Lying In The Gutters

Mon, November 3rd, 2008 at 2:06pm PST | Updated: November 4th, 2008 at 11:48am

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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.

This is an election-free zone.

NUMBER BASHING

[Green Light]Last week's number crunching of American economy inflation and comic book inflation, the latter outstripping the former 3 to 1 (and very soon 4 to 1) caused lots of comments on the blogosphere.

One common complaint was that the costs of creating comics had gone up ahead of inflation, in terms of salaries, land, paper costs, selling fewer copies per title and more. True. Yet in the same period the Washington Times has risen from 20c to 50c, an under-inflation rise, and this is at a time when newspapers are really suffering. And "Civil War" and "Secret Invasion" sold from 300-400,000, with trade paperback income on top, something you never had in the seventies. yet still cost $3.99 an issue. And technology has brought down all sorts of costs as well.

Of course there are reasons why comics aren't pegged to general inflation. But why should the customer care? And if the books hit $3.99 across the board, are you finally going to see more of them leave?

One title that certainly caused quite a stink pricewise this week was "Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes" which provided a massive 16 pages of story, with a few additional pages of script, for the grand sum of $3.99. Cue revolt up and down the USA. Or, at least, some pull list titles put back on the shelf.

Not Britain, it managed a week delay there. Expect our rivers of blood on Thursday.

STAYS IN VEGAS

[Green Light]The cancellation of "Iron Man Viva Las Vegas" #3, and the first two issues made returnable also caused some concern, turns out that the series itself hasn't been cancelled, but delayed.

NOTHING TO SEE

[Green Light]In February, About Comics will publish "The Blank Comic Book" - 24 blank pages in a blank cardstock cover. For you to... well sketch in, draw your own comics, whatever. There'll be a contest for the most imaginative use, with $100 or 50 copies of the comic up for grabs.

And somehow it will still take longer to read than your average Bendis book.

Here's a sneak peek at the cover.






DIAMOND GEEZER

[Green Light]Anyone want to buy Diamond head honcho Steve Geppi's house?

Looks like those financial problems are getting closer to home.

DOCTOR WHO STUFF

[Yellow Light]So was David Tennant's leaving the show all down to his need to move on? A now or never thing? Not quite. He had been in negotiations with the BBC for a fifth, even a sixth full series, but wanted another 2009-lite Doctor Who break in 2011, a film pursued, and money above the current BBC wage cap. It didn't happen.

The one bigger casualty, as well as casting for The Doctor sooner than expected, has been an arc in Series Five for the River Song character, revealed in Series 4 as the Doctor's possible future wife. Arc plans are being rewritten, but the new team has plenty of time...

As for Paterson Joseph, the positive response that rumour has received has pleased a lot of people, especially the lack of expected "you can't have a black Doctor" responses.

I hear that Paterson Joseph, Sean Pertwee and Marc Warren are the three main contenders. But that right now Paterson is still the favourite.

But I'd also like to remind all and sundry that, according to "Doctor Who Magazine" editor Clayton Hickman, Bill Nighy was Russell T Davies' favourite for the role back in 2005. And that went nowhere.

BROTHERS IN ALMS

[Green Light]So Les Dabel gets in touch about last week's column, reporting the rumour that Del Rey are about to purchase Dabel Brothers Pro for a significant sum.

Les didn't confirm or deny the story but did say that, "Also not sure if you want to post this or not but I am happy to say that everyone we owe money to is paid up."

I have however seen correspondence from various people that throws doubt on that. If anyone wants to go on the record, give me an e-mail!

TRANSFORMERLICKER

[Green Light]I understand that one of the main Decepticons in "Transformers 2" is a "hot blonde girl with a giant tongue."

That is all...

WOWI... OH?

[Green Light]So Wowio are paying their third quarter payments before their second quarter payments, due to some financial nonsense over their "acquisition" by Platinum.

Yes, it is a little bit odd.

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]"City Of God"

"Joker"

FRAZZLED PUBLISHER

[Green Light]Frazetta Comic came to the Comic Book Industry Alliance forum looking for input on their line of books through Image, featuring stories based on Frank Frazetta works, with covers by Frazetta. Or some of them at least.

Each retailer stated that they hated the 2:1 cover system, where retailers received half the books with a Frank Frazetta cover, and half without.

Now multiple covers is, or at least was, a way to get customers to buy two copies of the same title. And by splitting orders 50/50, to get retailers to up orders so they knew they'd get enough copies of the cover they wanted more, and would then put enough copies on the shelf so that customers would find copies to buy.

In theory.

In this case, retailers told Frazetta Comics that they cut orders, because they can't sell the non-Frazetta cover. At all.

After a little to-and-fro-ing, the publisher agreed to change publishing policy so that each cover could be ordered separately, starting with their "Silver Warrior" mini-series. And there was much retailer rejoicing and promises of increased orders.

Until solicitations were printed and it was clear that it hadn't happened - which was the first Frazetta Comics had heard of it. It seemed the change had been made too late for the first issue, though it was in place for issue 2. Retailers replied that they could only order issues of a mini-series to reflect their orders of issue 1.

Which were, because of the split cover issue, likely to be low.

Frazetta Comics left in a huff.

In e-mail Frazetta Comics told me, "I asked Image about resoliciting the book, it would screw up a lot of things...but we're still in the process of figuring out our options. And if we go into a second printing they will be all be Frazetta covers, just like the Death Dealer series."

"We're not walking away covering our ears and eyes here. We want to make things work for everyone, Frazetta Comics is the middle man here, Image Comics is the publisher and we have to work with Image to make things right...and WE ARE moving in that direction."

And if that doesn't work with retailers, Frazetta Comics will just have to send the Death Dealer their way.

So remember, if you want a copy of "Silver Warrior", you'd be best to order it. Now.

CAMPBELL SOAP

[Yellow Light]A Gutterite e-mails to report that Bruce Campbell atteneded a recent comics convention in Plaxo, Texas. But when said Gutterite arrived with a few "Army Of Darkness" comics to get signed, Campbell refused. He told the Gutterite that publishers Dynamite "were crooks and could not be trusted." And that basically they used his likeness without permission for the

comics, with various head-shots taken from various magazines and movies without his consent.

This attitude seems to be corroborated by another person at another con last March in Philadephia, who spent $30 and waited 4 hours in line to receive similar... "

Nick Barrucci of Dynamite responded to enquiries made by this column, replying, "We are baffled by Mr. Campbell's remarks regarding Dynamite's AOD comics. The fan favorite series is licensed and approved by the Studio. Since we are just a licensee we are unaware of what issues Mr. Campbell may have of the licensing of the 'Ash' character, but just like the Star Wars actors who played the characters, the studio ends up with the rights to the characters. He is more than welcome to contact us directly and perhaps we can help with this. We're more than happy to try and help him if we can. We feel very bad for the fans who were turned away from having an autograph of such a great actor. The fans can drop me a line personally and we will send them a care package. My e-mail address is nick@dynamicforces.com"

REASONS TO LOVE WARREN AND AVATAR, ONE, TWO, THREE.

[Green Light]It'a a wonderful combination. Currently we have "Aetheric Mechanics," a graphic novella from Avatar about Victoriana cyberpunk, "Freakangels" an online continuing graphic narrative that is 100% Ellis and 100% free. And "No Hero," a monthly Avatar series that's terribly, terribly Zenith. A mid-seventies UK TV superhero series in comics form with a little ultraviolence.

It's all a long way from "Dark Blue."

ODDS AND SODS

[Green Light]Bloody hell it's actually happening. "Watchmensch" by me and Simon Rohrmuller.

Coming out from Brain Scan for March. Anyone fancying colouring the cover in the next couple of days? There's a Previews deadline coming up!

Alex De Campi (Smoke, Ket & Mouse, Boo) has a new music video out for Manda Rin's "Guilty Pleasure". Spike Milligan meets Barbie Girl.

There's an upcoming graphic novel based on the serial killers William Burke and William Hare

Travelling Man Newcastle have got a Mike McKone/Doug Braithwaite signing on Friday from 4pm.

Gosh Comics are hosting the first two parts of a Kevin O'Neill interview.

And Rick Veitch has been having dreams about Alan Moore then talks about his brain.

Every now and then some Coastal Americans say "Oh Rich, Wise White Man From Across The Pond, What Is Good On British TV So That I Can Get An Up On My Fellow Anglophiles And Be Terribly Smug When They Bring Up Something They Saw On BBC America And I Can Say "Actually I Already Have The DVD And Anyway It Wasn't On BBC Originally, It Was On Channel 4 Or Some Such""

I'm glad you asked.

Charlie Brooker's "Dead Set", a TV zombie horror mini-series on the set of Big Brother and made by the people who actually make Big Brother. And absolutely wonderful. The UK Big Brother presenter Davina McCall not only has a chilling and poignant death scene, but becomes the most convincing and scary zombie of the lot. Previously, her greatest acting accomplishment was on a TV ad for hair dye talking to an invisible mother. So there's that. And it's just come out so you'll really be ahead of the curve. As has "Lost In Austen" is also quickly on DVD. "Lost In Mars" meets "Pride And Prejudice". Jump on. Also not enough of you have made enough of a fuss about "The Thick Of It", which could glibly be described as "The West Wing" meets "The Office" but it's better than both. It's better than most things. It's close to "The Wire", so you know. It's good.

Oh and I messed up the Captain Britain Omnibus link last week. Try here instead. Yeah, that's the bunny.

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:  comic prices, iron man viva las vegas

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