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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 120

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 thirteen long glorious and quite scary years.

All stories are sourced from well-connected individuals and checked with respective publisher representatives before publication. Mostly. The veracity of each story is judged by me and given a spotlight – Green is the most reliable, Amber means there’s likely an interest involved or the likelihood isn’t set and Red means even I can’t quite bring myself to believe it.

Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced.

BIG BEN

[Green Light]

With Scott Dunbier fired from his position as Executive Editor at Wildstorm, Ben Abernathy has been promoted to Senior Editor.

DABEL VISION

[Yellow Light]

So, who is owed what from the Dabel Brothers’ collapsing their deal with Marvel? I have a few names and numbers, but this is the tip of the iceberg.

  • Ricardo Ratton and Alex Starling, owed $1650 for pencils/inks/colours for half of “Ptolus” #5
  • Eduardo Pansica and Alex Starling owed $3300 for pencils/inks/colours for all of “Ptolus” #6
  • Jason Berek-Lewis $250 for script for “Legacy: The Rebellion”
  • Ig Barros, $195 for digitally painted cover of “Magician” #7
  • Rodney Buchemi owed $6900 for pencils/inks of all of “Red Prophet” #7, 8 and 10 and the cover of “Red Prophet” #11 and 12
  • Vitor Ishimura paid $900, still owed $2400 for “Wyrms” #4 and #5
  • Luis Hernrique owed $800 for pencils of 16 pages of “Anita Blake” #6
  • Alisson Ricardo paid $540, owed $1175 for cover of “Origins Of Prey” #2, pencils for “Origins Of Prey” #3, 13 pages of pencils in “Origins Of Prey” #4.

There are plenty of other people who have asked me not to run their details, for fear that they will never be paid or will alienate potential employees.

In my experience, a willingness to say you are owed money by a comics company, in a straightforward manner, after a reasonable period of time will only engender good feeling from other companies towards that individual. But, especially with Marvel involved, I can understand individuals’ concerns.

One explanation Les Dabel has given to people asking what happened is that he believes he signed a poor initial deal with Marvel, against his own attorney’s advice. He paid off other debts initially, but gave Marvel until this September to pay enough money to keep the cashflow going. However, this did not stop Dabel from promising and failing to pay creators. Despite claiming he has guaranteed incoming arriving from Marvel, he states he couldn’t get a bridging loan from any bank. And in San Diego he was claiming that he was ending his deal with Marvel to speed up payments to creators, at a loss to himself.

This story is thrown in doubt in that the deal broke up only weeks before September, the date at which according to Dabel, Marvel were meant to pay a large cash sum. Creators remain unpaid. And any bank, shown contractual guaranteed income coming in a short period of time, would likely fall over themselves to lend money.

Currently, Dabel Bros. artists who are promised payment by Marvel have been asked to sign the standard Marvel Work-Made-For-Hire agreement before they receive their cheques, creating uncertainty as to who actually owns what. And this only covers titles that Marvel is continuing to publish, other creators look like they may remain unpaid.

Kas R. DeCarvalho, Esq., corporate counsel for Dabel Bros. Productions, replied to enquiries Monday morning stating, “DB Pro is currently in the process of finalizing the termination of it’s partnership with Marvel.

“While this process is underway, we apologize, but we cannot publically discuss the terms of that agreement. In the interim, we are in the process of paying off all DB Pro debts, and we remain committed to ensuring that all creators who have worked with the Dabel Brothers–whether on Marvel-published projects or otherwise–will be paid in full in the immediate future. Any previously un-invoiced requests for payment should be forwarded directly to DB Pro at ldabel@dabelbrothers.com.”

More to come, I’m sure.

DIAMOND CASTING

[Yellow Light]

Last week’s story about the possibility of Diamond announcing at Baltimore that they will be dropping or reducing their reorder penalty for retailers ordering from non-Premier publishers has shaken out all sorts of interesting things.

Some wonder how can Diamond afford to cut reorder penalties? Well, because more and more independent comics product is offered to retailers at 50% discount, as opposed to the 57% that some of the smaller publishers enjoyed during the Distributor Wars TM, there has been a defacto penalty on independent publishers anyway. There’s talk of a move to online-only reorders. And of course, there’s competition.

Diamond have enjoyed an effective direct market monopoly on comics distribution by brokering exclusive distribution deals with the four largest “Premier” comics publishers.

But I understand that there are one or two companies interested in entering the direct market distribution system right now, who will be making themselves known at Baltimore next week. Initially they are interested in working with high profile independent publishers who don’t feel best served by Diamond, first in bookstores, then into comic stores. But their interest may extend across the independent publishers and to Premier publishers whose exclusive contracts with Diamond may be up for renewal.

Could this be the beginning of the end of the Diamond monopoly? Are Diamond’s upcoming announcements the sign of them fighting back?

And will Baltimore be the perfect setting for a bunch of distribution hoodlums to make a grab for Stringer Geppi’s territory?

AMAZONS ATTACKED

[Green Light]

The last issue of the DC Wonder Woman spinoff “Amazons Attack,” indeed the whole mini-series, has been received with a fair degree of derision by its readers.

But who’d have thought its editor Matt Idelson would join in?

On the DC Message boards, one user, a “lostgauntlet” reposted private e-mail with Idelson, including the sentence “Things haven’t run nearly as smoothly as they should on this title, almost from its inception, and I admit that the quality has at times been compromised.”

Read “Amazon Attack’s” writer Will Pfiefer’s blog, as the reaction to the issue pours in – and is currently pretty much the only place you can read any positive reviews at all. Although many contributors cite DC editorial as the reason for the series’ alleged failings, Pfiefer just doing the job he was given.

THOU SHALT LIEFELD

[Green Light]

“Armageddon Now: World War III,” by Rob Liefeld and Phil Hotsenpiller from Christian publisher Twelve Gates.

Quoting from the PR:

“Twelve Gates will take the reader on a global adventure that reveals America’s humbling defeat and the rise of coalition forces that seek to destroy Israel once and for all… The attack began with hundreds of rockets. A massive number of the Islamic forces were moving into position. Corbin led his team to a high position that would give them a clear advantage. The gunfire was simultaneous and devastating.”

I wonder if the Sikhs will get involved, too!

PATTY’S WHIRLED

[Green Light]

Last week, LITG covered a very real concern over the copyright of British comics in the nineteen sixties, specifically a case involving the strip “Patty’s World,” being reprinted in Spain, where the strip was a huge hit. The creator, Pura Campos, does not have her original artwork, and the rights to it are being contested by IPC Media who require her and her Spanish publisher to sign away copyright before she can retrieve it.

So what is the link between IPC Media and DC Comics? Both owned by Time Warner, DC has licensed a number of titles from IPC, but is that as far as it goes? Certainly IPC’s actions contradict DC’s recent creator-friendlier policies.

Antonio Martín, editor of the Patty’s World comic in Spain, makes his opinion clear.

Translated, it reads; “Pura Campos is the owner of HER copyright and intellectual property rights of the series ‘Patty’s World’ (in Spain “Esther y su Mundo”), as she Never signed a Contract by which she gave those rights to IPC Magazines. Consequently, IPC can’t legally register under their copyright any work by Pura Campos.

“I haven’t said that DC owns the rights over the artwork pages. What DC owns, through IPC, are those very artwork pages (those by Pura and hundreds of other originals by Luis Bermejo, José Ortiz, Jesús Blasco, etc.), stored in their British warehouse, and they have refused to return them to Pura Campos in a classic example of publishing piracy.

“Accordingly, IPC/DC is working outside the international copyright legislation, ratified through several international treaties signed by the United Kingdom.

“In conclusion, I insist: the owner of the copyright of ‘Esther y su Mundo’ (‘Patty’s World’ in the UK) is not IPC/DC , but the authors and specifically, in this case, Pura Campos.”

But the question remains does DC have any power or responsibility here for a publisher owned by its parent company?

Well, one book, “Mother Tells You How,” a book collecting British girl comics from the ’50s, was published by Prion Books earlier this year.

The indicia in the second page reads “Published under licence from DC Comics, Copyright © IPC Media Ltd 2007, All rights reserved. Any inquiries should be addressed to DC Comic s, c/o Prion, Carlton Publishing Group”

In an interview with an Andrew Sumner, friend of LITG and leading editor at IPC, regarding the “Albion” series, Sumner stated, “The truth is that, as a direct result of our hands-across-the-seas partnership with Bob Wayne and the boys at DC, we’re doing more with the IPC comics library here at Kings Reach Tower than we have done for 25 years. IPC’s information manager David Abbott shares my enthusiasm for the comics library and he’s putting together some great deals (such as the upcoming audio adventures, Prion Books’ ‘Best of Girl’ and Prion’s soon-to-be-published ‘Mother Tells You How’ compendium.”

And this week, Prion Books published “The Best of June And School Friend,” a new collection of British girl comics from the ’60s and ’70s. The cover features the lead character of Patty’s World drawn by Purita Campos. Artwork, according to her Spanish editors, that Prion Books may not have the rights to print.

What’s to be done, chaps?

KEBABBED

[Green Light]

Word comes my way that Steven T. Seagle and Tara McPherson are working on a painted graphic novel for Vertigo called “Donor.”

THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME, DON’T THEY?

[Yellow Light]

Last week’s spoiler regarding “The Dark Knight” was erroneous and is blamed on a Gutterati’s mother’s poor eyesight. The man in the coffin is not Morgan Freeman but Colin McFarlane, playing Commissioner Loeb.

I hope the veil of irony is large enough to cover this one.

OLNEY YOU!

[Green Light]

Disgraced convention organiser and would be comics-publisher Rick Olney has been e-mailing and posting! And the Gail Simone CBR board, home to one of the longest comics threads ever concerning Olney’s publishing practices, and attempts to remunerate out of pocket creators, has been reprinting them.

Tony Isabella records an attempt by Rick to post, “Which, regarding your claim about local police here having a file on me — More lying, weasel. No such file exists. No local police activity. And the 3 small claims lawsuits (won by default) are being challenged in each State involved. You are the biggest crybaby, I believe. Won’t be much longer, then this will all be legally balanced and we’ll see who is actually owed what.”

Melissa Reed replies, “i have the direct line to the officer in charge of your file. spoke to several officers there. i know they were in your driveway. i know when they were there. i know about their phone call to you- and when. i know which officer you spoke with and what you told him.

“and you cannot appeal a default judgment. no matter what state it was in. hear from any banks lately?”

Rick has also stated that Tony Isabella will be legally served when he attends the Syracuse Heroes Expo which, if true, would be the first of Olney’s legal threats to come to fruition. A lot is riding on it, especially considering James A Owen’s announcement that “if he can overturn ANY of the default judgments – ANY of them, Rick – then I will donate a THOUSAND DOLLARS to the charity of his choice. Just one. One judgment overturned in his favor. Any one. Of course, that’s not going to happen. Because you never showed up to begin with.”

Anyone going to Syracuse to report on such happenings (or indeed non-happenings)? You may also bump into Unscrewed, the charitable project dedicated to paying back creators who worked for Rick Olney, which has recently decided to expand its remit to cover other publishers.

Looking back up the column, not a moment too soon.

PLUG FROM THE BASH STREET

[Green Light]

Here’s the promo piece for the BBC 4 Comics Britannia season.

I’m also told the “Stalking Steve Ditko” documentary will now air at 9pm, Sunday 16th September. So reset your Sky Plus boxes.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]

Grant?

No man is an island. And neither is Gibraltar.

So, where does the US comic book industry find its Filipino artists? Could it be… here?

The comic collection that was gradually being put on the fire.

Who wants to be in the Justice League movie?

John Byrne, on how he almost left “Uncanny X-Men” over a kiss

No sooner has Flying Friar Color Edition got a Facebook group page with the first five pages coloured and lettered, then Jamie McKelvie’s Suburban Glamour goes and copies the idea. That, Jamie, is called copying. You may buy me a pint on Thursday. Alternatively, you can check out the “Suburban Glamour” preview right here on CBR without having to bother with Facebook registration.

SMALL PRINT

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

My social networking is pretty much all Facebook these days, but I’m around at MySpace, ComicSpace and Twitter, too.

The remnants of my life are on eBay.

And my Wii number is 0512 2690 8446 2879

Sorry.

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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