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This is the seventy-seventh 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 professional and reader 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.

The traffic lights are there for your own protection. The Red light indicates that the content of the piece is most likely a mixture of agenda and confusion. Amber means at least the agenda is tempered by facts. Possibly. And Green means it’s true. Probably. Ah, you never know. Could always be a first.

If reprinting from this column, please only reprint a relevant portion of an article and include a link so people can get the rest. That way, glory lies.

TOKYO POP COMICS

[Green Light]

I understand that Warren Ellis is planning to write original manga-style series for TOKYOPOP and Humanoids.

TOKYOPOP is the number one comics presence in US bookstores, yet has remained separate from the “comic book career path” of the direct market. Expect this to establish a link between the two, and see a lot more traffic in the future. And Warren Ellis joins a small number of US/UK creators at Humanoids, which will see a greater presence in the European bookstore market.

ADAM AND ANDY

[Green Light]

Of late, Andy Diggle has been openly researching DC’s vast array of sci-fi characters, many of whom have not been heard from for decades. Why? I hear that Andy Diggle, exclusive to DC and their bright-new-shiny-thing after the success of “Losers” and listing in Entertainment Weekly’s Top 100 is working on a new Adam Strange series, with Superman artist Pascal Ferry,

Last heard, Andrew Robinson and Zander Cannon were working on an Adam Strange project for the Wildstorm/DC line, but apparently there have been a fair few lineup changes on that project over the last year. Indeed,
I understand that the Azzarello/Bermejo OMAC concept has moved to DC and merged with the upcoming Azzarello/Jim Lee take on Superman… something it seems has also happened to Veitch’s Question? (see below).

The Wildstorm/DC line currently consists of Vigilante, Challengers Of The Unknown and The Question.

JUNIOR CREATOR

[Green Light]

This is a piece of art from John Romita Jr. and Glen Brunswick’s upcoming creator-owned Image series, “The Gray Area,” also to be inked by Klaus Janson. It features the lead character “Chance”.

AUSTEN POWERS

[Yellow Light]

There seems like quite a few people are interested in writing a new Nightcrawler title from Marvel. I understand Chuck Austen has the gig, to follow his “New X-Men” arc. And the other approached parties haven’t.

NEXT CHRISTMAS

[Green Light]

So what happens to Millar and Hitch after the second volume of “Ultimates” ships? Well, I hear that Millar and Hitch are planning to work on a number of creator-owned mini-series together, possibly under the Millarworld label, possibly not (and I hear there’s a bunch more Millarworld comics to still be announced, as part of a Second Wave). After that, it looks like a proper-exclusive deal with Marvel. So long to the promised Superman-under-Didio future that Millar has been pushing for himself and Hitch.

NEWSAROAMA

[Green Light]

I understand that View Askew will no longer be sponsoring Newsarama. After Mile High Comics pulled out a while ago, Kevin Smith stepped in not only to sponsor the site but to host it – which caused some complications with Dynamic Forces at the time…

I’m led to believe this is a business decision, rather than personal politics and View Askew will continue to host the site, but right now Newsarama has not had the best of Christmas surprises and is currently looking for replacement sponsors – this shouldn’t be hard as Newsarama has had to rebuff advances in the past.

JIM LEE-ONARDO

[Green Light]

Jim Lee has been living in Italy for a few months now. His family have moved there for a year, and Jim still visits the New York and La Jolla offices of DC, where he is a Vice President and head of Wildstorm, from time to time. Lee still works a solid day, using the joys of e-mail and scanners. He is also working on his upcoming comics projects. Sadly Lee is regarded as a “special case” and such homeworking practices will be not extended to other employees…

SOUL SEARCHING

[Green Light]

If you’re keeping an eye out for “Soul Saga” 6, the final part of the Storm-Works series, be annoyed. It’s out in Germany (in German) from Panini… but not in the US or UK in English yet.

What’s the use of denying Germany Iraqi oil contracts when they can just snub us like this? Mmm?

NEW X-MEN DEALS

[Green Light]

No, no, I still haven’t been given the all-clear to say who’s writing “New X-Men.” However, it’s intriguing to see who has been offered the title and turned it down. Neil Gaiman has reported he’s not writing the book, but I understand that’s not from want of Marvel offering it to him. And artistically I understand John Cassaday, David Finch and Greg Capullo were offered the title… and all turned it down.

VEITCH WORK QUILT

[Green Light]

As part of the recent Millarworld thread that started with a review of mine for Youngblood and became an ongoing place for Rob Liefeld to talk to readers, and recently escalated into a fight between RickVietch and Rob Liefeld over royalties, credits and lost artwork, Veitch did gave a summary of his upcoming work. He wrote:

“Actually I’m really happy right now. Things are cooking for me in comics (just finished a year’s run on AQUAMAN, my upcoming QUESTION series has been folded into Jim Lee’s SUPERMAN continuity, I’m about a third through CAN’T GET NO, a 440 page graphic novel I’m writing and drawing for VERTIGO, Alan’s writing a 16 page GREYSHIRT for me, I’ve had terrific success with the fresh editions of BRAT PACK and THE ONE through my own KING HELL imprint, and of course I’m co-creator and administrator, with Steve Conley, of Comicon.com). So life is busy but good!”

TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS

[Green Light]

On Boxing Day, the UK will receive a hideous sight on the TV. Thankfully, it’s on digital television, so that keeps out a good half of the population. And it’s also head-to-head with the Office Christmas Special and World Idol, so that’s most everyone else out of the way. But for those few, those unlucky few who decide, from 10pm to Midnight to tune into QVC (that’s on Sky, NTL, Telewest Broadband and Freeview), you’ll find a strange, most hideous sight, Rich Johnston broadcasting live and touting the finest Dynamic Forces signed comics, premium comics, statues and lithographs known to man. Set your videotapes now! (Actually, if anyone can tape it for me as well, I’d be most grateful. My video will be busy with “The Office.” Cheers!)

Some may wonder just how Rich Johnston can give up his journalistic integrity to openly shill such objects d’ninth art but to they I say, “It’s never stopped me before now, has it?”

STRYKE FORCE KIN

[Green Light]

Here’s an upcoming page from “Strykeforce,” the new series from Top Cow, by Jay Faerber and Tyler Kirkham. Out in March…

CIVILIAN JEST

[Green Light]

The most evil comic of 2002 has returned in 2003… as a CD. That’s right, you too can relive the wonderful tale of “Civilian Justice” in his one man battle to kill Islamic Arabs armed with a Stars And Stripes flag, in audio form.

The second issue of this much-ridiculed comic book never emerged, nor did any kind of film. Thankfully this CD is the only continued exploitation of the original piece of trash. Buy it for someone you hate.

JOSEPH AT CHRISTMAS

[Green Light]

Joseph Italian, one of the fine men who engaged in fun Dan Buckley photoshoppery is back with an interactive Season’s Greetings. Design your own Christmas card with the faces of many prominent industry types. Fun for all the family. You can even make Joe Quesada and John Byrne cuddle up!

Click here for Italian joy!

PRESS HERE

[Green Light]

Looks like Marvel’s book publishing line is really kicking off… and you could be a part of it! If you’re thinking of a new job next year why not apply to be a Managing Editor or an Editor, Middle Grade Fiction for Marvel Press.

UNLIMITED NOT LIMITED

[Green Light]

I’ve been informed by a few people regarding last week’s speculation about new delays and communication silence at the Unlimited line at Marvel, that it is business as usual… ish. Consider it a spate of Christmas madness that got a lot of schedules lost and returned calls lost, combined with a lot of holidays in the Christmas office and the Spidey boys getting a new editor.

Z-LESS

[Green Light]

Remember last week’s Zorro image from an upcoming Grafiksismik comic project? Turns out they might not exactly have the license yet. It appears the images are linked to a computer game in progress and a comic book along those lines may never even come out.

Never mind, here’s their Christmas card to all and sundry.

ONE FROM THE BOTTOM

NICK LOCKING

Nick Locking is, among other things, a lover of robots, a Briton, a qualified computer programmer, a ne’erdowell, and most pertinently, a comic writer. He has lived in many countries, and pinpointing his accent to any one country or region is more-or-less impossible. His favourite film right now is “Conan The Barbarian.”

He started out writing short webcomics with friend and former flatmate Tony Rollinson, comedy parody pieces created for a quick laugh – these pieces are available here. These short pieces led to a more ambitious project, “The Atrocity,” which, pleasingly, despite a total lack of good taste, won the UK National Comics Award for Best Online Strip 2002.

From there Nick went on, probably using his love of robots, to land a gig writing the next Robocop series after the currently-in-stores Miller/Grant epic, which should be out sometime in 2004, and will feature a hell of a lot of robot-based carnage.

Nick has some work coming up in the pages of Warhammer Monthly and some tentative creator-owned projects also scheduled for 2004, but is also perfectly open to being asked to pitch other projects, as he feels a burning need to impart his deepest thoughts – mostly concerning robots – to an unsuspecting public. We cannot hope to stop him; only contain him and love him deeply.

SEASON’S GREETINGS

And on that point, a very merry Christmas to you all. Special thanks go out to Jonah Weiland for what must be the most high-maintenance column he’s ever had to run. Next week’s LITG will be another of the annual Rumour Awards specials. This week’s Waiting For Tommy is with Jimmy Palmiotti, the next will be a special Christmas presents rundown of your favourite comic book creators, then New Year will start with a bang of new interviews. Indeed, if you reckon you fancy the challenge of being Tommied, then please, write in.

Right, I’m off to go eat some Christmas pudding with brandy butter and make myself sick.

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.

Discuss this column on the Lying In The Gutters Forum.
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