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LYING IN THE GUTTERS

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
LYING IN THE GUTTERS

Welcome to the one hundred and eighteenth 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.

STATUESQUEUpdated 9/28/04 10:30 PM Pacific Time

[Green Light]

The Marvelman/Miracleman rumours kicked up a notch with Bowen Design’s reporting on their website of a new statue, in association with Marvels & Miracles. The article, first pulled then revived on their website, originally stated that Marvelman the series would relaunch again from Marvel in December.

While claification of such a schedule is news, some people seem surprised that this is happening at all. I don’t know why – maybe it’s worth going over old ground and clarifying the current situation.

Marvel have repeatedly stated their intention to publish Marvelman, the series created by Alan Moore, Garry Leach and Dez Skinn, based on the popular 1950’s British superhero comic, itself based on the Fawcett Captain Marvel series. The revival appeared first in “Warrior,” an anthology magazine by Dez Skinn that not only brought Alan Moore to prominence with “Marvelman,” “V For Vendetta” and “BoJeffries Saga,” but also gave opportunities for increased exposure to the likes of Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Grant Morrison, Brian Bolland and more. When Eclipse published the series in the USA, they continued the story to its natural conclusion, then saw Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham continue in a very different style.

Neil Gaiman has committed himself to clarifying the publishing situation, which became very complex when Eclipse went bankrupt and potential owners of the 1950s series began to emerge.

Profits from Marvels’s “1602” series written by Gaiman went to his company Marvels & Miracles LLC, as will proceeds from the case against Todd McFarlane. Indeed that latter case clarified a much supported rumour that Todd’s supposed ownership of Marvelman/Miracleman was based on an Eclipse contract he acquired when he bought the company – but that it had a reversion clause that returned ownership to previous owners.

As it stands, that would give Marvels & Miracles LLC controlling 30% (Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s rights), Garry Leach kingmaking with 60% (Alan Davis having granted any and all of his right to the character to Leach) and 10% back to publisher Dez Skinn. All creators on the series, from Alan Moore to Chuck Austen, own the rights to the work they created for the series.

After Bendis Board poster Mike Black discovered the Bowen Statue listing, the Bendis Board took it upon themselves to claim that Marvelman must be the shock appearance character at the end of the current Avengers arc – a story that Bendis wasn’t publically denying – but that Gaiman did.

As to the Bowen stated schedule, Previews didn’t list “Marvelman” the series for December from Marvel, and talking to Neil Gaiman I’m assured that there are no current publishing schedules or format for the series. Yet.

However, his lawyer Ken F Levin, heavily involved with Marvels & Miracles, stated in a mistaken email to ‘TheHistorianII’ on the Marvel Masterworks Message Board that “We will know next week when Marvel will start publishing.”

Watch this space…

UPDATE: I later talked to Ken Levin about the email. He told me that he had thought he would know the publishing schedule next week, but now isn’t sure when a publishing schedule will be locked in. He thinks it may still be a number of weeks before a Marvel deal closes and a publishing schedule is firmed up.

However, that’s still a much better schedule than we’d previously thought. Marvelman is on its way…

FORTRESS OF IDEAS

[Green Light]

Novelist Jonathan Lethem (“The Fortress of Solitude”) mentions he’s been approached by Marvel Comics, and would like to take them up on the offer.

Translation here.

LINE BREAKS

[Red Light]

Sometimes people send me rumours in the form of freeform poetry. Here’s one.

“Do you already know that in War Games

Orpheus and Spoiler are definitely dying

Tim Drake’s dad is dying as well

But I’m not sure if that’s in his book or in Identity Crisis”

Anyone who wants to set that to a dance track feel free. Something along the lines of Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds” would be just dandy!

SKIP TO THE END… IT’S RORSCHACH’S DIARY!

[Green Light]

Simon Pegg has expressed an interest in playing the character of Rorschach in the upcoming “Watchmen” movie.

In this Ugo interview, he also says he’s been reading “The Walking Dead” and “Blankets” recently.

You have all seen “Shaun Of The Dead” now? Good. Buy the DVD here, buy Spaced here and preorder “Big Train,” Simon Pegg’s wonderful comedy sketch show here.

SUICIDE PACT

[Green Light]

Alex De Campi and Kieron Gillen are working on an anthology comic sequel to last year’s small press hit, “Commercial Suicide.”

I’ve written a short story called “Preggers: The’s Up The Duff And She’s Had Enough” which Dan Fish is illustrating. But last Thursday, I had the pleasure of sitting in a pub, with fine friends, reading a fumetti reworking of “From Hell” by Adrian Brown. Here’s the frontispiece.

“Commerical Suicide II” will be available at the London Comic Festival – a convention in which I seem to be taking a larger part in by the day.

Adrian Brown is also auctioning off the last round of his “Just One Page” original art projects here. Hang on… is that one by me? Oh dear, no, that will never do…

KRUEGER AND…

[Green Light]

We’ve already reported problems with the schedule of Jim Krueger’s “The Last Straw Man” at Image. Well, Image Comics publisher Erik Larsen is on the case over problems with “Clockmaker” as well.

When poster Kon-EL wrote, “I thought ‘Clockmaker’ Act I was finally shipping this week with Act III in October. Whats going on? I mean seriously its ridiculous they havent put Act I out yet considering its all reprints. Any updates on this yet?”, Larsen showed he was more of a Joe Quesada style publisher than Paul Levitz…

“Yeah–Jim Kreuger is a major fuck up.

“He’s been telling us for MONTHS that it’s on its way. Last thing he told me was that the LETTERER was holding it up–and THAT was over a MONTH ago!

“I’m not sure if this sorry son a bitch will EVER get his shit together but it sure does piss off a lot of us that have been waiting for it.”

When poster XXXenophile replied “See what happens when your career is based on following Alex Ross’s coattails?”, Erik batted that criticism away with, “It has nothing to do with THAT. I LIKE Jim’s stuff. There are a number of people that quite enjoyed CLOCKMAKER and were really eager to see more and read THE LAST STRAWMAN as well. It’s frustrating as all hell that these books simply aren’t getting done in any kind of a timely fashion.”

And was his original post sarcasm?

“I WISH that was the case.”

Erik concluded

“–And please–don’t take any of this to mean that I don’t like Jim or his work–nothing could be farther from the truth! But it is VERY frustrating to be on the publishing end of this relationship and have to make excuses for the guy. We WANT these books to come out! We’ve been waiting for these books as well and it’s hard for US to wait for ’em!

“Come on, Jim–get it together!”

Occasionally, people have approached me about the possibility of pitching work to Image. If I ever do (and more on that in future columns), I’m gonna make sure it’s all in on time…

LIVE WORDS

[Green Light]

Diamond Comics deal with a lot of publishers. A lot of publishers who change their mind all the time. And, especially if they’re one of the Big Five, they can change their solicitations closer to publication date. But as a result, sometimes mistakes slip through.

Check out this listing of “Certified Cool” products in the online Previews. It lists both the first issue of the unnannounced sequel to “1602,” “1603” – and something called “Livewires” issues 1 and 2. Neither is available from Marvel for that month… the odds are they’ve been held over for January.

It’s unlikely that Gaiman is the author of “1603,” but it’s likely he’ll have been involved in some way in its production.

NOSTALGIA, INC.

[Green Light]

DC Thomson publishes of, amongst many other things, “The Dandy” and “The Beano.” It appears that much of the original comic book artwork, hardly reprinted since first publication, and certainly never exploited, is being released in limited prints.

The full Observer article is here and the products are available here.

BLOCKBUSTER FIGHT

[Green Light]

It wasn’t that long ago, LITG commented on the collectability and specualtor-possibilities with those “Street Fighter” comics.

Now it seems those “Street Fighter” TPBs available in Blockbuster for ten dollars are going the same way. There were three copies sent to each US store, but there are Blockbusters everywhere. And thanks to Ebay there’s a clear profit margin to be made.

Easy money if you want it… even if you have to master a few “Street Fighter” moves to get to it.

DICKS IN SPACE

[Green Light]

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have created a cover for “Detectives In Space” from Vicious Circle. The book’s written by Shawn Pasquale and drawn by someone who’s name should be restricted to messageboards, BUKSHOT. With the capital letters and everything.

So why am I mentioning them? Well, Vicious Circle are publishing a new comic series, “Rich Johnston’s Wannabe” next year. And I want to be nice to them.

THE UNDEAD LIVES?

[Yellow Light]

So what is this new Wildstorm creator-owned series from Joe Benitez that I alluded to last week? The word is it may be the long awaited “Wraithe: The Undead.” Back in 2002, Joe sold some preview books for this title at conventions.

Apparently, he’s almost done drawing the mini-series and was waiting until he was finished with the project so he could release it monthly AND he needed have a deal set in stone with a publisher.

LOAD OF BULLOCKUpdated 9:00 PM Pacific Time

[Yellow Light]

Ron Marz isn’t the only person to have fallen out with DBPro recently. They’ve lost their Marketing Manager, Mike Bullock, as well. When asked for more info about it, all he would say is that he didn’t want to air their “dirty laundry.”

Clearly, Mike is a much more professional individual than I am. Full load, spin cycle, powder at the ready.

Well, half-spin at least. Bullock’s involvement with DBPro landed him the deal to have his creator-owned series, “Lions, Tigers, & Bears,” published by the company, which was to be edited by Ron Marz. I understand that this project is now no longer happening.

Bullock was also editor for the new “Warlands” series, which Dreamwave was basically outsourcing to DBPro. Could his contacts have led him elsewhere? Especially when there’s all that legal trouble DBPro has had trying to break away from Devil’s Due?

Mike Bullock denies much of this here, even if a few eagle eye readers keep finding evidence that back much of it up… now that’s what I call spinning!

Mind you, Dreamwave aren’t all bread-in-the-oven smelling right now either. The double-headed James McDonough/Brad Mick creature left/was pushed out of Dreamwave after his attempts to reform the structure of the company failed. Adam Fortier would have gone a similar way too… but he left first and is now in a position where he could even turn down the Marvel position he was just offered.

Rumour has it Adam is starting a new comic book publishing venture, looking to publish professionals’ projects, a la Image. Look for this to be announced in the next few weeks.

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER

[Green Light]

Following on from last week’s article on Marvel’s plans to outsource, reduce in seniority and in rates, their colouring process (which caused a sizable tizzy over here, I understand from one of my sources for that story that there’s been significant negotiation as a result of the publicity generated, and the result should ease a few of the problems that prompted this story.

But we’re really going to see how valuable colourists are to Marvel in December. “Ultimates” volume 2 will ship half normal issues and half with uninked black and white artwork and cover.

Designed to encourage interest in the book, and especially in Bryan Hitch’s art (the reason we’ve all been happy to wait so long), but retailers who contacted me are a little concerned. From conversations I’ve had, they’d appreciate a variant cover, even if a 50/50 split might be a little much if it’s black and white… but black and white interiors? Again, if it was a “chase” variant, that might encourage interest, but at half and half, the chase is no longer there. Some retailers fear they may be stuck with half their order in black and white… only selling colour copies.

Expect an outpouring of concern heading Marvel’s way.

UPDATE 9:00 PM Pacific Time: As a result of retailer concern over this story, Marvel have amended the incentive so that 1 in 10 of the copies will be a black and white variant. As a result, instead of being left on the shelf, this will now be a “chase” edition, will sell out very quickly and will go up in value. Might even leave some colour copies on the shelf now…

ANOTHER IDENTITY

[Yellow Light]

Gutteratti Dimension Of Continuity writes with his own, thoroughly thought through Identity Crisis theory. And since last week’s clearly wasn’t, why not give him a go? Dimensions Of Continuity, take it away!

“The key to solving any great mystery is to connect together means, motive and opportunity. Brad Meltzer recently touched on this at the end of Identity Crisis #4. Who benefits? If I am correct, the answer to that question has an enormous twist to it.

“I believe the serial killer is Hunter Zolomon – a.k.a. Zoom. The answer has been there all along.

“Means – Hunter Zolomon made his career as a rogue profiler. He knows the various means and methods super villians use, and it would be incredibly easy for him to replicate their modus operandi as a means of misdirection (so Zolomon’s work could move along with more ease). Zolomon is also now a super speedster. As a result, Zolomon can move faster than light; he can bend time. Subverting the intricate security systems would be very easy for him.

“Motive – When Zolomon went insane, he came to believe it was his duty to make heroes stronger through personal crisis. This is why Zolomon killed Wally and Linda’s unborn children. However, when the Spectre mind-wiped every person on earth, Zolomon was suddenly left without his personal knowledge of the Flash. As a result, Zolomon began to carry out his original agenda with other heroes. Who benefits? In Zolomon’s mind, it is the heroes who benefit. Zolomon killed Sue Dibny to make Elongated Man stronger. Zolomon attempted to kill Jean Loring to make Atom stronger. The threat to Lois? It’s a little early to say, but would it truly be hard for Zolomon to determine even secret identities? Zolomon is a profiler, after all; he just never had a motive for profiling heroes until now.

“Opportunity – Just before Identity Crisis premiered, Ashley Zolomon was in a severe car wreck in the pages of Flash. The danger to Ashley awoke Zoom from his suspended state. This was highlighted by Zoom leaving yellow flowers for his wife in her hospital room. Zoom became active right as Identity Crisis started. He’s been active through the entire series.

“The piece of the puzzle that allowed me to put this together is the recent release of Flash #214. Geoff Johns went to some pains to lay out the Identity Crisis timeline so that it could be proven Zoom was active in the right time frame. Johns also went to some pains near the end of the issue to lay out how greatly the revelation of the killer will affect both Wally and the Flash. Why? Well, Identity Crisis will have been Wally’s fault in a way. But for Wally’s request, the Spectre would have not wiped away the identity of the Flash. But for Wally’s request, a mind wiped Zolomon may not have targeted the loved ones of unsuspecting heroes.

“So is that the solution to the Identity Crisis mystery? Only time will tell. However, it is a greatly compelling scenario; and the way I would have written it. If true, then DC, Meltzer and Johns have done an emormous job with this. The build up and the answers have been in the DC Universe for quite some time; but you would need to look at the big picture to see things before the final reveal in Identity Crisis. As DC has been telling us all along – Identity Crisis is not just a mini-series; it truly is an event.”

Ta da! now, go about your business…

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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