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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 89

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.

ANOTHER BRICK FROM THE WALLUpdated 1/30/2007 11:00 PM

[Yellow Light]

I understand artist Mike McKone is to be a new exclusive signing for DC Comics. Initially understood to be working on a Wildstorm project, he’s been scheduled for the end of “52.”

UPDATE: Mike emails to tell me that, yes, he is doing an issue of “52” and is in talks with Wildstorm over a creator owned book… but as of now, no exclusive and no plans for one…

DOWN DOWN DINI DINI DINI DOWN DOWN

[Green Light]

Expect official confirmation and plenty of news on that previously LITG-rumoured 52 weekly sequel “Countdown,” the DC Universe book being “showrun” by Paul Dini, in about a month.

One little titbit I’ve discovered is that, befitting the title, the issue numbering system will start at #51 (shipping the week after “52” #52) and, week by week, count down to #0. Instantly grabbing the considerable audience from “52” and getting them to commit for another year – albeit one that runs alongside current DC continuity.

Another titbit is that newly-DC-exclusive Sean McKeever will be one of the writers on the title.

BAD BOYS

[Yellow Light]

Okay, you waited all weekend like good children. So what did happen with “The Boys” then?

This relatively-new creator-owned mature readers series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson published by Wildstorm told the stories of a group of people whose lives had been destroyed by superheroes and were taken government-sanctioned acts of revenge. It also portrayed said superheroes, filling the roles of familiar DC icons, as sexual and moral deviants. Quite right too.

In the past, DC Comics have not taken kindly to their DC icons being abused in such a way, especially publicly. There is still a major grudge at the company towards Joe Quesada over sexually derogatory comments he made about Superman and Batman in a newspaper. The series “The Authority” from Wildstorm was repeatedly neutered after it gained mainstream publicity over Mark Millar’s use of the Superman and Batman archetypes, and gay couple, Apollo and Midnighter. But “The Boys” hadn’t yet received such publicity – so what was the issue?

Well, it wasn’t sales. Ex-Wildstorm and Authority editor John Layman wrote as much on Millarworld “I guarantee you it had nothing to do with sales and everything to do with content.” Indeed, sales have been good, the book has been outperforming most other Wildstorm titles and issues 4 and 5 has seen the usual decline of sales reverse and start heading up. This looked like a book with a strong future ahead of it. And indeed, it still does. Just not at DC.

Last year, LITG reported that #3 of “The Boys” was slightly delayed from Wildstorm’s end due to content worries – and whether or not Paul Levitz would allow the book to be published. It seems clear that there had been some issues regarding the title, promoted as “out-preachering Preacher”, a book from Ennis that Levitz had previously described as not to his taste. Of course, Preacher was DC-superhero-archetype free. After internal pressure at DC, the book was passed. But this event put the title more onto Levitz’s radar.

At the beginning on January, the decision came down to cancel the book due to content issues in material that had been printed, combined with the likelihood of those issues getting worse and worse. Specifically, presenting DC superhero archetypes in a severely immoral fashion. As a result, a move to Vertigo wasn’t on the cards either.

I learnt about the decision shortly afterwards, but was asked to keep quiet, so as to smooth over the transition from DC to another publisher. Although the book is creator owned, such contracts at DC make it almost impossible for a book to leave DC without the publisher’s agreement. “Fallen Angel” and “2020 Visions” did, “Skreemer” and “Epicurus The Sage” didn’t. And it was feared that comics press publicity of the situation could affect the ease of transition. And hey, I liked “The Boys” a lot. However with the expected date for #7 creeping nearer and nearer (indeed, Diamond’s shipping status still has it listed for this week, at time of print) and with a number of people coming to me with the news, the situation was becoming untenable. Newsarama broke the news on Wednesday.

So which home for “The Boys”? What about Marvel? Garth Ennis has a good history with their MAX line (though Darick’s has been quite unfortunate). And the Icon line might also suit a creator owned property and has similarly few issues with extreme content. However, part of DC’s agreeing to readily release the creator-owned book, is that it not move to Marvel. DC also wouldn’t be happy with Darick Robertson, under an exclusive DC agreement, working for Marvel either.

Currently the two favourite options are Dyamite and Avatar, but there are quite a few other names ratcheting up. This is a publishing property quite a lot of people are going to fight over. But with so much paperwork at DC still to go through, it’s going to take some time to come out the other side.

Darick Robertson has been working in advance on this title – which initially allowed the book to publish fortnightly, and the current four week schedule – and is currently inking #9 and #10. Which should also give Darick a little breathing space to fit in his DC commitments wherever the book lands.

The whole situation does seem rather rough on Wildstorm. After the “Authority” conflicts died down, they turned a corner with DC, behaved like good little soldiers, did DC’s bidding, but seemingly with little in return. With constant pressure to create a hit, when they do, they find it chopped down to protect a brand that no one else even saw being threatened.

Expect a big meeting between DC and Wildstorm personnel very shortly to try and resolve the issues – or put them out of their misery.

Neither Darick Robertson, Garth Ennis or anyone from Wildstorm provided content or comment for this article.

SOLICITING FOR BOYS

[Green Light]

Here are the solicitations ripped from the Wildstorm website after Newsarama’s announcement, but before the details were pulled. As a… taster.

THE BOYS #7

Written by Garth Ennis

Art and cover by Darick Robertson

The series continues as Butcher takes Wee Hughie to meet the Boys’ greatest weapon against the Supes: a man called “The Legend.” Plus, meet the troubled hero Tek Knight — a man with a problem so unusual you’ll have to read this comic to believe it

Wildstorm Universe | 320pg. | Color | $2.99 US | Mature Readers

On Sale January 31, 2007

THE BOYS #8

Written by Garth Ennis

Art and cover by Darick Robertson

The Legend has the Boys investigating the murder of a relative apparently at the hands of a super…but the winding trail will take many turns and all roads lead to the Tek Knight! What secret does this man of machinery hold?

Wildstorm Universe | 32pg. | Color | $2.99 US | Mature Readers

On Sale February 28, 2007

THE BOYS #9

Written by Garth Ennis

Art and Cover by Darick Robertson

The game is afoot as Hughie and Butcher’s murder investigation runs deeper into the Tek-Knight’s background. The deeper they dig, though, the bigger the mystery. And what dark secret does Hughie have about the Tek-Knight and his headquarters?

Wildstorm Universe | 32pg. | Color | $2.99 US | Mature Readers

On Sale March 28, 2007

THE BOYS #10

Written by Garth Ennis

Art and Cover by Darick Robertson

Hughie has pieced together the mysterious death of a young man and a super-human is to blame…but is apprehension of the culprit going to be possible? Can a murderer who wears a cape be punished?

Wildstorm Universe | 32pg. | Color | $2.99 US | Mature Readers

On Sale April 25, 2007

THE BOYS TPB

Written by Garth Ennis

Art and cover by Darick Robertson

Collecting the first 6 issues of the controversial new series from PREACHER writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson (TRANSMETROPOLITAN)! Don’t miss this dark, twisted look at superpowers, super-people, and the men and women who make sure the world’s “heroes” never go too far.

Wildstorm Signature Series | 144pg. | Color | Softcover | $14.99 US | Mature Readers

On Sale March 28, 2007

MILLAR’S WORLD

[Green Light]

So what would the Xbooks have looked like if Mark Millar had ruled them with an iron fist?

On Millarworld, after Millar teased his readers with a project he wouldn’t be doing, Kris Kwan asked Mark Millar, “Hey Mark quick question is there any truth to the rumor that at one point Marvel asked you to take over the entire X-franchise. Not as an editor perse, but creatively?????”

Mark replied, “Yes, it’s something we talked about last year. How did you know that? I thought it was a secret. I ended up doing ‘Civil War’ instead.”

Which probably sells in around as much as the whole X-franchise does combined!

RICK’S BACK

[Yellow Light]

So. what’s been happening in the wacky world of Rick Olney? Well the thread that will not die is now well over 10,000 posts and Rick has started posting again.

During the end of the thread we learn that Rick was served by a creditor on January the 11th, the same day Rick and his wife Barbara officially dissolved TightLip Entertainment. There appears to be some discrepancies with charity raising claims by Olney in the past, as the charity in question states they have no knowledge of any such donations – and that in order to raise money for a charity, you also need their permission. A team of creators band to raise money for affected comics creators. Ronee Bourgois continues to tell tales on the man she used to work for and posts an email exchange. Rick has also launched a new MySpace page and blog telling his side of the story and plugging his upcoming Mighty Minicon for June.

Is anybody who reads this column planning on going?

FANBOY RAMPAGE

[Yellow Light]

Oh, Marvel fanboys, you know how upset you were about Gwen Stacy and Norman Osbourne getting it on in “Amazing Spider-Man?” Well, you’re just going to love “Spider-Man 3” with Gwen Stacy and… Eddie Brock?

Film Ick has these and considerably more Spidey 3 spoilers to hurt your head.

Oh and Kate Beckinsdale signing up to “Whiteout” (though I hear it’s still in contract negotiations) and Rachel McAdams replacing Katie Holmes in “The Dark Knight.”

WILLIAM THE CONQUERED

[Yellow Light]

William Widmaier, Senior VP and Head of New Media Group at Platinum Studios is… no longer at Platinum Studios. Involved in marketing, his departure coincided with the release of Cowboys & Aliens. Gone from the website, his profile remains in Platinum’s Google cache… for now…

HELLO, I HAVE $70 MILLION DOLLARS FROM STEPHEN KING’S BANK ACCOUNT IN NIGERIA

[Green Light]

Sometimes you can’t do right for doing wrong. Marvel promoted their upcoming midnight opening sales for “Stephen King’s Dark Tower” comic with a website listing all the participating stores in the country

However, it seems they used Diamond’s billing account information for the shops – which in some cases is not the same as the store address. Especially if there is a chain of shops.

However, someone else noticed all the free comic shop contact details being made available. And before the information could be amended, quite a few shops suddenly found lots of attention from people trying to transfer millions of dollars out of Nigeria…

ARTISTS AILING

[Green Light]

What do you come to San Diego Comic Con for? Seeing comic artists at work? Or having a nice sit down with a toasted cream cheese bagel?

The following e-mail was recently circulated by organiser Clydene Nee, entitled ‘Cuts to Artists’ Alley 2007′

“I am afraid that there are significant cuts in the number of tables we will have for Artists’ Alley 2007, we were cut by 37 tables, which approximately 1/3 of our space, and you will not have a table this year. The loss of our tables is due to the convention center requiring the convention to set aside more space for participants to sit and having the snack bar open where we previously had tables.

“Cuts in the alley were based on a variety of measures, contributions to the auction, participating in programs, length of participation in artists’ alley, the work that someone is doing, what publishers they work for, and their artwork in general, etc. A combination of factors went into the scoring. It was very hard to make the cuts as you might imagine.”

Well, at least Klingons will have somewhere to rest their prosthetic foreheads.

BITS AND PIECES

[Green Light]

Larry Young and Mimi Rosenheim talk AiT… where they came from, how to pitch to them, and the very important role of the theremin.

Nightwing, Supergirl, Flash, Firestorm, Donna Troy. Together they are…. anyone? Anyone?

SMALL PRINT

Check whatever I’m selling on eBay … I’m having a big New Year’s cleanout. Lots of hardcovers, trades, DVDs…

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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