LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 206
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.
It was this experience, including a ten hour deposition by lawyers, and the settlement of the suit by either Fox or Fox’s insurance company that swore Alan Moore off allowing any of his comic book work to be translated into films, and his rejection of both credit and income from and movies that he didn’t have copyright control over, such as the recent “Watchmen” adaptation by Zack Snyder.
The details of the suit have emerged in fits and bursts over the years, but last week I encountered a copy of the unexpurgated suit on producer Don Murphy’s website.
It reflects much of what has been reported, but has some rather hilarious details. Including the following;
As set forth below, based upon evidence available thus far, Fox, in breach of its implicit agreement with plaintiffs, disclosed the concept behind COC to Moore with the intent to then falsely claim that LXG was based on the graphic novel and thereby conceal its theft of COC.
Fox has had repeated prior dealings and direct contact with Moore at least since 1996.
Upon information and belief, Rothman, or others at Fox under his direction, provided Moore with ideas from COC that are protected under state and federal law. Thus, Moore could write a graphic novel to provide a smokescreen behind which Fox could hide when plaintiffs inevitably saw COC being misappropriated as LXG.
Indeed, while Fox hired screenwriters in 1998 (as reported in Variety) to base LXG on the graphic novel by Moore, the novel itself was not published or finished until the following year, in 1999.
Basically they accuse Alan Moore of willingly entering into a conspiracy with Fox studio heads, to deprive the plaintiffs of their ideas and create a comic book based on them.
I’d like you all, knowing what you do of Alan Moore, to consider if that is in any way possible. Taking existing ideas, sure. He’s generally transparent about that. But conspiring with studio heads to steal them?
And while the plaintiffs list many similarities/coincidences between the two scripts, the big elephant in the room is not addressed. That if Fox really, really wanted to produce a “Cast of Characters”-type film without paying for it, why pay the just-under-two-million dollars to buy the LXG rights and hire three screenwriters to create the LXG screenplay?
Also, the plaintiffs seem to think that Dr Frankenstein and Jack the Ripper were in the LXG movie. Not the one I watched.
The relocation to the US has necessitated some major changes. The characters are a lot more likeable and sympathetic; the London media pub culture has been replaced by New York media bar culture, as well as all the expectations that come with having Hollywood a coast away. The characters are far more media-conscious, and there are even actual examples of superheroics. But it’s much closer to “Entourage” than, say, “Mystery Men.” Oh and the swearing has gone.
But for you stats-jockeys, Alex (The Hotness – heat-based powers), Sarah (Electroclash – can talk and command machines), Don (Timebomb – can see sixty seconds into the future) and Jenny (She-Force – third strongest woman in the world) have become Pete (Chillout – freeze-based powers), Callie (Crossfade – short term invisibility), Nigel (Brainstorm – mind-reading within three metres) and Sally (Slamazon – super-strong). Personality-wise however, they’re pretty similar.
The regular bar hangout, The Fortress, has become The Watchtower. Bouncer Thunder Monkey is now Horseface (he summons stallions instead of monkeys) and boorish no.1 superhero Excelsor is now Ultimatum.
Oh it’s entertaining to see, regarding Timebomb/Brainstorm that the American equivalent of Spanish, psychopathic and gay is… British, dry and gay.
Written by original showrunner Drew Pierce, and Jeff Greenstein, what does strike me is just how similar the script feels in tone to the British version. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, we’ll have to see (I think it’s a good thing).
And look! There are still Diana/limousine/Paris jokes. So not too much has changed.
Current advice is, if you’ve got copies, keep them. if you haven’t, try to buy them. They’re probably not going to get cheaper.
The six issue mini-series would have been a prequel to the Sandman series, centred around exactly what Morpheus was doing and how he came to be captured for half a century, as detailed in the first issue of the fantasy comic series.
It didn’t happen because DC wouldn’t agree to pay Neil Gaiman something comparable to what he might get for the same amount of time working on a novel. Gaiman stated, “I get a fifteen percent royalty and an incredibly healthy advance, I did ‘Sandman: Endless Nights’ as my charity project; ‘Sandman: Endless Nights’ was a favor to Karen [Berger], it was done at the four percent royalty I’ve had since the beginning, for a twenty-thousand-dollar advance, and I found the time, I fitted it in and I just did it. It got them onto the New York Times bestseller list for the first time ever.”
With more time pressure this time, and the realization that Vertigo couldn’t pay a million dollar advance, he suggested that DC instead up his royalty rate on the entire Sandman line by another two percent. Which, over sixteen years, would have made Neil the same amount as what a novel would have. DC offered that increased royalty rate over eighteen months. Neil refused to drop his request. DC declined the project on those terms.
Neil also points out that he makes more from a sale of a hardcover $20 copy of a novel such as “Anansi Boys” that on each sale of the $100 “Absolute Sandman” volumes. So instead of writing a Sandman six issue series, he wrote a new novel instead. Which he owns completely.
WITH THIRD PLACE COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITIES
Could it be happening again? Tony Isabella reports that IDW are not paying royalty payments for their reprints of the Malibu “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” series. Writer Mike W Barr is calling for a boycott of these reprints as a result, and demands his name be taken off the work.
Of course this time it may be easier to find the relevant paperwork.
And publisher William Christensen and artist Gianluca Pagliarani playing with them like the little children they are.
I also understand that in the wake of the successful web-comic-then-graphic-novel-collection “Freakangels” that Avatar will be starting a second webcomic soon.
CONFESSIONSOFA GRAPHIC NOVELIST
HUNDRED ACRE WANTED
Can we expect lots of “This is my face when I’m eating your honeypot” scenes? Sadly not.
As Mark Millar writes, “As a producer on the thing, I’m excited. I know who’s in it and after doing 342 million at the box office we have series money to spend on everything from cast to crew to script. This guy is supposed to be really good. He did a GREAT action script recently (on an unproduced movie) and that’s what got him this gig.”
He also states that the whole production and casting process kicked off on the weekend after the first movie was released.
To help, Watchmensch artist Simon Rohrmuller created sketches of the central characters to help demonstrate colour choice. And against his better judgement, here it is!
As is George R R Martin who has completely dissociated himself working in the future for the publishing company, presumably including the comic book series that the Dabels have licensed such as “Wild Cards” and “Hedge Knight.”
MISSING IN ACTION
Rob Worley would like to know as well. Along with the likes of Marc Bernardin, Dwight MacPherson, Christopher E. Long, Jimmie Robinson and Matt Jacobs, stories and artwork were finished but publication never actually happened.
HEROES FOR HEROES?
Previously shipping comics with the reduced rate of “Media Mail”, the organisation has been told that this category is not valid for comic books as they are serial publications that tend to carry advertising pages. As a result, shipping costs for the organisation will double.
Tarbassian has been appealing to comic fans to write to their elected representatives. He’d probably like you to do the same.
EARTH PIG PIN
SHOW SOME SKIN
Including a lost image from graphic novel “Skin,” some drawings from a new comic project, “Dreamtrees,”a number of published “Artoons” from “Crisis” and more, period of the early 90’s and some early sketches for his upcoming Marvel “Doctor Strange/Spider-Man” series.
Brendan is also known for his work on covers for “Shade The Changing Man.” Which, after the first trade paperback looks like, yes, Vertigo are going to collect the lot, as both the first and second trade paperback hit Amazon.
Oh look, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s reinvention of “Sandman” is also getting collected.
But I digress.
Apparently Google has delisted Peter David’s website from its search results. Let’s see if we can help get the listing back
PASTY FACED GLASWEIGANS IN LOS ANGELES
According to his Twitter account, one Grant Morrison. “Talking shite about Byres Road and Greggs. Its the small wonders we miss about home.”
Ah Greggs, cheap pasty maker to the stars…
LITTLE GREEN ALIENS
Or is this the first PR stunt in preparation for the Green Lantern movie?
Photo by Lucy Pringle.
THE OGLE HAS LANDED
One page from “Uncanny X-Men” #509
has brought a few suggestions.
Thanks to RedRonin of the IAM Marvel Community thread in the CBR forums for the images.
SET UP THE RED BULL DRIP PLEASE NURSE.
I should explain, the MCM London Expo, features movies, comics and memorabilia, but mostly comes down to lots of manga, lots of people in stunningly complex or outrageously skimpy costumes, and a few Hollywood TV and film actors, best know for a sci-fi or fantasy role in the last few decades.
At the back, hidden from everyone, are the more usual comics people. Markosia, Marvel UK people, smaller press and The Tony Lee Experience. I usually go along with Eve to handsell a few copies of “Flying Friar.”
And for some reason, Warren Ellis is going for an afternoon.
He’s going to hate it. It’s going to be hilarious.
Someone take photos and bring him whisky.
BARR ONE AND TWO
Byrne replied, “Marv’s ‘solution’ to his own problem?”
Indeed. Marv’s solution, as hosted on his website, reads as follows;
From: Nearly Everyone
I read in the Crisis On Infinite Earths collection that you didn’t want to kill Barry (The Flash) Allen and put in a loophole on how to bring him back. Care to share that with us?
So many people actually saw that comment I made in my forward and have asked me how I’d bring back the Flash, that I’ve finally gotten tired of explaining it. So that I don’t ever have to explain it again, here it is now, once and for all. Please remember, this is a very comic booky answer and you can probably blow holes in it somehow (but then nobody really complained how an anti-matter villain could co-exist with a positive matter good guy, so maybe physics isn’t anyone’s strong suit). This is what I proposed to DC back in 1985. Please note that I didn’t think it was a good idea to kill The Flash but those were my marching orders, so I did the best I could to make his death as moving as I could. Here is the given I worked from: Much of the reason the people in charge didn’t care for Barry Allen was that he was considered dull. I felt if I could come up with a way of making him vital again while keeping him alive, then perhaps Barry would be given a second lease on life. I came up with the idea of Flash moving back through time, flashing into our dimension even as he was dying. So, thought I, what if Barry was plucked out of the time stream at one of those moments he appeared? What if that meant from this point on Barry knew that he was literally living on borrowed time, that at any moment the time stream could close in on him and take him to his inevitable death. What would this mean to Barry? 1: from now on the fastest man alive would literally be running for his life. 2: He knew he didn’t have much time left and believed (as Barry would) that he had to devote it to helping others. 3: This meant Barry would become driven and desperate to help others with each passing tick of the clock. I felt this new revitalized attitude might be enough to make the formerly dull police scientist into someone who now had to push himself as he never had to before. I was hoping that this would make the character interesting enough to live. Earlier, I said my explanation was comic booky. In many ways it is because none of us knows when we are going to die. But this knowledge would haunt a man like Barry Allen and change him from an unassuming character into a driven hero. At least that was the plan!
Is a graveyard really an ideal place for this kind of conversation? Red Arrow and Black Canary do seem a little down.
It seems this was the scene that Dwayne McDuffie had to rewrite, after it was decided that Hawkgirl and Hawkman were still alive, into, as Dwayne puts it, “something not very good.”
BITS AND PIECES
Just in case any retailers had a double take at their invoices this week. Certain stores served from the Plattsburgh Diamond warehouse were mistakenly invoiced for an issue of “Toyfare” magazine at around $130 instead of the actual $4.99 an issue. No reported heart attacks as of print.
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