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Welcome to Lying In The Gutters number 72. I’m feeling a lot better now, thanks. This is the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Written by British commentator 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 this time. 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.

On with the show.

EPIC TO SQUIB

[Green Light]

I also got forwarded the Epic Anthology e-mail sent out to creators, that Matt Brady and Eric J Moreels also seem to have received. What neither of them mentioned was the line that asked that no recipient leak the information until Marvel had solicited the project… ah well, I guess any company loyalty went out of the window when Marvel started screwing the projects around.

So Epic Comics is being relegated to an anthology magazine… that may not have an issue out after the first one?

As far as I can tell, Epic is going backwards. Back in the early eighties, Epic started as an anthology magazine, then expanded into a line of company owned and creator-owned titles – my favourites included The “Bozz Chronicles,” “Sleeze Brothers,” “Groo” and “Stray Toasters.” This time, it’s gone the other way. From line of creator-owned, new take on Marvel characters, new creator and new-reader friendly line of 60 titles… to three of four mini-series and finally a one-off anthology.

Epic was designed as a way to introduce new creators to comics. Not surprisingly a number of these new creators who were promised much and now have been delivered little are very upset and angry indeed. I’ve been sent a few e-mails from involved individuals and they’re downhearted, disheartened and spitting teeth. They believe they’ve been lied to by their publisher, misled and their rights abused for the sake of internal politics.

You know, I can’t think of a better introduction to working in comics, can you?

There are moves for some people to get more work at Marvel as a result of the Epic changes. But only if they shut up about it.

WAKE THE DOUGH

[Green Light]

Michael Dougherty, who wrote the screenplay for “X-Men 2,” is currently writing the screenplay for “Wake The Dead.” This property is based on the Steven Niles comic book from IDW and recently sold to Dimension Films.

PAPAL INFALLABILITY

[Green Light]

Paul Pope is currently working on of the “Solo” project from DC Comics. Previously announced, “Solo” will feature the likes of Jim Lee, Richard Corben, Jose Munoz, Darwyn Cooke, and Howard Chaykin, telling personal stories whether using DC Universe characters or totally new concepts. Amongst others Paul’s project includes a number of short colour stories including “Teenage Sidekick” featuring the Golden Age Batman and Robin, and “The Problem In Knosos,” a dramatic retelling of the Minotaur myth.

Pope is also working on a themed sequel project to “100%.” the comic recently announced as to be traded soon. DC Comics has also optioned the film rights to “Heavy Liquid” and “100%.” Andrew Cosby has optioned the rights to “Escapo.” “Heavy Liquid” will also be published in two volumes in France, with Spanish and Italian volumes also being prepared.

WAITING FOR MORE TRADES

[Yellow Light]

One quote from a Marvel editor on the move of Bill Jemas from President of Publishing, “Our anti-fan problem is being taken care of.” Recent moves may have backfired however.

So what are Marvel’s plans for the Tsunami trade paperbacks? Epic books? What’s coming out in hardback, what in paperback? Thank heavens for Marvel Editor Jeff Youngquist’s name being on so many upcoming Marvel trades. That way we can search Amazon for him!

The Tsunami trades also have a high page count per dollar price – leading one to suspect digest-sized volumes…

Here’s a few highlights.

MARCH

Manga: Sentinel Vol 1: Salvage 136 pages, $8

Manga: Mystique Vol 1: Dead Drop Gorgeous 144 pages $8

Alias: The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones (Max) 168 pages $18

Trouble Vol 1 Hardcover http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/078511310X 128 pages $20

APRIL

Manga: Venom Vol 1: Shiver 120 pages $8

Gun Theory 96 pages $10

Thor: Vikings 128 pages $14

MAY

Supreme Power Vol 1 Hardcover 192 pages $25

JUNE

Manga: Sentinel Vol 2: No Hero 144 pages, $8

Manga: Mystique Vol 2: Tinker, Tailor, Mutant Spy 144 pages $8

Manga: Runaways Vol 2: Teenage Wasteland 144 pages $8

Spider-Man Legends Vol 5: Spider-Man Blue 144 pages $15

Hulk Vol 1: Gray 120 pages $22

Crimson Dynamo Vol 1 144 pages $15 and slightly off credits.

Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game: Guide to Marvel 1602 Hardcover 96 pages $20

JULYManga: Venom Vol 2: Run 120 pages $8
Manga: New Mutants Vol 2 144 pages $8
Hulk Legends Vol 2: Nightmerica 144 pages $15
Marvel 1602 Vol 1 Hardcover 216 pages $30

AUGUST

Ant-Man Vol 1 120 pages $14

Ultimates Vol 1 Hardcover 320 pages $30
Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol 1 120 pages $12

OCTOBER

The Pulse Vol 1 144 pages $15

NO DATE

Sentinel Hardcover (12 issues)

Runaways Hardcover (6 issues)

Venom Hardcover (12 issues)

Inhumans Hardcover (6 issues)

Human Torch (12 issues)

New Mutants Hardcover (12 issues)

NO FUTURE FOR YOU?

[Green Light]

Bob Layton’s recent interview at Comicon Pulse criticised Image, implying it was a dead company after Devil’s Due left, saying “When this pullout occurs, we will probably see the beginning of the end for Image, as well.”

This comment is interesting in light of Layton’s approach to Image Comics a few weeks previously about publishing his Future Comics line, while he investigated other personal opportunities. The approach was rebuffed by Jim Valentino.

One wonders why, if Bob Layton is unconvinced of the survival of Image Comics, he was, weeks earlier, keen for them to publish his own comics. While others have thrown doubt on the longevity of Image Comics, not many have done so, so soon after wishing to entrust Image with their creative endeavours. Aesop may wish to take notes.

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

[Yellow Light]

Were there more people at London’s one-day mini-comic festival than at the Las Vegas convention? Aside from guests and exhibitors, that could well be the case. I’ve heard that some vendors are joining together into some kind of class-action lawsuit over the low attendance…

INTERESTING BED FELLOWS

[Yellow Light]

One of the more common rumours doing the rounds over the last fortnight is that John Byrne is doing a Green Lantern project – and so is Grant Morrison.

It transpires that Grant Morrison is writing an arc for the main series, reintroducing Hal Jordan as Earth’s Green Lantern, before Geoff Johns takes over the title with Carlos Pacheco. I understand that Morrison has been given the whole of the Green Lantern Corps to play with, save one. And that John Byrne’s Green Lantern series will involve John Stewart.

More to come on this one, I’m sure.

DC SNIPPETS

[Red Light]

Here’s a few bits and pieces that freelancers have been letting slip of late. Reliability varies…

I understand that Adam Hughes has plans to do interior art for a Batman project in 2005…

The comic book “iCandy,” from DC Comics, will be cancelled with issue 6.

Look for a relaunch of “Gotham Central” soon.

There will be three trade paperbacks collecting George Perez’ “Wonder Woman” work coming through.

It appears that “Legends Of The Dark Knight” will have soon finally hovered up all the work that was commissioned for it. The title will fold around issue 200, although the brand may be used as an umbrella title for subsequent Batman miniseries.

George Perez’ next project will be a Titans graphic novel.

The next team on “Hawkman” is Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey, with Ryan Sook on art.

STATUS QUO

[Yellow Light]

When “X-Statix” “lost” the princess Diana character, replaced with a European pop singer (in a story with references that only make sense if you ignore who the comic says she is, and read it as Princess Diana in a wig), Joe Quesada spun this as a decision that Marvel has reached consensually. Much doubt was thrown on that at the time, with the word that Marvel changed the story under pressure from Avi Arad, who was himself under pressure from media stars upset about the Diana-related publicity the project was generating. X-Statix Mike Allred gave his version.

He writes, commenting on the delays and then weekly publication schedule as the book played catch up, “J. Bone is the hero in this scenario. If he wasn’t on board to ink, I would have imploded with all the stupid changes we were forced to make. Ah, what could have been. And so you know, and I want everyone to know, no one in Marvel proper wanted to shut us down. Everyone fought the good fight–but a couple of bonehead ‘higher ups’ share holders or some such, wielded their power on us little comic book makers and destroyed what could have been the most stunningly powerful comic story this year. As it is now it’s just a typically excellent Peter Milligan story (despite all the arbitrary changes).

“Yeah, I’m still bitter. I thought this was all behind me, but seeing the actual books come out is really stinging.”

He then gave more details on what was changed.

“The first three issues were changed the most to remove any and all connection with Di and Co. Paste-ups, re-pastes, plastic surgery–colored and re-colorerd (Henrietta was red-head for awhile–but even that was too close to Di ?!). With the fourth issue of the six-issue arc it finally became it’s own thing with fewer and fewer changes (mostly on the covers which came first).”

As to the publication with current news headlines about Diana.

“It rips me apart just to think about it. Peter’s ingenius ideas would have been declared revelatory (hmm-maybe it’s a good thing we were cut off at the knees then). Oh well, onward and upward.”

IN THESE SHOES?

[Yellow Light]

Bart Sears has followed Andy Smith off CrossGen. The team from “Negation” will be handling CG’s big Secret Wars mini “The War.” Not only Pelletier, Meikis and Martin but Tony Bedard as well! That means Bill Rosemann was recently put in the position of informing Ron Marz that CrossGen would no longer need his services.

“Negation” will continue until issue 26, fold into “The War” and the team is being offered the option to put together and launch a new Sigil-less comic next summer.

SISTER MATIC

[Green Light]

William Edwards recently put out a casting call for a Catwoman stuntwoman that caused much jocularity across the web.

He recently sent out another missive saying “My due to personal reasons [difference of opinion], I have terminated my involvement with the feature film ‘Catwoman.’ I will no longer be accepting correspondence re: Catwoman

“Please use the following contact information to get in contact directly with the stunt co-ordinator on the show (named below) about the motorcycle stunt driving position for a sister (Halle Berry).

“Good luck to all of you.

“Bill”

CATWOMAN
10/330-555 Brooksbank Ave
N.Van BC V7J 3S5
604 983-5002
604 983-5006
Stunt coordinator: Steven Davison

PULLING POWER

[Green Light]

Brian Pulido is launching a new LINE of books at Avatar in 2004. At least 3 new series, clearly targeted at the previous Chaos and Crossgen Pulido fans. The books will all be written by Pulido himself.

Have a peek…

FABLE TO REALITY

[Green Light]

Jenette Kahn is producing a “Fables” movie at Warner Brothers.

THUNDER CATS

AMBER

The “THUNDER Agents” story unleashed a small floodgate of e-mails. This is another run through what happened – please compare with the last column’s version of events.

I understand deal-broker and comics writer Michael Uslan was in the process of going around to a variety of comic book license owners, looking to lock up their works for possible movie treatment. The deal with John Carbonaro and DC over “THUNDER Agents” was that the first Archives and the new TA series would come out about the same time.

But at the time, DC didn’t have anyone at the time that was jumping up and down to do the book. However, when Dan DiDio was brought in as a new vice president of DC, this was to be DiDio’s first major project there. DiDio did have some knowledge of the “THUNDER Agents” having worked with the Marv Wolfman TA animated series proposal to ABC a few years before.

However, DiDio didn’t show anything to Carbonaro until a very short time before some operational deadline, meaning that pretty much DC was going to blow their contract deadline for publishing the first issue of the new TA series. The Fiumara Brothers, who worked on the series bible and the first issue confess to being heavily influenced by “The Ultimates.” They left (were dropped off) the book after they’d completed pencils and inks of the first issue. And another team were brought in, but it wasn’t to be.

John Carbonaro proposed that DC publish the unpublished stories originally supposed to have been published by OMNI Comics, so DC could have had something published by the original contract deadline – even that DC’s revamped Thunder Agents be called “The NEW T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” and have the four stories of the left over OMNI stuff be the “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” but that went nowhere.

And unless there can be an Alan Moore “firewall” style deal between Carbonara and DC, nothing’s going to happen there.

That’s all so far… any more for any more?

DC declined to comment.

BUTTON IT

[Green Light]

How does the marketing guy at Rebellion Comics demonstrate the quality of the hardcover publication of Button Man at a recent convention?

He beats himself on the head with it repeatedly, to prove its indestructibility. The book, not his head, unfortunately.

WARLOCKS AND WITCHES

[Green Light]

Cartoonist Fred Hembeck has a fun story to tell about an old Halloween party recently when an esteemed comics creator currently going through a revival of fortunes, gave him a surprise he’ll never forget. Go here for more.

TOMMY, JAMIE AND GEOFF

[Green Light]

Last Wednesday at Waiting For Tommy, Jamie Rich revealed all about the Oni Comics and his decision to leave it, that got followed up by so many Web sites. This Wednesday, it’s Geoff Johns turn as he talks about his current work, how he’s perceived by the industry, which books he’s leaving and what he’s up to next. I expect there may be a few followups from that as well. See you there.

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