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Welcome to the one hundred and fourteenth 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.

MAJOR CHANGES

[Green Light]

Some exclusive pictures, 12 weeks and 5 days in, of Mini-Johnston.

Due date early March. What happens to the column then, I’m not sure… let’s find out together.

No, I am not fucking calling him/her Kal El.

SHAUN OF THE DUD

[Green Light]

Edgar Wright, co-writer and director of “Shaun Of The Dead” writes to deny that they’re working on “The Filth” as their next movie project. Despite some US journalists swearing that’s what they said, Edgar puts it on the record.

“Afraid I have to refute this one from the horses mouth.

“Me and Simon are not adapting ‘The Filth.’ I don’t know where this rumour started.

“Chris Weston sent us the comic, but we are in fact doing a separate project which has the working title of ‘Fuzz.’ Hence the confusion.

“Chris & Grant’s title (which I’ll admit I haven’t read) is a mindbending sci-fi title; our film will be very much down to earth.

“The rumours of us starting in March and Jessica already being cast are also not true.”

It’s amazing how these rumours spread… mind you, all this week, I’ve had New York-based people telling me that the buzz on “Shaun” is huge and anyone who’s seen it is an instant member of the in crowd.

Also, Simon Pegg, co-writer and titular star of “Shaun,” is playing the role of Johnny Alpha in a radio version of the 2000AD favourite, “Strontium Dog.”

One is reminded of that quote from Edgar and Simon’s TV show, “Spaced.”

Mike: Don’t forget whose shoulder you cried on when the last one dumped you.

Tim: I won’t

Mike: Or when Johnny Alpha got killed by that big flying monster in “2000AD.”

And regarding the USA sitcom/comic book to be named “Spaced,” I understand by the time production gets going, a name change will be likely to avoid confusion. And possibly British “Spaced” fans throwing glass bottles at San Diego next year.

ON SPOILERS

[Green Light]

Of late, there’s been some discussion on the role of rumour columns and spoilers. I’d like to set some ground rules for this column. If there’s a rumoured plot event that makes it’s way to me from good sources, judging by the prominence of the title, it may run. The “Hawkeye to die” was well sourced, but you know, far from definite, as it didn’t come from the writer or the publisher, and I didn’t actually see the comic or script. It’s just a rumour so far. As is Thor’s demise following the cancellation of the title. This column also contains rumours about “Identity Crisis” – the last one we had said that the major death in IC would be Elongated Man. So, clearly not true, but not too far off the mark.

I won’t however print art or story content simply taken from a First Look book, or from someone who just saw an advance copy. That’s a definite spoiler. However, I do question publishers who release certain issues as a First Look for retailers, if there’s a major surprise plot point inside. And if publishers fuck up and make something available that they shouldn’t have, it’s fair game.

Marvel’s attempts to spoil the recent “Astonishing X-Men” spoilers by getting John Cassaday to do a page featuring the return of Jean Grey then releasing it online was quite entertaining, if futile. I wonder if they’ll do that with every book?

“Okay, Pat Lee, can you do a joke page? Something for the Internet spoiler people? Basically, I thought, have all the X-Men and Fantastic Four reveal themselves to have been Transformers all the time? That’ll set the cat amongst the…

“Okay, Pat, what do you mean you’ve already drawn the entire issue like that?”

TELLING TALES

[Green Light]

I hear Alan Moore’s work on the ABC universe will finish with two
Sixty Four Page Giants, each with forty pages written by Alan, the other twenty-four by Steve Moore. One is an issue of “Terrific Tales,” the other is “Tomorrow Stories.”

So finally, people might actually read those ABC title. Ah well, smugness for all of us who already think they’re the bees knees.

MAJOR CHANGES II

“Blue Monday” creator, she with the awkward name Chyanna Clugston-Major, is about to get a little less awkward.

“I’ve also decided to just suck it up and go through the pain in the ass process of changing my name back to Clugston from Clugston-Major. I think it’s not so much of a difference that it will be too difficult for people to adjust. It’ll just be weird to say without the extra bit for a while. Chynna Clugston-Ma-oh. Whoops!”

I just always thought she was related to our Currie-loving ex-Prime Minister.

CUSTOM BUILT

[Green Light]

Like comics? Like porn? Then you want to work for Canadian customs.

I wonder what they’ll make of “Shanna The She-Devil?”

LOFT OF IDEAS

[Yellow Light]

I understand Marvel may be moving offices shortly. From their current four floor holding, to a loft space with no offices and open space for the executives and “Bullpen.”

Anyone for tennis?

DEATH AND LAWYERS

[Green Light]

The creator of a comic called “The World of Mr. Satanism,” featuring the humorous adventures of a cloaked, skeletal figure, has launched what seems an ill advised copyright infringement claim against the small-time hit, “Death Takes a Holiday” by Jim Massey from Varmint Press.

The creator is demanding that “Death” stop all publication, and that existing “Death” work be destroyed. That’s certainly not the plan, as issue #2 has just come out.

I mean, please, this is silly.

BACK TO THE BAT

[Green Light]

I understand that, fresh from the set of “Sin City,” Frank Miller is back at the boards, working on his Batman graphic novel – last I heard, still called “Holy Terror Batman.”

Ink donations always gratefully received.

DECAPITAL

[Green Light]

Here’s a double page from the new Conan book, coming out in October.

As an “All Ages” book, it doesn’t do too badly, does it?

CRISIS OF IDENTITY

[Yellow Light]

The rumours doing the rounds is that Kyle Rayner (I actually just typed Kyle Baker there… ouch) is to be identified as the killer in “Identity Crisis.” Apparently there’s a flaw in his ring that has turned him crazy.

Apparently thenew Kyle Rayner action figure has been cancelled, or renamed Black Hand, and the character’s situation in “Green Lantern: Rebirth” has been shied away from at convention panels…

You know, these Green Lanterns. Always go a bit odd in the end, don’t they? Bring back G’nort.

IDENTITY OF CRISIS

[Yellow Light]

Next year, DC is planning a new “Crisis” series for the 20th anniversary of “Crisis On Infinite Earths,” by Geoff Johns and Phil Jiminez. I hear the antagonist is a character who wants their old version of Earth back again.

Maybe by March, I’ll understand that desire.

LET’S HAVE ANOTHER CENSORSHIP CRISIS

[Green Light]

To be fair, with “Ganjaman,” they’re probably just asking for trouble.

It’s like the Freak Brothers never went away.

IRON MAN WITH A NOSE RING

[Green Light]

IMWAN aims to be your second favourite comics messageboard. Unlike so many, it is a forum where individuals are encouraged to be polite. No flame wars. No aggression. Hugs and puppies all round. If you’ve got a problem, take it to your favourite message board and deal with it there.

It makes for a real change, I can tell you.

See you all there. But play nice!

And while I’m doing links, a radio business show for consumers, Shop Talk, recently did a feature on the company I work for, Radioville. They played a couple of “mock” ads (real ads being shunned by the BBC) and the show can be heard until Tuesday morning here.

The Guardian is a leading national broadsheet newspaper in the UK. It is also one of the leading online news websites in the world. It’s also rapidly becoming a comic book specialist publication it seems.. and it’s also always got Steve Bell.

Now, let’s do the same thing to The Sun! Shanna on Page Three!

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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