Lying In The Gutters

Mon, October 27th, 2008 at 1:33pm PDT | Updated: October 27th, 2008 at 1:37pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 181

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.

DABEL THE PLEASURE

[Yellow Light]I understand that not only is Dabel Brothers Pro to be providing the art and storytelling for the Steven King "Talisman" comics from Del Rey, but that Del Rey are set to purchase the Dabel's entire operation, rights and assets for a sizable seven figure sum.

At least this is what the Dabels are telling people they still owe money to. Which are quite numerous.

In return the Dabels will become lifetime employees of Del Rey. Does Del Rey know exactly what they are getting? Is the DB Pro reputation included in the package?

COME TO THE AID OF THE TARDIS

[Green Light]Ben Templesmith. Leah Moore. John Reppion. Twenty-two page "Doctor Who" one-shot from IDW in the nearish future.

Templesmith is also working on a project for IDW written by editor-in-chief Chris Ryall, "Groom Lake."

HOW BUCKING MUCH?

[Green Light]So. If Marvel comics are heading towards a standard $3.99 price point... and if so, DC Comics will trot along a month or two afterwards... is this really too expensive for a modern comic? Is $2.99 too expensive?

It's a common complaint for people to talk about how much cheaper comics were when they were younger, and just as common is the recognition that everything used to be cheaper, that's what inflation is about, our income rises with it, it's all about how prices have changed in real terms.

So let's find out!

In 1977 Amazing Spider-Man cost 30 cents. Let's see what happens when we apply the US rate of inflation of the previous year to the price compared to what the comics actually cost.

YearCover PriceRate of Inflation
19770.300.30
19780.350.32
19790.400.34
19800.400.38
19810.500.43
19820.600.48
19830.600.51
19840.600.53
19850.600.55
19860.650.57
19870.750.58
19880.750.6
198910.62
199010.65
199110.69
199210.72
19931.250.74
19941.50.76
19951.50.78
19961.50.80
19971.50.83
19981.50.85
19991.750.86
20001.990.88
20012.250.91
20022.250.93
20032.250.95
20042.250.97
20052.251
20062.51.03
20072.991.06
20082.991.09
20093.99?

Wow. Now of course, there's a higher page count, the print quality is better, the colouring technology is out of this world, but still. In real terms, at least as defined by US inflation, your comic should be just over a buck. And yet it may well be about to hit $4.

And double the 2000 price.

Ouch.

GOOD NEWS FOR UK CREATORS, BAD NEWS FOR UK READERS

[Green Light]The pound is crashing against the dollar. What does that mean? Well for comic readers in the UK, US comics are about to go dramatically up in price, even if Marvel doesn't take the $4 option. British creators for US companies can expect a much welcome bump in their salaries and page rates will most likely go up. "2000AD," for years outpaying Marvel and DC, may find they lose certain creators. And of course some scurrilous US companies may find they can get away with paying UK creators less. Expect UK creators to go up against South American creators fairly soon.

That is unless the dollar crashes again and it all goes back to normal.

MONEY GOING SOUTH

[Green Light]Romulo Soares runs a Brazilian studio known as Lynx and works as an agent for a number of artists. Over the last year I have received repeated reports of lack of payment, delayed payment and reduced payment.

One Wellington Diaz worked on the "Superman Returns Prequel: Lois Lane" project for DC Comics through Soares. DC Comics state that a cheque was cashed in Soares' name. In long e-mails back and forth, Soares told me that an individual he employed to cash US cheques ran off with money, leaving him unable to pay creators. However further promises of payment have not come through, and e-mail conversations have been cut off. And payment problems continue to occur. Diaz is not alone, though he is the only one willing to speak up.

Interestingly, Soares also claims non-payment from both the Dabel Brothers and Nifty Comics, both of which have a long history in this column over problematic payments.

KICK ASS SCRIPT

[Green Light]I received a copy of the second draft of the Kick Ass script last week.

See?

And what a fun script it is. In many places it's basically a cut and paste of the comic. Seriously, I mean look:

Although there are a few more masturbation gags..

And nary a use of the C-word. Cunt that is.

For those reading the comic so far, lots of stuff gets shoved around a bit, but it pretty much seems to be the comic on screen.

It also has a damn fine ending which, although a familiar Millar device, has a wonderful geek meta-level that should raise a cheer from certain members of the audience.

Let's see what Lying In The Gutters film critic Brendon Connelly has to say:

I knew "Stardust" very well, so it was absolutely clear to me where the screenplay varied from the novel; I barely know Mark Millar's "Kick-Ass" at all, so I'm pretty much taking the script as I would an original work. You, on the other hand probably know the comics very well, so I'm thankfully empowered to both keep the plot summary to a minimum (pubescent kid called Dave dresses up as a superhero and tries to be one; calls himself Kick Ass; meets other would-be superheroes; takes on "the mob") and to indulge in "spoiler" material.

Frankly, there's an awful lot wrong with the script - despite being the narrator and eponymous lead, Dave is pretty much a supporting player in most respects, with other characters either overshadowing him, saving his bacon or undermining his importance. Parallel to Dave's decision to take on the mantle of a superhero (supposedly the catalyst for the entire narrative) two other, more capable characters set out on the same path, outside of his influence. Indeed, all Dave does of much significance in the entire first two acts is get filmed in a fight and set up a MySpace page to capitalise on his YouTube infamy. Furthermore, had Dave not existed, the finale could have played out in a very similar fashion and the ultimate outcome of the narrative would have to change very little.

The underexplored subtext appears to be about influence - largely parental, even paternal. The death of Dave's mom is ironically contrasted to that of Bruce Wayne's mother, but the story doesn't support the event having any lasting or meaningful impact on the boy, less so than her fate simply being woven into Dave's pre-existing outlook or at best used as an excuse for his actions.

On a scene-by-scene basis, however, things are somewhat better. Ignorant of any scene's place in the overall structure one might consider many of them charming, amusing or mildly provocative. The combination of kids, bad language and extreme violence is not as startling as I suspect Millar imagines, or Goldman and Vaughan trust - see Chris Morris' Blue Jam for a shorter, sharper riff on some of the same material - but there is still plenty of comedy value to be mined, and a certain amount of novelty.

There's wit here, definitely more so than discipline, in a combination that typically leads to a good night out at the movies but falls far short of a film to be cherished.

So, overall, a disappointment after the adaptation of "Stardust," but by no means a bust.

Back in your box, Brendan! Back back!

I KNOW I KNOW, IT'S GOT COSPLAYERS IN IT

[Green Light]The London MCM Expo was held last weekend... and it's growing. The manga boom seems to be doubling in size in the UK, with cosplayers of all varieties covering a wider area, but with traditional comics increasing their prescence. The queues were massive, the people were happy and Eve got a rabbit ears hat.

The likes of me, Tony Lee, Antony Johnston, David Hine, Ben Templesmith, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, John McCrea, Liam Sharp and more looked on in awe... and occasional unease. The 12 year olds with "hardcore Yaoi paddles" was particularly disturbing to our male middle aged orientations. Certainly we weren't going to avail ourselves of any "free hugs."

I was there flogging "The Flying Friar" at the Markosia booth as always. A very receptive audience all round!

Of course nothing makes a convention work better than an adjacent booking, in this case to the "Global Peace And Unity" conference, which led to some strange juxtapositions outside the centre.

And naturally attendees of the latter conference, according to the rules or irony, ended up in a street fight later that Saturday night with a double stabbing reported.

While individuals holding ten-foot plastic swords walked past the crime scene.

This is rapidly becoming a new bi-annual centre of British comics, with a much greater audience than the traditional Bristol and Birmingham conventions, even if it's more of a manga flair and has a fair few stars of stage and screen filling booths. And Bubbles off of "The Wire" kept trying to get a "smoke" off of Dan Boultwood. Whose enigmatic fashion stylings allowed him entry into the cosplay ball without even trying and the complements of "Heroes'" Brea Grant telling Dan he was a very good looking man for an artist.

And it's London. Next one in April. See you there. Panini, Titan, Forbidden Planet, make your presence known.

You know, I'm even warming to the cosplayers.

JOE THE WRITER

[Green Light]Joe Ahearne, director for "Doctor Who," "Strange" and "Ultraviolet" working on a new BBC superhero TV show called "Superpower." The series will involve contributions from Bryan Hitch and possibly Mark Millar in the event of a series.

But as a wonderful introduction to his work, Ahearne will write a couple of issues of "Fantastic Four" with Bryan Hitch on art, following on from Millar/Hitch's run on the book

WATCHMEN ENDINGS

[Green Light]Last week's LITG talked about the different "Watchmen" endings that are being tested. And the one ending that's been seen and reported that has a bombed out New York, but no hyperdimensional alien squid.

I'm told that this screening was intentionally leaked to the fan press - with the exact time and place posted online with details of how to evade the security. The intent is to gauge fan reaction to a squidless ending for Watchmen and see what they can get away with, believing it to be more suitable for a more mainstream audience. The FX for the squid has been completed however.

And the "Watchmen" footage from the Spike TV Scream Awards (and online here on CBR) does appear to show a bombed out New York City sans squid.

POO THOUSAND A.D.

[Green Light]Tony Lee, on how enraged "2000AD" readers not only hate his strip "Stalag #666" but also of one reader who sent excrement to a previous address of his.

OUTSOURCING WAREHOUSE DUTIES TO COMIC SHOPS

[Green Light]Last week, LITG told you how Diamond UK sent out pleas not to put "Absolute Sandman" Volume 4 despite them having distributed it three weeks early. Some shops did, some didn't.

This week, they've sent another regarding the early shipping of "Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean" hardcover, meant to be in shops from November the 11th, currently available in the UK depending on the dodginess of your retailer.

Next week who knows?

ARTIST WANTED

[Green Light]I suddenly feel inspired to write a "Watchmen" comics parody. Seriously. Hell, "Civil Wardrobe" sold well enough. 22 pages. About a Jewish lawyer who is killed, a colleague who believes they are anyone who dealt with Alan Moore's contracts over the years is under threat and an impending apocalypse...

"Watchmensch."

I'm serious. I bet I can find a publisher. Anyone out there fancy drawing in nine panel grids?

BLIND ITEM

[Yellow Light]Sometimes the comics industry is full of stories that need telling - just with the serial numbers filed off. And after a certain amount of time has passed...

Which executive at a major comics company had such an argument with another executive, leading to the latter hiding in his locked office while the senior executive pounded on the door vowing revenge at a considerable volume? The first executive was swiftly moved to a different department by human resources.

Which ex-comics editor harassed a comics creator for years, eventually sending her lawyer a long and indepth letter explaining that said creator was like an iguanadon that needed caring for?

LEE LINES

[Green Light]Since this column wouldn't be complete without another mention of Tony Lee, I understand he and Kevin Colden have a piece alongside mine in the Image Comics "This Is A Souvenir: The Songs Of Spearmint And Shirley Lee" anthology shipping in January.

Here's a page from their "A Bench in A Park."

ODDS AND SODS

[Green Light]Joss Whedon on the buggering about with on "Dollhouse."

The "Dragon's Claws" TPB featuring afterword by yours truly hits the shops.

Are Marvel's boards institutionally homophobic?

Dave Thorpe, Alan Davis, Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Paul Neary, Mike Collins, Chris Claremont, Steve Craddock and more... is this the ultimate "Captain Britain" revival? Time for an early Christmas present methinks. Hopefully they'll get the credits right and insert the missing page.

It's a... "Girly Comic Book!"

SMALL PRINT

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

I'm still eBaying odds and sods here. My social networking is pretty much all Facebook and Twitter these days, but I'm around at Bebo, MySpace, ComicSpace too.

You can see my Guido Fawkes cartoon most Mondays here. Here's the latest...

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:  dabel brothers, del rey, watchmen, kick-ass

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