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Welcome to the one hundred and twentieth chapter in the latest volume of the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Rich Johnston has been doing it to the Western comics business for over ten years damnit. However, I am not Rich Johnston. My name is Warren Ellis. I write things. Comics and graphic novels, mostly, though I’m buried in the end on my first novel rfght now, my episode of the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon airs soon, I have another videogame coming out next year and very soon we’ll find out if GLOBAL FREQUENCY is going to successfully transfer from comics series to American network TV show.

Loved by fans and hated by everybody else, this thing here dispenses rumours, half-truths and whatever gibberish the pro community has decided to totally invent and feed to Rich. But Rich doesn’t care, because this isn’t the bloody evening news and is intended as entertainment. As vile as he often is, Rich is possibly the only “real” journalist in the comics field working on the web, uncovering, sourcing and breaking stories. But we’re not here to be nice to him, especially not while his back’s turned.

Allow your credulity and lust for bullshit to be guided by the Traffic Light Icons. The signifiers work like this. GREEN for SHAMELESS WHORING. AMBER for GUTTER TRASH. And RED for LYING SCUM.

I may actually have made up everything here.

Off we go.

WHILE HIS BACK IS TURNED

[Yellow Light]

At the San Diego con in ’97, I bumped into Rich Johnston at the hotel elevators, on the way up to Jim Lee’s room party. Rich looked a little damp, rather tired and extremely happy. “Ah, the girls,” he smiled. “The English accent makes them squirt like lawn sprinklers, you know.”

A MOUTHFUL OF TONGUES

[Yellow Light]

Coincidences in comics: some while back, Harlan Ellison and I contacted Wildstorm independently and unaware of each other in the same 24-hour period about Paul Di Filippo. Paul Di Filippo is an awesomely gifted writer of science fiction. The weird post-cyberpunk, biotech, retrotech Nineties sf form was basically led out of its stable by Di Filippo’s STEAMPUNK TRILOGY and RIBOFUNK stories. Incredibly inventive and quite blisteringly mad, Paul marked out the perimeters of excellence a long time ago, and I thought comics needed him working in the form.

All lines to Paul’s Lovecraftian Rhode Island residence have been cut, but today I’ve been made aware that Wildstorm have indeed commissioned the proposal he sent them. It’s called BEYOND THE FARTHEST PRECINCT.

It’s the sequel to Alan Moore, Gene Ha and Zander Cannon’s TOP 1O.

MINISTRY OF WHORES

[Green Light]

This is the cover of the forthcoming MINISTRY OF SPACE hardcover collection. Because artist Chris Weston and I are whores. What, you didn’t think I was going to plug my own stuff here? You fool.

[Yellow Light]

BATWHORE

Chris Weston’s doing Batman with Will Pfeiffer.

JUNGLISM

[Yellow Light]

Writer and filmmaker Janet Harvey, inbetween developing a new book called SUCKERS with Laurenn McCubbin, appears to be selling her interrupted comics project JUNGLE GIRL to a Hollywood studio. The same couple of sources think she’s probably going to self-publish a special limited run of the first issue of the JUNGLE GIRL comic, possibly as a “rare” publicity device for the movie development. I got this at the weekend, and Janet’s not answering her email. So that’ll teach her to not pay attention. Some of us have to work all bloody weekend, you know.

MAN-SLUTS FROM BEYOND THE MOON

[Green Light]

Talking of Hollyweird: my old TRANSMETROPOLITAN editor Stuart Moore has been commissioned to write a screenplay, I’ve heard. He wouldn’t confirm or deny, but he tried to distract me with this:

“Here’s a couple of panels from WILL STARR! SPACE PILOT!, a graphic novel coming in Spring 2005 from AiT/PlanetLar, by me and John McCrea. MORTALLY WOUNDED IN A TRAGIC GAY-PRIDE PARADE ACCIDENT, 20TH CENTURY MAN WILL STARR SPENT 400 YEARS IN SUSPENDED ANIMATION. NOW, AFTER ADJUSTING TO THE LOSS OF EVERYONE HE HOLDS DEAR…AND HIS FACIAL HAIR…HE FIGHTS THE MENACES OF THE FUTURE WITH THE COCAINE, GOLD CHAINS, AND CHEAP, FOUL-SMELLING WINE OF THE 1970S. HE IS: WILL STARR! SPACE PILOT!”

ALT.CAPE

[Yellow Light]

There have been rumblings over the past few weeks about another Big Anthology curated by Chris Pitzer at AdHouse Books — PROJECT: SUPERIOR, a mob-handed take on the superhero genre. Turns out that this 288-page monster ships in February of 2005. I’m told that it’s only going to cost twenty Yanqui dolla, and I have a partial creator’s roll call. For one, the return of the genius’d Nick Abadzis. Also my old mate John Cassaday, Ronnie del Carmen, Farel Dalrymple, Paul Hornschemeier, James Jean, Dean Haspiel, John Lucas, Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Paul Pope, Paul Rivoche and Brian Fucking Wood.

The cover, by Paul Hornschemeier:

The slightly mental-looking PROJECT: SUPERIOR story APHRODISIAC by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca can be found here/.

And, after I ripped Dean Haspiel’s nipples off, he gave up art for A-OKAY COOL, a series debuting in the book.

AND I STILL HAVE HIS NIPPLES

[Green Light]

Haspiel’s also done a 10pp VAMPIRELLA story titled “Kickstart My Heart” with Brian Wood, due to drop November in VAMPIRELLA MAGAZINE #8.

GUNS AND PORN

[Green Light]

Brian Wood’s keeping busy. He and artist Kristian Donaldson (of Image’s THE FORSAKEN) are developing a sf series dealing with “the black market, class warfare and the organized porno industry” called SUPERMARKET. Because everything goes better with porno.

The final issue of his and Becky Cloonan’ DEMO will have a short backup story with the creator roles reversed: Becky writes, he draws.

On top of that, he’s developing another project, WARTIME, which sees him returning to the complete writer/artist role.

What follows are: two pieces from SUPERMARKET, one page from that DEMO backup, and a promo piece for WARTIME.

NOT FADE AWAY

[Green Light]

Eric Canete’s back. Illustrator, designer and storyboard artist for the likes of AEON FLUX and the recent CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK: DARK FURY, he faded out of comics a couple of years ago. But take a look at this — the first of six covers Eric’s providing for NYC MECH, a nicely crooked sf series by Ivan Brandon, Miles Gunter and Andy MacDonald that I can best describe as Fucked-Up Robots With Guns In Love:

MOO HOO HA HA

[Red Light]

Yes, I am making a mockery of everything Rich has done here. Why do you ask?

INTIMATE MARVEL

[Green Light]

Art exclusive: the cover to THE INTIMATES #1, illustrated by Jim Lee with graphic design by Rian Hughes.

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS

[Green Light]

American readers, prime your youngsters. The HARDY BOYS and NANCY DREW comics have been announced, but I don’t think anyone’s had a good look at the actual visual tone they’re intending to hot. Of course, no-one had lifted stuff out of the desktop at Papercutz/NBM. I actually used to know most of the people involved: Scott Lobdell and Lea Hernandez on HARDY BOYS and Stefan Petrucha with Sho Murase on NANCY DREW. So I’ll raise a glass to old friends (by the time you read this, I’m already at the pub):

PRETTY LIKE DRUGS

[Green Light]

Now this I found interesting. I’ve been a fan of Katie Jane Garside since she was in Daisy Chainsaw, and the single “Pretty Like Drugs” from her new band Queen Adreena is one of my favourite ever records. Brilliant writer. Dan Schaffer writes and draws a fun, dirty black-comedy comic called DOGWITCH, and has a range as an artist that few people have ever really seen. Excellent artist.

Dan and Katie Jane have gotten together to create a graphic novella. This project is currently untitled and currently without a publisher. The story explores, in their words, “the psychological entropy and transformation of one woman, in a disturbing nightmare journey through the cracks in the tiles.” It is, put bluntly, like Sylvia Plath fucking David Lynch. It’s a seriously ambitious piece of work that looks to the reader to activate their own imaginations and sift and interpret the clues and secrets in the work. And ambition is good. And I have six pages of it here.

Any publisher that picks this up has a passport to every indie record store and bookstore in the Western world.

Keep an eye on http://www.danielschaffer.com/ to see what develops with this.

EXPAT

[Green Light]

B. Clay Moore’s launching a new ongoing colour monthly from Image in February, in collaboration with artist Jason Latour. THE EXPATRIATE is described as “serious mindfuck stuff.” Jack Dexter’s being hunted down by two coldblooded bastards from the CIA and he doesn’t know why. He knows only that they’re killing anyone who gets between them and him. So he’s running clear across the planet, and they’re only ever one step behind…

MY SON THE BASTARD

[Green Light]

DEATH, JR. is the story of DJ, a 12 year-old kid who must come to terms with the idea of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming the next Grim Reaper — written by Gary Whitta with full colour art by Ted Naifeh (the first time Ted’s coloured his own interior work, I think). It’s going to be three 48pp books from Image. Also in development as a feature film and a PlayStation game. Art exclusive follows:

A NOTE FROM JERRY ORDWAY

[Green Light]

“Warren, I did a funny bit of art for Mad Magazine, that will be in issue #448. Enclosed is a jpeg of part of the art, shown much bigger than it will in the magazine! Also I am drawing two Michael Moorcock scripted issues of Tom Strong, full of pirates, Elric, and gorillas! Best, Jerry Ordway”

And I’m done. So, If you’ll forgive me one last piece of sluttiness, I’ll be on my way. Rich will be back next Monday with the usual.

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