Lying In The Gutters

Mon, August 18th, 2008 at 2:13pm PDT | Updated: August 19th, 2008 at 11:23pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 171

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.

The Harrods exhibition is looking pretty damn fantastic. In fact you could run a very successful exhibition with the original art I've had to turn down. Thank you to all.

The show "Comic Timing" will run from 8th September to 31st October, and will include presentations from David Lloyd, Bryan Talbot and signings of all sorts.

I am Paul Gravett's boy wonder, I really am.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Fuck DC Comics." - Robert Downey Jr.

DARK DAZE

[Green Light]LITG has already reported on the cancellation of two Legion titles. It appears this is just the beginning and we can expect a swathe of cancelled DC books. And at least one creator is getting nervous.

We've seen "Shadowpact," "All New Atom," "Checkmate" and more get cancelled at certain sales levels. Now books like "Blue Beetle" and "Simon Dark" are at similar lower levels. My prediction: expect announcements shortly.

Steve Niles’ dark DC Universe title “Simon Dark" is one of the few DCU books I buy monthly. As a partially creator-owned book, that at least has the potential to move elsewhere after a long drawn out legal process.

The one book which seems to escape the chopping block despite low sales is the wonderful "Jonah Hex" despite such high profile and high-priced talent Darwyn Cooke and JH Williams as guest artists. While it's commendable that Didio and DC continue to support and expand beyond the cape and spandex genre, it's good to see writer Jimmy Palmiotti's relationship with Dan DiDio remains as strong as when they used to co-write "Superboy" together!

THREE PEOPLE WITH IDEAS CLEARLY ABOVE THEIR STATION

[Yellow Light]I hear talk of a trailer doing the Hollywood rounds starring Joss Whedon, Damon Lindeloff and Brad Meltzer.

Yes, starring. Are the three really doing a movie together?

Watch MySpace. Very soon, if this leak forces people to make it official sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: And here it is. The trailer for Brad Meltzer's new novel, "The Book of Lies." With Brian K Vaughan, Joss Whedon, Pater Hitchens, Damon Lindeloff and more more more...

KECKS FACTOR

[Green Light]Drew Goddard? "Buffy Season Eight" and "Cloverfield" writer Drew Goddard? It appears that Jason Biggs has been trying on your underwear.

THE WATCHMEN MACHINE

[Green Light]Did you sell your “Watchmen" trade paperback for $27 like Speculation Corner told you? Good. Now you can buy it back for $5.

That particular boat has sailed. But individual issues of the comic are performing remarkably.

Five issues of #1, three of #2 and #3? $510

All twelve issues? $395

All twelve issues slabbed at 9.8 CGC? $3600 or $504 for just #1 and $118.50 for #3.

A year ago, you could buy the set for $10. Including shipping.

What else? The "Watchmen" XBox? $862

Hell how about one page of the colour guide used by John Higgins when colouring the original series? $540. Really? For a colour guide?

Is this affecting Moore's other work? Looks like it.

Hey, how about the first advert for "Watchmen," that appeared in the "DC Releases" newsletter for retailers. $36.50 or the DC Spotlight #1 feature for $49.99? Wow.

The film is... six months away from opening. “The Dark Knight" hater Brendon Connelly texts me to saym “Just had a chat with an acquaintance who has seen the latest rough cut of ‘Watchmen,’ or much of ‘Watchmen.’ Apparently, even I’ll like it. The best stuff is the Manhattan stuff, the Rorschach stuff more visceral than expected, most of the cast brilliant. Allegedly."

We're all waiting for the first piece of "Watchmen" original art to hit eBay post-trailer. Five figures easy. Easy.

I'd better tell Harrods to employ more security guards.

SCREAMS OF HELL

[Green Light]A few months ago, I was invited to a round table discussion/interview with Guillermo Del Toro regarding “Hellboy 2." I couldn’t make it, but LITG cohort Brendon Connelly could. And while a number of sites have posted their own versions of what happened, as the embargo was lifted, here and only here can you get the full audio of the event.

Brendon says, "It's fucking excellent. Hats off to Navarro for lighting the Troll Market sequence so that a) it worked 360 degrees and b) both Red and Blue, at opposite ends of the spectrum, were happily accounted for." So there you go.

ALL SHOOK UP

[Yellow Light]A Comics Reporter piece by Tom Spurgeon recently got plenty of bloggy attention, especially the line "We are the only industry that so loves its Colonel Parkers and so distrusts its Elvis Presleys."

Why should we trust our Elvis Presleys? After all, they all seem to want to be Colonel Parkers.

Lance Gueck co-created "Sam & Twitch" and co-scripted issue 1 of Todd McFarlane's "Spawn." Ever see his name anywhere else except as a "thanks" in the first print of issue #1 of "Spawn?" Brian Bendis was fired from "Sam & Twitch" because he had the temerity to drop Hellspawn to write "Ultimate Spider-Man." Neil Gaiman had to sue Todd MacFarlane to get what had been contractually agreed, only for Todd to sideline those parts of his business and file for bankruptcy.

Best known as penciller on "Transformers," Pat Lee's Dreamwave company failed to pay a large number of creators in a way that seemed systematic and planned, diverting money that could have paid those bills into a new company, Dream Engine -- where exactly the same thing happened. And Alex Milne was exploited, underpaid and undercredited for much of Pat's creative output.

As for the feuds between creators. One British writer team-that-is no-longer-a-team have been taking potshots at each other across the world, dragging in other publishers and creators with

allegations verging on the obscene.

I can think of three comic book creators who have blatantly stolen the wives or girlfriends of their co-creators on projects. Or comic creating teams who dump the other when one gains Hollywood success.

Equally, the fistfights (and bottle fights) at San Diego were between creators, not suits.

Creators often seem to screw other creators over far more and with a breathtaking arrogance than a suit would ever dare.

THE FACE OF RO

[Green Light]So what's the story behind Robert Kirkman's recent video extolling creator owned books over Marvel/DC titles?

It's no secret in comics that Image are trying to recruit notable names to their cause of late and have been extolling the benefits of the creator owned deal. Robert Kirkman himself became an ambassador for that before he was recently named partner.

Kirkman made a number of approaches to Marvel and DC creators, citing statistics, sales figures and movie option opportunities. And once they were on board, telling them that they had to choose between Marvel/DC and creator owned Image books.

Marvel and DC have been making aggressive counter plays to tackle Kirkman's arguments, showing creators what they believe to be more accurate publishing, royalty and movie option statistics from Big Two books compared to Image titles. Possibly involving more achievable sales figures, costs of business and involved workload.

As a result, Marvel and DC have grabbed a few of Kirkman's intended back again to exclusive status. But not all. There are bridges being burned all over the place.

The recent CBR video from Kirkman is Image's attempt to take this battle to the next level, by encouraging reader pressure to said creators.

Expect a public fightback from Marvel at least. I understand that Brian Bendis, Marvel creator who took his Image creator owned books to Marvel's Icon imprint, has recorded his own response film.

Whether Paris Hilton will appear is as yet unconfirmed.

(Declaration of interest: I pitched "Marville" to Marvel and "Flying Friar" to Image. They both said no.)

UPDATE: Bendis has replied saying "i have not and will not be making my own video. i said i wanted to because i had a funny idea, but no time." Damn shame.

BOARD DOM

[Green Light]One resulting online fight has been between “Iron Man" penciller Patrick Zircher and current Image star writer John Hickman ("Nightly News," "Transhuman," "Pax Romana.")

Although Patrick has been deleting a number of his Bendis Board posts, it seems at one point he suggested that a ten year old writer could plot most superhero comic books and no one would notice.

Surviving phrases include, "I'm not going to go after a specific writer I'm working with online but I'm not going to approach my comments regarding unspecified plots/scripts with kid gloves, either. I have worked on terribly, puerile stories. I have worked on very good stories. Some of the puerile outsold some of the very good."

And

"There's more at play here than you think. Several artists have spoken to me about how writer-centric the business has become. They're unhappy. Ever wonder why runs by artists keep getting shorter? This is one of the reasons. I've been drawing comics for 18 years, and collaboration between writer and artist is at an all-time low. In some cases, an artist's only recourse is to simply refuse to work.

"We're storytellers, guys. Not cameras."

And

"A ten year old can plot a comic. It's a reality. Maybe not a whole series arc. I've received virtually plotless scripts. I said it takes an adult to script a modern comic. Quit undermining 10 year olds (they're tomorrows--todays?-- writers)."

In one thread Patrick started, a comedy attempt at sequential storytelling, each member posting the next paragraph of a plot, Hickman wrote "The star peaked before falling back to earth. Zarathos followed it - west - where, upon landing in San Francisco, he saw Patrick Zircher slowing pistoning in and out of the Sentry's tushy.

"Patrick looked up - looked right at him - and said: This... this is my face when I'm plotting like a 10 year old."

Zircher's response elaborated his position

"Just playing around on this thread, having some fun incorporating the disparate wacky stuff posted here. Throwing up ludicrous, long-winded, tangential silliness.

"But don't pull that 'I'm just kidding shit'. If you said a comic could be layed out by a 10 year old, not an entire arc, and not the finished art, you'd have mirrored what I said about plot, arc, and script, and it wouldn't have bothered me a bit. I wouldn't have cut into you like that.

"Having drawn over 150 stories, I stand by what I said. If an adult writer scripted a plot from a 10 year old, it wouldn't win an Eisner but it'd pass unnoticed by a lot more people than many folks would like to believe."

Is this the new “Name Withheld"? Erik Larsen once sent an anonymous letter to the Comics Buyers Guide, pointing out that artist could strike out on their own and write their own work.

However, considering Patrick's inclination to delete his own responses, could it be "Post Withheld" instead?

SEX 'N DRUGS 'N COMIC BOOKS

[Green Light]Ah this is what you need when you're trying to sell a comic book. A newspaper article condemning you, with quotes from a local politician. And just a few weeks before the Birmingham comic convention as well.

LITG gave "Him & Hers Smuggling Vacation" a rave write up a few weeks ago, and it has .

SIN CITING

[Yellow Light]Now then. What are these images all about that Marvel's been promoting?

I'm told it's a gangster series using out-of-continuity Marvel characters as the villains and the anti-heroes. With unexpected casting on both sides. Very noir.

BAKER BAKER

[Green Light]Remember the Tom-Baker-returns-to-“Doctor-Who"-in-2010 story that LITG broke?

It's gathering steam..

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]Greg Land... gets swiped!!!

Some people see Swipe File as attacking creators, an attempt to expose people as frauds. That's just not the case, sometimes its just a look at the process. Take for example the following Mike Turner variant covers - how did they come about?

"World War Hulk" Aspen cover from 2007

"Hulk" #6 variant cover

"Michael Turner Wizard Hardcover" artwork from 2004

"Hulk" #7 variant cover

All down to Jeph Loeb and Peter Steigerwald.

Back into regular territory, "Hunter: The Vigil" and "Devil May Cry"...

CON TEST

[Green Light]The Dublin Comic Con. Dan Slott. Liam Sharp. CB Cebulski. Adi Granov. And the home of Guinness. Is it just me or are things going to get... messy? I hope so, I may well be going...

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST TIME

[Green Light]When I was young (well, younger), I used to go to the UKCAC's. The annual London comic convention that ran through the Thatcher and Major years, hosted the Eagles and gave birth to Vertigo.

And one of the organisers, Hassan Yusef, is bringing it back. Ish.

I used to help out at the UKCACs as a way of getting free admittance. It's led to friendships that have lasted twenty years. And it was also a really good way to meet women dressed as Domino out of "X-Force".

I'll definitely be there.

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.

There are a few dribs and drabs on my eBay listings.

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:  watchmen, robert kirkman, hellboy ii: the golden army

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