Lying In The Gutters

Mon, September 8th, 2008 at 2:02pm PDT | Updated: September 9th, 2008 at 5:24pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 174

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 can look at America and see what's going on and sometimes you need that viewpoint. Maybe you're too close too see that you are sleepwalking towards fascism. You need a snotty European to come along and tell you this" - Mark Millar"

PAPER CUTS

[Yellow Light]Paul Levitz recently boastedabout DC's recent environmental decision to use paper certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

According to Don't Buy SFI, the Initiative is an industry shill set up by the American Forest & Paper Association to undermine more credible paper certification standards and is rejected by environmental groups in favour of the Forest Stewardship Council. A bit like the anti-tobacco ads in comics set up by tobacco companies. You know, the really lame ones.

According to the Washington Post, "Unlike the industry-created SFI program, FSC rules allow virtually no cutting of old-growth forests, nor do they allow operators to log off a diverse stand of trees and replace it with a plantation forest dominated by a single species, which is often done to enhance the commercial value of forestland."

DC Comics are being called upon to switch certifications.

Apparently non-recycled paper is whack, if you're a teen.

HI DEF HEROICS

[Green Light]The trailer to the "No Heroics" show you first read about in LITG, is now for the first time in high-definition.

The show starts on ITV2 on 18th September at 10.30pm with "Supergroupie." And hits the torrents by midnight, I reckon.

SWEET SIXTEEN

[Green Light]We recently ran a story about the "Shadow" review Alan Moore had published when he was sixteen, the fanzine recently selling for around #400.

The seller very kindly scanned in the review for this column.

The fanzine also included a letter from David Lloyd!

GLAMOUR SHOTS

[Green Light]Want a quick peek at upcoming "Glamourpuss" #4 pages from Dave Sim?

Course you bloody do.

ELEMENTARY MISTAKE

[Green Light]There has been lots of positive online reaction to the "DCU Elementary" art previewed last column. Mostly along the lines of "where oh where oh where oh where can I buy this?"

Only problem is, that while the comic series was completed by Rob Corley, Tom Bancroft, Howard Shum and Joey Mason for over a year, and paid for in full, it hasn't been scheduled by DC Comics. And there's no sign of it being so.

Here's hoping it doesn't end up in the same drawer as the completed unpublished Alan Grant/Frank Quitely "Lobo" comic.

QUITE THE PLATINUM CARD

[Yellow Light]Are you the Chief Operating Officer of a major brand publisher? Has one of your creators parted company? Do you decide to slag him off online, despite giving an instant impression of a David/Goliath fight?

If you are Brian Altounian of Platinum then, yes that's apparently what you do to creator DJ Coffman, a creator you repeatedly delayed payment to, offered to give his comic back in exchange but then when he blogged about the situation in obsequiously flattering terms towards your company terms, told him that because of the blog you were now unable to do so.

Of course DJ has a pebble. And LITG is happy to be his sling.

On the Investors Hub, the DJ Coffman situation was brought up, only for Brian to say, "We haven't fully recouped our costs and we continue to pursue efforts to monetize that property so why in the world would we give it back to him? Because he complained that we were 3 weeks late on the final payment to him??? That's hardly good business sense."

Except that Platinum was far more than 3 weeks late in payments, broke contractual clauses, and Platinum did talk to DJ about returning his property until DJ started blogging about the payment delays.

After contacting Platinum about this issue, the post was suddenly removed from the message board.

But Brian did go on to talk about the amount of money spent on DJ and the comic, something DJ really kicked off on.

"I questioned openly the 500 dollar dinners they'd do at Chicago Comicon, where THAT didn't make any business sense at all to me... we had a dinky artist alley table and could have been taken more seriously with a publishers size booth for the price of FUCKING DINNER... (Scott Rosenberg) even proposed giving ME control of the entire HBN budget for the year..."

And it kicks up from there.

"But how insulting is it, insinuating that now that I'm not with Platinum, I can't afford to go to shows. FUCK THAT. Platinum Studios can't afford to go to shows now! There's a BIG FUCKING REASON they didn't have Comic Book Challenge 3 in San Diego this year and it was only over the website.... Platinum is BROKE AS SHIT. Check their financial records. Hell, i think they are broker than I am at this point... and they surely have more debt than I do too. The only difference is, I won't be filing for bankruptcy by the end of the year and I pay my bills on time. A novel idea?"

And my favourite, over the non-payment, "I asked him 'Well, I'm cool right now, but what happens when other creators start coming out saying they're owed' -- I figured it would make the company look like a joke.... and Brian replied:

'D.J., it doesn't matter. There will always be new creators lined up to work with us because of the Hollywood deals.'"

And a final, "As one ex-editor told me, they are simply playing the bullshit game, hoping ONE thing hits big to make up for all the other losses."

You'll have your own favourites. Oh, and in the original piece, Brian Altounian also decides to give Platinum partner Rob Liefeld a friendly kick on the way out, saying "To say he is litigious is like saying 'The Dark Knight' was just a Batman movie."

It was, wasn't it?

Rob tells me, "I don't know Brian Altounian. I can only say that if there were any entertainment opportunities with my characters I'd be at the forefront of the deal, not waiting to be invited to the table by Platinum. As far as litigation, or being 'litigious' as he suggests, I have not instigated any litigation, lawsuits, complaints, etc. in the past ten years."

Don't worry Brian, Rob doesn't sound as if he's likely to sue over it.

SHOP ART

[Green Light]

"When I was a kid I could pretend I could tell my parents I was reading, even though I was just reading a comic. Now I can say I am going to an art gallery, even though I am just going to look at some comics. Thanks comics" - Richard Herring

The Harrods original comic book artwork exhibition semi- opened today. "Comic Timing." Here's how it's looking as of lunchtime.

"As so many have said before, this is our modern day mythology. 'Watchmen' is a literary masterpiece. Why go see the Renoir when you can see Dave Gibbons?" - Brad Meltzer

Some pages are still to go up, and the plaques have been delayed, but it's 75% there. Should be 100% by Thursday. Good thing they didn't do an opening ceremony quite yet... 8-)

"Look through these windows and you'll see the future!" - Joe Quesada

Entrance via Door 5, Lower Ground Floor, Harrods, Kinghtsbridge/Sloane Square tube stations.

FLASH IN THE PAN

[Green Light]"Detective Comics" and "Batman" aren't the only titles going on a short sabbatical while another title takes their place. It looks like yes, "The Flash" will also disappear, replaced by the previously announced "Flash Rebirth" mini-series, before kicking off again with a new Flash series. With a new Flash.

THE SAVAGE BARACK

[Green Light]Hard pressed finding a variant Barack Obama cover of last week's "Savage Dragon?" Especially if you're in the UK and didn't get any distributed (despite Obama being more popular here than over there)? Not to fear, a second printing is being prepared with just Obama covers.

So can we get an Obama cover? Yes We Can.

WATER DAMAGE

[Green Light]The US Navy destroy comics.

Or rather their adverts do.

Apparently the recruitment inserts inside recent DC comics have been causing considerable damage to some. One British shop owner I talked to said it was even more annoying, considering none of the readers in his store would even be able to sign up.

CAGE FIGHT

[Green Light]Nicolas Cage says that the "Kick Ass" movie he is co-starring in, won't be as violent as the comic book.

Mark Millar, producer of the movie, says it will be as violent as the comic - indeed, it will be slightly more extreme in places... "a nine year old assassin who looks like Robin, just her slicing people's heads off..."

Maybe they should fight it out?

I e-mailed Millar earlier in the week - only to receive a response from Jillian, his PA, as Mark is busy making the movie.

Mark Millar has a PA. Mark Millar has a PA. Just repeat that a few times to yourself.

FAR APART

[Green Light]It's been said that the new "Farscape" comic from Boom! might have a better chance in the USA if the series was still available on DVD. The UK has managed to avoid getting caught up in the rights issues however... break open the multiregion DVD players?

OLD HANDS AT WORK

[Green Light]Herb Trimpe is drawing the Hulk's origin and a Spidey strip for "Spider-Man: Tower of Power," partwork published in Europe from Eaglemoss, who also publish the Marvel and DC figurine partworks - for whom Jim Stalin has just done the cover for the Warlock issue.

SPECULATION CORNER

[Yellow Light]"FX," the series by Wayne Osbourne and John Byrne from IDW, saw its last issue drop out of the Top 300, selling in the low four figures and many issues sit, alone and unloved on shop shelves or 50c back issue bins.

This is an excellent opportunity for speculators to clean up. At some point we are due a John Byrne revival in the next ten years, and this recent work will be so much rarer than his better-selling Big Two work. Also, "FX" is prime for a movie adaptation, someone taking the basic idea and making a film around it.

So this is a long term speculation. Pick up whatever copies of "FX" you can, cheap. Stick them in the basement. And wait. Making a 20x return on your investment is not inconceivable.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME SMILE

[Green Light]

ODDS AND ENDS

[Green Light]"Smoke" and "Kat And Mouse's" Alex De Campi has a new video for "Flipiron," which is here.

"Doctor Who: The Forgotten" from Tony Lee and Pia Guerra, published by IDW - is it the best Doctor Who series ever written? It's starting to look that way.

Comic reviews by seven year olds.

Big City Comics stops publishing single issues, goes web-only and sets out a schedule of graphic novel collections.

Alan Moore doesn't let Glycon get in the way of defending rational thought.

Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie will also be signing copies of "Lost Girls" at Orbital Comics, London, this Saturday from 2pm till 4pm. We'll see if we can find out what Alan thinks of the "Absolute Black Dossier."

Ex-at-DC Comics-now-at-Disney Publishing Nachie Castro will be playing in two bands, Skelter (with DC's Michael Wright) and The Red-Hot Red-Hots (with DC Comics' Dezi Sienty on bass and ex DCer Dan DiGiacomo on guitar) on Wednesday Septmeber 24th at the R Bar in NYC.

Stuart Immonen - McCloud Chrome comic hater!

David Bird - Newsarama despairer!

Andy Diggle - Foundation Trust awareness raiser!

BangPop! - small comics convention in Maine on the 13th, Joe Hill, Mark Rickett, Gareth Hinds, Kristen Britain, Alex Irvine and more.

SMALL PRINT

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

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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:  alan moore, glamourpuss, platinum studios, the flash

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