Lying In The Gutters

Mon, July 7th, 2008 at 2:00pm PDT | Updated: July 16th, 2008 at 5:52pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 165

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.

NO HEROICS - THE REVIEW

[Green Light]The costumes are out of "SNL." The codenames are out of Image Comics. The actors are out of modern Britcoms. This is "No Heroics," the new sitcom from Britain’s ITV2.

And it's weird. Mostly in a good way.

The show revolves around a group of superfriends. They're needy, predatory, alcoholic, lazy and their only sense of worth is in the amount of media coverage they generate.

The show is mostly set in The Fortress, a no costume, no powers bar in Soho, where the cast engage in the mutual self loathing and needy clinging familiar to many in the media industry. And it's a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to more. The strong woman who can't get a date so she visits her defeated villains in prison. A groupie who tattoos superhero conquests onto her body. A superhero who doesn't stop a store robbery - indeed encourages it - because the store owner insulted her. Allegations of superhero sex tapes, cape rapes, vaginal burns and tiny testicles. And plenty of sitting around, drinking, whining and buying the next round.

"No Heroics" is a sitcom it seems designed to enrage the Byrne Board. That's reason enough.

Episode One airs on ITV2, the same channel that debuted "Secret Diary Of A Call Girl" that wowed them recently on Showtime and will be illegally torrented shortly after that, probably.

I understand there's a preview showing for bloggers next week. If you can make it to central London, email me and I'll pass your details on.

THE PLAYERS

The Hotness

With a name much gayer than he wants it to be, Nicolas Burns ("Nathan Barley," "Man Stroke Woman") plays a put upon luckless chump of a heat-generating hero. Even his trysts with groupies don't work out, and he finds himself drinking with his group of four friends which includes his most significant ex. Or sitting at home heating up ready meals, Nice.

She Force

Rebekah Staton ("Pulling," "Doctor Who") plays the strongest woman alive. And the clingiest. And the neediest. Known to take dating advice from the villain she's assaulting, she visits past defeats in hospital. Clearly has a thing for The Hotness, but will never tell.

Electroclash

Claire Keelan ("Nathan Barley," "A Cock And Bull Story") plays a second generation hero with parental issues and powers straight out of "Ex Machina," who is much happier to know where her next cigarette and bottle of vodka is coming from than saving the day. Willing to let grudges and apathy get in the way of her superheroing. Tells the cigarette vending machine "give me fags" for free smokes. Excellent.

Timebomb

James Lance ("Teachers," "Book Group") plays a gay, Spanish, alcoholic, knife wielding ex-heroin addict and the most charming of the bunch. Uses his ability to snort sixty seconds into the future to work out whose round it is. And doesn't talk about tunnels and Paris.

Joined by pub security Thunder Monkey who summons hordes of attacking simians...

The Excelsor played by Patrick Baladi ("The Office"), Britain's No.1 superhero, alpha male, bully boy and misogynist…

and Light Killer who.. well... turns out lights.

Mark Heap ("Spaced," "Brass Eye," "Big Train") there.

TOO MANY DOCTORS

[Green Light]So, "Doctor Who" is over for the year (at least in the UK), with no more episodes until 2010. Apart from the two Christmas Specials. And another three specials. And then there's the five episode "Torchwood" series next year, two new series of "The Sarah Jane Adventures", the Big Finish audios, the novels, the IDW comics, the Panini comics, the toys, the...

Anyway. 2010. When Steven Moffat takes over as showrunner. LITG already reported rumours that Neil Gaiman and Rob Shearman will be writing episodes for that series (and maybe Rob can explain why a bunch of American alien hunters don't know what a Dalek is in 2012), but now I've also been told about an actor who'll be appearing some point in "Doctor Who" that year.

Tom Baker.

Whether he's playing the Doctor as everyone wants, the Master as he himself suggested, or something else... we'll have to wait and see.

CHICAGO DREGS

[Green Light]Okay, onto the comics.

Bob Layton was overheard at WizardWorld Chicago stating he's working on a new Hercules mini-series at Marvel following up on his work from the eighties.

Look for a Doctor Strange series to spin out of "Secret Invasion."

Ed Brubaker will be announcing a new film project at San Diego.

And look for a few fundamental changes to Image Comics on the horizon, too.

THE FACE OF MODERN ADVERTISING

[Green Light]There has been much speculation about the "alien invaders" in the British press, people with featureless faces turning up at various events in the UK. A number of comics bloggers have wondered if they are, in any way, linked to "The Question."

No. It’s a PR campaign for a new car from Lotus. Apparently, other cars are faceless you see. Expect to see it get explained in a couple of weeks.

THE JOE DOWN

[Green Light]Veteran "G.I. Joe" comics writer Larry Hama is writing the new "G.I. Joe" series for IDW. It's a continuity reboot, abandoning all the Devil's Due stories

Issue #0 hits in October, the series starts in full from January. As previously LITG'd, Robert Atkins is the artist.

And while Warren Ellis is writing the new online "G.I. Joe" animated episodes, "G.I. Joe: Resolute," he confesses that he's never even seen a G.I. Joe figure.

Me neither. I did, however, have an eagle eyed Action Man which is close enough. Warren, it seems, didn't. I think that explains Spider Jerusalem, don't you?

Next, Micronauts…

INSIDE GRANT'S HEAD

[Green Light]Grant Morrison has updated his website. When you register and sign in, you get exclusive bloggery and images such as this...

BLUE BEETLE, GREEN BEETLE, RED BEETLE...

[Green Light]How fast can a hoodie change colour?

Hat Tip to Steve Flack of The Bendis Board.

BUSIEK ALWAYS WINS

[Green Light]Nikki Finke, who recently announced the dismissal of Dan DiDio from DC, weeks after Dan's contract was renewed, is on the Fox News warpath, attacking the website for photoshopping journalists who criticise them.

Why is this in LITG? Because James Hudnall is on hand to diagnose accident while Kurt Busiek dismisses this in a rage of fury.

Who's next?

THE HORSE'S MOUTH

[Yellow Light]Geoff Johns thinks that DC, like Marvel, will start their own production company/studio to create movies based on DC characters. Four minutes in.

FLAWED HERO

[Green Light]The Hero initiative is a charity that raises money for American comic book creators who have fallen on hard times.

One of their regular collaborations with Marvel is to great a Hero 100 project, where a hot Marvel comic gets a special 100 issue blank cover printing and comic book creators are asked to contribute a cover sketch. This year it's Hulk #1.

Frank Cho, whose Spider-Man cover had to be... um... altered last year for eventual publication found his cover rejected this year. Frank gives the reason "Americans fear female nudity."

I understand it had the same level of nudity as last year, which was successfully auctioned off. But this year something… well. Gave.

SPEED TRACER

[Green Light]It appears both Len Strazewski and Jill Thompson have still not been paid for the recent IDW reprints of the "Speed Racer" comics, and have not even received creator copies.

IDW are an innocent party here; they licensed the full publishing rights without need for further payments from Speed Racer Enterprises, but these may have passed through a few hands since the original bankruptcy of NOW Comics.

But both Len and Jill signed contracts that guaranteed them reprint payments. Of course, those contracts are lost in the eighties. It's now a matter of how much money the lawyers are going to cost, and how long it will take. Speed Racer Enterprises have, to date, not chosen to comment.

Someone somewhere owes these creators money. Anyone like to help find out whom?

IT'S 2008. DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR MARVEL MASTERWORKS ARE DRAWN BY?

[Green Light]You may think Gene Colan drew the "Iron Man Vol 4 Marvel Masterworks." Turns out it was an unknown artist, Michael Kelleher, tracing over Gene's originally published work. This hasn’t been hidden, but it also hasn’t been overly promoted either. Or, like, mentioned in the actual volumes.

Blogger Danny Boy has confirmed that many pages have been recreated by other artists where the original art of files has been unavailable. And rather than using the original living artists, Marvel have plumped for uncredited individuals and lightbox. You can see pages drawn by Kelleher available for sale here. Kirby, Ditko, Heck, Buscema, his mimicry is quite extensive. And of course, no money from the sale goes to the original artist.

Masterworks:

Original:

(Hat Tip to Nathan Greno for the scans)

This kind of thing has been argued back and forth for a while - I remember the long and tedious back and forths on the "Comic Buyers Guide" letters pages over the pre-scanner "Theakstonisation" process developed by Greg Theakston, where an original comic was bleached, the colour drained from the page, leaving a thin veneer of the original black ink which would then be embellished.

And it appears only a cursory search has been made for original art. John Byrne states that he owns one original page from "Strange Tales" that was recreated. Is it really cheaper to remake pages than get scanned copies of originals in people’s collections? A quick appeal may reap many rewards…

Funny, I thought things had moved on by now.

IT'S STILL 2008. DO YOU KNOW WHERE JIM LEE IS?

[Green Light]My favourite games magazine is "Edge." Big fan, been buying it for years. Clever, in depth journalism over the games industry. Damn, you'd have thought I could have learnt something from them, huh?

The current issue has Batman on the cover and Bizarro on the back...

due to their coverage of the DC Massive Multiplayer Online game, with screenshots, sketches, interviews and analysis.

Jim Lee talks about his original "EverQuest" obsession, and the letdown that they couldn't get the Batman's cape to change size depending on tone and "ways to make backs and butts look more exciting - cause that's what you're looking at."

It's in UK newsagents now, the US should get their copies shipped in this week.

THIS WEEK, I HAVE BEEN…

[Green Light]…reading "Trains Are… Mint," a comics diary from the author’s POV as he walks from town to town along railway lines and through fields, through suburbia and urbia, through some of Briton’s less celebrated nooks and crannies, led by graffiti. Remarkable, and available in a very nice new hardcover printing.

… reading "Him And Her's Smuggling Vacation," a comic tale of accidental cannabis smugglers. A Guy Ritchie film written by Mike Leigh. Most enjoyable, with a very European cartoony style that suits the countries our intrepid couple drive through.

selling stuff on eBay. And buying Thomas The Tank Engine Wooden toys for Eve. Taking her for her first film on Sunday morning, "WALL E". Let’s see if we make it through.

SMALL PRINT

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TAGS:  doctor who, no heroics

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