Lying In The Gutters

Mon, July 21st, 2008 at 1:29pm PDT | Updated: July 21st, 2008 at 7:53pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 167

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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I saw the watchmen trailer last night. It resembles Dave's art very closely, but dad does Rorschach's voice waaay better. :)" - Leah Moore via Twitter

THE KINGSTON VALE COMIC CON

[Green Light]No, I'm not going to San Diego this week. Stop asking me. If I could, I would. But I can't, so I'm not. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Instead I will be sitting at home, reading copies of the Giffen/DeMetteis "Justice League" with Eve. Shhh. If I call it a con, it’s a con. She plays at being a Dalek, it’s as good as the real thing.

I may even record a Not-At-San-Diego All The Rage Video Blog - the first went live yesterday, entitled, "When Comics Go Bad".

I will also be kickstarting San Diego Dreaming again, a collection of anonymous Twitter-based reports and photographs from San Diego. Wherever you are, whatever or whoever you're doing, share your thoughts, opinions, quotes, pictures and scoops live as it happens from the con floor, the bars and the hot tubs by emailing richjohnston@gmail.com, AOL IMing to TwistRich, Twittering to XGirlA or text messaging to +44 7801350982. Write those details down somewhere, for when you feel inspired.

I’d also like to thank Mayhem Collectibles of Des Moines, Iowa, for shipping an "SDCC Doctor Who Time Crash" set of dolls. I am weak. Thank you. Apparently they are the best place on the planet to get your Doctor Who fix and who am I to argue?

So. What's happening in comics? Ooh lots. Some you'll get more details about at San Diego. Others you won't.

SUMMIT'S UP

[Yellow Light]So what happened at the recent Warner Bros/DC Comics summit?

One main topic was "Elfquest." This decades-old creator owned series by Wendy and Richard Pini was signed up by DC Comics a few years ago, and a number of elegant compilation volumes of the cult favourite swords-and-sorcery comic were published. However, DC weren't inclined to pursue licensing "Elfquest" in other media, which is part of the reason the Pinis signed by DC in the first place.

So last year "Elfquest" and DC parted ways. Subsequently "Elfquest" was all-but-instantly snapped up by Warner Brothers, DC's parent company, for a movie deal.

A deal which would have cost Warners an awful lot less if the title had remained at DC.

So yes, there was a little recrimination over the handling of the property at the summit.

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING

[Yellow Light]What is the state of high profile creator-owned books from the big boys right now? Marvel's Icon imprint is out unless you do seriously high profile work-for-hire for Marvel. DC Vertigo, as a number of creators have discovered, changed their terms and conditions for new deals after high-level meetings between DC & Warner executives, making it much less attractive. And Wildstorm, after "The Boys" debacle, have similar media problems and certain people and worried that their DC bosses could just take against the project and bury it.

So that leaves Image. Who were the basis for the Icon deal, but with much greater creator accessibility. But one problem for some is that, as with Icon, the payments are all back-end. And a number of creators can't go without page rate payments for a few months until the impressive cashflow kicks in. Indeed some writers have found themselves paying page rates to their artists, which has caused problems for some.

At San Diego, we may see a new option at Image. No one's quite sure what's happening, but everyone is sure that something is. Stories, gossip and rumour conflict in places, but here are a few common themes being passed from comics pro to comics pro, though a number are probably wide of the mark.

I've been told Robert Kirkman, writer of "Invincible" and "Walking Dead," will be named as a new partner at Image.

I also hear reference to a number of big comics names signing projects with Image. Look for people who have recently chosen not to renew their exclusive contracts with Marvel and DC.

And there is gossip about an emerging new model of payments for certain creators and projects, with less of an emphasis on back-end payments and the introduction of page rates.

Could Image be the new creators' choice again?

All this, and more (or possibly less) to be announced at San Diego.

SPY VS SPY

[Green Light]Valerie D'Orazio, my favourite blogger, author of "Occasional Superheroine" and "Goodbye To Comics," looks like she'll be more firmly entrenched in comics than ever.

She's writing a new series for Marvel Comics. Featuring a fan-favourite duo. And it’ll be announced in San Diego.

Regular LITG readers may be able to work it out for themselves from recent columns.

Those who can’t should repeatedly hit themselves over the head with a Cylon Toaster until their brain cells shake loose.

People are going to squee.

FROM DUSK TILL CON

[Green Light]Announcing at San Diego, "Absolution" is a new Christos Gage colour mini-series for Avatar for next year, starring one John Dusk. Six issues plus a zero, covers by Jacen Burrows.

GARTH IN MOTION

[Green Light]I understand that at San Diego there will be an official announcement of a new animated TV series based on an existing Garth Ennis comic.

You won't believe which one.

HE WASN’T EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.

[Green Light]Did we really need to revisit "House Of M?" Was "Secret Wars II" dying to be retconned as the dream of an Inhuman? Did all the mutants need to be massacred one more time?

Especially since one eighties Marvel event seemed to be repeatedly ignored. And it was always my favourite. Absolute favourite. And deserving of… reinterpretation.

This San Diego. Marvel announce a new X-event for next year. Headed up by "Loners" and "X-Men: Manifest Destiny" writer CB Cebulski.

Stay clear of those fire hydrants...

DREWE DUE

[Green Light]The rather successful graphic novel "Tamara Drewe" by Posy Simmons is to be adapted as a BBC Film, partially funded with a National Lottery grant of around $100,000.

I really should buy a ticket.

STEEL YOURSELF

[Green Light]So we all saw the "Dr Horrible Singalong Blog," now removed from the internet (except where it's not.) Some of you may even have seen my woeful tribute skit.

Well, at San Diego, it's going to get messy. See, there's this performer who goes by the name of "Doktor Steel" with this whole singing mad scientist schtick. It's very different to the Whedon clan thing, but enough of his fans have taken offence as to flood blogs, message boards and the like with allegations of ripoffs. And it's not stopping there. From the Doktor Steel website:

COMICON MISSION �" DR. HORRIBLE BRAINWASHING EXPO

When: Friday, July 25th 10:45pm �" 12:00pm

Where: Room 6B

The "creators" of Dr. Horrible will be at the ComicCon Convention in San Diego, California. This is the perfect opportunity to pay them a visit, ask some questions and inform the masses about Dr. Steel.

Don't let Dr. Steel's work go unrecognized for the unique and brilliant vision that it is. Stand proud as a Toy Soldier and raise your voices to the cause.

1) Create propaganda dvds, manifestos and press packs.

2) Write "The REAL mad scientist" on the covers.

3) Create banners or leaflets that read "Dr.Steel. Taking over the

world since 1999"

4) Distribute these items during the Dr.Horrible showing on Friday night.

5) Let the fans discover for themselves that Dr.Steel is far more entertaining.

6) Be awesome and curtious and bust out the humour like never before. Remember how powerful your creative charm can be!

7) Inquire as to when the creators came up with the idea of Dr.

Horrible and inform them that Dr. Steel devoted his life to his

amazing cause in 1999.

8) Do not lash out or become confrontational, because you might get kicked out of the convention. We need you all to be there for as LONG as possible to gain awareness.

They sound like scientologists. Mad Scientologists. Watch out for boarding parties on the CBR Boat.

ANT MANIA

[Red Light]With Edgar Wright Jr directing and Joe Cornish writing "Ant Man for Marvel, who will they cast in the lead? Could it be this wonderfully, amazingly obvious?

Will it, as I'm hearing from vague Marvel people, be Simon Pegg?

Too obvious. Too easy. But I want it.

And if so, will someone please cast Nick Frost as Janet van Dyne?

END OF THE WORLD AGAIN

[Yellow Light]Expect Marvel to announce the whole cancel-a-bunch-of-Ultimate-titles-as-part-of-Ultimatum plan pre empted by David Finch the other week. See some of them relaunched, other titles started in their place... and "Ultimate Spider-Man" to remain untouched.

PHONOGRAM 2

[Green Light]That difficult second album.

NEW TOKYOPOP

[Green Light]Ever wonder how Tokyopop could keep on publishing books after they fired most of their staff? Well, apparently so are they. Word is that they quietly asked some of their former employees to come back on a freelance basis... to an extremely negative response from nearly (if not all) parties.

POSTER BOYS

[Green Light]I went to see a preview of the ITV superhero sitcom "No Heroics" previously featured in the column, along with "Alan Moore Standing In the Corner Of Your Store" singer songwriter MJ Hibbet. He writes about it here.

MJ mentions the Geek Tour we were all shown, around the set of the show, but one thing he doesn't mention is that two of the portraits hung around the off-hours superhero bar, are those of Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis.

SAN DIEGO TWITTERING

[Green Light]B Clay Moore: I think I may eschew T-shirts in San Diego this year....for matted chest hair and sweat.

Tony Lee: With San Diego but days away, tons of scripts and pitches to do and a dozen other things on my plate, I have decided to re-write CrowTown

Lea Hernandez: Nyyyaaaaaaaaaaaa. Jacket for SD not wearable. Jacket replacement shopping discouraging in extreme. Petty and yet important.

Ben Templesmith: First friend is in for SDCC. My house will fill up rapidly.

Tony Lee: JUST AS I THINK I'M SORTED I SAVE OVER A FUCKING ILLUSTRATOR FILE NOOOOOO BASTARDS DIE DIE DIE GAAAAAH KILL ME NOW

Augie De Blieck Jr.: Only five days until San Diego begins. Coincidentally, only five days until Augie weeps.

Scott Kurtz: except for packing and a couple strips, we're done prepping for SDCC. But we are never this prepared. Our brains won't let us believe it.

Tony Lee: My first 'meeting' when I hit SDCC is with the motherfucking Batman. MOTHER. FUCKING. BATMAN. Also on Tuesday.

Jordan White: Everyone is twittering talking to each other, rather than what they are doing. That's cheating!

Warren Ellis: Slept. Still tired. On the other hand, I'm still not going to San Diego next week. Ha ha ha hahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAAA cough

Pinguino: I'm totally all for boycotting Hyatt's bar. Mariott sounds way better anyways for comicon

Anthony Johnston: getting ready for San Diego. here comes the madness

D Curtis Johnson: Brother in law says he's already "seen some silver people" in San Diego this weekend. Like Christmas, Con moves earlier every year

CB Cebulski: Just starting my last script due before San Diego. Sleep deprivation, here I come

Graeme McMillan: My first SDCC anxiety dream: Jeff Lester, Douglas Wolk and I get locked out our hotel rooms and have to sleep under longboxes

Ben Templesmith: Just had my haircut for SDCC. Small children will now run from me, screaming

Lea Hernandez: I have reached San Diego zen. I have jacket, my hair will pass, I have enough dosh to eat, I can wave CBT under noses to find more work.

Ben Templesmith: Twitter will be doing maintenance during the busiest time of the busiest day of SDCC? Well how wonderful!

Remember chaps, San Diego Dreaming 2! Email richjohnston@gmail.com, AOL IM to TwistRich, Twitter to XGirlA, Text message to +447801350982

MONSTER MASH

[Green Light]Here's a look at new Antarctic Press comic "Yeti Vs Vampire," by "Bastard Samurai" team Miles Gunter and Kelsey Shannon, receiving its first official outing at San Diego.

And it's first unofficial outing here!

Stop by Booth 2307 for more, or their blog here.

SAY CHEESE

[Green Light]You're Mark Millar. You're the English-speaking world's most successful comic book writer right now. You're in London to see the sets for "Kick Ass" being built. You pop into Soho, pick up a cheese sandwich, and head to Forbidden Planet to see what's what.

Inside, browsing the racks, making sure your books are as prominent as they can be (which doesn't take much, you own those Top Ten shelves!), you feel a tap on your shoulder from a young staff member.

You smile, assuming she's recognised you and wants you to sign some of your comics currently weighing down their shelves. Instead she informs you of the store's no-food policy and you are escorted from the premises.

Ass kicked.

TANKED

[Yellow Light]Is Frank Marraffino working on a new "Haunted Tank" series for DC Vertigo? The Isotope toilet seat collection tells all...

COW NATION

[Yellow Light]I hear that Top Cow's ridiculously-titled San Diego panel "I Herd It Through The Bo-Vine" will have four celebrity guests. No one's saying who. Take your camera and your autograph book though. Maybe some nail scissors if you want a lock of hair.

Almost as surprising as the unannounced one-in-ten variant cover on "Broken Trinity" #1 shipping this week.

TITAN HUNT

[Green Light]Ooh look, "Titans" art from Rodney Buchemi, from his deviantArt page. The hunt is on for artwork from the previously solicited-then-abandoned version of "Titans" #5. Gutterati, start your engines...

Better watch it though. I understand Tony Daniel got in trouble with DC for posting something even less innocuous on his blog...

THE WIZARD'S STAFF

[Yellow Light]So what's the current hiring/firing rationale at Wizard?

I'm told that Joe Yanarella is pushing out all of the old conventions department people and replacing them with people from the Wizard and ToyFare Magazine editorial departments, as they feel that the solution to their convention problems lies in making the vibe at conventions more like the vibe in the magazines.

Casual sexism, toilet humour and emphasis on price guides?

It's a longstanding tradition at Wizard to fire someone and then promote someone else the next day in order to balance out the company morale and external spin. So as soon as longtermer Phil Colligan was fired after fifteen years, Tom Conboy was promoted to a position, the job description of which was what he'd been doing at Wizard for years anyway.

SLASH FIC

[Green Light]Artwork from the upcoming Hack/Slash/Reanimator issue of "Hack/Slash."

Such an obvious idea. The good ones usually are.

EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

[Green Light]Bryan Talbot ("Luther Arkwright," "Tale Of One Bad Rat," "Alice In Sunderland") and Raymond Briggs ("The Snowman," "When The Wind Blows," "Gentlemen Jim") will be in conversation at The ICA, 12 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y on Saturday 2nd August at 3.30pm.

Chaired by journalist Rachel Cooke, this coincides with the new publication of the masterpieces "Tale Of One Bad Rat" and "Gentlemen Jim" from publisher Jonathan Cape. Who sent me copies of both. Cheers!

COLA WARS

[Green Light]Remember that wacky moment in the beginning of my joint-favourite Vertigo series "Army@Love" when the fictional Middle East war is rebranded by soft-drink marketing executives from "Polka Cola?" Clealy some over-the-top satirical nonsense that could never actually happen in real life, right? Right?

Wrongo.

The executive from the Coca-Cola Company, Michael Stopford, has spent two years guarding Coca-Cola’s image and will join NATO as deputy assistant secretary general for strategic communication services in August. Mr. Stopford, a British-born American, is a specialist in managing reputations.

ODDS AND SODS

[Green Light]Joe Shuster draws Batman!

Hart D Fischer wants full length horror films to distribute internationally. Have you made one? He wants it. Contact him here.

Batman Sued!

The San Diego Diet - eat a massive breakfast (take advantage of hotel buffets here) and then skip lunch. Walk the show with all your comics and trades to get signed. Take large bottles of water (and aerosol). You will lose 3-4 kg over the show.

The San Diego Time Shift - if you're British, the West Coast can kill you if you try to acclimatise to the local timezone. So don't. Go to bed at 4pm (midnight UK time), wake at 11pm (7am UK time) and hit the bars and late night parties for breakfast, all bright eyed and bushy tailed. Be the hardest drinker in San Diego, stay latest at the parties, impress the bloggers. Maybe have a little sleepy at around 6am (2pm UK time) then hit the con and get back to the hotel for bed at 4pm. No jet lag, you're the star of con, and you miss out on those interminable dinners.

The San Diego Absence - go without going. Get everyone's phone numbers and text them all to meet up at various places, then never be there. Read CBR intensively and pretend you were on their boat. Send lots of texts asking "where RU? I'm by the Klingons." Send proposals to editors saying "I met you in the bar and you were very keen I send you this..." They'll believe you. Congrats, you've saved yourself thousands!

ROGUE SPINOFF

[Green Light]If "Captain Britain" is the "Secret Invasion" spinoff that's more entertaining than the series it spins off from, then "Rogue's Revenge" is the "Final Crisis" spinoff that you can actually understand and enjoy, even if you have no idea of the continuity and characters it refers to?

In FC will the New Gods becoming humans end with Grant Morrison assuming the role of Metron, being pushed around in a wheelie chair by DiDio?

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:  image comics, marvel comics, dc comics

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