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Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-sixth chapter in the latest volume of the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Over ten years damnit! Written by British comics commentator, me, Rich Johnston, it’s read by comic book professionals and readers alike. Loved and hated equally, every Monday (ish) it brings the stories not-quite-ready-for-primetime, a look behind the curtain, a sniff of the toilet seat, the worst and the best that the comics industry can inspire. Go in with your eyes open, your blinkers off and a peg on your nose.

As for the traffic lights, RED means that the story is unlikely to be true, and you should read that with that context. AMBER signifies an identifiable agenda/slant or bias in the source that may affect the work, or that the source isn’t clear, or another factor that might bring the piece into doubt. GREEN means that the story feels right to me, my gut instinct says go for it. However, as is often the case, while the gist may be correct, the detail may be wrong – and in fact I may be having an off day and the whole thing may be buggered. It wouldn’t be the first time

There will be no column next week as I will be comatose. See the end of the column for the reason why.

‘HUNTER KILLED’ KILLEDAdded 11:10 AM Pacific Time

[Green Light]

Jim McLauchlin of Top Cow writes, regarding the previous LITG rumour
“Hunter Killed,” alleging that Marc Silvestri was off the book as of issue two, that “This is all incorrect.”

Honestly, Jim, you can prove anything with facts….

FIERY START

[Yellow Light]

I understand Stephanie Fierman has already made her mark at DC and ructions are being felt. Details are on the scatty side – the only one I’ve had flagged specifically so far is her questioning certain DC people “working from home.” While this is common practice at DC for employees who are sick or on vacation, to keep in touch with the company’s operations, some have claimed this system has been abused.

Stephanie’s appointment as Senior Vice President caused an immediate problem for one individual. Some retailers believed she’d taken current Marketing VP Bob Wayne’s job, rather than been appointed as his immediate superior, and began contacting ex-retailer Bob to check that he was okay. This has been seen as the reason Bob Wayne was so visible in the recent Newsarama interview with Fierman, if only to placate concerns by visibly and demonstrably showing his presence with Fierman and in control of the direct marketing wing.

One person who used to work for Fierman told me “She’s smart, she’s a leader and she’ll shake things up. People like working for her because she’s supportive and protective – unless you act like an asshole and get in her way.”

SILENT AWE

[Green Light]

Stunning artist and LITG favourite, Shaun Thomas, has worked on a new Silent Hill book for IDW due later this month. Called “Silent Hill: Paint It Black,” here are a few scans.

WHAT NOW?

[Yellow Light]

The delay of the recent Marvel “What If” parody comic, “Wha Huh?”, being pushed back even further and removed from the upcoming “What If” trade paperback is common knowledge.

But Bendis’ widely reported statement that the book is held up by legal matters has been corroborated by Jim Mahfood’s statement that the art for the whole issue was finished and hadn’t heard anything about the book.

Despite Bendis’ hope that this will be resolved, I have been told that there is no likelihood of the book coming out at all, while current legal and content concern opinion remains.

Some have speculated the delay involves the “What If Identity Crisis Happened In The Marvel Universe” section. I understand that Marvel representatives initially cleared parodies of work with the original creators. But who knows what DC legal might have to say if given the chance?

It appears this is just one example of the continuing Marvel and DC tussle.

Certainly J. Michael Straczynski’s recent in-joke in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man,” attacking DC comics, caused some critical comment on the message boards. But Joe gives the lines some context in a post to rec.arts.babylon5.moderated where he puts it down to DC’s decision not to retract Bob Wayne’s statements that Joe Quesada should be fired from Marvel before the two companies can work together on a crossover project, initially commented upon by this column.

Some people had speculated that the frosty relationship between DC and Marvel had been slightly thawing of late.

It hasn’t.

EDEXCLUSIVE

[Green Light]

At the DC Writers panel at Emerald City ComiCon, Ed Brubaker announced that he has signed an exclusive contract.

With Marvel.

LONG TRANSFORMATION

[Yellow Light]

While retailers and fans wait and wait, and gradually start to lose interest, I understand a final decision on who gets the “Transformers” comics license, and the remaining Diamond solicitations still on hold, will be made between the 11th and the 18th of February.

SHANNA LANG-ITUDE

[Yellow Light]

Is it not just the art that’s been changing in the new “Shanna” series (first issue came out last Wednesday)?

From Frank Cho’s Newsarama article a few months back… “Ka-Zar and Matthew do not exist in this Shanna book… it’s a completely different place… Savage Land is never mentioned. It just focuses on Shanna and the military unit fighting to survive the island.”

But from the recent Marvel solicitations:

“What could be worse than a dozen hungry raptors? How about the guy who tops the neighborhood food chain? Doc and his crew race across the Savage Land — and straight into the drooling jaws of a ravenous T-Rex. Can Shanna save them?”

It would probably help if she knew where they were first.

Or it is the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

PAGING MARVEL

[Green Light]

The Alan Moore/Alan Davis “Captain Britain” TPB is getting a second print. While, no doubt, the indicia will be fixed this time to reflect the deal between Moore and Marvel made for this book to be published, and rights to Moore’s Marvel characters clarified, this is an open appeal for Marvel to reinstate the missing page missed out by both the X-Men: Archives mini-series and the trade. It appeared in issue 5 of “The Daredevils,” the comic that originally featured this run – in the trade, that’s between pages 66 and 67.

There’s a filler page a few pages later, to preserve later double page spreads, which could easily be bumped to allow the missing page to squeeze in without having to repaginate the whole volume.

Just thought a timely open reminder might be useful chaps. Who knows, people like me might be minded to buy a replacement copy…

CARD PLAYED

[Yellow Light]

Marvel’s decision to hire Orson Scott Card as the “Ultimate Iron Man” writer caused one reader to comment on the appeal he has for a large section of the student population.

“I’m an admissions officer at a very well known university in the States (yeah check the address), reading applications, writing them up, voting on them, etc., and it’s been interesting to see that in response to our little question ‘what’s your favorite book?’ the runaway favorite this year has been ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card. Maybe as many as much as 15-20 percent of our applicant pool considers it their favorite book ever.”

Could this guy be actually the biggest name to come over to comics in a while?

ULTIMATE GOLF

[Green Light]

“Sports Illustrated” just published a golf special. With a Marvel comics tie-in. Obviously, the link between the two is so strong.

Here are some scans.

But where are the Fantastic Fore???

THE MOLE WOMAN

[Green Light]

So, what’s the biggest controversy over the transition of Spider-Man from comic book to movie? Steve Ditko’s due? Organic webbing? Or is it “cake girl’s freakin’ weird eyebrow mole and the colour of her cake?”

Apparently, it’s the latter.

Be warned. This is the one of the strangest, most obsessed threads I’ve ever read. And I’ve read threads started by Omar.

UP THE WIZARD’S SLEEVE

[Yellow Light]

When “Wizard” kicked off there seemed to be little coincidence with its championing of the Valiant line of comics as “hot” and “collectible,” with its price guide in agreement and the fact that Gareb Shamus’ family’s shop had stocked heavily on Valiant back issues. This may be a confluence of a shop believing what would be “hot” and then spreading the word, but it did smack a little of an investment column stocking up on shares of a company then promoting them as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Certainly the City Slickers came a cropper at the Daily Mirror that way.

Some are asking if history is repeating itself. Looking at the kind of comics “Wizard” is promoting as hot, with a price guide reflecting such expectations, they do seem to coincide with the massive stockpiling of comics at Wizarduniverse.com, which it will then happily sell you for cold hard dollars.

DREAM ENGINES

[Green Light]

It’s official. Issue 2 of “X4” by Pat Lee & Dreamwave Studios

Issue 3 of “X4” is Pat Lee & Dream Engine Studios

Wanted. Datestamped photos of Pat Lee or Roger Lee in their Porsches.

NOT ONLY ENO… BUT ALSO MOORE

[Green Light]

Alan Moore interviews Brian Eno.

Alan Moore’s “Sinister Ducks” gets the animated cute photo animal treatment.

INTIMATE INTIMATIONS

[Green Light]

This week’s “Read My Johnston” review is for “The Intimates” # 4. And I only mention that cover aspect twice. I also refrain from noticing that, at time of writing, sister site www.billjemas.com is suffering a software error.

LEAVING LONDON FOR LOS ANGELES

[Green Light]

This Thursday, myself and two work colleagues will land in Los Angeles. We have an awards do to attend at the DGA on Friday, so we need to beat jet lag and be kept awake.

To that end, we’ll be at Toi On Sunset (handily opposite Meltdown Comics at 7505 1/2 Sunset Boulevard) on Thursday night, from 7pm onwards. Come and eat/drink/get drunk with us. And while I am happily married with kid very nearly due, my compatriots are young, single and very English. And know nothing of comics.

Mark Gilmore. He’s basically Hugh Grant, but cleverer.

Liz Oliver. She’s basically Bridget Jones but younger, thinner and sexier.

And then there’ll be me. I was a zombie in “Shaun Of The Dead.”

Call me on 011447801350982 or go to this thread if you can make it.

RECRUITING IN THE GUTTERS

If you’ve got a story, talk to me. Your identity will remain anonymous unless you wish otherwise. You can choose a pseudonym and join the ranks of the Gutterati. Or be a demon reposter, join the Gutter Snipes and spread the word about stories in this column across the Internet, where relevant. Then tell me where you’ve put them up – the more mainstream the better!

You can contact me at:

  • mailto:richjohnston@gmail.com
  • AOL Instant Message me at TwistRich
  • 0780 1350982 (01144780 1350982 from N America)
  • Anthrax packages can be sent to 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU, ENGLAND

Be seeing you.

Discuss this column on the Lying In The Gutters Forum.
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