot card set from Dark Horse is cancelled. No reasons are given, but I hear talk it was due to conflicts with the representatives of certain actors/actresses who appear on the cards. Apparently make believe occult nonsense is fine, but an actual item that might be used in the black arts is not.

But really. You think someone would have predicted this. Somehow.

AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED

[Green Light]Last week, we mocked Marvel for shipping eight Avengers titles in one week. Well, thankfully they heeded our call and their new printers didn't ship “New Avengers" or “Avengers: Initiative" in time to be sent with the rest of the shipment to the UK.

Oh, here's a copy of “Kick Ass" 3 that sold in the UK on eBay before LITG pointed out its scarcity. And these are ones that sold after...

COVER STARS

[Yellow Light]Wizard's "War Heroes" cover contest, to draw the variant cover of the series' fourth issue has been the subject of fraudulent voting behaviour. By allowing a public vote (and not filtering vote results), it looks like... well... anything could win, as long as the individual has enough MySpace friends.

Damn, I should have entered a stick figure cover, and then rigged the vote, just to see what would have happened.

CHEESE

[Green Light]LITG has covered Craig Robins' successful independent release of the BBC sitcom by new-Doctor Who showrunner "Joking Apart." Previously available through mailorder and then from Amazon, this week sees the volume in UK high street stores such as HMV and Zavvi for the first time.

Good timing, with all the fuss over Steven Moffat and his recent two-parter for Doctor Who. What was even better timing was Craig Robins' signing up Steven Moffat's other forgotten sitcom "Chalk" for a new independent DVD release, days before the showrunner announcement. And you heard it here first.

"Chalk" was an unashamedly broad farce, much criticised at the time, though I have many fond memories. I went to see an episode of the first series recorded, and while turned off by some of the slapstick, found the structure, characters and dialogue as enjoyably Moffaty as ever.

Expect the first series of "Chalk" to be released later this year.

BITS AND PIECES

Brendon Connelly, friend of LITG, is offering a free taster class for his Oxford Film School, Tuesday evening, at 6.30pm at St. Anthony's College. Highly recommended.

Joel Meadows, another friend of LITG, sees his Tripwire Annual follow hot on the heels of the Studio Space volume.

Matt Groening on the new “Futurama," Tim Kring on the future of “Heroes," Michael Molorock on the “Elric" movie, and Simonson and Russell on translating Moorcock to comics, as well as Posy Simmonds and Marjane Satyrapi on their careers, and original strips from Roger Langridge, Jamie McKelvie and Declan Shalve. Always a treat and out any day now.

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.

My new big free shipping ebay listings start again!

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:  platinum studios, barack obama, alex ross, tokyopop

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