Lying In The Gutters

Mon, December 15th, 2008 at 1:47pm PST | Updated: December 15th, 2008 at 1:50pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 188

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.

THERE’S A NEW ISSUE OF BEANWORLD OUT THIS WEEK

[Green Light]There’s a new issue of “Beanworld" on Wednesday/Thursday. From Dark Horse Comics. Stocked by all comic shops that actually like comics.

Yes this is the most important story this week, why do you ask?

FRANK’S BACK ON BATMAN

[Green Light]Grant Morrison is indeed writing a monthly Batman book after “Final Crisis"/"Whatever Happened To…"/ "Battle For The Cowl" and the like have wrapped.

And the penciller?

Get ready.

DC people tell me it’s one Frank Quitely.

Quite, quite excellent. I’ve got a couple of Frank’s art pages from his previous Batbook “The Scottish Connection" hanging in my hall. I doubt I’ll be able to afford any more now.

Yes, he is already working on it. Obviously.

DON’T STICK A DEVIL'S FORK IN IT YET?

[Yellow Light]What’s up with Devil’s Due? On one hand, freelancers are reporting mass sackings, cancelled books and publications on hold… a word with the publisher was in order.

Josh Blaylock tells me, “Yes, I had the extremely shitty task of laying off some key staff and halting the work of many contractors. I will need to bring contractors back, but I could not in good conscience let them keep working and accruing more debt until I knew I'd be able to pay them."

Josh lays this on heavy returns from book stores beginning in November that may well be hitting much of the industry, just that Devil’s Due’s problems are the first visible evidence of this.

Combined with financial issues connected to the current state of the economy, Devil’s Due had to put production on hold for weeks before starting it up again.

Josh tells me, “As of this week we're shipping product again, all be it there will be a few delays between issues of certain titles as artists start working again, and I'm not going to say there won't be any casualties that don't make the cut in the coming months. ‘Hack/Slash,’ ‘Mercy Sparx,’ ‘Halloween,’ ‘I Am Legion,’ ‘Rest,’ ‘Vampire Hunter D’ and others are moving along."

Devil’s Due are also beginning to fill large amounts of existing orders that, combined with their cost reductions, should provide a better revenue stream. Movie decisions concerning “Hack/Slash" and “Drafted" may also help.

Josh tells me, “I can't tell you how dreadful it is to have to let people go during the Holidays, but I think that we will come out of all of this a stronger company for it. The systems and procedures that I created to keep the company running for the past 8 years are still in place, books are still coming out and I'm still at the helm like I've always been."

Better to reign in hell…

SHIVER MY TIMBERS

[Green Light]Last week, LITG looked at the effect that price rises, especially in the UK, might have on the comics marketplace. And wondered if people might start migrating to illegal pirate torrenting sites.

Looks like Marvel is ahead of us. Advertising their Marvel Digital Comics offering… on illegal torrent search engines like IsoHunt.

Would a better copy line be “Stop getting it for free, click here and pay for it!"

Okay, it was probably a network wide advertising buy, not specifically the torrent site, but still, media buyers are meant to control that sort of thing.

Or maybe “Every time you download a comic, a Marvel intern dies."… “Be a superhero… don’t torrent!"… “Make Mine Legal!"

I know of a number of Brits who are deciding to deal directly with US comic shops, shipping comics air mail, and despite economies of scale, it can work out cheaper than using Diamond UK as a middle man. Of course, that is if you can get what you want. The hardcover “Civil War" from Marvel isn't in stock at Amazon.com yet there are plenty from Panini/Marvel UK at Amazon.co.uk. And with the crashing pound, look for a number of US customers to start dealing direct with UK publishers.

IT DAZZLES, IT EXCITES

[Green Light]It’s been a long-standing joke that the only Marvel character Kieron Gillen, author of “Phonogram," really wants to write, is Dazzler.

I understand he gets his chance, with Sara Pichelli on art, in a back up strip in “X-Men Manifest Destiny" #5 in January.

HARD BOILED FAIRY STORIES

[Green Light]Fables" gets the deluxe hardcover treatment - sell your trade paperbacks on Amazon… NOW!

HEROES IN A HARD COVER

[Green Light]Next year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series. The original first eleven issues and individual character solo one shots, long out of print, are being collected in hardcover for May publication from Mirage.

This will be accompanied by an Official Handbook To The Mirage Universe style book, profiling Turtle and spinoff characters in all their various forms.

The “Forever War" story from the Archie "TMNT Adventures" comics will be published and completed, written by Steve Murphy who wrote the originals under the pseudonym of Dean Clarrain, with art by Chris Allan.

A Donatello mini-series to close out the yearly individual Tales series is entitled "Brain Thief."

Archie Comics will also reprint the original three-issue mini-series from Michael Dooney in their manga trade size with all new colouring.

PUGH. PUGH. BARLEY MCGREW.

[Green Light]“Hotwire." A series that started from Tundra way back when, by Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh. And now redone, rejigged and refinished by Pugh for Radical. Starting in February, I have the first three issue covers.

Can’t wait!

SWIPE FILE

[Yellow Light]Division 18" and “The Accountants."

POWER IN A UNION

[Green Light]"Cla$$War" was a superhero comic book from Com.X years ago that had the unfortunate habit of having its artists stolen repeatedly by Marvel Comics and, as a result, took quite a while to be published.

Years later, there is a final hardcover collection of "Cla$$War" with a new prologue by original artist Trevor Hairsine, as well as a collection of companion title "Razorjack" in the upcoming Previews

The prologue is printed in full below.

ALL HANDS ON DECK

[Green Light]Instead of hiring seasonal employees to handle the Wizarduniverse.com online store orders, all Wizard employees have to take a couple hours out from their regular duties everyday to box up items or get more inventory. Editors, designers, upstairs business people, all doing the work of warehouse workers.

And today was an all warehouse day!

Apropos of nothing a year and a half ago, it appeared that my IP address was banned from the WizardWorld forum after reporting on Wizard magazine, and I noted this in the column. It turns out the IP wasn't banned, but instead it was some kind of spambot glitch. Apologies.

BITS AND BOBS

[Green Light]Tripwire, the British comics magazine that could, is running a Superhero Special in February. Featuring a “Kick Ass" set visit and interviews with Tim Kring, Mark Veirdehen and Bryan Fuller, Paul Cornell, Dave Gibbons (with lots of “Watchmen" stuff), Geoff Johns, Brian Bendis, Robert Kirkman and... me. Bloody hell, they must be desperate. From the same people who brought you “Studio Space," also resolicited by Image for February.

Want "Superman" or "Batman" on your custom Nike trainers? Sorry, no go. "Spider-Man" however is perfectly okay.

But that’s okay, that’s what airforce squadrons are for.

Ladronn. And on. And on.

I understand that after next year, NYCC will no longer be before April. No more fanboys making their way across Manhattan from Starbuck to Starbuck, or cosplayers suffering from frostbite as they shiver in the snow.

Write London comics... and pay for the privilege. I am!

"The Dark Knight" and "Hulk" top the year's most pirated movies! "Iron Man" and "Wanted" nowhere to be seen! Despite the downloads, "The Dark Knight" still managed to gross a billion. And good to see the homegrown "Bank Job" punching above its weight there!

Paul Cornell lets us in on comic book creator recipes, sci-fi writers’ favourite Christmas films, Doctor Who writers’ favourite Christmas music… and more.

NEXT WEEK

[Green Light]Next week sees the Christmas column. And in two weeks the Rumour Awards. You have been warned.

And while I'm at it, a Christmas challenge to comic book websites, webcomics and blogs. Every year most of you lot take Christmas off. Despite the Christmas period being a time where loads of people are looking for fun and entertainment. Hell, the BBC put “Doctor Who" on and get record viewings of the year.

Why don't you see if you can run Christmas Day columns, posts and blogs, and see if you get a similar effect. Write them in advance, automate their posting, press a button if you have to, but do it. If you're going to run Christmas Day columns, strips, pieces, whatever tell me and I'll publish a list with links next week. Let the LITG bump be my Christmas present to you all.

Or be an online Scrooge and post a photo of a humbug.

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:  grant morrison, frank quitely, beanworld, tmnt

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