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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 98

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 twelve 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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Vote Saxon!”

SUNDERING ALICE

[Green Light]

On Friday, I received a copy of Bryan Talbot’s “Alice In Sunderland” in the post. Oh my goodness.

Top line? This is “Understanding Comics” meets “Promethea”/”Dance Of The Gull Catchers” written and drawn by one of the overlooking creators of modern comics, Bryan Talbot – whose work directly influenced both Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, and therefore went on to influence much of the English-language comics medium. It tells both the influence on and of the Alice books, the historical and cultural history of Sunderland, and both where the two meet, and where they tail off. It involves the reader as a character and journeys through a myriad of art styles, yet never losing sight of its innate comic book nature. Taking place on a stage in an old variety music hall, that’s exactly what we get – variety.

First mentioned in mid-2003 in this very column. And it holds together as a volume so much better than I dared expect.

There’s a place on your bookshelf that’s begging to be filled by this. Detailed, esoteric, charming, colloquial, beautiful. Graphic Novel of The Year. And it’s only March. And it’s not a novel.

Bryan Talbot will be signing copies at Gosh Comics on Thursday for the launch of the book from 5 to 6pm, then at the Cartoon Museum down the road from 6.30pm with his powerpoint presentation. The Cartoon Museum also opens its exhibition of Bryan’s work, “Alice in Sunderland: A Labyrinth of Dreams,” on the same day.

See you there.

Other dates this week: Friday, 5-6pm, Forbidden Planet, Bristol. Saturday 12-2pm, Nostalgia Comics, Birmingham. Saturday, 4-6pm, Astral Gypsey, Coventry. Sunday, 2-4pm, Page 45, Nottingham.

SHOOTER OFF LEGION

[Yellow Light]

With Mark Waid leaving “Legion,” many thought this would be the moment Jim Shooter would take over the book.

That was certainly the belief at DC. Many of the people who had a problem with Jim Shooter elaborated upon here, have left the corporation, or have found their influence reduced, and the appointment had Levitz and DiDio’s direct blessing.

However, in a twist of fate, I understand Shooter has left the Legion project on his own. Before anyone even had the chance to announce it.

No fear, Shooter’s got his own project to work on based around selling the Kaballah to children, called “Seven.” Not “Ten.” I don’t know why.

UP THE WIZARD’S SLEEVE

[Yellow Light]

In years past, LITG reported on retailer resistance to the way Wizard Movie Specials are distributed by Diamond – they are not solicited through Previews, rather matched to normal Wizard orders and then shipping to retailers without request. Although they are returnable, in the past they have cost retailers time and money to deal with, unless retailers specifically ask not to receive them by replying to an email. Or sometimes, even if then.

Wizard have found that if they’re solicited normally, the magazines receive less orders than a regular issue of Wizard, and have instigated this programme so as to get the books on the shelves and available to potential customers, whether the retailer thinks they will sell or not.

There are a number of retailers however who find this inconvenient, unnecessary and downright insulting.

One retailer told me that the practice is, “irritating, and erodes confidence in the company” and that “it is illegal to send anyone product without prior solicitation/approval and then expect them to pay for it later. Using Diamond as a billing agent in these matters has a dirty feel to it”.

Another summed it up saying, “I do not want what I did not order. Suppliers who ship me goods without approval generate ill-will. Generating ill-will amongst customers is a good way to lose them.”

It’s also worth noting that the notification is delivered to retailers by e-mail. Those without e-mail contact, have no choice whether or not to get the magazines.

There’s another one on the way, folks. The Wizard Spring/Summer 2007 Mega Movie Issue.

SAVING FACES

[Yellow Light]

The latest issue of DC’s “Tales Of The Unexpected” has generated a few internal ructions within the company. The fourth-wall-breaking “Architects” from the “Doctor Thirteen” back up strip, are revealed to be a Mount Rushmore with the faces of the “52” creators, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns, written in a mocking, derisive fashion by Brian Azzarello.

And some people have taken offence…

DREAMSHIFTED

[Yellow Light]

Travis Charest has been dropped from Alejandro Jodorowski’s long-awaited “Dreamshifters” graphic novel, with artwork being taken over by Zoran Janjetov, for publication later this year. Why?

Travis states, “I started working on this book over six years ago, the original idea was for me to do the pages in pen and ink and have them colored. I got it in my head that although I wasn’t a painter and hadn’t ever painted a comic, I would paint this one. Big mistake, a disaster. It took forever to get a page finished, I was redoing pages, changing the paints, a nightmare, by the time I’d left Paris and moved back to the USA I only had a dozen pages to show for nearly two years work. Since coming back, the pages haven’t really come any faster, and after all this time, I’ve only produced 30 pages of ‘Dreamshifters.’ It wasn’t a case of screwing the pooch or anything like that, I’ve always worked hard, I just had a laborious process and a dismal understanding of how to really paint. I haven’t had any new script for a year or so and I figured something like this was happening, but I found out like you did, someone mentioned the article to me and I asked my editors about it. I can’t blame them, if the book ends up being around 48-52 pages, then at the pace I was going, they’d be waiting another 4 years for this to be finished. If anything they should be applauded for being as patient as they were, especially Jodo, a wonderful, generous man who only wants to see his book finished and deserves more than I’ve been able to give him. I’ve wanted to talk about all this for a long time but wasn’t able to. I may still do more pages and the cover, but other than that I’m not sure. Now you know everything I know.:)”

NOT SO LONE WOLF

[Yellow Light]

The sequel to “Lone Wolf And Cub” has started publication in Japan, and is causing quite a stir. Not “Lone Wolf And Cub 2099” or whatever, but an actual sequel, starring Diagoro, the “Cub,” now an adult taking up his dead father’s quest. Written by original writer Kazuo Koike, but drawn by Hideki Mori after Goseki Kojima passed away.

Naturally, fanboys are the same the world over, and many are complaining that with the new artist, it’s just not the same, even disrespectful.

DC STANDING

[Green Light]

When I was young, I was a Marvel reader. Never heard of comic book shops in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. And it would be years before I ventured to Odyssey Seven in Leeds. But Marvel UK’s range on the newsagent shelf was easily accessible. Weekly comics such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Thor, Transformers and the Fantastic Four, each with back-up strips featuring Devil Dinosaur, Moon Knight and the like. DC’s presence was negligible and stayed that way, which – aside from Vertigo – gave the British market of thirty-somethings a very heavy Marvel bias. Of late there was been a real revival in Marvel UK’s newsagent status thanks to licensor Panini with many monthly titles, all at a low price, and equally available. Panini also had the rights to publish Batman, until Titan snapped them off earlier this year. Well, Titan look like they’re expanding with a Superman title this week, and now it seems a JLA book to boot in a few months. In twenty years time, who knows what the effect will be…

ARCHIE ENEMIES

Everything’s going Archie! “Archie Digest” #236 is the 65th anniversary issue, reprinting the very first stories and a crossover between Archie 1942 and Archie 2007 by Fernando Ruiz. “Jughead & Friends Digest” #22 has the first Archie story by 2006 Archie Talent Search winner Bill Galvan. “Civil Chores” starts in “Tales from Riverdale Digest” #22. And “Betty & Veronica Double Digest” #153 with the “new look” art style.

I have no idea what any of this means. If you do, hooray! We got even less Archie in the UK as a kid than we did DC.

NEWSADRAMA

[Green Light]

It was in conversation on some messageboard or other, that it came to light that many people don’t realise that Newsarama-creator Mike Doran returned to Newsarama two years ago, alongside Matt Brady. And no wonder, no articles bear his name, and his contribution isn’t publicly recognised

There was some speculation that this was related to preserving Newsarama’s relationship with DC Comics after Doran’s employment period at Marvel under Bill Jemas. Certainly, DC have pulled cooperation from sites for far lighter crimes. But it’s not as if DC don’t know about Doran’s re-involvement with Newsarama. It’s common knowledge among publishers and creators.

Just not their readers.

So, anyway, welcome back for two years ago, Mike!

Someone post a link to this column on their boards. You know how much I hate to. It just smacks of desperation.

ROBOTS IN DIS GUISE

[Yellow Light]

“Transformers 2” is being prepped for 2009, as is a new cartoon series to spin off the upcoming movie.

The reason given to licensors as to why the robots look so different in the film is so that hardcore fans will stay loyal and keep buying the old toys, which they’re relaunching, even if they hate the new movie.

Licensing has explicitly stated that companies doing merchandising have to avoid doing anything too similar to the original Transformers line, so as not to mix the two separate and profitable properties.

UPDATE: “Transformers” movie producer Don Murphy e-mails to tell me that there is nothing true about this article whatsoever.

Well, it was sourced from licensing folk. But then, that’s just another name for salesmen, notorious for saying anything…

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]

The latest from RichAndMark.com – Will Self reading from The Book of Dave. Or rather, anything but. And check tomorrow for a special RichAndMark film for Easter…

Film Ick’s Brendon Connelly has unearthed a way to get new “Children Of Men” R2 DVDs for old…

SMALL PRINT

As always, I’ve got all sorts of fun stuff selling on eBay right now, you discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

Visit my MySpace or my ComicSpace as I discuss next week’s column. Maybe.

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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