Lying In The Gutters

Mon, September 29th, 2008 at 1:58pm PDT | Updated: September 29th, 2008 at 7:49pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 177

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.

FATHOM THIS!

[Yellow Light]Newsarama ran a piece collating rumour and gossip that Megan Fox may be cast as the character Aspen in a movie based on the Aspen comic "Fathom." In doing so they pointed out that there was no actual evidence of anything.

Au contraire.

Here is a photo of Aspen editor-in-chief Vince Hernandez, in the Aspen offices, in the arms of Megan Fox.

Boom.

DRAW LIKE A PIRATE DAY

[Green Light]Mike Smith and Danny DelPurgatorio (credits and transitions on "Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium") are the directors of the "Watchmen: Tales of The Black Freighter" animated DVD, due to be released alongside the movie.

MY LORD, I HAVE A CUNNING HAM.

[Yellow Light]I understand that Brian Cunningham, recently made redundant as “Wizard Magazine” Executive Editor as part of their get-rid-of-everyone-with-a-mid-level-salary-and-replace-them-with-interns policy, will be moving to DC Comics.

This may be a controversial move as Cunningham will enter the company at a group editorial level alongside the likes of Eddie Berganza and Matt Idelson, instantly leapfrogging many others who have been patiently waiting their turn.

Hand picked by Dan DiDio, this appointment at such a level is intended to reflect Cunningham's relationship with creators and other industry figures.

CONTAINING MULTITUDES

[Green Light]In the wake of the “Legion Of Superheroes” cancellation LITG’d back here, I can confirm that Tony Bedard is writing a new “L.E.G.I.O.N” series based on the eighties/nineties series.

THE ALAN MOORE EBAY MOTHERLOAD

[Green Light]After two issues of Moore's first published work, an article on “The Shadow” in “Seminar” #2 when he was 16, hit eBay at around $600-700 each, it's clear there's a market for such works, especially in the light of the upcoming “Watchmen” movie.

Well this week, that went up a notch.

We have the only complete script to “The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier”, signed, noted as such and dated by Alan Moore.

Then there's original poster artwork by Moore.

And all three signed Alan Moore issues of Embryo, his self published fanzine.

So. Check your bank balance. And decide. How much of an Alan Moore fan are you anyway?

PAT ANSWERS

[Green Light]Last week, LITG ran commentary by Pat Broderick on his career at Marvel and DC. Two responses stuck out.

Pat wrote "my all time best series. Doom 2099. All most 3 years later and the world was just fine. Until that British a** hole writer came on board and decided he would change everything that we’d had laid in place. So he got me removed from the series after we had a heated run in. And to my satisfaction the series was cancelled after only five more issues."

Warren Ellis replied

Wonderful.

Just for the record, I came on the book with #26, and left with #39. I quit because a crossover event was planned that I felt would kill the book. The book was in fact cancelled five issues after I left, with #44.

Later clarifying

Well, it's not like the editor didn't know what I was going to do. From what I remember -- and this is a pretty long time ago, now! -- I wanted to clear out some of the cast, get some stakes happening and put the focus solidly on political-sf scenarios. The editorial team knew my take and hired me on that basis.

Steve Pugh drew most of my issues. Ash Wood did one, John Buscema did one. I may be forgetting someone.

The other response was by Valerie D'Orazio. Broderick's quote "At the time my youngest son Ryan had developed a very serious, life threatening medical condition and the major medical coverage which DC offered to all contracted freelancers actually turned out to be a 30,000 dollar family policy. When I pointed this out the DC’s upper management they actually tried to use my son’s illness and a promise of a better policy as a negotiation point for extending my contract another four years" elicited the following response:

1. In late Fall of 2003 I was suffering from debilitating side-effects from the cholesterol drug Lipitor: grotesquely swollen joints, extreme arthritis, numbness, and general fatigue. At the time, I was assisting at least three editors, two of which were going or had gone on maternity leave. On top of which -- it was the holidays. I had a tremendous workload; not only my own, but to make up for the missing editors. I was in physical agony and requested a possible short medical leave to ride out some of the pain. Dan Didio went into my office, closed the door behind him, and said he talked to upper management about my request. I was not eligible for paid medical leave, he said, but they talked about it and decided to grant me one unpaid week of leave -- as a special gift to me. Unable to afford the break in income at that time, I declined, and continued to work in physical pain through the holidays, getting all the books in on time.

When my physical condition deteriorated even further the following Spring, the HR woman from Time Warner on the West Coast was absolutely shocked to find out that I was told I was not eligible for paid medical leave. Of course I was. And failing to get the appropriate rest earlier had compounded my condition and made things much worse.

2. When I resigned from DC in the Summer of 2004, medical insurance was used as a bargaining chip in order to get me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. If I signed the NDA, they would "fudge" the paperwork so I would get one extra month of health insurance. So basically, they would lie and say I was still working there when I wasn't, and my insurance would be temporarily extended. Part of the reason I was resigning was because I was still ill, and they said they knew how much I could use the insurance. But -- I would have to sign away my rights to ever speak ill of DC again in order to get that coverage. Which would basically take care of me ever bringing up sexual harassment again. I declined to sign the NDA. But the best part of all this was that by "fudging" -- they were basically lying. They were offering to use fraud to "help me out" -- but only if I signed a piece of paper covering their ass.

To be fair, this sort of shit happens at a lot of places. And had I not trusted DC as much as I did right off the bat, and really done my homework, I could have avoided a lot of this. And that's the best thing you can say about any of this -- that the worker really has a lot of rights and resources. They do. But you have to seek them out. Don't just consult your shiny worker's manual or believe what some upper management suit tells you. Be informed.

Companies have no right to offer "bargains" concerning your health.

DC Comics has been criticized by comic fans for trivial crimes against continuity and comic book characters of late. This is something on a very different level.

THE COST OF ADVERTISING

[Yellow Light]It wasn't that long ago that comic book fans were complaining about the amount of ads in a Marvel comic.

Now some are worried that there are too few.

Despite this being the time of year when there are sometimes more ads than comic book content, in the last few weeks, they've had only a few real ads and several more house ads than normal. The most drastic example is “Hulk” #5 with only 3.5 pages of paid ads, 26 pages of content (including the cover and recap page) and 6.5 pages of Marvel house ads.

A number of books announced as 48 pages long have been cut down to 40 pages without any reduction in comic content.

Similarly DC seems to be at the normal pace with about 10 ads or more per book with very few house ads.

There also seem to be a lot more $3.99 Marvel books being solicited - some have the swish card covers, some don't. A number of news stand comics have had the $3.99 price point for some time while they're comic shop version remained $2.99. But are we looking at $3.99 as the new Marvel comic book price point? Are the fans being softened up? Is this a result of the decrease in advertising? How long until DC join in? Will this be a turning point that sees a number of fans go digital?

Anyone care to do a general inflation rate/inflation in the cost of a monthly comic comparison chart?

I want me some meaty stats!

DISSECTING SUPREME

[Green Light]Totally managed to miss a Comicon thread a couple of months ago, in which Erik Larsen, Steve Bissette and Rick Vietch dissect Rob Liefeld, Alan Moore and Supreme.

How could I have missed it?

A few highlights...

Rick Veitch: "Alan had two more issues planned (and maybe one written) of the second year which Checker published unfinished as "The Return". From there Alan had planned a third year where SUPREME travels into the Supremium meteor that gave him his powers."

Comiconposter ‘steel A Long Departed Hero’: "Moore had plots for a New Gods riff and a battle between the Supremacy and Daxia. Would have been cool, but oh, well. We got some good stuff from the guy."

Rick Veitch: "But we creators had been promised a royalty deal on the collections. Whatever Liefeld's deal was with Checker, we were cut out. I was in touch with Checker after they picked up the rights and offered to talk with Alan about finishing the second book. They instead chose to rush into print with an unfinished story and horrible reproduction.

"Instead of paying industry standard royalties to creators, Checker chose to use the substantial profits of the two Supreme collections to build their imprint.

"the best way to get the SUPREME stuff is seek out the original issues in the quarter bins. Repro is great and you could probably put together a complete set for less than a Checker trade. Don't worry about Alan and I-- we'll be fine. We did the material because we loved it and want people to enjoy it even if Liefeld's a dick."

Erik Larsen: "The way it was explained to me Alan Moore was willing to edit and assist and possibly co-plot the "third season" of Supreme but he wanted Steve Moore (no relation) to write it.

"That was what readers missed out on.

"Steve Moore wrote some of the ABC stuff over at Wildstorm. I don't recall it making a huge splash….

"The reason Rob stopped publishing Supreme was because it wasn't making money. That, and Alan's proposal of having others write it meant that sales weren't likely to go up. It could very well be that Rob was in the hole on Supreme and that the Checker money helped pay off some of that debt. That doesn't excuse him from not telling people what's going on--but it's a possible scenario."

Rick: "The reason Rob stopped publishing SUPREME was his whole company went down the shitter. I believe the book was selling around 40,000 at the time and the creators were keeping to the schedule. Alan was so happy doing the work (even putting up with chronic late payment) that he created the ABC line around the Supreme creative team as soon as Awesome collapsed.

"Where'd you hear that bit about handing Supreme off to others? I was involved with Alan's plotting of the third year arc and I never heard that from him. Like I said above: he loved SUPREME.

"I'd love to know what Rob got from Checker for the tpb rights. Once I figured out a deal was going on, I was in touch with the Checker guys, hoping to finish the second book and make sure the creators got a fair piece. But they chose to go for the low quality and quick buck. They didn't even scan from the printed comics, but instead worked with some bad jpegs Rob gave them. Profits from the SUPREME collections essentially built Checker."

Erik: "From Rob--he did the accent and everything--it was pretty fun to listen to. I'm not sure when that would have been exactly.

"Well, like you said--Rob's company did go away--it may have been by the time Alan was working on the ABC stuff. If that was the case it could have been one of those too-much-time-has-gone-by-and-I-no-longer-have-the-same-enthusiasm-for-the-project cases. Same thing happened in a sense--to 1963. I called Alan about that at one point after he and Steve Bissette had a falling out and its time had passed--Alan didn't want to have anything to do with it."

Rick: "Well, there y'go.

"You've worked with Rob long enough to know that he runs his business like Alice In Wonderland, right?

"The 1963 situation is completely different from SUPREME and shouldn't be spun to defend Rob.

"Do you still share an office with Eric Stephenson? He was editor of SUPREME and could probably enlighten us all to how events went down."

No further comments for a couple of months sadly...

In a related turn of events, Steve Bissette: added "on a related topic, be sure to check out the chapters on Marvelman/Miracleman and Medieval Spawn & Angela in the upcoming "PRINCE OF STORIES: THE MANY WORLDS OF NEIL GAIMAN" (November from St. Martin's Press) for the most comprehensive and current coverage I could muster on both situations."

Yeah. I'll be down for that.

SWIPE FILE

[Yellow Light]“Online numbers can be used to tabulate dips in sales because while they’re wrong, they’re consistently wrong and you can make a judgment based on the correlations between those numbers,” - Robert Kirkman, Bendis vs Kirkman at Baltimore, 27/9/08

"they are often inaccurate. However, they have the benefit of being consistently inaccurate, enabling us to draw conclusions about certain trends" - me, LITG 172, 25/8/08

DOGGONE SWIPE FILE

[Yellow Light]Joe Kelly and Diego Greco’s “Bad Dog”.

“Lou is a bounty hunter who happens to be a werewolf, but refuses to revert to his human state because he can’s stand most people. His partner is Wendell, a former minister who lost his way in a storm of booze, broads, and bad behavior. The two of them wrangle skips and try to bring the bad guys to justice — though nine times out of ten they wind up drunk or just screwing the job to hell”

Adam Monetta and Pow Rodrix’s ”Lucky Dawg” .

“a plain clothes wearing, hard drinking werewolf with a bad attitude, yet still feels like saving the world.”

NO LONGER A SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]Page from Victor Santos' "Pulp Heroes: Bushido" published in 2005 and the "Vantage Point" movie poster published in 2008.

Original LITG article.

Now, “Vantage Point” DVD cover

WORKING IN COMICS

[Green Light]Here's a review from behind the Glass Door, the employment snitching service, regarding working at DC Comics.

"Not as much fun as you might think it is”

Editor in New York, NY (United States) Current Employee

Pros

Fun, creative atmosphere. A great selection of properties to play with. Overall, a nice enough bunch of employees doing work they love. The whole world recognizes Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The work is great, challenging, creative, fun. Free comic books! An often warm family feeling.

Cons

Paternal atmosphere. Senior management treats staff like indulgent parents rather than intelligent creative partners. There is little room for advancement for the more competent. Management responds to credit-seekers over achievers; the feeling is that upper management is so poor because the company hires damaged goods they can get cheap. Because it attracts people/fans with a desire to be in that business, management knows they can he got cheap and held cheap.

Advice to Senior Management

Do the job of the person you're criticizing before you tell them how to do it. Learn empathy. Treat employees like intelligent adults; if they can't respond in kind, get rid of them instead of tucking them in corners. Give people the tools they need to do a job instead of penalizing them for being unable to do the job because they don't have those tools. Do your job. Let us do ours.

Oh and an Assistant Editor at Marvel's Manhattan offices earns $30K. Remember to sell those comps on eBay!!!

NO CONNECTIONS

[Green Light]Bronson Webb, who played Jackrabbit in the most recent “No Heroics,” also played one of The Joker’s henchmen in “The Dark Knight.” And Jim Howick who plays Thunder Monkey, was an American soldier in the beginning of “Hellboy.”

AQUA LIQUIDATED

[Green Light]Paul Maybury, artist of "Aqua Leung" has been sounding off... firstly about not receiving any writing credit for “Aqua Leung,” and for not making any money on anthologies such as the Harvey Award winning “Pop Gun” and “Comic Book Tattoo.”

Later in the comments he clarified, "Yeah, originally it was 4 single issues. I wrote issue 2 and the end of issue 1, and did over all writing on the rest of it with the other writer Mark. The credits just say "created and produced" by Mark Smith and Paul Maybury, due to the fact that the writer and I couldn't agree. When it got solicited I think it was billed as written by Mark Smith, Art by Paul Maybury, so after that every reviewer just sort of assumed."

"As far as other volumes go, I wouldn't be hopeful as the creative team has disbanded. There are a lot of great similar adventure books being published in print and online to fill the void though."

However by then an anonymous poster presumed to be “Aqua Leung” writer and current Image mainstay Mark Andrew Smith ("Amazing Joy Buzzards," "Popgun," "Kill All Parents") writes, "Paul is a terrible thief and a huge backstabber and he shouldn't be trusted at all. Working on Aqua Leung with him was the worst experience of my life and he did every single fucked up thing you could imagine on the book. There will never be anymore Aqua Leung. Paul owes me thousands of dollars as well that he just kept. Everyone you should not trust Paul at all and he's a horrible human being."

"Aqua Leung" editor Cassandra Paseley responded, "You know what Mark, there is nothing worse that a human being who thinks that he is owed something by the world and you are one of those people. You have done nothing but lie, cheat, and steal from Paul and everyone else involved in Aqua Leung. To add to that, you are so delusional that you actually believe that you could change a contract and that you can force peoples hands into getting what you want. You were offered fair compensation and you choose to turn it down because you wanted more! The bottom line is that you are a GREEDY, SELFISH person. It's true I may be Paul's girlfriend and in turn I may share a bed with him but don't doubt that it's not already known by EVERYONE what a spoiled, rotten, daddy's boy you are. GET A FUCKING LIFE!"

At which point it descends into abuse...

UPDATED: Mark Andrew Smith wrote Monday evening with the following response:

"I apologize for airing my dirty laundry and I apologize for everything I said. While I don't agree with Paul, I decided it's time to move on, but thanks to everyone for all the support on the book."

BITS AND BOBS

[Green Light]Alan Moore yaoi.

Sean McKeever and Tony Bedard signing at Acme Comics, North Carolina in October.

Flickring the Harrods comic art exhibition.

This week, I have been enjoying:

Comics: "Janes In Love."

Webcomics: "Em."

Books: "The Princess Bride."

TV: "Lost In Austen."

Radio: "Miranda Hart's Joke Shop."

Conclusion: I am officially a girl.

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 on the Bradford & Bingley situation...

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, watchmen: tales of the black freighter, fathom, alan moore

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