Lying In The Gutters

Mon, March 16th, 2009 at 2:53pm PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 201

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.

Nothing yet. A couple of feelers and offers of small pieces of work (thank you!) but nothing mortgage-payable.

MY SPIDER-NOSE IS TINGLING

[Green Light]Last Friday, Britain had its bi-annual charity telethon Red Nose Day for Comic Relief which, despite the recession, increased its day-total from forty-odd million pounds to fifty-odd million.

One person who may be adding a significant proportion single-handedly is friend-of-the-column TV and radio presenter Jonathan Ross. Ross is auctioning one of his two copies of "Amazing Fantasy" #15 at VG/VG+.

The auction runs until the 28th March, and is, at time of writing, standing at £1,175. That figure is expected to rise.

SHINING SUN

[Green Light]The next Marvel translations of French publisher Soliel titles will be “Kookaburra K," “Daffodil" and “Crossfire." “Kookaburra K" is drawn by Humberto Ramos.

No news on the most famous Soliel series “Troy" at present.

FUNKY GIBBONS

[Green Light]Dave Gibbons confirmed to a packed audience at a Borders bookstore this week that he has already completed his DVD commentary for the mega-directors-cut of "Watchmen" that includes the “Black Freighter" story integrated into the main film. Maybe we can expect the finished product sooner rather than later?

NO SERIOUSLY, HOW MANY MORE WATCHMEN STORIES CAN I POSSIBLY RUN?

[Green Light]The attention around the comic book in light of the blockbuster film has brought all sorts of Watchmen-ish topics to the fore.

Including one theory that the characters Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice faked their deaths and live, anonymously, as a couple. This couple in fact.

Hooded Justice "disappeared." Captain Metropolis was "decapitated." There is evidence in the “Watchmen" comic (and indeed referenced in the opening titles of the “Watchmen" film) that the characters were gay. The people in this panel are certainly comparable, their bow ties are drawn to resemble the domino mask made popular by Robin, and they are rather in the forefront of the panel, attracting attention.

This theory was made popular by James Gifford when he published a pamphlet illustrating his theory and observations. And it seems so perfect doesn't it? A little Easter Egg hidden in “Watchmen" for those to find it - a potential happy ending for two minor characters.

So naturally, I had to spoil it all. I e-mailed Dave Gibbons to ask. He replied, "That wasn't our intention, but it's such an interesting and plausible theory that I'm reluctant to deny it!"

I agree. I think we should collectively decide that it's intentional and forget what was actually intended. Fate conspiring against the creators. Agreed?

OKAY JUST ONE MORE

[Green Light]National institution Stephen Fry and Twittevangelist;

Right. I'm off now. Think I'll catch The Watchmen. Feel I should. I read it as it was by Alan Moore, of whose V for Vendetta I was in a film

Mm enjoyed Watchmen. Man in row in front fell asleep. I didn't but have to say I think it was far too long. Should read the GN now...

My first blue penis experience at the cinema too. Smurf alarm.

The blue penis, I should add, is a reference to the sight of Dr Manhattan's resolutely cobalt membrum virile in the film Watchmen.

No one quite watches a cock like Stephen Fry, does one?

THE FORTY-NINERS

[Yellow Light]Andrew Luke collects details on how Section 49 of The Coroners and Justice Bill could be very problematic indeed for certain UK comic retailers, who stock comic books that illustrate any form of pre-adult sexuality. To quote from the bill;

"Extends the law proscribing possession of child pornography to include non photographic images "

Without distinguishing between prurience and art, well, I mean, that's "Lost Girls" isn't it. Possibly "Blankets," too, Certainly a fair chunk of manga. Work that has been produced without harming or abusing a single child. You may not appreciate the work yourself, but when it comes down to it, they're just drawings.

The Register states, "The consultation document also cites a single case in which police raided an individual and found them in possession ONLY of cartoon images and, to their chagrin, had no alternative but to hand the material back and allow its owner to walk free. It is possible that this exemplifies that category mentioned by Lord Hunt in summing up on extreme porn: people whom the police would like to "do something about", but who haven’t actually broken any laws."

In Parliamentary questioning, the bill as explained by the Lord Chancellor does seem a little vague.

An academic backlash against this bill has already been instigated, including signatures from a long list of professors. A Comic Book Alliance has also been set up, in part to promote a petition against the act (found here)

And a call has gone out for help... “A researcher for Jenny Willott MP has asked if anybody would be willing to go to Parliament and talk to her about the impact the Coroners Bill and Criminal Justice Act COULD have on the industry. If anyone based in London or around London is interested please email as soon as possible because we need to sort out the meeting. email: comicalliance (at) aol.com"

There is a disconnect here of course, between the possession of images that have resulted from abuse and images that, however distasteful, have not. Britain does not have freedom or speech or freedom of expression. In practice, the mainstream media can get away with far more than the equivalent in the US. However niche media has many more restrictions placed upon it. It's been seen as a pragmatic solution to the issues, but the application may cause all sorts of issues for peaceful, law-abiding folk.

Waterstones and Borders sell "Lost Girls," you know.

BY NEXT WEEK, I'LL PROBABLY JUST BE CUTTING AND PASTING TWITTER

[Green Light]Marvel's Talent Manager CB Cebulski has been discussing some of the tricks some professionals use to get attention from publishers - and the reputation they get as a result.

We also noticed an increase in the disturbing trend of "editor fishing" going on of late.

Editor fishing = Telling Editor #1 you're coming to the office for a meeting with Editor #2 when you don't actually have an appointment.

This done in hopes of Editor #1 not checking with Editor #2, thereby tricking him into letting you into offices for a meeting you never had.

You'd be surprised. There're 2 writers famous for it & always manage to pull it off. They usually pull it on new editors.

Oh, yeah... people just show up at the Marvel offices all the time. The receptionists are experts at dealing with it!

Although there was one time Dave Finch dropped by unannounced to drop off pages and they didn't believe him or let him in. :(

However, he then moved on to how writers can start writing for Marvel. Maybe there was a trick this column could pick up?

There have more new opportunities for new writers at Marvel these past two years than ever before. I see a new name at least every month.

Astonishing Tales, X-Men Manifest Destiny, MCP... almost every issue debuts as new voice that the editors have discovered

Looking at the new issue of Astonishing Tales, there are two new writers in there. One who had a short story in MCP, one making his debut.

Marvel also has new writer specific one-shots that they do to test run new writers who they think have the chops to write for Marvel.

I know for a fact Axel Alonso hired an up-and-coming writer he likes just this past Thursday for a Punisher one-shot of this nature.

He'd been following this writer's work at few other publishers, read his newest issue, thought he'd found his voice, and called him.

Yes, these gigs are on short stories, one-shots and maybe not the best sellers, so you might not hear read them or hear about these guys.

But the point is the chances are now out there. Systems are in places at Marvel to get new writers in on a regular basis. More so than ever.

"New" meaning "new to Marvel", yes. Which brings up another myth I'll be happy to dispel re: screenwriters and novelists at Marvel.

Just because they work in another entertainment medium, that doesn't mean they have an automatic in at Marvel. Far from the case.

TV/movie/novel writing is very different from comic writing. Writing for an artist, understand the pacing, etc., are completely different.

And the editors at Marvel know and understand this. Any writer from Hollywood or literature has to try out just like any other new writer.

Yes, you may see more names crossing over into comics these days, but the door wasn't magically just opened for them.

Maybe they get more "buzz" due to their other writing, but that's to be expected. But they now write in comic cuz they KNOW and LOVE comics.

You know, I'd bet there were more "new" writers than "Hollywood" writers hired by Marvel in 2008. You just never heard of the newer guys.

Two "crossover" novelists you may wanna follow: @marjoriemliu & @swierczy Both worked hard to get into Marvel and are kicking ass now!

Advice for new writers coming from a man who knows his business, Marvel's Ultimate & Hulk editor @MarkPaniccia !!

Okay CB, we get the hint. So what does Mark Paniccia have to say?

Speaking to what CB's saying, a lot of people I work with are writers who had something published that caught my attention

Something about their stuff clicked and brings you to the casting phase before approaching them, what they seem a natural fit for

With the amount of books that an editorial group is responsible for, it's difficult to find time to read cold pitches from unknowns.

Sometimes "discovering" new talent is something that happens on an editor's free time, after work ,the weekend, surfing, flipping thru Previews

At which point, Brian Bendis asked "if they're in Previews, didn't someone else get to them first? :)"

That's the point, they are establishing themselves and may have a certain amount of experience.

This is something that's attractive to an editor. It's increasingly harder to find the time to bring someone up from zero experience

Our jobs are first and foremost getting the book in front of us out. Making sure there are no mistakes, that it

That it's the best product it can be for the reader. That means there's hardly time to answer cold calls/e-mail inquiries

Brian replied "so what you are saying is my horrible spelling is fucking up your day :)"

You have proven you don't need to spell to know how to write.

And one last needle from Brian, "congrats on discovering jeph loeb at the retreat :)"

He was the FIND of the CENTURY!!!!

If I hadn't jumped on Loeb, someone else would have. I saw Brevoort looking at him like he was a giant chicken finger on a bun

CB Cebulski then continued

Yes, you can sit here and argue and debate every point I bring up about breaking into comics, but really... what's the point?

You don't like what I have to say? Feel free to ignore me. Follow your own path. Break in your own way. Please.

My opinions and advice are my own, formed from personal experience. I pass it on with only the best of intention. I'm only trying to help.

Oh, I don't mind. I know I'm just a Marvel corporate stooge to some people, doing spin control to covering up the big Marvel conspiracy.

"I've got the best ideas for (insert Marvel character here) since Stan Lee and Marvel won't publish them cuz they're scared I'm so good!"

Oh, you found us out. You're so good that we're keeping you down just so we don't have to fire hacks like @BRIANMBENDIS & @mattfraction!

And I'm saving it all for my book. The chapter on how NOT to break into comics continues to grow on an almost daily basis. :)

On The Wire, Bunk spoke about police never giving up on murder cases, how even after weeks, months, years, they stick with them. (cont.)

And all I kept thinking about was how it's exactly the same for artists and writers trying to break into comics. Or any dream job really.

Yes, breaking into comics really can be murder. :)

I think we've all learned something there. My advice to becoming a successful writer for Marvel Comics is to start a gossip column in the comics industry.

I didn't say it was good advice.

ANGEL ON ANGEL ACTION

[Green Light]Peter David's "Fallen Angel" series crosses over with "Angel" as Ilyria makes an appearance in the first four-issue storyline for the upcoming "Fallen Angel" relaunch from IDW.

This is the first Whedonverse crossover outside of Whedoncontinuity. And nicely in time for the "Fallen Angel" #1-21 omnibus collection for $20.

PANNING FOR DOWNLOADS

[Green Light]Ever wanted to know what a Marvel Cease & Desist letter looks like? Here you go...

Gregory Pan
Legal Affairs
Marvel Entertainment, Inc.

BY E-MAIL (info@imt.co.id)

March 11, 2009
PT Indonesia Media Technologies (IMT)
Arkadia Office Park
Tower B, 2nd Floor
Jl. TB Simatupang Kav.88
Jakarta 12520, Indonesia
Tel.: 7854 7799
Fax: 7854 7798

Re: Unauthorized Distribution of Illegally Scanned Marvel Comic Books

To Whom it May Concern:

I write on behalf of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries (“Marvel"), who is the owner of the trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights in Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Captain America, among thousands of others, and such rights are protected under the law worldwide. Marvel owns and controls the rights to use and merchandise the names, designs, logos and likenesses affiliated with all of its properties. This includes the distribution of comic books and the right to distribute and reproduce them online.

It has come to Marvel’s attention that the webforum, http://forum.kafegaul.com, hosted by your company contains a thread that collects and distributes illegally scanned Marvel digital comic books, many on the same day of release. The “US Comics" forum under “Komics" contains a thread titled “Download Marvel Comics Here" (http://forum.kafegaul.com/showthread.php?t=143856) with links to scanned comic books from various file hosting sites. The posting of these links is illegal because it induces others to engage in copyright infringement; actions you can be held vicariously liable for if you do not cooperate in removing the links. Your actions constitute blatant and egregious infringement of Marvel’s valuable trademarks, copyrights and distribution rights. These actions directly impact Marvel’s ability and right to sell and distribute comic books both in stores and online.

In addition to this thread, one other thread contains illegal links to download comic books: http://forum.kafegaul.com/showthread.php?t=161157 {00066130 GP}

The 1976 Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §101, et seq. provides Marvel, as the owner of a copyrighted work, with clearly defined exclusive rights, including the exclusive right to reproduce the work in copies, to distribute copies of the work to the public, and to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work. The remedies for copyright infringement include the copyright owner’s option to elect statutory damages which range from $750 - $30,000 for each instance of non-willful infringement, but which can escalate to $150,000 for each instance of willful copyright infringement. Attorneys’ fees are also recoverable by a successful copyright infringement plaintiff.

Marvel demands that you immediately cease and desist from distribution of illegally scanned Marvel comic books and maintaining any websites inducing and contributing to such activity.

Marvel further demands that, within three (3) business days, you

1. Confirm in writing that you will delete all threads on your website to comic books published by Marvel;

2. Confirm that your website will cease continuing posting links to downloadable Marvel comic books;

Marvel reserves the right to take whatever remedies are available at law and in equity, and shall do whatever best protects our interests, including reporting any intellectual property abuse to your service provider or local authorities. Nothing in this letter shall be construed as a waiver or relinquishment of any rights or remedies available to Marvel.

Very truly yours,
Gregory Pan
Legal Affairs
Marvel Entertainment, Inc.

Looks like Gregory Pan is the new Marvel Terminator.

LATE KNIGHT OUT

[Green Light]After the likes of "Death's Head" and "Dragon's Claws" trade paperbacks from Marvel UK/Panini, it's time for the third Summers brother. The original "Knights Of Pendragon" series by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Gary Erskine. The sequel series was rubbish, as was a fair chunk of the Marvel UK line that it inspired, but that original series was absolutely gold. Superhero/supernatural characters against ecological threats, and starring a fat copper. Wonderful stuff. Look for it later this year.

GREEK TO ME

[Green Light]A cover from Peter Milligan's "Greek Street" for Vertigo by Kako.

Sweet street.

WATCH THIS

[Green Light]My new comic book "Watchmensch" is out on Wednesday in the US and Thursday in the UK. Find out if your local store is carrying it here. If not, Amazon should have copies in a couple of weeks.

Anyone want interviews with the writer, the artist, or the publisher, you know what to do.

It's had initial coverage from the likes of Newsarama, Occasional Superheroine, Slashfilm, Comics Bulletin, Comicon, Bleeding Neon, Down The Tubes and.... the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Probably get picked up by the House To Astonish podcast this week as well. And there’ll be a preview right here on CBR tomorrow.

This is the best selling comic I've had out since the nineties, so finding a copy shouldn't be too hard. I hope you enjoy it.

STAFF WANTED

[Green Light]Want to live with an artist? Mark Stafford, currently working on Bryan Talbot's "Cherubs" is in need of a rent paying flatmate in London. Give him a shout and maybe he'll introduce you to the comics jet set.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]The Guardian newspaper interviews Alan Moore. The Mail sends paparazzo.

Andy Diggle writing "Daredevil." And not saying anything on Twitter.

Brian Hibbs savages "Heroes."

Lee Barnett's Fast Fiction book is picking up steam.

One of my favourite small press creators is Sean Azzopardi. He's just set up a new web comic hub, The Sequential.

The "Hope Falls" collection from Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood is currently solicited from Markosia, with Diamond code: MAR094036. Tony and Dan will be signing copies at Orbital Comics on 16th May.

Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue, London, will be having a “2000 AD" event this Saturday to coincide with the paperback edition of "Thrill-Power Overload", from 1pm, with... well... Matt Smith, Dan Abnett, David Bishop, Simon Davis, Rufus Dayglo, Al Ewing, Brett Ewins, Henry Flint, Frazer Irving, Robbie Morrison, Tony Lee and Simon Spurrier.

Next week, Forbidden Planet in Derby closes for the last time.

A year ago, Marvel UK/Panini ran a competition to pitch a story idea to their "Spectacular Spider-Man." The winning entry, "Amazing Spider-Boy" by Seb Patrick, was then scripted by Ferg Handley, drawn by Carlos Gomez and Gary Erskine, and is finally being published this week in UK supermarkets and newsagents.

Part Two of Ian Sharman's "Young Gods" goes online today. Sharman is also about to publish a new anthology title "FTL," with stories by Dwight L. MacPherson, Peter Rogers and Sharman, with art by Riccardo Latina, Melissa Hudson, Izzy Davis, and a cover by 2000AD's John Charles.

Bryan Talbot has written the foreword for "Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth," an original graphic novel from UK based Insomnia Publications.

Spanish horror star Paul Naschy (“Night Of The Werewolf," “Horror Rises From The Tomb") has written a series of graphic novels for Fangoria Graphix. "Werewolf" is a brand new, fully painted series of graphic novels based on his popular "Hombre Lobo" film series and its title character, the eternally cursed Waldemar Daninsky. The art is by Javier Trujillo and th books will be published in English and Spanish.

Eclectic Micks is a sketchblog for a bunch of Irish professional comic book artists. They include Stephen Mooney (Angel; After the Fall), Stephen Thompson(Star Trek; New Frontier, Presidential Material: John McCain),PJ Holden (Fearless, 2000AD) Nick Roche (Transformers, Doctor Who),Will Sliney (Farscape), Bob Byrne (Mr. Amperduke, 2000AD) and Declan Shalvey (Frankenstein, Hero Killers.)

David Manning starts volume two of “Nightmare World."

"Wide Awake" is a new weekly webcomic coming from Brandon Jerwa, Eric Trautmann, Mirco Pierfederici and David Messina, continuing from their "Popgun Volume Two" short story.

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.

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