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Rich checks in with news of Alan Moore’s radio interview, Mike Carey’s new supernatural thriller, Image battles, Straczynski’s upcoming work load, “Lemony Snickets” coming to comics and much, much more.

LITG 129

Welcome to the one hundred and twenty-ninth 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.

TAKE A COUCH, SUPERMAN

[Yellow Light]

Mort Weisinger used to be editor in charge of the Superman titles at DC Comics, graduating from science fiction pulp magazines, and is famed for his hands-on approach to comics with Superman. He’s certainly famed for inventing some of Superman’s more long lasting concepts.

It’s said that he sought out ideas indented to inspire children’s imagination and tested concepts on them, even asking children what they’d like to see in a Superman comic.

But what I didn’t know until Alan Moore mentioned it as part of the “Chain Reaction” radio chatshow recorded last week, was that all these concepts were drawn from psychoanalyst sessions with Mort. The remergence of Krypton aspects into the book, his own reconciliation with his immigrant past. The Bottle City Of Kandor representing his repressed and bottled up memories of home. The Bizarro Superman as an expression of his own dual identity and wishes to destroy what he created.

The interview was mostly an Alan Moore 101 for a mainstream over-40 audience, but a very entertaining one. We know that Moore decided to reject all credit and monies for film adaptations of his work after “League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen” – we didn’t know that he got calls giving him huge wodges of money for “V For Vendetta,” “Watchmen” and “Constantine” all in the next couple of weeks.

Glycon must really have been testing him. Moore says however that he did really enjoy the thought of a Hollywood exec being told this and saying “but… if he doesn’t want money… what does he want?”

FRIENDLY GHOST WRITER

[Green Light]

According to the latest Orbit Ezine, via Alien Online, Mike Carey is writing a new supernatural thriller prose series, provisionally titled “Castor.”

“They will feature a freelance exorcist by the name of Felix Castor, and if you think a male, British version of [Orbit’s tremendously successful authors such as] Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, Tanya Huff or Charlaine Harris you won’t be far wrong.

“The first book is scheduled for early ’06, but readers wanting to get an idea of what to expect should check out ‘Lucifer’ and ‘Hellblazer’ to whet their appetites (there, that should get me a pint from the author…).”

Mike’s been hawking this around since the summer of 2003… good to see someone has bit. And taken quite a mouthful!

IMAGE OVER SUBSTANCE

[Green Light]

Earlier this week FanBoy Rampage reported B Clay Moore’s invective against poor design in comics and a poor spread of material in the marketplace.

But FBR missed a better story. Ex-Image publisher, Jim Valentino, later in the thread, blowing his top.

“Uh, gee Clay, You’re ‘all alone out there’? Excuse me? Are you THAT arrogant?” After listing a stack of books from DC, his run on Image, underground publishers and modern equivalents he stated, “This isn’t a put-down of either you or your work, but one would do well to think and study a little history PRIOR to making such a self-serving statement. Otherwise one runs the risk of opening their mouth merely to exchange feet.”

Despite placating posts from Moore, Valentino continued, “So, let me get this straight, are YOU, the Marketing Director of Image Comics stating that every book published by this company, indeed this company itself is a ‘toy that’s been left out in the rain’ and that EXPATRIATE is the innovation that’s going to lead the way?

“That CAN’T be what you’re saying here, bud–’cause ya know, that’s an INSULT to every creator who founded and ever worked under the “i”

“So, I’m SURE I must be reading it wrong, right?

“I mean you seriously can’t believe that a comic about, what is it, CIA agents (?) is pushing any envelope…can you?

“Clay, maybe it’s time to climb down off that horse for a bit.”

This is probably the most public signal yet that the difference between Valentino and post-Valentino is deeper than those press releases ever hinted at.

CRISIS DEEPENS

[Green Light]

DC “Countdown.” Yes. It’s a countdown to Crisis 2.

You can tell a comic shop where customers read Lying In The Gutters. They’re the ones where “Adam Strange” has flown off the shelf (unless Lying In The Gutters-reading retailers had placed a sharp re-order.) Still, get there before eBay professionals do.

Watch Andy Diggle distract people with panda-based imagery.

GLOBAL CONSPIRACY

[Green Light]

Earlier this week JMS gave a rundown of his current workload including “The Book of Lost Souls” and “Dream Police” for Marvel, the latter with Mike Deodato.

During which, he also stated that he was approached to be an Executive Producer for the “Global Frequency” TV series, and that it had not been picked up by WB, who commissioned the pilot.

That would have been interesting. JMS and Warren Ellis have generally had kind words for each other over the years.

Well, pretty much anyway.

Ah, the WEF…

FORTUNATE EVENT

[Green Light]

Creator of already-legendary and Xeric Award winning graphic novel “End Times” Sam Hiti has been hit up to adapt “Lemony Snickets’ A Series Of Unfortunate Events” as a comic book for Nickelodeon Magazines, as well as a back up strip by Jay Stephens.

IT’S A BIG APPLE, MARK.

[Green Light]

Mark Millar got lost in New York, everyone. CB Cebulski, if you’re reading this, give him a shout.

DREAM WEAVERS

[Yellow Light]

Last week’s LITG reported that Mick and Patyk’s last issue of “Transformers” was issue 10 and they were completing no more work until they’d been paid for work completed.

They’re not alone in that regard – even one of their replacements, Simon Furman, found himself in the same position earlier this year, but Dreamwave eventually found the money they owed him to get him back on the book.

This week on the Allspark Transformers message board, colourist Espen declared that actually Mick and Patyk had written all of issue 11 as well. It appears that the rest of the creative team hadn’t been told that Mick and Patyk had provided only the barest of outlines, which had been rewritten by Saccarini.

Not until later in the week, however.

A policy of taking partially complete scripts, getting others to finish writing or rewriting them, and then promoting them as the work of the original team may be something to watch out for.

Although some fans seem more upset about not getting to read their long-term storylines than the creators not being paid for those very stories. But that’s the public for you. Fickle as a mayfly with a seven-hour itch.

ONE SIDED STORY

[Green Light]

“Thru The Moebius Strip” is a new movie from Hong Kong animation studio GDC Entertainment, based on the work of Jean “Moebius” Giraud. The film tells the story of a physicist who becomes trapped on a distant planet after crossing a space-time portal. His son must journey through many worlds to find him – but finding him is only the beginning. Moebius created over 400 illustrations for the adaptation into cinema and supervised the work in China from Paris. Mark Hamil will star, alongside his reportoire of fanboy voiceover roles through the ages. Michael Dorn’s in there as well.

LUCKY THIRTEEN

[Green Light]

Remember ages back LITG talking about the English speaking rights to the original worldwide hit comic “XIII” (and inspiration for the game) being available?

Looks like the Dabel Brothers have signed.

Look for it next year. In Europe each volume sells around half a million.

You can read more here, here and here.

DECK THE WHORES

[Green Light]

It’s always a bind trying to find superhero comics for all ages. Take British Annuals. A long standing tradition sees publishers put out hardback oversized compilations of material, for Christmas. Aimed, mostly, at five year olds. No seventies Christmas was complete without a “Beano” or a “Doctor Who” annual. And of late Marvel and DC superhero comics have done the business as well, with UK licensors taking their pick from these superhero catalogues of fun.

Like this year’s “Justice League” Annual with the hooker-killing-frenzy of “Catwoman” 1 within its midst, drawn in the animated style. Could the publishers have seen the style without reading the content?

Watch their little faces light up with glee when they pull these monstrous tomes from an overstretched socking.

“Mummy, mummy, what’s a prostitute? And how can I kill one as well?”

Bless their little cotton socks.

CHRISTMAS PRESENCE

[Green Light]

Everyone seems to be doing Christmas lists.

“Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book” by Gerard Jones – US or UK.

Complete “Spaced” DVD – Region 2

“Shaun of The Dead” DVD – Region 2 or Region 1

“Absolute Planetary” – US or UK

“Final Solution – A Story Of Deduction” – UK or US

“Rude Kids – The Story Of Viz Comic” – UK or US

SHOPPING FOR CHRISTMAS

[Green Light]

I said I’d only do it once. This must be how Warren Ellis feels.

Hm. This is also how Warren Ellis writes.

On December the 22nd on QVC (which is *not* the British TV shopping channel that just went bust after being fined by trading standards people, owing millions to its customers. That was Auctionworld. This is not Auctionworld okay?) Dynamic Forces supremo Nick Barrucci is doing the party trick of selling comics signed by people your average Brit has no chance of meeting, specially commissioned prints, and raiding his quarter-bins to sell the result of the nineties boom and bust. I’ll be joining this over-the-top celebration of bagged-and-boarded shenanigans out of my own belief that I’m living in a reality TV show anyway, so I might as well make it official. And some of those Spider-Man prints are really sweet.

Last time I got into a little trouble after the show for suggesting that people might want to buy signed comics by Stan Lee while they still could. And when a co-presenter said to get such signatures from American creators, it would cost a lot even with “low flight airlines” instead of “low cost airlinesm” I just had to point out that Americans really didn’t like those.

So, see what social faux pas I can make this time.

December 22nd, 8pm GMT, QVC. Available on Freeview channel 16, Sky channel 630, NTL channel 20 and Telewest channel 742. And for those of your non-Brit digital TV equipped, it’ll be streaming online.

Next week, I’ll give you The Official Nick Barrucci Drinking Game so you can all play along.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS

[Green Light]

A Waiting For Tommy interview with Liam Sharp. Haven’t done one of these in a while… must do more!

Hard Comix – and you thought “Batman & Robin” was camp.

Micah Wright wasn’t always a comic-writing non-ranger. He used to like Star Wars too much.

Nothing like an Incredible Christmas card from Franchesco. Someone give her a ping pong ball.

Powerpuff Girls Doujinshu!

Can’t wait for the Sin City movie? Dying to see a short-film version? Fancy taking down a server with the bandwidth? Go for it.

Kevin Smith and Bendis in a hugathon.

My continuing eBay mountain is more relevant than ever… apparently my wife Janice is on course to deliver a ten or eleven pounder.

Apparently I’ve spawned a monster.

With that in mind…

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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