Lying In The Gutters

Tue, December 30th, 2008 at 11:28am PST | Updated: December 30th, 2008 at 11:51am

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 190

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.

THE NINTH ANNUAL RUMOUR AWARDS

[Oh - The Ninth Annual Rumour Awards is a satire by LYING IN THE GUTTERS, published on Comic Book Resources, and is not intended maliciously. LYING IN THE GUTTERS has invented all names and situations in its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody (permitted under Hustler Magazine v. Fallwell, 485 US 46, 108 S.Ct 876, 99 L.Ed.2d 41 (1988)). Comic Book Resources makes no representation as to the truth or accuracy of the following information.]

Firstly, my South Bank Christmas Cracker Hallelujah video for you all - and an explanation to Americans what a Christmas Cracker is.

And now... the 2008 Rumour Awards. Prepare with the last eight years worth first

Your host is Jonathan Ross, the UK's most famous comics fan, and best paid TV and radio presenter, currently on a six month suspension from the BBC for swearing at Fawlty Tower's Manuel on an answerphone. You think I'm making this up.

We join the ceremony as everyone has settled down, drinks and drugs are flowing, and the awards have begin.

This year's rumour awards are sponsored by "Watchmensch." Please ask your local comics retailer to order a copy from the current Previews, page 244 from Brain Scan, even if it's only out of curiosity.

ROSS: What a year it's been ladies and gentlemen, what a year it's been. Especially for comics and films. When Mark Millar's "Wanted" beat Marvel's "Hulk" at the box office, when "Iron Man" showed us that you didn't need to be faithful to the comic as long as you were funny. And where Fwank Miller showed us that all you needed to succeed was to not be shit. Hence the box office figures this week. Sowwy Fwank.

The first awawd is for TWATTISH DECISION OF THE YEAR. Only comics I'm afwaid, nominating Sawah Palin, expecting Amy Winehouse to perform in a competent manner or sweawing at a national tweasure live on the wadio doesn't count. Sadly.

To pwesent the award, Wob Liefeld, who once turned down selling a small fraction of his comics company to New Line Cinema for ten million dollars or all of it to Acclaim for thirty million, when today you could pick it up for the price of summer crossover.

ROB: Thank you Jonathan. And what did the BBC suspension cost you?

ROSS: Not quite two million pounds.

ROB: Well then. And what a year for twattish decisions it's been, and I don't mean Image not making me a partner again.

The nominations are... Marvel and DC both nixing plans to bring the perfectionist pirate archivists in house, instead letting them continue to create pixel perfect illegal digital comics for free, every week. Marvel for comic shop sales on Spider-Man titles finally sliding

below pre-"Brand New Day" sales. The Dabel Brothers for delaying payments to creators, allowing Marvel to exercise a clause to gain all Dabel's hard-fought license rights, instantly. DC for withdrawing and pulping a copy of "Action Comics" because it was unclear whether Clark was drinking a bottle of beer or root beer - when the most recent movie had seen Superman chugging with Jimmy Olsen - and then replacing it with the shittiest designed Soda Pop label in existence. And Marvel again for initially making all their digital comics instantly accessible without subscription, including all different layers, by simple manipulation of the URL.

And the winner is... DC Comics for the Root Beer Debacle! So much cost for so little gain!

ROSS: Sadly Paul Levitz could not be here as he is cuwwently getting dwunk in a bar. On soda pop. Thank you Wob! Next up... the TURNING DOWN THE BEATLES AWARD. Who wejected or dismissed the very thing that could have brought them fortune? To pwesent the award is a pewsonal fwiend, Joe Quesada, who tuwned down the chance for Marvel to publish Twansformers comics, before Pat Lee would make it the best selling comic in the industry for many months.

QUESADA: Yeah and where is Pat Lee right now?

ROSS: In Hong Kong.

QUESADA: Good, I'll let some friendly bounty hunters know. The nominations for this award are... DC, who dropped the "Elfquest" series and the movie rights that went with it, just before parent company Warner Bros decided it wanted the movie rights, which cost them a whack of cash more than if DC had kept on to "Elfquest." DC Comics again for rejecting Mike Carey's superhero submissions, leading him to move to Marvel and end up writing "X-Men." Warners letting Joss Whedon walk away from "Wonder Woman." DC Comics again for stopping a Sandman 20th Anniversary project from happening with Neil Gaiman. And Eminem for turning down the "Wanted" movie that would probably have done his career all sorts of goodness in hindsight.

But the winner is,.. DC Comics for "Elfquest." Couldn't have happened to a nicer company.

ROSS: Sadly Paul Levitz cannot be here, as he is cuwwently involved in a Live Action Wole Playing session deep in a New York forest, dwessed in chain mail and wielding a plastic sword twice his height. Thank you, Joe.

JOE: Oh it's been my pleasure. Give my love to Andrew Sachs.

ROSS: Stop it. To pwesent the BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU AWARD is Jon Layman, who famously spoke out about DC's treatment of the "Authority" comic book series under Mark Millar, before finding himself summawily sidelined by DC...

LAYMAN: Before I continue with this charade, Jonathan, may I point out that I work very successfully in video games now.

ROSS: You may.

LAYMAN: Thank you. The judges rejected John Byrne, for his continuing attacks on Marvel, DC and Image as it's all so predictable, and I persuaded them not to mention the problems I had with Dynamite on Millarworld, so the nominations are... Grant Morrison for throwing his editors under a bus for the continuity mismatches between "Countdown: Arena," "Death of The New Gods" and "Final Crisis." Mark Waid for talking openly about DC's treatment of Bart Allen. Forbidden Planet London for kicking a visiting Mark Millar out of the shop for eating a cheese sandwich, weeks before he was due to sign there. And DJ Coffman for not getting the reversion rights to "Hero By Night" properly sorted before he started to point out that they hadn't paid him.

ROSS: And the winner is..?

LAYMAN: The winner is... Grant Morrison! For not only having a go, but prospering and continuing at the very company whose hand he bit! What's his secret?

ROSS: He models underwear and smokes dwugs.

LAYMAN: Damn! I smoked underwear and modelled drugs.

ROSS: No wonder DC fired you. Next up is VISUAL OF THE YEAR and so many to choose from! The award is pwesented by Fwank Cho, whose visuals have littered many an award. Usually asked to provide sexy images for publishers, and when providing just that, finds them rejected or bowlderised. Indeed I've often had a cwafty little Fwank over one or two of his pieces. Tell me Fwank, could you draw me in a naked sexy pose?

CHO: You? No. Your wife? In a second.

ROSS: My wife is busy making “Kick Ass" with Matthew Vaughn.

CHO: That's what they all say. So many nominations this time. Could it be the Italian far right wing party that decided to use Frank Miller art to promote its neo-fascist policies?

Or could it be an oldie but goldie, Larry Young, aged 16, promoting the first “Star Trek" movie

Then there were Dave Sim's plans for Valentine's Day

And the anti-Muslim rhetoric of "Pigman!"

Was it sign makers taking a break and inadvertently reviewing Will Smith's latest film?

Or possible editorial's instructions to digital artists "Black with White Stars" that remained on an issue of "Serenity?"

Then there were the strip club booths at WizardWorld.

And the Army booths for cosplayers.

Marvel advertising downloadable comics on pirate site Isohunt.

The Obama Goatse t-shirt...

Megan Fox auditioning at Aspen for Fathom.

Marvel UK kids version of "Civil War."

Woss "Doctor Strange."

ROSS: I find that comment tewwibwy insulting.

CHO: What? Anyway, there was DC Pre Press hiding after the Bad Batman incident.

A certain bit of San Diego stretching.

ROSS: That's what I look like in the morning...

CHO: Or even our illustrious gossipmonger Rich Johnston interviewing Gwyneth Paltrow at the “Iron Man" Premiere... with an iron...

But no. The one visual this year that will stand the test of time is from an issue of "Mighty Avengers." Featuring the ultimate portrayal of the grand, dignified, power mad monarch that is Doctor Doom.

Or Beavis and Butthead your call.

ROSS: Brian Bendis is unable to accept his award as he is nuts deep in a papier mache doll of Jessica Jones made up of personally pulped issues of "Alias," using his own very special binding agent. Onto SPECULATION OF THE YEAR, where we look back at the success (or lack of) of the Lying In The Gutters Speculation Corner. We have Michael Dean, ex investigative journalist of “The Comics Journal," reduced to comics speculator analysis to fund his growing (yet fictional) hewoin habit. Michael?

DEAN: Jonathan. Back in March, LITG tipped the "Buffy The Vampire Lesbian" #12... cover price $2.99, eBay price 99c. So apart from an initial burst of interest, not much joy there.

ROSS: Damn. I bought five hundwed. Ah well, at least I got some pleasure out of them.

DEAN: Your own papier mache doll?

ROSS: Exactly.

DEAN: As for "Young Liars" and "House Of Mystery," the same story there I'm afraid. DC even reprinted them both together in a flip book, but to no avail. And then there was "DC Universe 0".

ROSS: Oh that was just twenty-five cents. That had to have made a pwofit.

DEAN: Oh indeed, it did, LITG tipped that one well. Cover price 25c, eBay price 99c.

ROSS: That's a 400% profit! Beat that Madoff!

DEAN: February had LITG tip "Kick Ass" #1

ROSS: Ah that's more like it! A comic vewy close to my heart, as the money the film it will make will offset what I lost this year. As long as I can sneak it out of my wife's purse.

DEAN: Cover price $2.99, eBay price $7.99.

ROSS: This is good, this is good... Damn, if only I hadn't made a papier mache doll out of them as well.

DEAN: But LITG's real success came with pointing out relatively obscure IDW book "Locke And Key."

ROSS: Never heard of it.

DEAN: Written by Joe Hill.

ROSS: Never heard of him.

DEAN: Stephen King's son.

ROSS: Stephen who?

DEAN: Issues 1-6, cover price $24, eBay price $60. For that surprising result, "Locke And Key" wins Speculation Of The Year.

ROSS: Thank you Michael. Here's a small bag of hewoin.

DEAN: Thank you, Jonathan.

ROSS: But watch out, it is terribly more-ish. Next up, a prize I am very familiar with, THE HIRING, FIRING AND PUSHING OUT WITH A BIG STICK LINE AWARD. Pwesenting the award is blogger and new Marvel writer Valerie D'Orazio

VALERIE: Before I start, Jonathan, I want to make the brave, outspoken statement that I am against child pornography and I don't care who knows it. Sometimes you just have to make a stand on positions of conscience and take the criticism.

ROSS: Very brave of you Valerie.

VALERIE: I know. Now being pushed out of a certain company is something I'm familiar with, but this year quite a few people have felt the same experience. The nominations include Chuck Dixon, removed from DC projects, making it crystal clear that it was all Dan DiDio's doing. "DC, currently, is run from the top down in a way that makes Jim Shooter’s aegis at Marvel look like a hippie commune." And we all know how Marvel hate hippies.

Also nominated is John Nee, a senior DC exec involved in exploiting DC properties outside of the company. His absence was keenly felt in the furor over the non-happening "Wonder Woman" and "JLA" movies. Joining DC as part of the Wildstorm team, his departure was in the wake of Scott Dunbier's dismissal and Jim Lee's focus away from comics.

Of course it's not all DC. Wizard continued to fire people and replace them with junior staff and/or unpaid volunteers. These included senior staffers Rob Felton and Martha Donato after they went behind their new boss' back to report him, to find themselves dismissed in the process. One list earlier in the year included Alejandro Arbona, Pat McCallum, Brent Fishbaugh, Thorin McGee, Jeremy Smith, Rick Marshall, Sean Collins, Suzzee Uy, Jeff Walker, Mel Caylo, Karl Cramer, Rob Felton, Jim Silver, Savas Abadsidis, Martha Donato and Kiel Phegley.

Wizard Editor In Chief Brian Cunningham found himself out, only to be parachuted into DC Comics at a high editorial post.

Then of course there was the continual lack of hiring female creators at supposedly-female-friendly Vertigo Comics. As Pia Guerra left with the conclusion of "Y The Last Man," Cecil Castellucci joined as the "JANES" books from Minx were swallowed up by Vertigo. The popular theory goes that while Vertigo has a number of female editorial types, they do rather enjoy playing with their boys and don't want to let too many women in to spoil the party.

There was the hiring of Scott Dunbier by his old Wildstorm friends at IDW, which has already seen a number of A listers and prominent creators joining the company.

And finally, the joint entry of Mark Waid and James Robinson. A politically disastrous Superman pitch from Waid, Morrison, Millar and Peyer years ago, led to Mark Waid being told he'd never write a Superman monthly book, his lifelong dream. And when Dan DiDio and James Robinson fell out and Robinson walked off, Waid was finally offered the position only to have it cruelly snatched from him after Robinson and Dan DiDio made up.

And the winner is... Mark Waid and James Robinson!

ROSS: James Wobinson couldn't be here tonight as he has better things to do, and Mark Waid shot the messenger who asked him, just to see him die, Well, that's one way to get your wocks off. Next, the award for CENSORSHIP (OR LACK OF) OF THE YEAR is pwesented tonight by Dave Sim, never knowingly censored in his life.

SIM: Do you think I'm a misogynist?

ROSS: Sorry?

SIM: I won't talk to anyone unless they sign a sworn statement saying that I'm not a misogynist.

ROSS: Are you a misogynist?

SIM: Did a woman tell you that?

ROSS: The nominations, please.

SIM: The first nomination is for the return of nipples to the "Tomb Of Dracula" collections, removed from the previous "Essential Tomb Of Dracula." I'm disgusted, frankly, there is no room for nipples these days, it's a feminist conspiracy. Secondly, there's Batman Cacophony, an all ages book from DC Comics that features the Joker offering his bottom to be sexually violated by his rescuer, jokes about the colour of his pubic hair, a scene depicting genital torture and no sign of a Mature Readers tag. That's the homosexual conspiracy there. There's the disappearing issue of "Titans," issue five, completely written and drawn, totally replaced in solicitations with another issue when editor and editor-in-chief Dan DiDio changed his mind. That's the mentallist conspiracy there, it all ties in.

As for visuals, well Frank Cho's original piece for "Ultimates 3"...

...was intended to be self-censored...

But that wasn’t enough for the people who had commissioned him to draw a "sexy" cover. Then there was an issue of "The Twelve"...

...which was severely cut...

I feel its pain. Frank Cho received a second nomination for his "Hulk 100" charity piece, in reference to his "Spider-Man 100" piece with the same level of content, only to find that this time it was unacceptable.

Then there was the "Iron Man" movie, facing criticism that they'd used a photo taken by a fan of the movie set in the actual movie itself, without permission...

But were able to revert to another shot for the DVD.

It's amazing what you can do with computers. I'm told.

The previously awarded Superman Beer Incident was a fine example

You know I published whisky bottles on the cover of "Cerebus" for months, not one complaint. And I also used a lot of words that appeared in "All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder." Of course, while the words weren't successfully censored, certain images were...

Or a memo from Platinum asking for patience for payment, in breach of contract, and asking people to respect the confidentiality aspects was leaked to LITG, it was followed by an e-mail from Helene Pretsky, Executive VP Business Affairs and Counsel, saying "Any reprinting by you of a clearly confidential communication which could only have come into your possession by the original recipient’s breach of confidentiality would demonstrate a complete lack of professionalism as a journalist on your part."

Which is probably the first time Rich Johnston has ever been described as a professional journalist. By anyone. Ever.

And the winner is... "All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder," for possibly creating the greatest variety of responses from retailers - those who were absolutely shocked by what they may have sold to young readers, and those who were absolutely shocked that they didn't get any copies and so couldn't make a killing on eBay.

ROSS: Again, I've got a very sweary paper mache doll somewhere....

SIM: You know, I had Cerebus say all sorts of naughty words, and no one minded until I mentioned that women were sucking voids.

ROSS: Well, the good ones are anyway! Paul Levitz wasn't available to accept the award as he is currently in dwag and very convincing pwosthetics filming an episode of "The L Word." The next award is pwesented by Weginald Hudlin.

GIFFEN: Good evening Jonathan.

ROSS: Can you give us the nominations for SUPERBOY PUNCH OF THE YEAR

REGINALD: I love continuity. Especially the noise it makes as it rips in twain. For crimes against continuity, the nominations are... Doctor Strange suddenly unable to stop a falling plane and being beaten by ninjas, excellent, Red Hulk being able to pick up Thor's hammer and fly with it, just because it's in zero gravity and “Brand New Day" for just, you know, continuing... "Final Crisis"... for relying on continuity to make sense, but contradicting large swathes of continuity in the bargain. It only made sense if you read certain comics, but not others, and "Countdown To Final Crisis" for, you know, not actually countdowning to "Final Crisis"..

And the winner is... "Countdown." But just wait till people see my new Black Panther cartoon!

ROSS: Is he still black.

REGINALD: Yes. But now he's Welsh too!

ROSS: This year's FEUD OF THE YEAR is pwesented by John Byrne again, notable as having more feuds with comic industry people than anyone else, and thereby immune as it would just be boring.

BYRNE: I’ve been thinking this since the various lunatic cells of the IRA began loudly declaring themselves “at war" with Great Britain, imagining immediately what would happen if the British government said “Righty-ho, war it is!" and sent over the RAF to turn Dublin into a smoking crater.

ROSS: Good point.

BYRNE: I am glad this asshole is dead. Sorry for his wife and kids, but relieved they are in no further danger from his lunacy

ROSS: Wight... I'll do this award shall I?

BYRNE: Hispanic and Latino women with blond hair look like hookers to me, no matter how clean or “cute" they are.

ROSS: Okay... the first nomination is for the Bendis vs Gwant Morrison and Gail Simone furore that kicked off on the Bendis board - terribly entertaining, but slightly mollified by all participants declaring themselves to be best buddies immediately afterwards. Pedro Angosto went at Alan Davis on Davis' board over perceived slights to continuity that eventually were revealed to be baseless. Dan Slott decided Newsarama was biased against him, Bryan O'Malley descwibed TokoPop in very acwimonious terms, as did everyone with a TokyoPop contwact when they realised they weren't getting their wights back, DJ Coffman vs Platinum saw the big company change its policies over personal politics then choose not to inform DJ over selling his comic in other media. Coffman also took on Kurtz over sketching Kurtz' characters for $2, Cweators of "Aqua Leung," Paul Maybuwy, Mark Andrew Smith and Paul's girlfriend and Aqua Leung editor Cassandwa Paseley went at each other over cwedits on the book, Patrick Zircher vs John Hickman had a most entertaining bitchfight on the Bendis boards, with Zircher getting a new Bendis login in the process, and the immense spinning of old Blog@Newsarama vs new Blog@Newsarama behind the scenes took over most commentators inboxes for one long, long, scary weekend.

But the winner is... everyone in the entire world vs TokyoPop.

ROSS: Everyone in the entire world was not available to accept this award, so it is claimed by one Jesse Baker, an online poster who claims to repwesent everyone in the entire world instead.

BAKER: Joe Quesada must die!

ROSS: Indeed he must. Next up is LEAK OF THE YEAR, awarded by Dan DiDio, famed for leaking creators stories "accidentally" at convention panels.

DIDIO: Who are you and why am I here?

ROSS: Just wead the words on this card.

DIDIO: I was walking down the street when mysterious men in black grabbed me, threw me into a van and held me down with threats to my life.

ROSS: Just... wead the words.

DIDIO: Do what to the words?

ROSS: This is a gun.

DIDIO: The nominations for LEAK OF THE YEAR are... David Finch for leaking the cancellation of Ultimate titles after "Ultimatum"... at least that wasn't me. Marvel_b0y was an unidentified blogger who could well have been a complete fake. However the Anonymous poster on his comments was, however, the real deal, and spoiled all sorts of "Secret Invasion" plotlines over at Kevin Huxford's SchwappOnline site. I'm in the clear. And... oh dear. Another blogger, calling himself DC Insider who was very much the real deal, posting a number of pieces including the human resources file of a senior DC staffer with allegation of racial and sexual harassment, including towards Valerie D'Orazio. His blog was razed to the ground but, apparently, he is the winner of this award!

The winner is... DC Insider!

ROSS: DC Insider could not be here to weceive his award as he has been scwubbed from the industry's collective memory. The next category is the FAMOUS LAST WORDS AWARD, for people who were proved wrong, terribly wrong, wonderfully wrong, and is pwesented by Nostwadamus.

NOSTRADAMUS: I predicted I'd be doing this you know.

ROSS: Weally?

NOSTRADAMUS: And the eagle shall perish in the blood of the octopus wherein the lightning shall strike thrice. Clear as the day.

ROSS: Now you put it like that. So what is in my future?

NOSTRADAMUS: Death. Despondency, Grief. Destruction. And a subscription to "Time Out" magazine.

ROSS: Ooh I like "Time Out." Now, what were your famous last words?

NOSTRADAMUS: "I shall die tomorrow"

ROSS: And you're still here?

NOSTRADAMUS: It's certainly a surprise, I'll give you that. The nominations are Tom Brevoort in 1995 when he

wrote:

"Harry's dead. Really dead. Really and truly dead. We go so far as to exhume his body in the upcoming 'Legacy of Evil' one-shot.

"And if I ever stoop to having someone clone Harry, or reveal that it was only some genetic duplicate who died, please somebody shoot me."

And for WizardWorld, Grant Morrison is quoted as saying,

"We're going to kick their ass so hard. [Laughs] Marvel had its big year last year with 'Civil War,' which was an amazing event and really changed the Marvel landscape. With 'Secret Invasion,' we've seen the Skrull thing before. We've seen it in the Kree-Skrull War, again in series like the Fantastic Four. They re kind of resting this year. [Laughs] So if you’re a Marvel fan, come over here. There’s only one book to read this summer. It's simple."

Turns out there were several books one had to read, several books one shouldn't, “Secret Invasion" would sell a lot more, and it's almost 2009 and the summer event is still not finished.

And Tom Brevoort again:

"Also, part of going forward is to cease the unending homages to the same three great Spidey stories of the past. So, please, no girl-falling-from-the-bridge, and no lift-the-big-heavy-thing-off-his-back-to-save-Aunt May. Let's stop repeating the story iconography of the past and come up with some new images to stick in the readers' minds."

And a final nomination from Frank Miller on why people shouldn't sell their comics as films.

"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."

And the winner is... Frank Miller!

ROSS: "The Spirit" is in cinemas now

NOSTRADAMUS: But not for long.

ROSS: The next award is MADDEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR and is pwesented by Amy Winehouse.

AMY: I'm not mad you know.

ROSS: I know.

AMY: I'm just... challenged.

ROSS: I can see.

AMY: It's been a challenging year.

ROSS: For all of us. Amy, can I adopt you?

AMY: Well that would definitely kill me (Joke courtesy of Joe Quesada Twitter.) The first nomination is the British government for their response to a petition calling for the knighthood of Alan Moore beginning "The Prime Minister recognises the achievements of Alan Moore " which makes you wonder if Gordon Brown prefers "V For Vendetta" or "From Hell."

ROSS: And what do you pwefer?

AMY: I modelled my life on Halo Jones.

ROSS: Where did you go?

AMY: Out.

ROSS: What did you do?

AMY: Everything. Nasally and intravenously. Talking of "Brown," the second nomination is for "Captain Britain & MI13" which saw Brown fighting alongside Captain Britain against the Skrull invasion. Other nominations include John Byrne’s disgust at a board member's comments days after the poster's mother had died, while the rest of the board threw doubt on the validity of the death. Then there was the internally mooted decision within DC to make “Watchmen" one of the 52 Worlds of the DC Multiverse, before the idea was nixed. The moment when Wizard sent a Facebook friend request to all the people they'd just fired was another, as was the moment when the Iron Man One suit had to be taken away from the Bristol Comics convention because the floor would not support it, Dave Sim's "I'll only read your letter if you sign a sworn statement that I'm not a misogynist" was another highlight as was the moment when a Newsarama interview went all islamophobic on Paul Cornell. Nikki Finke and the entire internet deciding that Dan DiDio was going to be fired despite all actual evidence to the contrary was a hoot. As was Titan Magazine's decision to market "All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder" to kids, leading to radio talkshow outrage. And of course the internally proposed spinoff to "Y The Last Man" at DC Comics without mentioning it to creator and owner Brian K Vaughn.

But the winner is... Wizard's Facebook friend request!

ROSS: No one from Wizard was available to weceive the award as they all kept getting fired as soon as we could ask them. Next is the IMPLAUSIBLY DENIED WUMOUR OF THE YEAR. We knew it was true. They knew it was true. But the denials still flowed. Pwesenting it is serial exaggerator Mark Millar.

MILLAR: I'm not doing it.

ROSS: Yes you are.

MILLAR: I'm at home in bed.

ROSS: No you're not.

MILLAR: I couldn't possibly present the award, I'm on a set on Steven Spielberg's "Unfunnies."

ROSS: Just pwesent the award Millar.

MILLAR: I blame you for the “High School Musical 3" debacle.

ROSS: How was I to know how old they were?

MILLAR: The first nomination was the apparent denial from Superman editor Matt Idelson that James Robinson had walked off Superman... when he had walked off and then walked on again. Next was the denial by Greg Rucka of LITG stories over "Final Crisis" creative conflict as "total and utter bullshit" when there was only a slight exaggeration for effect - and who hasn't done that? Apart from me of course.

ROSS: Of course. How is your Superman book with Bwyan Hitch?

MILLAR: Sold more than anything else this year. And then there were Platinum's repeated assurances that everything was tickety boo.

ROSS: Was it?

MILLAR: No. Then there was my old mucka and co-collaborator Tony Harris on "War Heroes" who tried to cover up an obvious swipe with a posed photo as if he was the real source of the cover art.

I believe him you know. And the winner is... James Robinson!

ROSS: James Robinson couldn't be here to accept his award, but couldn't think of a convincing reason why not. So he just told us that he'd spwained his eyebrow raising it in an iwonic fashion.

Now we come onto the NOT PAYING AWARD. This year was the year that not only did publishers screw over cweators, but cweators decided to screw over publishers. pwesenting the awards are MVC's Val Staples. Now Val, you had payment problems with CrossGen and as a result, creators had a problem with you.

STAPLES: Yes, but I managed to pay everyone off, Jonathan.

ROSS: I wish the BBC had done that with me. So, who are the nominations?

STAPLES: The nominations are Wowio... for after being taken over or taking over Platinum, paying the much lower third quarter payments to creators while still hanging onto the more profitable second quarter. Speed Racer Enterprises for not paying Len Strazewski and other creators for "Speed Racer" comic reprints. Dave McKean for his film "Luna" which, when collapsed, saw actors having to go to their union to try and get paid. Romulo Soares, Mat Nastos, Devil's Due, the Dabel Brothers. Chuck Saterlee for keeping all advertising payments made to Markosia for himself, stealing thousand of dollars of stock and then disappearing. And Josh Hoopes for first screwing over artists, then screwing over publishers like TokyoPop, Desperado, Asylum and Penny Farthing by posing as Art Adams. And Marvel for a year on, still not paying creators for their downloaded work in the Marvel DCU. And the winner is...

ROSS: Get those legal writs ready...

STAPLES: Josh Hoopes!

ROSS: Josh Hoopes was unable to fetch his award, as he is currently in hiding from the law. Next up is PWODUCT PLACEMENT OF THE YEAR, pwesented by Jen Contino from Comicon Pulse, as she was trying to interview Rich Johnston by AOL Instant Messenger while he was writing this.

CONTINO: Hello everyone.

ROSS: Hello Jen.

CONTINO: Hello mum!

ROSS: Time to pwesent the awards.

CONTINO: I want to be famous! No one reads Comicon Pulse. This is the most readers I'll get all day!

ROSS: That's not true, Jen, I read it.

CONTINO: Really?

ROSS: Whenever Wich links to that is.

CONTINO: Like today!

ROSS: That's wight! And remember, you've got more readers than the Old Blog@Newsarama people have now.

CONTINO: Yes, where are they anyway?

ROSS: Matt Brady ate them. It was twagic.

CONTINO: First up were the "Lost" ads placed in Marvel comics for an unknown sum and in some cases making no sense whatsoever. A bit like the show itself. Then there were the appearance of Stephen Colbert, both the man in "Amazing Spider-Man" and plenty of mentions of his presidential campaign, all in the hope of getting a mention on The Colbert Report. Which was successful, but only with the expense of getting plugs for DC Comics and Superman in the process. And then there was the comic shop in "Heroes" which, coincidentally, was full of copies of comics written by "Heroes" scribe Jeph Loeb.

And the winner is... Jeph Loeb! Woo! I've met Jeph Loeb and everything. I'm so excited.

ROSS: Jeph couldn't be here this evening because he's spending his nights in tears over being fired from "Hewoes."

CONTINO: But... but I wanted to meet Jeph Loeb again! Where is he? Bring me the head of Jeph Loeb!!!!

ROSS: Back in the box, Jen. And now the award for the CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE, the comics pwedicted to be cancelled by LITG, most surprisingly cancelled and indeed wevealed to be cancelled before they could even be confirmed. To pwesent this award is Keith Giffen, who has officially had more comics cancelled than anyone else.

GIFFEN: That's a little unfair.

ROSS: But twue.

GIFFEN: Indeed. First up is Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits Too" and "Defective Detective" as well as Peter Milligan's "Dan Dare" from Virgin that were never even announced before the company went tits up. LITG announced the cancellations of "Simon Dark," "Batman Confidential," "Blue Beetle," ... ha! Sorry, that was unprofessional of me. The missing issue 5 of "Teen Titans," the truncated "The Family Dynamic" truncated, the Ultimate books, to be replaced, the Batbooks, temporarily, Jim Shooter's "Legion," and "DCU Elementary"...

It's got to be the last one hasn't it... and the winner is... "DCU Elementary!" We never knew you.

ROSS: My kids would have loved that.

GIFFEN: Mine, too. Hell, I'd have more kids just so they'd enjoy that.

ROSS: Shame. The award for TYPO OF THE YEAR is pwesented by "X-Force" writer Chris Yost who earlier this year was credited as "Christ Yost"

YOST: Bless you my child, for you have sinned.

ROSS: Have you wead Mark Millar's "Saviour?"

YOST: No.

ROSS: I'm just warning you, that's all.

YOST: The nominations are... the "Avengers Special" which came out as the challenged...

Obviously there was Potty Mouthed Batman... although did you know that on the corrected reprint, someone humorously blacked out the Batman logo on the in house ad for "Trinity."

ROSS: I did not know that.

YOST: Because I am God and you are not.

ROSS: I said to stop that.

YOST: Then there was the dustjacket of the Brian Bendis "Daredevil Omnibus" with a little addition to Matt Murdoch's nose.

And from the back of the "Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?" trade paperback, the phrase "Ain't It Cool News has lauded as ‘better than watching a really great hour-long television drama’ when they actually said ‘does feel almost like I'm watching a really good hour-long drama on TV.’"

And the winner is... Potty Mouthed Batman.

ROSS: Paul Levitz could not be available to... wait a minute... here he is! Paul Levitz? Are you really going to accept this award?

LEVITZ: I am, yes.

ROSS: It's a miwacle.

YOST: Told you.

ROSS: Shut up! Get off the stage both of you! The next award is RIPOFF OF THE YEAR, pwesented by Josh Hoopes! You are here after all! We've got an award for you around here somewhere

HOOPES: Are you the police?

ROSS: No, although people say I sound like Sting.

HOOPES: A police sting?

ROSS: No, just... just, pwesent the awards, okay?

HOOPES: At this time of the economic cycle, we are all feeling the pinch to our pockets. Even I can't scam as many people as I used to. Which makes some companies actions very peculiar indeed.

The nominations are "X-Men: Ghost Boxes" which featured 16 pages of comics for $3.99, although you will be getting used to that soon, the "Absolute League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier" which offered inferior printing quality for more money and for less than half the content of all other Absolute volumes and "Kramer's Ergot" at 95 pages for $125... although at least they were nicely printed.

And the winner is... "Absolute Black Dossier."

ROSS: Paul Levitz? Is he still here? No? Oh, apparently, he's risen with Christ Yost to eternal life. Or however long it will take for the next "All Star Batman And Wobin The Boy Wonder" to come out. Oh by the way, Josh? This is Art Adams.

HOOPES: What?

ADAMS: Pleased to meet you Josh.

(THE NEXT SCENE FEATURING A MIDDLE AGED MAN BEATING DOWN ON A YOUNG THUG BEFORE RIPPING HIS ARMS OFF HAS BEEN REMOVED TO PROTECT THE SQUEAMISH)

ROSS: The next award is SONG OF THE YEAR, pwesented by Heidi MacDonald, famed for her fine singing voice.

HEIDI: Fuck off, Johnston.

ROSS: Heidi, please, there is no call for bad language. After all, I hear you quite like us British gentlemen?

HEIDI: Fuck off, Ross.

ROSS: Fair enough. the nominations please, Heidi.

HEIDI: The first nomination is for Alan Moore's unreleased “Black Dossier" record, but maybe we can judge that when Top Shelf puts it out. Second is MJ Hibbert's "Alan Moore Standing In The Corner Of My Store" and third is Grant Morrison singing in "The Fauves" to SuperFriends cartoons - and the winner is... MJ Hibbert!

ROSS: MJ Hibbert is available to accept his award! MJ!

MJ: Thank you, thanks. Yes, wow. I, wow, yes, thanks. Um. Hey, hey 16K, what does that get you today?

ROSS: A court order, I believe. And finally, to pwesent the WUMOUR OF THE YEAR, we have the writer of Lying In The Gutters and plugger of “Watchmensch," Wich Johnston.

JOHNSTON: Thank you, Jonathan. (DUCKS GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT TOMATOES THROWN BY KURT BUSIEK). It was a big year for rumours. Some are still hanging around on the back burner, such as Paterson Joseph as the next Doctor Who, Tom Baker guest starring in Series Five and Neil Gaiman writing for the show,

ROSS: Any comics wumours at all?

JOHNSTON: A few. The nominations are...the existence of "Unearthing," an illustrated novella by Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins from Top Shelf. The existence of "Underground Railroad" from DC Comics. The cancellation of the Batbooks, the replacement with the biweekly title "Battle For The Cowl," and the replacement of "Robin" and "Nightwing" with other temporary titles. The Batman TV series being used as barter in “Watchmen" film legal negotiations, Simon Pegg as Ant Man, Kieron Gillen writing Avatar comics, Jamie Delano writing pirate comics for Avatar, Mark Bagley on "Batman And Robin," Raymond Briggs working on a new graphic novel about death -- "Turn Out The Lights," Bryan Talbot working on a project with Australian poet Dorothy Porter, the four-weekly contractual demands by DC Comics of its freelancers, the "Trinity" weekly series by Busiek, Niciza and Bagley, IDW getting the "GI Joe" license, "Tamara Drewe" being adapted by the BBC, CB Cebulski writing "Inferno," Valerie D'Orazio writing "Cloak And Dagger," Robert Kirkman joining as an Image partner, the behind the scenes fuss over "Final Crisis," Muriel Gray to write "Doctor Strange," James Robinson on "JLA," James Robinson off Superman, Mark Waid on, Mark Waid off and James back on, Jim Shooter off again, on again, off again, the death of Martian Manhunter, the cancellation of Ultimate titles, Dave Sim's holocaust book – “Judenhaas," confirming that "Kick Ass" had gone into pre production at a time when Hollywood sources were saying it would never be made, written by “Stardust" team Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, directed by Vaughn, and fully financed from his MARV Films company, Stan Lee cited in case against Hilary Clinton over proxy donations, and some Stan Lee/Hilary Clinton backslapping on the record, the cancellation of Jim Shooter's "Legion," his reinstatement and its cancellation again, the replacement by Tony Bedard's version, the curtailment of "The Family Dynamic," DC's non-environmental decision to ally with the timber industry sockpuppet "Sustainable Forestry Initiative" rather than "Forest Stewardship Council," the Dabel Brothers drawing Stephen King's "The Stand" for Random House - who may well be buying them up, Peter Hogan writing new "Tom Strong" for Chris Sprouse and Gene Ha drawing new "Top Ten," Marvel pushing a handful of $3.99 comics to keep the rest at $2.99, the inflation chart of comics, one creator jumping another on the floor of San Diego, the police being called, another creator jumping another creator, in a bar fight, ending with someone being decked by a glass bottle and an onlooker ending up in hospital, adulterous shenanigans in the heights of the comics industry, Zuda Comics getting properties fast tracked to the Cartoon Network, Matt Fraction as the sole writer of "Uncanny X-Men," Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely on "Batman," the scanning in of Alan Moore's "Outbreak Of Violets," Ben Templesmith and Leah Moore working on a "Doctor Who" comic, the "Kick Ass" script review, the first review of "Wanted," the first review of "No Heroics," Ellis and Granov working on an Icon title, cosplayers walking past stabbing crime scenes, Marvel mortgaging their characters to make movies. DC Comics and DC Shoes, "Gears Of War" as the #1 selling title, Joe Ahearne creating "Superpower" for the BBC, the intentional leaking of the "Watchmen" movie to fans to guage the acceptance of its revised ending and Mark Millar having to eat the Superman cape he owned for getting the sales record of "Civil War" wrong.

ROSS: Blimey. And the winner?

JOHNSTON: The Rumour Of The Year had to be the temporary cancellation and replacement of the Batbooks during the "Battle For The Cowl" series, with Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely returning after.

ROSS: But has that all happened yet?

JOHNSTON: Not yet, That's what makes it fun!

ROSS: And as the evning collapses into iwwelevance and incompetence, we bid a fond farewell from the Ninth Annual Wumour Awards. Who the hell knows what they'll do for the tenth one. Do it for weal pwobably. There's a scary thought!

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.

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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

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