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Welcome to the one hundred and thirtieth 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.

The Rumour Awards have been postponed until next week. Yes, look relieved. Anyway, they’re usually there to fill in the holiday week where nothing happens… and that hasn’t been so this week.

DREAMWAVING BYE BYE… NOT SO HASTY!

[Yellow Light]

The rumours about Dreamwave going bankrupt have been circling. Certainly, there was suspicion and speculation after numerous creators were refused payment and this increased as more prominent creators found themselves unpaid.

As for now, Dreamwave’s answer machine says that they’ve closed for the holidays. A Lying In The Gutters reader popped by the Dreameave office for a look-see and, although closed, everything looks normal. All furniture and computers are there, big painting in reception, it’s clean, even a Christmas tree is standing.

However I also understand that Pat Lee told Dreamwave employees before the holidays that the company was going into receivership. Everyone’s been publicly keeping that under their hat save for Ben Yee, a consultant to Simon Furman on “Beast Wars.” And the company’s message board has been closed down/hacked.

Currently, Pat is working miracles moving debt, reorganising and using other companies in a McFarlane style to ensure a Dreamwave in some form exists in the New Year. A new company created in the beginning of December when Hasbro gave Dreamwave a deadline for license payments. Amid unconfirmed rumours that Hasbro has already asked Diamond for Dreamwave assets, and cancelled books, naturally, the Transformers license has not been renewed. It seems ironic that the very property, which enabled Dreamwave to launch independently from Image and take the top selling comic in the industry spot, would be cause of its eventual decline. Is there a Transformer called Nemesis? There should be.

It’s not unlikely that Devil’s Due will grab Transformers, and the likes of DC and Marvel may hoover up the top creators there. But also expect Pat Lee’s vision to keep rolling on, with a number of creators owing him much loyalty.

It wasn’t that long ago that Dreamwave were publishing the number one book in the industry and it was selling out. However, heavy licensing costs, natural reader wastage, combined with an inability to transfer that readership to other properties and costs from being a top-heavy company have led to the current position.

On Sunday night, John Ney Reiber, writer of “Transformers Vs. GI Joe” and “Killzone,” wrote me to add: “Dreamwave is apparently preparing to close its offices. A press release is forthcoming, I’m told. Neither Pat nor Roger Lee have confirmed this–to me, anyway. Which could be very naturally attributed to the holiday season. Or just as naturally attributed to any number of less jolly causes. But I can say with absolute certainty that this was a bleak Christmas for at least one freelancer who was assured earlier in the month–*after* your announcement of the McDonough/Patyk lawsuit against Dreamwave– that they would be paid on time for the work they had turned in (and would, subsequently and credulously, turn in).”

To quote Pat Lee, “IF THERE WAS ANYTHING I COULD TELL SOMEONE ABOUT SUCCESS.. MY WORDS WOULD BE, LIFE IS ABOUT BALANCE. WE FAIL JUST AS MUCH AS WE SUCCEED AND TO LOVE LIFE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE BEFORE IT ENDS…”

TAD INTERESTING

[Yellow Light]

John Taddeo was spotted at the auction for Acclaim’s hard assets when they went under.

Previously LITG stated that Taddeo was interested in buying up Valiant properties. Looks like he’s sniffing around.

Reportedly a sad affair. Lots of desks for sale with mugs and photos still on them, as if they hadn’t had time to take them when the hammer fell. Still, if you wanted a movie studio, game testing area or a conference room going cheap, they couldn’t be beat.

But as for film and contracts for the comics, they seemed to be in short supply. Turns out the building holding all those assets had already been sold, as was, without realizing those assets were in there. Anyone trying to put the old material together will have a long arduous journey.

MORE SINNINGAdded 12/27/04 at 7:45 PM PST

[Green Light]

Unpromoted elsewhere, and hidden on the Apple site, the higher
definition version
of the “Sin City” trailer in lovely ‘480’ including frame-by-frame.

WHAT’S IN A NOSE?

[Green Light]

Further on last week’s rumour that Zaphod’s second head would be in his nostril, in the new “Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, this set report states, “While we were still struggling to grasp what we were seeing, the tour at the Elstree studios was over, and we hung back at Robbies office for a while to let it all sink in with some Serious, Cool and Constructive discussions, like ‘Did you see the camera in the nostril?'”

RED WRITERS

[Green Light]

“Red Sonja” from Dynamite Entertainment mentioned last week, will be written by Mike Carey and Michael Avon Oeming.

Mike, writer of my favourite comic of the year, “My Faith In Frankie,” has been trying to find a project to break his image of being Vertigo man. And Micahel needs something to establish him more as a writer than an artist.

This should do it for them both.

VOTE FOR ROBIN

[Green Light]

Well, it does seem as if Jeph Loeb is no longer writing that Jim Lee “All-Star Batman & Robin” series that he’d been so long associated with. Could he being going to Marvel after all? I hear that previous denials are now only being repeated with coughs behind the mouth.

So I’ve decided I’m going to choose the replacement writer. Seriously, you’re all going to vote for the writer you’d most like to see write the book and I will personally ensure it happens. Don’t believe me? Let’s play. E-mail your favoured All-Star Batman And Robin writer from the following list to richjohnston *at* gmail.com

Neal Adams – a keen rewriter of scripts and seen as rather definitive

Ed Brubaker – who gave him a vertigo urban edge

Tim Burton – who brought the Bat to the screen and defined a style

Alan Grant – who gave Batman a touch of Dreddian satire

Dave Gibbons – world’s finest

Bob Kane – if by name only

Frank Miller – the darkest of knights and the definer of visions

Alan Moore – who disowned his own version

Grant Morrison – who engaged in a battle of symbolism

Greg Rucka – who no man followed

Chuck Dixon – who broke the back of Batman

John Byrne – who made him think clean thoughts, chum

I’m totally serious here. Result next week in the Rumour Awards. I’ll use my Paul Levitz voodoo doll. Then expect the announcement from DC later next year.

Adam Hughes will either be drawing “All-Star Batman & Robin” after Jim Lee finishes his arc, or “Wonder Woman.” The decision was being made last week.

LOOK BACK IN ANGER

[Yellow Light]

Remember the “Batman/Daredevil” crossover kerfuffle that Brian Bendis went public with, appealing to Paul Levitz’ better nature? And his subsequent apology for the problems it caused DC, and the fact that he damned the project the moment he started speaking?

There does seem to be some further history between Paul and Brian here. I understand that Brian Bendis was the chosen writer for the upcoming “Flash” movie, but Paul Levitz personally intervened and got him ejected from the project – replacing Bendis with David Goyer. All because of Bendis’ close association with Joe Quesada.

While we’re talking about the great one, Brian Bendis was expected to attend next years Bristol convention in the UK. I understand certain convention people are saying that Brian’s wife wanted a more expensive hotel away from the convention, and for an airline that would add to their air miles, something the organizers weren’t willing to do. On the other side, I hear Brian just discovered he was “uninvited” without reason given.

Either way, expect some replacement names shortly. And rending of flesh from the Bendis board UK contingent.

WONDER ARTIST

[Yellow Light]

“Wonder Woman” written and directed by Joss Whedon is a common rumour right now. But I’ve also heard that fresh off his “Doctor Who” designs, Bryan Hitch is involved in a similar capacity.

Okay, how long until Paul Levitz finds out?

STATUE ESQUE

[Green Light]

Alex Ross is designing Conan images to be used for a statue from Dynamic Forces later next year.

MACK IN TOSH

[Yellow Light]

I understand David Mack has been approached to follow Millar on “Wolverine.” I also think he’s said “yes.”

WING OR ARROW?

[Green Light]

I understand Phil Hester and Ande Parks, the “Green Arrow” team, are going to be the new regular artists on “Nightwing.”

AMAZONS ATTICED

[Green Light]

Can something be cancelled before it’s announced? It seems so. “Amazons Attack,” a DC Universe mini-series previously greenlit is now changing colour due to an altered editorial direction.

GOSH TOSH

[Green Light]

Gosh! Comics, the most-loved comic shop in London, has been hacked for Christmas, by a bunch of arabic anti-Israeli protestors from the Middle East… who still find time for a shout out to their mates. The regular Chris Ware designed site is back up again. But for a good chunk of the Christmas holiday week, it read:

Fr0m The Darkside===>Team-Evil Moroccan Hackerz===>we are : G0rillazz ; X-BLooD-X ; 3rbil ; Peur2rien ; LeRommanTique===>Team anti-#### ===>anti-Terrorisme ====>Our Msg iS for #### & ISRAEL are TERRORISTS, people in Iraq & Palestine are dying everyday, children are losing their parents, losing their lifes, what’s going on?! Move on people! Move on and do something, your turn we’ll come, are you still keeping it quite?===>spacial Greetz t0: Adrallica – Net_Shark – spy_pc -arab hackers -====>3rbil@hackermail.com & l8oo8l@msn.com & X-BLooD-X@linuxmail.org

THE REAL EVENT

[Green Light]

The Mam Tor anthology project from Liam Sharp, Event Horizon, features a six-page story by myself and artist Saverio Tenuta introducing the eponymous character action-heroine “Chase Variant.”

I’ve just seen the full art.

And now I’ve become one of those stereotypical drooling writers who will go on about how astounding the art for their scripts is, sounding cliché, tedious, monotonous and dull. I originally envisioned an art style akin to John Cassady. I got Cassady crossed with Bisley instead.

I’m the luckiest new comics writer in the world. Alex de Campi can suck my fat one. Here’s an unlettered page.

KANDY MAN

[Green Light]

Here’s some finished artwork for upcoming CrossGen-waiting-to-happen publisher Kandora, “Barbarossa and the Lost Corsairs” by Brian Augustyn and HS Park.

FESTIVE LINKS

[Green Light]

The man who would be Iron Man.

I may be about to get a film made for thirty pounds.

Pretty comics

As Titan Books put out “Modesty Blaise” collections, something reached the DVD shelf from Quentin Tanantino.

And next week. The Rumour Awards. The announcement of the Batman & Robin voting. And the Kyle Baker Superbaby artwork.

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.

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