Lying In The Gutters

Mon, October 6th, 2008 at 1:28pm PDT | Updated: October 6th, 2008 at 2:10pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 178

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.

COVER PLAN

[Green Light]We had a mid-week LITG update last week looking at some mysterious Dynamic Forces solicitations for signed books featuring covers to Marvel books that Marvel were reluctant to provide any solicitation images for. We showed the "New Avengers" cover which seemed to show a new lineup (though Bendis takes exception to that). There are also covers to "Secret Invasion: Dark Reign" #1 and "War Machine" #1 below... the cast list of the first should make for interesting speculation. And just who is inside that War Machine suit anyway?

No Bendis retort for this one. Not yet.

KICK-AUDITIONS

[Green Light]Do you want to be in the Matthew Vaughn/Jane Goldman movie "Kick-Ass" based on the Mark Millar/John Romita Jr. comic from Marvel?

Well what are you doing tomorrow?

From 9am till 4pm, auditions for extras are being held in central London, at Bloomsbury Baptist Church. 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8EP.

Just round the corner from Forbidden Planet, Orbital, Gosh and Comicana. Very clever.

I may have to pop by with a camera.

I was a zombie in "Shaun Of The Dead" you know.

SPINNING OUT OF BALTIMORE

[Green Light]I hear Ivan Brandon is working on a "Faces of Evil" one-shot for DC, plus a new ongoing series spinning out of "Final Crisis."

Penciller Stuart Sayger has finished up on DC's "Bionicles" series and Pop Mhan will take over

Drew Rausch and Dan Vado, of Disney's "Haunted Mansion" title, will be coming out with a book based on Winchester Mansion.

Inker Mark McKenna's children's book "BananaTail" will be going pop-up.

Rich Koslowski ("The King," "Three Fingers") has a new graphic novel coming out next year from Top Shelf.

Stuart Immonen's exclusive with Marvel is for years, so expect to see him on "Ultimate Spider-Man" for the foreseeable future.

And "Invincible's" Cory Walker will be writing and drawing a new book for Image. Kirkman gets another!

MEAN SPIRIT

[Green Light]Frank Miller's anti-Wizard keynote speech at the Harveys a few years ago?

"You’ll make some pretty good money, but that creation that you took all that time writing and drawing will be remembered for all time as one really crappo movie."

SLASH FICTION

[Green Light]A number of retailers have contacted me, concerned with the absence of up-and-coming indie title "Hack/Slash." A reputation for being bang on time and building up a fanbase, the last issue has been missing from the schedule for a month. Indeed, it was one that some had ordered extra copies of, the second part of a crossover with the eighties "Re-Animator" movie.

Well, as of today, everyone knows. And it's a legal mire I've been submerged in for the last few weeks.

Brian Warmouth, of "Hack/Slash" publisher Devil's Due put out a press release, now widely covered, stating that Devil's Due would be self-distributing "Hack/Slash" #16 and #17, along with reorders of 15, featuring the "Re-Animator" crossover.

This, as I understand it, is the chain of events.

Originally, "Herbert West: Reanimator" was a short story by H.P.Lovecraft from 1922. In the eighties, producer Brian Yuzna transformed it into the cult-favourite modern-day set schlock horror movie, "H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator."

The rights to the Lovecraft's works due to lack of registrations and competing claims for the Lovecraft estate have been confused, but right now "Herbert West: Reanimator" is indisputably in the public domain worldwide.

The company Re-Animator LLC, was set to up to legally claim and develop the Re-Animator trademark. It was this company which licensed the rights to Dynamite for their "Re-Animator" #0 and "Army Of Darkness vs Re-Animator" comics.

Tim Seeley of Devil's Due however believed he had licensed the film rights for "HP Lovecraft's Re-Animator" from producer Yuzna, through UK games journalist Barry Keating, for a crossover with his creator-owned book "Hack/Slash" and gained publicity for it. In doing so, he was asked about the Re-Animator LLC claim, showed his awareness of it, but dismissed the claim.

Last month, Re-Animator LLC sent a Cease And Desist letter to Diamond Comics Distribution and publisher Devil's Due. Diamond declined to distribute "Hack/Slash" until legal claims were settled.

With the first issue attracting reorders and the second issue at the printers, Tim was faced with being trapped in a legal limbo, left without payment for an unknown length of time, and owing money to the book's artists.

I understand Re-Animator LLC, thanks to Dynamite's Nick Barrucci, offered Tim the opportunity to distribute the remaining two issues for the sum of $2, possibly one of the more generous publishing acts I've seen. However, Tim would have had to sign a licensing statement that he believed could be used against any possible claim on the property by Yuzna. And a quick trademark registration search shows competing claims - though the only trademark filing for comics is from Re-Animator, LLC.

Instead, Devil's Due is preparing to self-distribute the two issues of "Hack/Slash" without Diamond. As many comic shops may not be minded to set up a distribution deal for two issues of a relatively small-selling comic, it may be hard to come by. Income from the title may be less. And it may also attract the legal ire of Re-Animator, LLC if Devil's Due attempt to trade with the Re-Animator title.

The mention of Re-Animator may have gone from the covers. This usually should be enough to ward off trademark claims. But putting out a press release mentioning Re-Animator may be considered trading using the trademark.

And "Hack/Slash" may be doomed by it.

Copyright. Trademark. Very different things and the latter has to be defended to be legally valid. Just ask Marvel and Heroic about who owns "Champions."

THEY CALL HIM HARRODS LLOYD

[Green Light]David Lloyd was on fine form at Harrods last week, talking about "V For Vendetta."

Thanks to Loz Flowers.

You can hear the whole thing here thanks to Robin Harman and see a clip here.

NO HEROICS

[Green Light]So anyway, I found a copy of this Thursday’s "No Heroics" in my DVD player. This week’s episode is a corker. Dom working as a security guard for a brat of a kid avoiding questions about tunnels and Paris, Jenny seeking love from a supervillain she put away (played by Mark Heap) before he kills her, strips her corpse and wears her as a rucksack, and Alex and Sarah are trying to get on with each other. With no help from Devlin. Fun, funny, and jokes about penis size. This is what we want.

Thursday, ITV2, 10.30 pm and bittorrent after that.

BITS AND BOBS

[Green Light]Alex Frith interviews Gilbert Shelton with many a Fat Freddy anecdote, how he was Alan Moore's first American publisher, how Fat Freddy's cat may have been an influence on Maxwell the Magic cat and on Obama: "He's too serious, he should tell some jokes!"

Byrne encounters raccoons and robots.

Colleen Doran makes a very touching appeal.

Note how the appreciation for departing Wizard editor and new DC group editor Brian Cunningham… starts to wane… down the comment thread

CHRISTMAS PURCHASES

[Green Light]What I would be putting on my Christmas wish list — if I hadn’t already bought them.

"A Writer’s Tale — Russell T Davies". A massive tome chronicling e-mails between journo Benjamin Cook and showrunner Davies during the fourth series of Doctor Who. Includes a lot of script, huge amounts of inside information and a real insider knowledge of what was good, what went wrong and the knowledge that a Mark Gatiss World War II script was just dumped. Fascinating.

"Popbitch" by Camilla Wright — I bow down to the kings and queens of gossip. The true democratisation of celebrity. I also ended up contributing a few pages too, so there’s that as well. Find my chin, if you dare.

"Wall-E"… with a Slink-E! Oh come on! Yes!

"A Colbert Christmas" if you wish to snuggle up with your favourite political commentator

"Absolute Sandman" 4 in case your bookshelf wasn’t totally destroyed by the first three.

"Acme Novelty Library 19" - well it is the best comic book of all right now...

SMALL PRINT

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TAGS:  kick-ass, re-animator, devil's due, dynamite entertainment

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