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This is the eighty-third 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.

VIRUS ALERT – Added January 27th, 1:00 AM PST

[Green Light]

There is a nasty little virus that hit the comics community yesterday. I have received virus-infected e-mails from people purporting to be Johanna Draper, Steven Grant, Warren Ellis and more. I have also received virus e-mails from my comicbookresources.com address – a forwarding account that I don’t have access to.

These are your common ‘spoof’ virus e-mails, using one address from someone’s contact book to send it to another. And it seems to have hit a couple of fellows with everyone in comics’ contact details.

Do not open an attachment in an e-mail, even if it’s from your favourite creator, unless you know exactly what it is in advance. This has been a Lying In The Gutters Public Warning. Thank you.

SINEMA

[Green Light]

I’ve been hearing talk that there’s some interest in a “Sin City” movie from a number of people, Robert Rodriguez is one name that’s been mentioned by a couple of sources. Look for more on that shortly, if it comes together.

Miller has just finished a first-draft script of “Hard Boiled,” which is in development at Warner Bros with Nicholas Cage’s production company (him again!), and development continues on “300” with producers Gianni Nunnari…

X-MANIA

[Yellow Light]

The newly solicited Wizard boasts a preview of a new “X-Men” #1 by Chris Claremont. Pro grapevine gossip tags this as a relaunch of “Uncanny X-Men.”

What’s wrong with New New Marvel calling it “New New X-Men,” that’s what I want to know.

LIZARD WIZARD

[Green Light]

“Hypothetical Lizard,” the World Fantasy Award nominated Alan Moore novella from the eighties, long out of print (but on my bookshelf, because I am mighty) is to be reprinted and adapted for comics, from Avatar. Along with Moore-adaptor-in-chief Anthony Johnston, with art by new name Lorenzo Lorente.

Look for it in the next Previews, until then, some covers and artwork.

WILD FRONTIER

[Yellow Light]

I’m hearing that some retailers have complained about the price point for DC’s “New Frontier.” For a $6.95 title, it seems lacking in production values, a 64 page comic without a spine or cardstock cover. Retailers tell me that when they’ve brought this up, DC representatives have told retailers this was Darwyn’s wish.

I hear elsewhere that Darwyn did indeed want a non-prestige format, preferring the feel of a big fat thick comic book without a special cover for the single issues. However, this would have been at a lower $4.95 price point, like the recent “Lobo/Authority” one shot for a similar format title. And that’s what I hear Darwyn expected.

Not to be…

PAULSPAWN

[Yellow Light]

Remember the relaunched merge-Spawn-and-Hellspawn-into-one-title I mentioned a week or so ago? I hear that Paul Lee is intending to draw the title.

OH BOY, THIS IS JUST GOING TO DESTROY JONAH’S BANDWIDTH

[Green Light]

It’s well known that Avatar publisher and editor-in-chief William Christensen is publishing a new line of porn comics under the Vivid Video brand, with the likes of Steven Grant and Antony Johnston writing a couple of the books, and the likenesses of the Vivid stars being faithfully reproduced.

Recently, William attended the Adult Entertainment Expo – think Comic-Con International in San Diego for porn. Lots more money, lots bigger and even more women in skimpy nonsense – if you can imagine such a thing.

William didn’t have to. He was promoting “Vivid Girls Volume One,” with posters, Steven Grant and even John Layman on hand to “help.”

Lying In The Gutters is proud to present William’s gallery of shame.

Oh, and then there’s was happy happy John Layman… John, please, you don’t know where they’ve been.

TRIBAL GATHERING

[Yellow Light]

Mix and match from the Comicon Pulse report from Warren Ellis’ Bad Signal mailing list; “Stealth Tribes… An artist is finally attached (after eight months), name to be announced. (January 2004)”

Then Colleen Doran, on their talkback section; “I will be working with Warren on one of these projects, have a substantial portion of finished script already, and begin full time work next week.”

Then Colleen again; ” Hm…I only just signed the contract last week and I think DC wants to make an official announcement about it or something, so I am going to wait.”

So it’s Colleen on “Stealth Tribes,” everyone.

WALKING TO TELEVISION

[Yellow Light]

Talking about The Zombie Survival Guide on Robert Kirkman’s THE WAY FORWARD

[Yellow Light]

Daniel Way may have been the unlucky recipient of three New New Marvel cancellations or postponements (“Gun Theory,” “Antman,” “Deathlok”) and his “Venom” may have been a little watered down from his original vision, but according to pro sources, he’s not exactly crying. Certain people have let it be known that no one should exactly feel sorry for the fellow, as he has an exclusive deal with Marvel until late next year, up to his eyes in upcoming Marvel projects more fitting with the current regime, and is smiled on from above.

I understand he gets paid for all the projects that didn’t come out and, despite his exclusive status, can take “Gun Theory” elsewhere. There are worse fates that can befall a creator…

BAT CURL

[Green Light]

Another James Jean cover doing the rounds… this time, “Batgirl” 52.

Am I actually the only person who’d forgotten there was still an ongoing “Batgirl” series? Must… look… harder…

ANY EXCUSE

[Yellow Light]

I understand last week’s CrossGen article caused a bout of soul searching at CrossGen on the part of the remaining staff, pacified by Marc Alessi’s assurance that the company will get round to paying everyone, eventually.

Clearly however, times are very tight for CrossGen. So much so, they just can’t afford those long distance calls to assure the people they do owe money to, of the above.

I also just heard that Bret Sears was “let go” about 2 months ago as the CFO of CrossGen Entertainment.

You know, I’m surprised they do anything at CrossGen apart from go to each others’ leaving parties.

CAUSE CELEBRE

[Green Light]

“Noble Causes” is one of the few Image comic books that seems to command attention (if not always sales). Here’s a look at a leaked cover to this summer’s series. Reason enough to buy?

HARD TO COVER

[Green Light]

I’ve been getting reports that the recently released Daredevil Hardcover, featuring the Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada run as well as certain David Mack stories, has run into a slight problem. It appears there are a number of copies out there (maybe even all of them) where pages 19 and 20 of issue 10 have the exact same lettering, placements and speech balloons, with different art underneath.

One of the perils of digital letting it seems.

Check your copy, tell me if you have the same problem, and look for an update later in the week.

TOP TEN TWO

[Yellow Light]

I hear word of a “Top Ten Season Two” from ABC, being announced this summer. Not by Alan Moore, but another of his co-collaborators.

THUNDERBLOCKED

[Green Light]

Fred Hembeck has been writing about another DC project, hidden away in the drawers. In searching for the Secret Origins sequence for Charlton superhero Thunderbolt by creator Pete Morasi, unpublished due to Secret Origins being cancelled, he made a discovery.

Pete’s son Val e-mailed Fred with the news that his dad also wrote and drew a complete 19 page story in 1987, that was abandoned in favour of an inhouse revival of the character that was then cancelled.

Val owns the entire story, but his dad scribbled on the envelope, “Not to be printed or sold, per DC contract,” and he doesn’t know what to do and he’d like to get it into print somehow.

If you think you can help, or would like to know more, go here and scroll down to January 21st.

THE ONE WHERE ROSS HASN’T STARTED PAINTING IT YET.

[Green Light]

Alex Ross presents: A 70s Comic Cover sketch to be painted for a Dynamic Forces Lithograph.

Okay this is nice. I wouldn’t mind hawking this on live TV for two hours.

JUSKO ACTION

[Green Light]

Fantasy painter and Tomb Raider artist Joe Jusko has gone all indie-arthouse-movie on us. And you can see it free if you live near Pittsburgh and you weren’t destroyed in that New Universe explosion all those years ago.

He co-stars in Severe Injuries, the latest film from Happy Cloud Pictures. You can see it free at the Melwood Screening Room in Oakland on January 31, 2004 at 2 PM.

It’s the story of Melvin Hubble, last in a long line of inept serial killers, who hopes to live up to his father’s dying wish – to make something of himself as a psycho – by sneaking into the Rho Rho Rho sorority house. Little does Melvin know, however, that there is another killer lurking in the house – one that lacks the courage of Melvin’s convictions…

BOSCH BOSCH

[Green Light]

The James Bosch/James Fry mixup last week got resolved about a nanosecond after the column went up. Bosch is actually better known as Jim Fern, a long-time artist who worked on “Legion 90” and more recently “Scion.”

Some people will go a long way to disassociate themselves with CrossGen now, but that’s ridiculous, surely?

Apparently it’s part of a plan hatched with DC staffers to relaunch his career afresh, rather than be known for work he did in the past.

THE MAN TO GO TO

[Green Light]

Now that Mike Doran has passed over the veil, the mantle has descended on Tom Brevoort as the man who’ll give no-nonsense answers to Marvel policy, to the extent that he is able (and indeed knows it). From a confirmation that the “New X-Men” creative teams are in place (and that’s plural, folks), to my favourite corporate response to whether to buy trades or singles, “There’s no specific formula to what gets collected outside of this: if it sells well, it’ll probably get collected. So if everybody decides to wait for the trade, then there probably won’t be a trade–and if everybody buys it as individual issues, then a trade is more likely.

“So your best strategy would be to get everybody you know to buy it as individual issues, while you yourself wait for the trade.”

For more sage advice, go to X-Fan’s Tom Brevoort section.

AV IT

[Yellow Light]

Charles Soule, one of the editors on the upcoming Avatar Actor/CBLDF fundraising anthology wrote regarding last week’s article. He writes, “As you mentioned, the project did begin on the Bendis boards, as a self-published, for-fun anthology. Everyone would pay their own way. A bunch of people signed up, we investigated deals with Dreamweaver, etc. I was not involved at that point, and the standard for inclusion was basically ‘can you pay your share? Then sure!’ Shortly thereafter, we began to inquire with pros. To our very great surprise, an enormous number of them expressed interest. I came on board at about that point, as someone with experience in the legal and business arenas, to make sure all of those boring items were properly handled. I was also asked to see if it would be possible to find a publisher for the book. As has been mentioned, a tentative agreement with Avatar was struck. However, everything from that point forward has been handled with us on our side and them on theirs. Avatar has not been involved in any editorial decisions concerning the material for the ‘Bendis board’ amateurs. They have been wonderful in every way, if you want the truth. So, that’s concern number one – your piece as written seems to suggest that Avatar was involved with cutting amateur scripts, when that could not be further from the truth. Cuts did happen, but they were all on our side.

“Now, to address that point as well. Once we set up our tentative deal with Avatar, we took a hard look at our material and realized that it would be unprofessional to take advantage of the great amount of faith that they had placed in us and simply submit everything to them as we had received it. We set up an extensive script workshop and attempted to use the skills of the many talented writers we have on-board to bring all of our scripts up to snuff. We gave this approximately six weeks. At the end of that period, we had to make hard choices, as editors always do, and cut approximately 4 or 5 scripts. I presume one of those parties contacted you. However, that’s 4 or 5 scripts out of something like 35 amateur pieces total! The amateur contributions on our side of the book are alive and well – there might end up being more amateur work in the book than pro (although we’ll have to see how that works out, of course.) As you will see when the book is released, there are some wonderful new talents on both the writing and art sides we’re hoping to expose to the industry and the world.”

RAZZLE DAZZLE EM

[Yellow Light]

After the cat fight that kicked off on the Comicon Pulse site after Scott Kurtz and Frank Cho played around at my expense, a few others got involved.

One, Francheco from Franchesco Studios was called on the carpet by Kurtz for ripping off Adam Hughes, leading to a similar jibe about the similarity between Kurtz’s work and that expressed very visibly on the PowerPuff Girls cartoons.

Maybe that’s why Franchesco decided to send me his version of Dazzler, already on a Marvel editor’s desk…

SKIN FLAKES

[Green Light]

Greg Tocchini’s “Under The Skin,” sold on eBay as pages from a CrossGen project apparently come from a project for another American company, and the book is written by another… the book never came about, and Greg currently works on Marvel’s “Thor.”

But if anyone would like a closer look at “Under The Skin,” I’ll pass on any enquiries.

ALL BETTER NOW

[Green Light]

Steve Niles responded to last week’s story about Top Cow’s habit of announcing he’s working on projects which he actually isn’t. He wrote, “I’ll talk. It was an honest mistake. TC and I had been TALKING, but nothing beyond that. I WAS pissed when I heard about the Press Release, but now we’re all buddies again.

“Group hug!”

SEAN OF THE DEADLINE

[Yellow Light]

Is Sean McKeever signing up to be the new writer on “Exiles?” That’s the word…

However it may be more likely that Sean will be taking over “NYX.” And he’s got the upcoming “Marvel Age” version of Fantastic Four on his plate, too…

WAITING FOR TOMMY

Did you catch last week’s interview with Peter Bagge?? Well you should have! Go there immediately.

And be ready for the new interview with Mike Carey this coming Wednesday.

After that… well, some more surprises in store.

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@twistandshout.freeserve.co.uk (which often gets full, but it’ll reach me during the day)
  • 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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