Lying In The Gutters

Mon, February 9th, 2009 at 2:00pm PST | Updated: February 10th, 2009 at 7:21am

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 196

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.

NEW YORK NAVEL GAZING

[Green Light]Everyone's in New York. I'm not. But that hasn't stopped Brian Bendis from making video threats to shave my head if I come to San Diego.

Hey Brian, maybe as a fundraiser for ACTOR? But if you do, make it a good thorough job. I don't want there to be a few good moments but in the end it's all just a bit patchy and doesn't hold together as an event.

As usual, it's too soon for any big NYCC stories to filter its way to this column. Brian Bendis may have assaulted a cosplayer, Geoff Johns may have drunk his weight in abisinthe, Valerie D'Orazio might have killed Kevin Huxford with her bare hands, Mark Waid may have been nice to someone, I just don't know! I usually start to get people's vague alcohol filtered memories around Thursday when I hear things like "Hey I didn't dream it! Marvel are actually starting up a Marvel Music label." So come back next week for all that.

So what else is going on?

ANNOUNCE MEANT

[Green Light]Someone else not at NYCC is artist Matthew Clark. But on Friday, he teased

DC should be announcing the book I'm working on this weekend at NYCC....which I wish I was there at. =(

So what could it be?

Well they announce the book today.

Mentioned the writer at a DCU panel, talked with him even, even the back-up stories creative team the writers and artist were discussed. Crowds of people were cheering

NO mention of me drawing the book. Nadda.

So pretty pissed off. I've had a few rough months with DC and this really puts the capper on it. I so don't give a fuck anymore, they pretty much broken my spirit. I have waited months for this book starved, had to cancel doctors appointments and skip medications. I've always tried to keep my chin up that it will get better. I guess I was wrong. Wondering what good is it being under exclusive contract?

Hopefully the "getting paid regularly" bit, Matthew. He's drawing "Doom Patrol," everyone, written by Keith Giffen. A project he once desrcibed as the book he'd like to draw for the rest of his career...

Also dripping out of NYCC... looks like Kody Chamberlain will be drawing art on my current favourite DC book, "DMZ." And did anyone else see Colin Baker meeting Bram Stoker's great grandnephew, Dacre Stoker, and becoming fan friends with the line "I played Van Helsing..."?

BENDIS BORED

[Green Light]Last summer, Lying In The Gutters reported David Finch stating that the current Ultimate comics line would be cancelled after the “Ultimatum” series. We also stated that a number of books would be restarted and there would be some new books to enjoy in the line.

At WizardWorld Chicago later that month, Bendis said "Rich Johnston misquoted David Finch. 'Ultimate Spider-Man' is not being canceled.”

From Marvel’s Cup O’ Joe panel this weekend.

Quesada then announced that Marvel is canceling "Ultimate Spider-Man," to which Bendis responded, "No! No! We are done, professionally, man!"

Quesada then clarified that the entire Ultimate line will be canceled, sent off with a number of "Requiem" specials, and re-launched as Ultimate Comics.

He’s getting as bad as Millar, he really is.

LA STORY

[Green Light]Congratulations to DC’s Jann Jones and James Robinson, recently engaged!

DAE CARE

[Green Light]Daniel Dae Kim, better known as Jin off of "Lost", also attending the New York Comic Convention this weekend, in his capacity of being in "Lost," "24," "Enterprise," "Angel," "Hulk," "Crusade" and all that. But he also wanted to walk around the show, buy comics, meet creators etc, without getting mobbed.

So someone found him a "V For Vendetta" mask, letting Daniel walk around untouched for hours.

Anyone take a photo of a man around that size in a V mask?

UH OH

[Yellow Light]Two weeks before Diamond Comics Distribution UK announced new dollar/pound exchange rates in light of the falling pound and increased freight charges, they upped the prices of products being distributed to the book market. So a $19.99 title jumped from £12.99 to £14.99.

Well, the pound has been falling further. As UK comic pros in New York have been finding out this weekend. And this little canary in the mineshaft has just given another tweet. A $19.99 book in the bookstore market distributed by Diamond, will now cost £16.99.

Does this mean another increase in the cost of comics for most UK shops again, already straining at the seams? It's certainly possible.

GOTTA WEAR SCHANES

[Green Light]When I chatted with Diamond VP and stalwart of the comics direct market Bill Schanes a couple of weeks ago, he told me to expect the first signs of Diamond's new distribution policy with the Previews out in a couple of weeks. While the front of Previews is likely to remain unchanged, expect to see an overall slimmer volume. And something that won't take a week to pore through.

Regarding valuable books being dropped due to a lack of sales expectations, Bill told me that Diamond, and Diamond advisors, will take second looks at titles based on aspects other than expected sales if they are brought to their attention.

One title dropped by Diamond based on order expectations is Classical Comics' "The Tempest" adapted by John Macdonald, Jon Haward, Gary Erksine and Nigel Dobbyn. Here's a little peek.

I feel this qualifies for a second look from Diamond. Classical Comics line includes other work from the likes of Staz Johnson, John M Burns, Mike Collins and other familiar names.

Also, regarding the recent changes, some people have pointed out a disconnect with publishers having to drum up over $6000 in orders for every item they list, or list again, yet retailers are only obliged to order $600 a month, leaving the door open to buying clubs, and non-retail operations.

I understand that there are some changes here - with one New York toy retailer with a sideline in comics being informed by Diamond that if they don't increase their orders massively, they will lose their current 40% off cover discount, reduced down to just 20% off cover.

Which is likely to ensure the shop stops selling comics all together.

This should kill many of the buying group accounts, where a group of fans club together to order directly from Diamond, bypassing shops. Especially considering that some retailers already offer 20% and more in discount to their customers.

But any reduced distribution always leads to drop in absolute sales numbers and a further retrenchment of comics from various tiny nooks and crannies that it still manages to stretch into on rare occasions.

WHO WATCHES LES HOMMES DE MONTRE?

[Green Light]“Watchmen” comes out in the UK and the US on March 6th. We know that. What we might not know is that “Watchmen” comes out in France on March 4th. The Paris cinemas will have “Watchmen” in English with French subtitles. And it's only a Eurostar trip away.

I hear a few people are taking the day off and going on a city break. Tell me if you're one of them - or want to join in!

Looks like I'll be on the red carpet for the "Watchmen" World Premiere, in London on February 26th. Mark Millar will be Jonathan Ross and Jane Goldman's guest and I hope to bother Millar like I did for "Iron Man."

Hell even Popbitch is getting in on the action (and a "Scott Pilgrim" mention to boot).

Looks like the Smiley Trademark issue previously held up copies of "Watchmen" in Spain for nine months last year. Finally resolved, leading to a rush on copies as they started to trickle into shops across the country.

Last week, LITG reported Alan Moore's version of events regarding the "Watchmen" movie novelisation, which would have been written by his friend/mentor Steve Moore and that its cancellation he took as a final act by DC Comics against him.

It seems that actually it was “Watchmen” director Zack Snyder who nixed the novelisation for fear of offending Alan Moore any more. An action which seems to have backfired a bit.

AARDVARCHIVE

[Green Light]“Cerebus Archive” is a new publication that seems to be taking over from “Following Cerebus,” featuring rare artwork, stories and process stories from the 300 issue series – and before.

Here are a few pages to draw out your aardvarkiness.

OBAMANIA MANIA

[Green Light]More Obama comics. "Secret Warriors" #1 features Obama in back-silhouette and he will be making his second appearance in Thunderbolts next week with "Thunderbolts" #129.

Except of course he doesn't.

You see, the only appearance that Marvel admits is actually President Barack Obama is the one in "Amazing Spider-Man." Which, while it wasn't actually very good, is the one the media jumped on and so Marvel don't want to dilute that event.

So even when the srcipt says President Obama, the artist draws President Obama and Joe Quesada goes on the record as saying that the President in the Marvel Universe is Obama... Marvel marketing people say it isn't Obama.

Looks like those Superboy punches reached a really long way.

You know what? I think I'm going to do an Obama comic. The one no one is doing right now.

BACK TO THE BAT

[Yellow Light]Okay so this is what I wrote back last July...

I understand that following the events of “Batman RIP,” both main Batbooks will be put on hiatus for a short period, replaced by a new title, “Battle Of The Cowl” by Grant Morrison.

We’ll see a struggle for the legacy of the Batman after the events of the “Batman R.I.P” storyline, between the likes of Robin, Jason Todd, Nightwing, Damien and who knows, maybe Azreal and Bat-Mite while they’re at it.

So “Nightwing” will be renamed “Red Robin” while “Robin” becomes… “Batman And Robin.”

It looks like Nightwing will be the new Batman with Jason Todd becoming Red Robin.

That wasn't too bad was it? Though the stuff with Batman dying and becoming a New God before taking on Darkseid was a curate's egg to say the least... Now all we have to wait for is the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely Batman announcement.

NYCC announced that Greg Rucka and JH William's "Batwoman" will finally published... as an arc in "Detective Comics." A series that was promised two years ago, and that has several never-to-be-seen issues by your genuine actual bisexual Devin Grayson completed in the bottom drawer, well away from the initial media hype first leaked at LITG, then kicked off by Dan DiDio and that scared the horses up and down DC for months.

So why put it in "Detective Comics?" Well, it'll probably sell more with more Bat-lineage behind it. And of course it means that DC aren't actually printing a tititular comic with a lesbian Batsuperhero. There will be less confusion with the new "Batgirl" series. Which should make DC suits breathe a little easier.

Until they realise that their company, DC Comics, is actually named after a title now starring a lesbian.

DAISY CHAIN

[Green Light]Just passing on the word that Anna Friel, on Jonathan Ross' show, let us know that "Pushing Daisies" is still planning to conclude as a comic book. Been a bit of radio silence on that one for a while, worth hearing it's still ongoing.

THIS WEEK IN CONTINUITY PROBLEMS

[Green Light]Man Mountain Marko returns in the same month in “X-Men” and “Agents Of Atlas”, in first exploring his singing career, in the second becoming part of the Osborne administration.

Left hand... right hand...

ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS

[Green Light]The "Absolute V For Vendetta" gets an extra 100 pages added to it, for the same cost, including the silent full page pieces David Lloyd drew when DC collected and serialised the “Warrior” stories. Excellent, they really added to the reading experience.

Sadly however, "Absolute Promethea" won't be following Absolute format originator Scott Dunbier's planned format. Promethea was devised and published as a series of double page spreads. In the now-traditional Absolute format, content in the middle of the spread may be lost in the fold, due to the thickness of the books. Dunbier devised a plan where “Absolute Promethea,” in two 16-issue volumes, would be bound sideways, much like the "300" volume, preserving the double page spreads as very wide single pages. However, his dismissal a year and a half ago meant that he wasn't able to push this different but aesthetically pleasing solution through.

Damn.

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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TAGS:  cerebus archives, diamond

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