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Has that Essex bastard gone? He has? Right…

Welcome to the one hundred and twenty-first 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.

So there you go. But before we start…

Warning! There are no “Avengers” or “Identity Crisis” spoilers in this column. May I suggest that if you want to avoid columns without spoilers in them then you give this week’s column a miss.

And anyway, why should I spoil “Identity Crisis” for anyone, when DC are making such a good job out of it themselves?

Apparently the recently-released “DC Comics Encyclopedia” which just came out, spoils a bunch of details for both “Identity Crisis” and “War Games” for those who know where to look…

I’M A CUCKOO

[Green Light]

When I’m not writing comics like “Holed Up,” “Wannabee” or the upcoming “Chase Variant,” I work in radio advertising as a copywriter. Through that grapevine I’ve been told about a voiceover session with Johnny Depp. One of the engineeers noticed he had a screenplay. It was called “Madman.”

I know what that means. You know what that means, too.

Anyone want to do the Photoshop honours?

TOBY DIALOGUE

[Green Light]

Image Comics are currently in talks with Scottish pop group Belle & Sebastian and with British songwriter Stephen Duffy to create graphic novel anthologies, transforming their songs into comic book stories.

STAY LOOSE

[Green Light]

Porn actress Asia Carrera reports on her Web site that she has turned down a role in the live-action “Dragonball Z” movie because she’s pregnant.

No idea if Ron Jeremy’s been asked to play Goku yet. But it can only be a matter of time.

WANDERING ALONE

[Green Light]

The Robert Kirkman/”Youngblood Imperial” story from a couple of weeks took an interesting twist while I was away. Robert Kirkman’s avoided commenting on his departure from “Youngblood: Imperial.”

He said, “I’ve been avoiding commenting on this situation because I honestly think Rob is an okay guy. I do feel the need to say that I was not sorry to see that book go. Read into that what you will, I really don’t think it’s appropriate to comment further. I look forward to reading what Fabian and Marat do on the title, and I wish Rob all the luck in the world… and can’t wait to see Imperial #0… eventually.”

It’s the way he tells ’em, folks.

IS IT WICKED NOT TO CARE

[Green Light]

Robert Kirkman has been having some fun at Judd Winnick and DC’s expense this week. No sooner had the word about Speedy’s HIV status gone to the press, then suddenly Invincible’s sidekick’s new malady became the hottest news around.

In a press release sent to Newsarama, which they printed, then pulled when they realized what was going on, Kirkman wrote:

His father turned out to be an evil alien bent on conquering Earth. Now, Invincible’s newest young pal, William, who’s been part of the series since its launch, will have his own demon to battle – Athlete’s Foot.

According to Creator Robert Kirkman, the revelation will come in December’s Invincible #19, as William, who was a teenage high school student when Invincible befriended him, learns that his time spent in the gym locker room resulted in him getting the fungus.

“”We’ve been hinting all along the way that he’s interested in taking up the mantle, being a sidekick, getting out there in the streets and helping out,” Kirkman told anyone who will listen. “Invincible won’t be sharing socks with him any time soon.”

The revelation, according to Kirkman makes William push Invincible even more to let him allow him to be his sidekick. “It’s no big deal, it’s curable with the right cream, but he can’t fool around anymore. This isn’t about an itchy foot condition. It is about life having focus,” he told anyone who will listen.

William is coming to terms with it in the way most young people are. It isn’t about throwing your shoes out and becoming a shut-in. Young people, for good or for bad, are still pretty fearless. With drug combination therapy people are dealing with the condition quite admirably,” Kirkman told anyone who will listen. “He seems to be unafraid of Athlete’s Foot, he’s mostly feeling like no one is ever going to love him, but that’s just because he’s kind of an annoying guy.”

Invincible 17 will be in stores soon. The ground-breaking Invincible #19 should be hitting the shelves in early December.

No MTV tie-ins are planned

Speedy joins a line of supporting female characters in DC Comics who seem to be getting the shit kicked out of their lives.

FICTION REPRISE

[Green Light]

Sometimes you see an alleged swipe and you think “I can see what they’re getting at but… it could just be a coincidence.” Maybe it’s the case here…

Pat Lee’s “Inhumans 2099” cover from 2004.

Jae Lee’s “Inhumans” cover from 1998.

…or maybe not.

LIKE DYLAN IN THE MOVIES

[Green Light]

Burlyman Entertainment, the people who brought you the “Matrix Comics” and the upcoming “Shaolin Cowboy” and “Doc Frankenstein” seem to have a hidden diversification… into breakfast cereal.

“Tastee Wheat.” Quite, quite bizarre. Make sure you play the dog head games…

SEEING OTHER PEOPLE

[Green Light]

On Saturday, there’s the London Comic Festival going on in my home town. I’ll be there, looking at people’s artwork for an upcoming comic series I’m writing, as well as doing a bit of stage interviewing… so consider that fair warning. I’m not standing in for Jonathan Ross though. If you want to find me, call me on 0780 1350982.

Almost all UK publishers will be there, with DC Thompson (Beano, Dandy), Viz Comic and APComics making sizable appearances, as well as US publisher presence – which usually mostly means DC, though Joe Pruett’s appearance will no doubt be linked to his re-emergence as a comics publisher.

CONAN, EARLY LETTERMAN

[Green Light]

Are you a member of many Kyle Minogue message boards?

No? Are you mad?

Why, if you were a member of this particular board, you could see people posting those classic underwear model photos of Grant Morrison and fantasizing about him. Ah, I remember this one…

If anyone wants to bring these along on Saturday, feel free.

There are lots of embarrassing photos of Jonathan Ross too. Sadly, Ross has beaten me to it and decided to pull out of the stage interview due to family reasons.

CHICKFACTOR

[Green Light]

I understand the original, more mature (read, more nippled) edition of Frank Cho’s “Shanna” will likely be in a collected edition rather than some kind of serialised “director’s cut.” I’m told Cho acquiesced to the changes only w/ the promise that it would eventually be collected in its originally intended risqué stylings.

Frank Cho told me, “The reason why Marvel decided to change ‘Shanna’ from rated R to rated PG13 is circulation. Salespeople at Marvel projected that due to the conservative nature of some regions and retailers, MAX ‘Shanna’ will not perform well as they hoped. They predict that ‘Shanna’ under MAX imprint will sell in the neighborhood of 40 – 50 thousand copies. But under Marvel Knights imprint, ‘Shanna’ will sell 75+ thousand copies. It’s all about getting this book out to many people as possible.

“As for the rumors that the rating change decision was based on a possible ‘Shanna’ TV/movie deal is unfounded. No one at the Marvel office mentioned anything to me about a ‘Shanna’ show. But it’ll be great if ‘Shanna’ was turned into a TV show or a movie.”

It does seem peculiar that this line of reasoning was never applied to a title such as “Supreme Power,” whose first issue sold over 100,000 and which continues to be a good seller for Marvel.

Like the shelved “Deathlok” series before it, I’m still told the decisions are based around actual and potential movie/TV licensing issues. Six months ago, Frank was stating that there was no possibility this kind of change would happen. And retailers who contacted me, told me they could sell double or triple numbers for “Shanna” under a MAX imprint than the Marvel Knights line.

As before, I understand that “Shanna” is part of a number of properties merely being shipped around for possible other-media exploitation. And concern from Avi Arad’s side put a “lock” on them being treated in any way that could be considered damaging to any of them. Exhibit A, “Fury” and George Clooney.

And as for how the books are being amended? Cho writes, “Here are the changes that I’m currently doing. I’m covering up all the nude shots. (Especially issue 2 where Shanna is naked most of the issue.) Shanna is running around punching and wrestling dinos, her bikini is bound to come off partially or entirely. I’m basically making sure that her bikini is superglued to her naughty bits and covering up her butt and boobs.”

Looks like a fair few people might be waiting for the trade… I wonder if it will ship with its own brown paper back cover?

I’m also told that Frank Cho is on tap to draw a Black Cat mini-series.

FREAK

[Green Light]

After sneaking Airwave into “JSA,” I’m told Captain Carrot will be making an upcoming cameo in Geoff Johns’ “Teen Titans.”

Maybe he’s the “Identity Crisis” killer!!!

Let us crown Geoff as King of Geeks.

WRAPPED UP IN BOOKS

[Green Light]

An Absolute Edition of “Promethea” is in the works, in three over-sized collections, either separately or all in one dustcover.

EXPECTATIONS

[Green Light]

What do you call a tenth anniversary book when it comes out on it’s fourteenth anniversary?

According to Erik Larsen, you call it “IMAGE COMICS #1”

His site says, “This handsome hardcover book entitled IMAGE COMICS #1 celebrates the legacy and legends of Image Comics with four great new stories from the original Image founders, including Erik Larsen’s contribution, the Savage Dragon’s origin! Check out the cover image on the left and the Savage Dragon ‘Title Page’ image by Erik on right! No date yet, but word has it that sometime this year it will be released.”

Expect #2 in another fourteen years.

BEYOND SUNRISE

[Green Light]

“Batman vs. Dracula” is an animated property in production at Warner Bros animation, using the character designs from the current “The Batman” series.

MAYFLY

[Green Light]

Devil’s Due are currently suffering under the thumb of Diamond. Previews incorrectly listed the second issues of their Aftermath series, “Defax” and “Breakdown,” as having two variant covers, as did their first issues.

They don’t. And rather than combine the orders into one order for the single version, Diamond have cancelled the second cover orders and are asking retailers to readjust. And since most retailers aren’t as keen-eyed as your own, this basically means the orders will end up being half the expected numbers, plus a few odds and sods.

So retailers and readers, keep an eye if you want to get copies of their second issues…

THE BOY DONE WRONG AGAIN

[Green Light]

The “Wolverine” #20 Variant editions, one produced for every 65 copies of the regular version, vanished from Diamond’s LA warehouses.

Currently valued over $100 each, hundreds simply disappeared and neither Marvel or Diamond is able to give a satisfactory answer, especially to retailers who upped orders in some cases to get those variant issues.

So, if you do see one for sale in a non-traditional outlet, maybe you should check the cover for marks left by sticky fingers.

IF YOU’RE FEELING SINISTER

[Green Light]

Oh go on then! More “Identity Crisis” theories!

Will Berkovitz writes, “The mode of entry or perhaps even the culprit has to be Mirror Master. It’s so obvious that’s how the murderer is getting in. Either Mirror Master is transporting in via reflective surfaces to commit the crimes or he is helping the culprit get it. It’s obvious because at Sue’s murder scene, the magnifying glass was broken. That’s how Mirror Master got in. At the Jean Loring crime scene, the glass on the frame of the ‘Persons’ magazine cover had been broken. Mirror Master transported in via both.”

Another writes, “About ‘Identity Crisis’: I think it’s Alfred. He’s gone round the bend and become the Outsider again. Alfred is privy to all the necessary info, and could even possibly put one over on Batman. And after all, ‘The butler did it’ isn’t used nearly often enough these days.”

I’m definitely going to have to read this some time. Just hope the reality is as interesting as all the theories.

SIMPLE THINGS

[Green Light]

John Dokes, Marvel’s new Marketing guy’s career as an actor and performer does really leave him open to abuse.

I mean, people can keep sending me pictures like this

And I’ll just keep printing them. It’s nothing personal John, it’s just, well, how can I not?

Now to get that photo of Darick Roberston dressed as “Nightcrawler”…

ELECTRONIC RENAISSANCE

[Green Light]

Well, Warren Ellis has been and gone. But in his memory, let’s talk about the Treo 650, the PalmOne/Handpring much-awaited sequel to the Treo 600. PDA/phone/camera thing. Futurephone whatnot.

PalmOne won’t even acknowledge its existence, though it’s expected to be out in a month or two.

Apart from this page they let slip on their website.

Look, I’m doing some film things, I can do PDAs occasionally as well can’t I/

Oh alright, please yourself.

STEP INTO MY OFFICE, BABY

[Green Light]

Jay Faeber is working on an OGN for AiT/Planet Lar called “Burn Out.” A private detective graphic novel, it’s drawn by Brent McKee and it’s about a former arson investigator who has to confront her physical and emotional demons when she’s hired to prove a teenage girl isn’t an arsonist.

He’s also written an eight-page story for Steve Rolston in an anthology project from Image in January called “Four Letter Worlds.” Here’s a page.

WAITING FOR MARVEL

You know that annoying thing when halfway through interviewing an interview figure, they change jobs?

In this week’s Waiting For Tommy, back after an extended break, I talked to Tokyo Pop’s Mark Panaccia about what TokyoPop do and why other companies haven’t been able to match it. Until he moved to one of them of course.

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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