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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 sources and checked with respective publisher representatives before publication. 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.

GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY

[Green Light]

WizardWorld Chicago seems to have been quite a party town. Certainly the members of the Bendis board, Millarworld and JoeQuesada.com got up to such a degree of nonsense including backstabbing, infighting and general bitchy behaviour that Brian Michael Bendis threatened to shut his message board down as a result.

But the hot ticket for creators, editors, publishers and press was this one.

Avatar’s party, in a large suite was one fitting to the company who published such fine endeavours as “Vivid Girls,” “Lady Death,” “Threshold,” “Dicks,” “Unfunnies” and, well, occasionally “Holed Up.”

Basically there was an open bar and strippers. Just the one to start, working the room with groping allocation. Then two large breasted strippers put on a lesbian show with sex toys, before involving members of the crowd in a number of set pieces – licking cream off them, whipping people, forcing them to drink beer from a dog bowl, plucking lifesaver sweets/candy off an individuals nose (before dropping it in their gaping mouth) and allowing individuals to eat “gummy worms” from the same orifice.

Who said comic book conventions were tacky?

MATCHING CUFFS

[Yellow Light]

The cover of “Ultimates 2” #8 was solicited with the following image.

At the time, Mark Millar said that the real cover image would be much more revelatory. Presumably giving the identity of the “Ultimates traitor”. So for those of you who like your spoilers, click here.

Of course, it could be another well-planned double bluff…

“Ultimates 2” #8 is published in September.

HOUSE OF XORN

[Yellow Light]

Time for them white-out spoilers you love so much just in case. This is a non-Marvel professional-sourced potential spoiler for “House Of M.” But then it could be a planted spoiler. Or something else entirely. Best be safe though, eh?

One creator at WizardWorld Chicago told an intrepid Gutterati that one of the outcomes of “House Of M” is the revelation that Wanda kept Charles Xavier and Magneto alive, when they should have died years ago. When the Marvel Universe reverts in its new post-HoM form, that will no longer be the case.

This could be a handy way to fix the Morrison Xorn/Magneto story and the post-Morrison Xorn/Magneto confusion too…

Back to your potential spoiler-free reality with you.

PASS, WIZARD

[Yellow Light]

That WizardWorld Chicago counted a 3-day pass as three separate attendances when coming to their 58,000 attendance figure at the recent Chicago Con has been reported elsewhere. But there were lots of incentives going round.

Indeed, customers who bought any advance tickets, were able to get a free copy of an “Ultimate Spider-Man” #79 Sketch Variant issue. Similar incentives have, in the past, often paid for a customer’s entire ticket – and the rest – when they’ve later been sold on eBay, limited as they are and only available in one location.

However this year, a Wizard representative was observed walking the floor during the con, offering vendors the chance to get three “Ultimate Spider-Man” #79 Sketch Variant issues for free if they bought remaining Wizard tickets for $25. Cue a number of retailers buying extra multiple tickets and slapping them on eBay. Helping find homes for those remaining variants

Now… anyone got a spare Kevin Smith Inaction Figure going…?

FOLLOWING ORDERS

[Green Light]

Earlier in this week, Devil’s Due sent out a press release entitled “G.I.JOE #3 AND SNAKE-EYES DECLASSIFIED #1 PRINTED TO ORDER” in which they stated… well, the above.

The release included the self-reflective copy:

“Not expecting this decision to go by without some controversy, Devil’s Due Publishing president, Joshua Blaylock explains, “We’ve gone out of our way to overprint the latest issues of America’s Elite, and with the promotion of the relaunch, orders have been on the rise. We need to continue this trend, but unfortunately, when we overprint for too long, the retail community begins to depend on that, and order less up front copies. While we’re one of the industry’s top mid-tier publishers, we still need to play things closer to the vest than the bigger guys. Based on the demand for back orders of issues #1 and #2, we feel retailers are missing the boat on issue #3, which had a slight (emphasis on slight) drop, and we need to get the attention of the stores so our upward climb continues. If the orders are simply what the fans are demanding, then stores won’t need more copies, but if they are under ordering, they will know to increase orders for future issues.

“Although a drop from issues #1 to #3 is common, it is a trend DDP wants to minimize before it even starts. The official view of the company is that the retailers already heavily supporting the titles will have adequate stock. Retailers who find themselves surprised to be sold out, and unable to reorder never intended to order those copies anyway and are not being harmed by the decision. They will, however, have more of an incentive to seize the opportunity to increase orders on future issues.

“Devil’s Due would like to thank the retailers who have supported the recent summer launches, and clarify that this is not an across the board policy, but a necessary tactic used from time to time, which has proven very successful in the past.

“Devil’s Due, reminding everyone that pop culture IS our culture.”

Yeah. That’s the way to make retailers happy. Send out a press release saying they’re idiots and you’re treating them like children. Worked so well for Bill Jemas.

When posting this to the Comic Book Industry Alliance forum, Jim Hanley of Jim Hanley’s Universe asked, “Anyone want to take any bets on how long these guys will be around?”

Brian Hillier of Twilight Comics added, “Me am not confused. Me am loving that retailer friendly idea! Me not harmed if me try to not reorder because me not mean to!”

Calum Johnston of Strange Adventures, “What if retailers sent out mass emails to customer saying that ‘Super G.I. Blank’ #1 will only be ordered in the amount of pre-ordered copies. We cannot trust the publishers to have faith in their own product and overprint so we share their lack of faith and will only order copies that are pre-sold. Please make sure you notify our friendly sales staff that you wish to order a copy of Super G.I.Blank so we can ensure you will receive it. We are sure that the publisher will be able to advertise their new book to you in such a way that you will be able to determine if you want that particular book.”

As a number of other retailers and publishers dived in, Devil’s Due turned in on itself. Joe from the publisher Chaos Comics wrote, “I would like to clarify some points on behalf of Chaos! Comics, which is publishing through Devil’s Due. Our philosophy regarding overprinting is not the same as Devil’s Due.

“First, a dis-incentive for retail stores to reduce initial orders in favor of reorders already exists for all but the brokered publishers – the reorder fee. Reordered product carries lower margins for stores than product ordered as an initial order. We understand that and do not feel the fact that product may be available for reorder would be a material dis-incentive as potent as the reorder fee.

“Second, publishers have the lowest cost in the supply chain (except for that first copy). The risk of unsold merchandise is lowest at the publisher.

“The best answer to everyone’s inventory concerns is to produce a high quality book that people demand. Sell through will take care of inventory at both the publisher and retailer level if the book is of high quality.”

As a self publisher in my time, I can understand the considerable annoyance with producing a book on a shoe string budget for a small amount of orders, only to then see reorders kick in which you’re unable to fill because you weren’t able to print enough, and then when you do supply extra copies, see orders drop off because they can always be ordered later – and then aren’t. Or for customers to come to you directly saying their shop didn’t order enough – and you think about all the lost sales that didn’t think to come to you. And there are ways to address it. Often through retailer incentive programmes, one to one discussion, marketing, all sorts of approaches. But probably not in a press release which a section of your direct target market finds offensive.

And for fans who want the comics mentioned? Run, don’t walk, to get those preorders in…

ALIAS THE PARKSTER

[Green Light]

Rob Liefeld was to have published a comic book series based on the “Alias” TV show a couple of years ago. It never happened, but Andy Park has recently released a number of pages from the project on his website’s gallery.

BEACH BOY

[Green Light]

Just what are CB Cebulski’s new creator owned projects?

Well, there’s “Drain” with Sana Takeda

And “Shiki” with João.

Look for more at his blog.

CUT AND PASTE POT PETE

[Green Light]

With four gentlemen currently going through the British legal system, isn’t it fun to see that some enterprising young chap has managed to combine the current situation with Marvel’s summer blockbuster?

MANGALESS IN THE UK

[Green Light]

Looks like the UK rights to the manga titles Dark Horse have been publishing have just been transferred – a number of titles will no longer be made available to UK shops to sell.

Still, like with CMX, Slave Labor, “He-Man,” “Incredibles,” “Transformers” and others, many UK shops will turn to the grey market. One retailer, who wish to remain unnamed, told me that they found it cheaper to buy DC’s manga titles through an illegal redistributor than when they bought them directly from Diamond.

SEXY PIX

[Green Light]

This week there’s been quite a bit of fuss over the… interestingly titled Dark Horse anthology from Diana Schutz, entitled “Sexy Chix,” featuring women comic book writers and artists. Specifically the name, and the photos of the creators in question. Which got it lots of publicity, hopefully the point. Well done there, Diana.

Some less favourable publicity may be coming from Lea Hernandez, who took the photo of Gail Simone featured on the front. It has featured in a number of places since, including Wizard, fully credited. She also sent it to Dark Horse at Gail’s request, though Lea was told it was too low res to be used. And then saw it featured in various news reports.

In her blog, Lea exclaims her frustration – usage without notification or payment. Gail responded after I contacted her, saying “First, I was told they weren’t using Lea’s photo, and second, I had no idea we were going to be put on the cover. My sincere apologies to Lea.”

Of course that second aspect brings up a number of other questions…

All this can be sorted before publication, Dark Horse. And consider this free publicity – I’ll certainly be buying my copy.

UPDATED 8/16/05 12:30 AM: In her blog, Lea Hernandez has updated the story saying “My picture of Gail’s been removed from the wretched book, which means Diana Schutz doesn’t have to introduce me to Dark Horse legal.

“Hooray.”

The new cover image:

Gail Simone told me, “Through a series of small and non-malicious miscommunications, a photo ended up on the mock-up cover against the wishes of Lea, who took the picture. Diana IMMEDIATELY offered to change the photo, and in fact, had already asked me for a new photo to use before the solicitations went up. It was a mistake, and it was quickly rectified. Hopefully that’s the end of it.”

SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]

Greg Land has been having fun with his filters of late. Take “Ultimate Fantastic Four” 22. Magneto… or Brad Pitt in Troy?

And proof that glasses are a good disguise after all. Topher Grace as Mr Fantastic.

Ladies and gentlemen, Wade Wilson on Photoshop there.

You know, it wasn’t that long ago that this sort of this got Marvel in legal trouble…

And we have to love this particular page.

ACTIVE IMAGE

[Green Light]

Clint Hilinski, of “Youngblood,” “Justice League,” “Voltron” and “Belladonna,” has a new book on the way called “The Hyper Actives.” Another runaround for the media starlets as superheroes – hopefully it’ll be as extreme as my favourites of the genre, “Brats Bizarre” and “Brat Pack.”

But for now it’s resembling another comic having an identity crisis cover for issue 0…

PROS AND CONS

[Green Light]

British comics conventions have always had the flavour of sticky tape, glue, a used washing up bottle, sticky back plastic and hard liquor. While the American conventions look grand, with huge displays, wonderful performances, queues stretching across lines of latitude and beer-flavoured water.

Dez Skinn’s new British comics convention in Brighton in November looks like a change in format. There’s more money involved, from councils and colleges, tourist events and a location on the seafront. However, there were plans to precede it with a £200 a head ProCon. That looks unlikely now, as Dez Skinn posted to the now-generic British-comics-festival message board Comics2000.

Dez Skinn wrote, “About ProCon…

“I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew, this being the first time I’ve organised a show since Comicon 81 (with Frank ‘Weird Fantasy’) Dobson, but for ProCon I took on board a professional business development and fundraising consultant.

“So far he hasn’t raised any funds, despite his card having SEEDA (South East England Development Agency) and The Arts Council on it. The representation to the DTI or Vodaphone doesn’t appear to have gone anywhere either.

“Now he has done this job before, the annual Brighton Cine City being just one example, and we armed him with folders, paperwork, a website, business card, the works. He’d told us it should be packaged with ‘delegate day rates’ and what he believed was a reasonable amount, almost half what his colleagues at Creatives Clusters (Brighton again) charge each year.

“But we ain’t got no funding and I haven’t heard from him for a month. All together, say ‘Oh-oh!’

“So, while the Expo’s looking rosey, ProCon ain’t. Guess I should have stuck with my set-in-stone principal of going my own way with it rather than somebody else’s approach. I still think the theory’s sound, offering overseas publishers and creatives a 4-5 day reason to fly for two days, but it’s got lost somewhere in the mix.

“Having just finished a deadline, I’ll next week be firming up the guests, in the knowledge that Comic Expo will be footing all the bill, not just 50%. I’ve already got promises from some pretty ‘wow’ folks, but I needed to get straight this whole ProCon situation before sending them their air ticket money.”

But for Brighton’s Comic Expo, I hear Diamond are adding a Trade Open Day on the Friday before the con, something that used to be a regular con event but faded away of late.

The current convention schedule is Trade Open Day 1-6pm Friday 18th November, Brighton Comic Expo 19th-20th November. And my birthday on the Monday. Probably take the wife and send her in the direction of the original art tables….

And yes, there will also be a Live Lying In the Gutters event at Brighton.

SMALL PRINT

For other comic and non-comic book related nonsense, check out the Twistblog.

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum.

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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