Lying In The Gutters

Mon, February 2nd, 2009 at 3:00pm PST | Updated: February 3rd, 2009 at 4:13pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 195

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 and could do with stamping on. Amber indicates I think there is a bias involved in the telling 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. But it's still quite possibly wrong.

Nevertheless, do remember, Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced. Please don't shoot the messenger.

LONDON UNDER SNOW

[Green Light]Planes grounded, lorries jack knifing, public transport cancelled, mass stay-at-homes... absolute chaos...

No news yet if this week's comics to the UK have been delayed.

I may well walk 13 miles to work tomorrow through a blizzard. Will Twitter as I go.

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]Greg Horn Emma Frost cover.

Playboy pinball machine.

Did Horn license the image? Did Marvel? Or did Hefner steal it when he swapped places with Stan Lee last year?

And an advisory to all swipers and swipees out there...

EVIDENCE OF A SECOND SHOOTER

[Green Light]So who wrote "Legion Of Superheroes" #50?

At the time Jim Shooter said, said "It's a drag, but I get to finish most of my story. It would have finished in Issue #54, but Issue #50 is going to be a 30-page story, and I'm hoping people will be intrigued enough that they'll want to finish the story. So we'll see" and also "I think canceling the book is a graceful way of getting rid of me. I complain too much and too loudly" and is reported as saying that “The Legion of Super-Heroes” #50 would provide a resolution to the Universal Annihilation War, the epic battle he had planned for the conclusion of his first arc. “Pretty much everything I did was planned from the beginning”

The solicitations from that last issue read:

THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #50
Written by Jim Shooter
Art and cover by Francis Manapul & Livesay
It’s the final issue! The climactic conclusion of the Universal Annihilation War is here and every Legionnaire, every reservist and even the United Planets’ Young Heroes battle to save existence. Also featuring the return of Cosmic Boy, the death of a longtime Legionaire and a gorgeous wraparound cover!
FINAL ISSUE On sale January 28 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The replaced writer was one Justin Thyme and the artists were Ramon Bachs and Livesay.

"Justin Thyme" is a common comics pseudonym, often indicating multiple input from a variety of creators and editors to get the book out of the door. Other examples include art for "Excalibur: Weird War III," colouring a number of Crossgen titles and inking "Black Panther."

The planned climatic story with Pricess Projectra being the Big Bad has gone. The return of Cosmic Boy? Gone. The death of a Legionnaire? Gone. The appearance of every Legionnaire, reservist and the Young Heroes? All gone. Resolution to Universal Annhiliation War? Gone. Oh and the story is also only 22 pages long. It does, however, have the wraparound cover.

At the very least, this comic should be returnable.

Replaced-artist Francis Manapul, who had previously received back handed compliments from Shooter, wrote to the Legion World, "I wished I had been able to say something about the last issue sooner but it's not my place to do so. But I will tell you all that we were not pushed off the book. We chose to leave, both for entirely different reasons. I'm not going to claim to know why Jim left, I'm sure he had his reasons. As for why I left, plain and simple, new opportunities arose for me which demanded my immediate attention."

ME, I'M WATCHING THE WATCHMEN

[Green Light]"Tales From The Black Freighter & Under The Hood." The spinoff DVD from "Watchmen," an animated version of the pirate comic that mirrors much of the plot and motivation of the main story, and a live action version of the biography of the early days of the Minuteman.

I've ordered my copy. Have you?

Probably better than the motion comic.

So why does the "International" version of the Watchmen trade feature a cast shot, rather than the smiley face close up of the standard version, that serves as the first panel to the book? Especially when international accounts complain that they sell les copies because of it, and when given a choice, everyone plumps for the Smiley face cover?

Could it be the legal involvement of the Smiley Corporation, who own the trademark in the UK and other territories... but not the US?

In the newly revised version of "The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore", a more recent interview with Alan is included, covering his more recent problems with DC over “V For Vendetta,” “League” and “Watchmen.” One aspect covered is the movie novelisation of “V for Vendetta” by friend/mentor-of-Alan-but-no-relation, Steve Moore. And that Alan Moore believes that a final act against him by DC was the cancellation of the “Watchmen” movie novelization by Steve Moore, at a time when Steve was financially in need.

The movie comes out 4th March in some European countries and the 6th of March in the UK and US... anyone else fancy a trip to Belgium?

"Watchmensch" will be carried by Target, it seems. After comic shops get it, obviously.

ONE FINAL DAY?

[Yellow Light]Is "Final Crisis" DC's "One Last Day?" Just as a third of Marvel's Spider-Man readers stopped buying Spidey comics after Peter Parker sold his marriage to the devil, so to DC appear to be dealing with a mini-rebellion. While not apparent as much online, retailers have told me about longtime readers so incensed by "Final Crisis" that they have stopped their DCU books. The complaints usually involve an abscence of comprehension, a sense of condescension and a huge lack of cohesion.

Me, I thought it had pretty pictures.

SCHRECK TOO

[Yellow Light]So. Bob Schreck's departure from DC Comics has caused much Gutterati comment.

The politics at DC are byzantine, and depend upon power bases built up over time over books, creators and lines. Bob Schreck was basically parachuted in at a senior level bringing in and maintaining creators such as Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, Matt Wagner and more, which threatened many existing fiefdoms.

I'm told that Bob never expected to stay as long as he did at DC Comics, and basically stepped in when Diana Schutz turned the job down after being aggressively headhunted. And since arriving he has repeatedly stated that he didn't expect to be long at DC. Eventually, he was right.

There was editorial conflict between Bob Schreck and Dan DiDio early on, indeed DiDio stated that he wanted to do his own continuity-free line “All Star"-like line in conflict with Bob's books from Grant Morrison and Frank Miller.

His move to Vertigo was as a result of clashes with DC Editorial within the DCU, and was seen by some as keeping Karen Berger’s kingdom at DC in check - or Karen keeping Bob in check. But with new Vertigo books continuing to lose money, personalities continuing to clash, and Karen Berger's position assured (longstanding high profile brand line, reinvention of the mainstream comics market) a peace-of-a-sorts and a demonstration of cut-backs was achieved by showing Bob the door.

NEW CUT

[Green Light]Congratulations to Dave Elliot and Radical for winning the Diamond Gem Best New Publisher Award!

Now publish my stuff.

DONATION OBLIGATION

[Green Light]Last year, under tragic circumstances, comics studio manager for Glass House Graphics Michelle Phillipes lost her child after considerable surgery, and found herself in the situation where the hospital wouldn't release the body until medical fees had been paid.

Glass House, other companies and private individuals donated money. Les Dabel was one of many who sent an e-mail round to many people encouraging them to donate, and stating that he was donating $500 to $1000 himself.

However, despite reminders, that money didn't arrived.

The hospital did choose to release the body after discovering Michelle had professional friends, but she is still struggling after being chased for hospital fees.

The original thread started here and Michelle's sister Jinky added the Dabel information here.

Les Dabel has now informed me that a cheque has indeed been sent to Michelle which should help her out hugely.

Anyone else who can make a donations, can do so here.

DIAMOND MOON

[Green Light]So what are the likely effects of the current Diamond order changes? Here's a Top Ten.

1) The rise of other distributors such as Haven, KaBlam and United Comics, as more retailers are forced to open multiple distribution accounts so as to keep certain books they favor in stock, or to make reorders.

2) More successful Image titles, a brokered publisher able to sustain lower-selling titles and continual "Offer Again" listings without falling foul of Diamond's new policies which will affect competing titles.

3) According to Bill Schanes last week, exclusive non-brokered publishers, being allowed to solicit Diamond-rejected listings with competing distributors, which will increase #1. And next time exclusives are renewed, some very different contracts to be signed.

4) The reduction in the importance of Diamond's statistics. Potentially not reflecting enough of the market to be significant.

5) The increase in publisher sales of titles at conventions and online, now that Diamond can't be relied upon to keep selling titles and now that #4 is a factor.

6) The increase of publisher-to-retailer direct sales. In fact some retailers will find better direct deals than they have before.

7) Even with these new revenue streams for publishers, Diamond was such an effective, national system of distribution, using Marvel and DC to reach the parts other distributors couldn't reach, non-brokered publishers will see a reduction in overall sales and profits. So expect more layoffs, less books and a smaller industry.

8) For brokered publishers, this is the Golden Age. DC, Dark Horse, Image, not content with having their own special favored place at the front of Previews and in Marvel's case, a separate magazine entirely, now Diamond will be removing stacks of listing space from indie publishers whose drip-drip-drip solicitations take away much needed sales from X-Men.

9) Lots of "Diamond won't distribute Comic X even though it's award-winning/has been recognized by some arty body." Hell, I'll probably run a bunch. A few "Diamond wouldn't distribute Comic X but now it's an Image book, they put it on the cover" stories as well.

10) A Diamond that survives. Indeed, prospers. And a direct market that still needs it.

LONG COMIC FORMAT

[Green Light]Orbital Comics in London have moved into their new premises next to Leicester Square tube station on Great Newport Street. It's an ex-art gallery and it shows.

The shop is big. Long, I mean really long. Look.

It even has its own area for an art gallery.

Wow.

Orbital Manga just round the corner is running a Valentine's Day promotion. Get a picture of you as a couple by a manga-styled artists on February 14th from 2pm. Awwww.

ELLIS FROZEN OVER

[Green Light]Warren Ellis has being releasing small teasing pieces of artwork for his upcoming and long awaited Avatar book "Ignition City".

to go with the released visuls...

In related news, Marvel announced the cancelled-for-now-oh-and-the-first-two-issues-are-returnable update on "newuniversal: Shockfront".

I asked Warren "what up?" and after being deservedly bitchslapped he told me that last year, both his computer and back ups were destroyed, forcing him to priorotise which scripts could be reconstructed.

Expect it back at a later date. There are plenty of pages in hand for when the budget is there again.

Google Docs, Warren. It's the future.

BIRTHDAY TWITTERS

[Green Light]

Brian Wood: NYC people, my birthday: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=45030982503&ref=mf (let me know if link no worky)

Warren Ellis: Dear god, did you just make your birthday event public on Facebook & Twitter? YOU GONNA GET RAPED

Brian Wood: it only comes but once a year

ODDS AND ENDS

Giving Up DC Comics? Scott McCloud moves his next graphic novel to FirstSecond.

My brother-in-law's band Firefalldown have a new single out... Commissioned... and so they get a plug!

Unscrewed, the charity organization set up to help out creators who have been screwed over by publishers... gets screwed over by their treasurer, Beverly Erickson, for the sum of $2000. Anyone know Beverley's whereabouts?

Marvel's Twitter account gets caught out having a pop against "Marvels: Eye Of The Camera" writer Kurt Busiek's DC series "Trinity," before hastily withdrawn.

Lily Allen writes a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Kirsty Macoll's playlist.

When Logos Clash

"Cup O' Slott." Really? Was that the best name they could come up with? How about "One Slott One Cup?"

Ethan Van Sciver, Problem, Solution and the power of communication to resolve an issue...

Move Comics, Get Comics

"Crutch?" Ooh, get her,

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:  swipe file, legion of super-heroes, warren ellis

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