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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 93

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.

QUOTES OF THE CON:

“I have all your names. And your discounts.” – Bob Wayne, Retailers Meeting

“We’re just as scared of Wal Mart as you are” – Dan Buckley, Retailers Meeting

“I’m working on a new series, called 365. 365 days, one comic” – Jim Lee, Mystery Guest Panel

“Aren’t you dead?/Don’t go near that microphone/Watch out, here comes Greg Rucka!” – Fucking Everyone.

SO GOOD THEY DELAYED ME TWICE

[Green Light]

Back from New York ComicCon. NYerdCon. I made up the word, I’m using it, even if no one else is. I was in town for an advertising event and I thought I’d extend it through the weekend.

And a quick word about United Airlines. Delayed or cancelled flights because of weather is understandable. When it’s down to the crew being at the wrong airport, it’s not. Nor when, after your flight is delayed four hours, so you miss your connecting flight, wait for the next available one nine hours later, with a guarantee that this will be plenty of time to transfer luggage – much more than your original flight would have given them – and then they manage to lose it. I sit here, writing away, luggageless and lacking in sleep. Apologies for any… inconsistencies.

A WORKING BREAKFAST

[Green Light]

I arrived at NYerdCon too late to pick up my press badge on the Thursday, but did so early Friday. Waiting for the con to start, I wandered round, taking a few photos of empty rooms, knowing they would soon be full of Stormtroopers.

Stopped by the security guard upstairs, they were more lax downstairs, and I found myself in the retailers breakfast meeting, chatted with DC’s Bob Wayne, before being accosted by British retailers who recognized their fellow kin. And that’s how I discovered the biggest story this year.

Graphic novel sales are up. Way up. 2006 was a real boom year across the board. Marvel reported 20-25% in the direct market, 40% in the bookstore. That this is notable in the bookstore market is emphasised because in general, booksales are down 10%.

Marvel representative David Gabriel stated this was because Marvel had been given the go ahead to reprint books and keep a larger available backlist. DC’s Bob Wayne said, “I have to look into this reprinting thing” in the driest mocking tone imaginable, but confirmed similar numbers for DC.

But this has caused some worries. There have been a number of case studies wondering about the financial future of bookstore chains. If, say, Borders went bust, it could cause a real blow to both Marvel and DC, not just for future sales, but more importantly regarding the unpaid-for stock in the system that would be swallowed up in the bankruptcy. For smaller publishers, it could cripple or kill them.

The retailers meeting covered much ground, but the quality of the meal seemed to dull much concern on the retailers’ part. I mean discounts may be tight in certain areas, and there are lots of late books, but the apricot pastries are just ooh, delicious.

One retailer shared his experience of consumer cannibalism. Thankfully only a metaphor, he saw repeated examples of titles such as “52” and “Civil War” coming from titles from the same company being dropped in order to buy the mega series. However, publisher Dan Buckley stated that overall, Marvel saw no evidence of this, and Bob Wayne described it as a rising tide.

As to consumers limited budgets, Bob Wayne did his mocking thing again, suggesting retailers go through a customer’s budget with them looking for other ways to save money, such as cooking rather than buying fast food… have I ever told you all how much I like Bob when he’s on form?

DC’s John Cunningham has seen a direct correlation between making an issue of a series available online and subsequent uplifts in orders for the series in question. It seems, apparently, that advertising works. I made sure to tell my boss.

As to retailer concerns of the effect of late shipping books on demand, DC’s decision to both allow returnability as well as FOC alteration of order, David Gabriel stated that Marvel had no plans to follow DC’s example in allowing additional returnability. When one retailer stated that this meant retailers were likely to just cut the FOC orders to the bone, Dan Buckley said he understood that position and had no problem with it.

TAKING THE FLOOR

[Green Light]

The show proper was large. Not nearly San Diego sized, but then a higher percentage of comics stuff that the West Coast has. I hear that moving the show to April next year will see the size double. There’s certainly room to extend into the area they were holding the New York Times Travel Convention, that a few bored Jedi made their way over to.

And there were plenty of Jedi, Stormtroopers, bloggers, Stan Lee, booth babes, Joe Quesada, Back To The Future blocks …

…and, well, Milla Jovovick AKA Leeloo from “The Fifth Element.” Blimey. Some vendors were definitely complaining about the cost, but the show was large, there was major footfall and there were none of those ignored areas and patches that often plague big cons. And you could, if you wished, do it all in a single day.

I handed Stephen Colbert one of the IDW cards from last week, got podcasted repeatedly, and generally geeked out. NYerdCon grabbed me by its tendrils and soon I was found happily playing the Darkness video game, taking video clips of Jedi fighting on stage and geeking out over meeting Arnold Drake, who looks less like a comic book creator, as he does Yoda.

This being my first time in New York, I also walked Manhattan. Jogged by the frozen lakes of Central Park, meandered through the terribly nice gentrified Hell’s Kitchen (I now want to pitch a Daredevil series where he tackles such crime as double parking, tax fraud and of course, noise pollution) and through Time Square (you need a store with two floors to just sell M&Ms?) and down to Grand Central Station (I restrained from waltzing, “Fisher King” style, but only just). The language of the streets is the language I first met reading Spider-Man and the like. Basically, it felt like walking through the Land of Mordor.

This was the year of Stephens with both King and Colbert in heavy demand. Where anyone who’d appeared in one or more episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” could claim a fan following. Where Kevin Smith could run the “Battlestar Galactica” panel because he really, really likes “Battlestar Galactica” (and hey, it had No. 6 on it). And there were even comic-book-related events, too.

My “Breaking Into Comics” panel with CB Cebulski (who learnt he was on the panel by reading LiTG last week) and Colleen Doran seemed to be the sleeper hit of the show. It wasn’t a packed room, but the questions, which received incredibly frank and useful comments from both CB and Colleen) kept the panel going well into the next one. Sorry. And sorry to all the editors for revealing the simple trick to how Marvel and DC’s individual email addresses work.

CB’s get together on Saturday was a blast, with some lovingly swiped artwork for his invite, attended by everyone who wasn’t lured away by free Marvel swag at the PopCultureShock party. Which meant most of the Marvel staff were with CB. A sizeable bunch of DC people as well… say, does this count as a swipe file?

Heard across NYCC…

THE GREENS

[Green Light]

I understand there are two months worth of “Countdown” content completely finished, three months before the new weekly book starts to ship.

Dan DiDio slipped at one panel, and appeared to confirm that the Flash featured in the “Countdown” teaser is Barry Allen. The other “Countdown” panelists weren’t exactly cheering at that moment…

“The Boys” has not been officially cancelled by DC. Not officially. That’s the current company position. Make of it what you will.

The first twelve issues of “Countdown” will be made partially returnable by DC, so retailers can order a large quantity, knowing if they don’t all sell, they can return overstock. This allows the book to find its level of sales, rather than the understandably conservative natural tendency of the retailer.

The Minx line will be made fully returnable for similar reasons.

Frank Miller has written issue #8 of “All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder,” Jim Lee had the fully inked issue #5 to show off and says he’s well underway on issue #6.

Ed Brock is back as Venom in “Spectacular Spider-Man.”

Neal Adams is drawing Archie comics. The “Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and the Web” graphic novel with have an Adams cover, and Adams will draw the “Web” character throughout.

Who’d have thought “Onslaught Reborn” would have been delayed because the writer was late?

THE AMBERS

[Yellow Light]

Diamond are launching a range of barcodes for independent publishers to use on their books, without having to go to the cost of creating them, per book, themselves. This will also help to standardize a barcode model across the industry,

David Mazzuchelli has a 200-300 page original graphic novel on the go.

“Maintenance” from Oni has been optioned by Little Brothers, for Alan McGee to direct.

There’s an animated “Spirit” series in the works. More here.

Ed Brubaker on “Invaders.”

THE REDS

[Red Light]

“NextWave/GoBots.” Sorry, I did ask

Brian K Vaughan is a racist anti-asian bigot – at least, those were the charges from someone in the audience at the Vertigo panel, who delivered a stream of expletives over Brian’s hatred to people of an asian persuasion, until they were escorted away by security, screaming “Asian power!” It did rather sour the rest of the panel and Brian told a later panel that this was an individual who had been stalking him and his family, without any justification for any of his claims.

The Hulk gets the Venom symbiote costume. Only “red,” because it was suggested by an eight year old at the Cup Of Joe panel. Mind you, everyone seemed to really like the idea…

And then there was this image from one of the “Avengers” books, shown at the Marvel panels…

…which really looked like Mole Man was curling out a hot steaming one…

CLEARLY THAT MARVEL POLICY HAS BEEN REVERSED. AND HOW.

[Red Light]

From this “Champions” interview, “While Tony Stark will remain in an oversight capacity of the team he founded under the moniker of ‘ZEUS’, his new duties post-Civil War have made it so he needs someone in place with the Champions to be more directly involved. The man in the ‘HERA’ position is an old friend of Tony’s, an actor that used to play Iron Man on a television series. ‘He and Stark were kind of like the Cary Grant and Randolph Scott of the Marvel U, you know? Party pals.'”

Cary and Randolph? Really? Now that’s some serious revisioning of Tony

CIVIL ENDING

[Green Light]

I read “Civil War” #7 during the Marvel presentation at NYCC and managed to get through it before they spoiled it. The series has been considerably panned online, but I think it stands up much better as a whole. A great deal of criticism over the balance of the argument presented in the series only stands up if the it’s not considered as a whole and the twist in tone more than plot in the issue gives it that exact balance. The delay in issues really didn’t help that, so I recommend a reread.

And it doesn’t stop Calliope‘s mashup, taking the last two pages of “Civil War” #7 and laying on the monologue from the end of “Wanted” #6 from being the most hilarious mashup of the year.

Here are the original pages

And the mashup:

Joe Quesada repeated his statement that, if there were masked men in each corner of a con panel, you’d feel nervous, and that’s how people in the Marvel Universe feel, justifying much of “Civil War.” Of course, later in the con, the guards themselves would be wearing full Stormtrooper costume while they were working, holding what could have been real guns, you never know, and no one felt scared. Well, apart from on behalf of the gene pool, obviously…

BITS AND PIECES

Film Ick, the number one film website I heard mentioned all weekend, has an exclusive look at Terry Gilliam’s new screenplay, The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus

Todd Allen on what NYCC means for digital comics.

Free Golly Bear opportunity.

Thanks to Remy, Pinguino, Chuck, Leeloo and the entire population of New York.

SMALL PRINT

Check whatever I’m selling on eBay, 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 through the week. 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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