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Welcome to the one hundred and thirteenth 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.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD TEAM TO WORK ON “THE FILTH” MOVIE?

[Yellow Light]

Chris Weston’s appeal a few months ago, initially through this very column, then repeated across the net, seems to have paid off. Well, according to a couple of journalists I speak to, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, writer/star and writer/director of “Shaun of The Dead” (Region 2 DVD out in a few weeks, US film distribution in place) are currently working on the script of “The Filth.” They plan to film in March, and “Spaced” co-writer and co-star Jessica Stevenson has already been cast.

As to “The Filth” creators/owners, Chris Weston denies knowledge, Grant Morrison doesn’t reply to e-mails, but this looks a go. The pair have confirmed it to some in a very nudge-nudge, wink-wink style. ITV Teletext ran the story (before withdrawing it), but most people have just been told that the film is “a British action adventure” and it’s title is “related to fuzz.” The Fuzz, like The Filth, is British slang for the police.

Simon Pegg did not reply to emails. DC did not choose to comment.

I was a zombie in “Shaun Of The Dead.” Now I want to be a giant sperm in “The Filth”.

SPACED OFF

[Green Light]

And with plans to bring both seasons of Simon, Jessica and Edgar’s “Spaced” TV series to Bravo in the USA, could Platinum Studios prove a stumbling block?

For newcomers, “Spaced” is the best new TV sitcom of the last ten years (with honourable mentions to “Curb Your Enthusiasm”). Already bootlegged around the DC office, it’s the TV series we were all born to watch. Certainly good enough for Americans to buy a multi-region DVD player to watch it on.

Well, Platinum Studios have announced a Top Cow comic book/TV series of the same name. We’re told the TV pilot will be written and directed by Adam Rifkin.

Someone sort this out.

“Spaced” USA

(Boo hiss!)

VS

“Spaced” UK

(Yay! Yes folks, that’s the cover to a new DVD package, with new extras, new deleted scenes, a bonus disc and a Homo-meter for Tim and Mike, coming out at the end of September)

VS

“Spaced” from Eclipse years ago

(No, I didn’t remember this either)

DIGITAL DILEMMAS

[Green Light]

Quentin Tarantino has long expressed his hatred of digital filmmaking, and vowed he’d never step into that world.

I understand that his guest-director section on the Rodriguez/Miller film “Sin City” led to his statement during his wrap from the movie that Rodriguez had almost, but not quite, converted him.

It looks like a beautiful film.

SPARTAN COLOURS

[Green Light]

Zack Snyder has had Scott Frank writing a screenplay draft of Frank Miller’s “300” for him. Michael Tolkin was also approached about it. An early rumour suggests James Gunn is involved.

Since I’m going all Harry Knowles right now, let’s stray out of comics. The Oompa Loompas in Tim Burton’s new “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” are planned to be all CGI and each a different colour. They are currently test-shooting footage for this

I understand the actor Colin Salmon was offered the role of James Bond recently – and accepted. He’s already been in the last few Bond movie, playing Charles Robinson.

Framestore, the SFX group behind “Thunderbirds,” have just got the contract for the “Doom” movie effects. However, there’s no script yet, they’ve just received plot outlines with a very, very low budget, shooting is starting very soon and word is this might be part of a Fantastic-Four style production – making a movie in order not to lose the option rights.

And with that wrench of the steering wheel to bring the column back on topic, onwards.

BACK BURN

[Green Light]

Desperado Publishing, Joe Pruett’s new company, is starting a new volume of “Negative Burn,” the highly influential anthology series from his previous company, Caliber.

In the first series, every “Negative Burn” featured an original Alan Moore lyrical adaptation, as well as featuring the likes of Nabiel Kanan, John Cassaday, Brian Bendis, Brian Bolland, Warren Ellis, P. Craig Russell, Neil Gaiman, Moebius, Phillip Hester, Terry Moore, Paul Pope, Dave Johnson, Colleen Doran, Bob Burden, David Mack, Peter David, Dave Gibbons and many more.

PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED

[Green Light]

British newstand comics are about to get a next knife in the kidneys. Currently, the big player in British comics is “Viz Comic,” a successful adult comedy anthology that sells around 150,000. Below that, Marvel UK/Panini reprint a number of Marvel and DC titles, there are children’s comedy anthologies and there is “2000AD” and “Judge Dredd” from Rebellion.

Moves in the UK by the Office Of Fair Trading to break up monopolies in the magazine distribution business have been known for a short while, and after Dez Skinn talked about them at the Bristol Comics Festival, the comics industry woke up a little.

The Periodical Publishers Association has this week sent a report to the Office Of Fair Trading, showing how this could cripple the ability of publishers to launch new titles and keep other titles functioning, if economies of scale were stripped away. Currently, magazines and newspapers are distributed on a regional basis through exclusive contracts with major names including WH Smith and John Menzies.

Smaller wholesalers have complained of an effective anti-competitive environment. And the Department of Trade and Industry plans to abolish the law that allows distributors to enjoy exclusive rights over certain territories from next May.

However this is likely to increase supply costs, reducing the amount of retailers by tens of thousands, and squeezing the profit margins on publications already feeling the pinch, losing a thousand titles, a third of the entire consumer magazine market, following the US pattern.

It’s is very conceivable in these circumstances, the British market may just effectively lose 2000AD, entirely.

British comic readers can contact their Member Of Parliament here.

More here.

DC CONCENTRATE

[Yellow Light]

While rumours are rife that the “Ultimatized” DC line will be published through Wildstorm, I understand that this isn’t set in stone. It currently consists of the previously mentioned “Batman And Robin” by Jim Lee & Jeph Loeb (then Art Adams & Jeff Loeb), “Wonder Woman” by Adam Hughes and Jeph Loeb and Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely on “Superman.” The project is scheduled for the last quarter of 2005, but possible delays even to that stymied a Chicago announcement. But with those artists, you might need a little lead in time. Not to mention thinking up a name for it that doesn’t begin with “U.”

The Justice League Of America project “Justice” by Jim Krueger, Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross, was originally intended for this line, has been through rewrites and now will be released as a standard DCU project.

MOVING STORIES

[Red Light]

Post-convention season, this is the perfect time for comic pros to keep up the gossip they kicked off a few weeks ago. And what do they like to talk more about than their employers?

There are more rumours that DC will be moving lock stock nearer to Warner Brother’s Burbank Studios in Los Angeles. Well, it’s that time of the year, isn’t it?

Paul Levitz’s position isn’t in jeopardy, Warner Brothers just want DC in closer proximity to the studios – though it’s one Levitz has always resisted.

It’s not just DC that’s shaking loose right now. The rest of the year may see some major figures at Marvel let go, at a level above editorial.

A THOUSAND WORDS

[Green Light]

Do you like to cause trouble on message boards? Do you hound creators and publishers with quotes, facts and figures brought in out of context in order to score cheap points against individuals who, for some reason, you’ve taken a dislike to? Does that include Brian Michael Bendis? Does that include Brian Michael Bendis? Can’t be arsed to listen to Augie’s recording and transcribe the words yourself? Then you need the handy dandy Rich Johnston Bendis/Wayne GrudgeMatch transcript. And here it is.

PARTY POLITICS

[Green Light]

So who had the best party at Chicago? I hear it’s a dead heat, between Marvel and Avatar. Marvel had a bachelor party for one of their assistant editors, Andy Schmidt. All the Marvel guys boarded a bus at seven on Saturday night to go an, um, very entertaining show.

Meanwhile Tom Nguyen and friends joined forces with William Christensen and his Avatar crew on Saturday night for their own party, hiring strippers at their hotel suite for Avatar creators and anyone else who popped by who seemed quite dedicated in their desire to please attendees.

Damn, I really should have gone to Chicago instead of San Diego…

I hear Tom and William plan increased acts of extravagance next year. Someone at Marvel had better get engaged soon as well, if they want to keep up.

HOUSE RULES

[Green Light]

“Hell House” is a comic book adaptation of the novel by Richard “I Am Legend” Metheson, coming out from IDW.

Written by Ian “Sojourn” Edgington and Si “Nikolai Dante” Fraser, their adaptation is planned to be much more faithful than the seventies movie, so they can actually show the gruesomness and kinky sexual stuff that would probably get a film classified NC-17 or banned outright these days.

It’s a four part series, each part being 48 pages long and in glorious black and white with colour covers by Si. The first part is due in December.

Here’s the cover and promo piece…

This is the second Matheson related project from IDW. The first was a reprinting of the Steve Niles/Elman Brown adaptation of “I Am Legend” originally published by Eclipse and re-released by IDW in hardback late last year.

CROSS REFERENCING

[Green Light]

It appears that CrossGen are trying to get address information on all former CrossGen employees that they have lost contact with.

I wonder what they want…

GET HER!

[Green Light]

The pain runs deep at Marvel. When poster Scavenger wrote at ComiiXFan, “So I’m looking at the Diamond numbers Newsarama posted and I found a tag line for CAF to get it some buzz..

“Captain America & The Falcon: At DC, we’d be a top seller!”

Marvel editor Tom Brevoort responded, “Don’t say that too loud, or Bob Wayne might come over to your house to rebut.”

STERN WORDS

[Green Light]

Last year Roger Stern reached out to Scandinavian based publisher Egmont to see if they were interested in him writing some stories starring Lee Falk’s classic purple clad spandex hero, The Phantom.

Stern was asked to turn in three story ideas. One was “Secret of the Fall,” based on a 30 year old script he sold to Charlton Comics – the first comic story he got paid for. Unfortunatelym Charlton’s Phantom book bit the dust before artist Don Newton ever got around to illustrate the story.

The Swedish editor liked two of the ideas and one of them was “Secret of the Fall.” Once the story hit newsstands in Scandinavia and Australia/New Zealand, a rumour started that Stern had just used the same script from the 60s.

Eventually, most realized it was the same concept but a different script. However, a bunch of Australian fans now decided they did not like Stern’s dialogue. Stern seems to have been quite surprised and so did the Scandinavian readers.

It turns out that the Australian editor does not use the actual script when the book is re-lettered, but an old PC translation program to translate from Swedish.

So in the process of US English, to Swedishm to computer generated Oz English, the dialogue took a number of odd turns along the way. Stern has now made the “Secret of the Fall” script available on both his site and on the Australian Deepwoods site. He has also sent the Australian editor his next script directly.

WE ARE MANY

[Yellow Light]

Word reaches me that Paul Levitz has been talking about the possibilities of a “Legion” cartoon. The usual reasons against such a project, too many characters, was knocked by the “X-Men Evolution” cartoon, and buried six foot deep by the new “Justice League Unlimited” animation.

Mind you, this wouldn’t have been the first time they’ve tried.

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO LINK

[Green Light]

My Waiting For Tommy interview column makes its triumphant return with a Peter David piece.

411mania have moved to www.comicsnexus.com. This week, they talk to Garth Ennis, who confirms that he’s writing a “Ghost Rider” book for Marvel, and more…

The John Byrne Forum implodes and Neal Adams talks royalties. Sacha Baron Cohen meets “Holed Up” with his Borat character.

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:rich.johnston@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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