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Welcome to Lying In The Gutters, the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Written by British commentator Rich Johnston, it’s read by 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.

I’ve had a break for a couple of weeks, many thanks to Ian Ungstad and Chris Arrant for standing in my absence. And what I need, to regain my crown is a truly jaw opening scoop of a story to kick off the sixty-sixth column, before getting down to the usual brass tacks. Wherever will I find one of those.

Oh, this’ll do.

GLOBAL FREQUENCY (REGION CODED)

[Green Light]

Expect news of a TV version of Warren Ellis’ “Global Frequency” comic book very shortly.

CLOSE FAMILY

[Green Light]

After the departure of Mike Beattie, CrossGen has promoted its vice president of budgeting Bret Sears to the position of Chief Financial Officer. Bret, a former bank CFO, was added to the finance team this past summer. That’s Bret, brother to Bart Sears who’s Art Director at CrossGen.

Who says CrossGen isn’t one big happy family?

DEADLY SIN

[Yellow Light]

MV Creations current imprint/publisher of He-Man comics for CrossGen, are in a slight pickle.

There have been allegations from MVC that a previous publisher still owes them money for printing errors on their titles – an allegation a representative of that publisher implies is not correct. There seems to be a definite parting of ways between the companies on this issue.

Either way, the much-reported financial problems at their current publisher, CrossGen, have definitely left them owed payments from that front. And a change in CrossGen scheduling may have delayed certain issues, with a knock on effect on cashflow. As a result, certain freelancers are getting partial payment or delayed payment. Certain titles are currently on hiatus and other titles may be delayed.

They are currently trying to sell stock on eBay to raise capital to pay off creator debts but it may be a while coming.

CrossGen declined to comment. MVC’s Val Staples would only add “I think it’s fair to add that CrossGen has turned over purchase orders to MVCreations so we can start producing the books on our own while they sort out their current affairs. We’re thankful for that, at least.

“We have a lot of books that have been done for months just waiting to make their way to the shelves. Now it’s time to get the titles and the payments to creators caught up.”

A PENNY SAVED…

[Green Light]

Naturally, CrossGen have been cutting a few corners here and there. Aside from their monumental convention displays of course. One to go is the reviewer comp list… Bill Rosemann wrote in response to one query “I recently streamlined CrossGen’s comp list, and unfortunately I had to remove several reviewers”

Talking to me, he clarified “I recently streamlined CrossGen’s comp list, removing several recipients. However I’ve also beefed up the black & white review list that I regularly send out, so hopefully that will make many folks happy.”

A NEW HOPE

[Green Light]

Anyone who placed a call to the Crossgen offices on Wednesday the 17th got a message basically saying that the Crossgen staff had taken the day off to celebrate their “new beginning” and would return to normal business hours on Thursday.

Maybe they’ve got some more cash?

IKE POWER!

[Yellow Light]

Marvel’s reduction of Bill Jemas’ prominence in the company, by hiring more Presidents and sharing responsibilities was carried out just in time for powerful Marvel exec Isaac Perlmutter to return to Florida. ‘Ike’ maintains residency in Jeb Bush’s land of plenty, which has taxation benefits, but means he must live half the year there. Some observers have interpreted recent changes as Ike making sure that Bill can’t do anything too outrageous in his absence.

Some observers have noted that Ike traditionally engages in a little employment massaging just before he heads down south. It might be worth watching those staff lists, people moving, up, down or even out….

AM TURNS PRO

[Green Light]

Tony Lee, small press comics creator, has had his mainstream big break. At the V forum he writes:

“Hi everyone –

“Several of you already know this bit of news, but I’ve just been given the go ahead to announce as its finally been slotted.

“‘Unlimited X-Men’ (Marvel) – February – I have a 11 page story called ‘Memories’ being published. It is a solo spotlight of ‘Sage’ from X-Treme X-Men. Art by the Lai brothers.

“And I am well chuffed.”

See everyone? It *can* be done… and Marvel is becoming more and more the place to do it.

JAMAIS PLUS

[Green Light]

One of France’s largest comics publisher, Dargaud, has confirmed that “Libre a Jamais,” the comics version of Joe Haldeman’s SF novel “Forever Free,” a sequel to his great “Forever War” novel (and comic), has an unnamed US publisher.

Place your bets. NBM are favourites…

SPELL CZECH

[Green Light]

Fans of Lying In the Gutters will know my track record with spelling people’s names correctly. And my just reward has been that TV shows and newspaper articles have managed to spell my name incorrectly as a result.

It looks like it’s catching though. An “Ultimate Spider-Man” Marvel ad that ran in Wizard listed the artist as ‘Mark Bagle.’ And the in-house promo for “Amazing Spider-Man” #500 that ran in the widely read “Ultimate X-Men” #37 spelled writer J. Michael Straczynski’s last name as “Stracyznski.”

POOR, POOR EDUARDO

[Green Light]

Pity artist Eduardo Garcia. An e-mail went out to a host of top submission addresses and editorial bods in the comics industry, from his address reading

“un cordial y muy buen …..

“todos y cada uno de ustedes pueden ir y chingar a su madre ok de mi para el mundo”

I shan’t interpret for sensitive ears, but it wasn’t too long before Eduardo responded, denying authorship and claiming the e-mail as a hoax from an unknown party… ouch!

MICAH THE BARBARIAN

[Yellow Light]

On his Delphi Forum, “Stormwatch” writer Micah Wright, and author of “Back the Attack,” remixed classic propoganda for satirical purpose, posted about his victory over Arnold Schwarzenegger.

His Café Press merchandise featuring the California Uber Alles mock-propoganda image was removed after Arnold’s lawyers went up against the image-on-a-mug specialists. Micah writes:

This morning at 3:30 am (don’t ask what I was doing up… I was making comics for YOU PEOPLE), I received a letter from New Zealand(!) saying “hey, I wanted to buy an Arnold poster… why isn’t it there?”

“Because you’re freaking blind,” I thought to myself. To reassure myself, I went to the site and found that yes, all of my “California Uber Alles” Merchandise with Jay Lender’s brilliant mocking combination of Orange Crate Art & Propaganda had been removed!

Evidently, Cafe Press had received a complaint, NOT AN INJUNCTION, from someone in the Arnold Campaign, saying that the articles violated Arnold’s “Right of Publicity” by using his likeness to sell products.

Now, if you’ve been following the “Ultimate Nick Fury” thread on this board, you’ll know that I’m something of a Prison Lawyer on this subject, having been forced to learn all kinds of copyright law to do my political posters.

And if you know anything about me, you know I’m not the kind of guy who backs down without a fight.

I wrote Cafe Press and told them that they’d over-reacted and told them that pulling my products immediately without consulting me or even dropping me an email was Bad News. They said they’d look into it. A few hours later I got a call explaining the issue… Arnie’s people didn’t mind the TONS of other Cafe Press material saying “Arnold For Governor” but they did mind MY poster which they saw as insulting.

TOO FUCKING BAD.

I called Arnie’s lawyers and said “sorry, it’s political parody. The second your client ran for public office, he lost all publicity rights when dealing with aspects of his life as a public servant wannabe. Case law in America goes back to Boss Tweed versus Thomas Nast and guess who won that one and all others since? In light of Fox News versus Al Franken and the bad press that Fox News received from that case, do you still want your candidate to mix it up with me in court? If so, in the immortal words of our idiot president, BRING IT ON.

They sorta swallowed and went “uh, okay. You’re right. You can put it back up.

Hell Yeah, they did.

And now, an entire wasted workday later, all those products are back online for your perusal and purchase.

Click here, folks!

THINLY-VEILED PROMOTIONAL EXERCISE

[Yellow Light]

I hear that producers Adrian Askarieh and Chuck Gordon are developing a big-budgeted feature version of the upcoming “Killer Stunts, Inc.” comic series.

Gordon has credits which include “Die Hard” and “Field of Dreams,” but he has some comic-to-film experience with the “Rocketeer” and the upcoming “Herobear and the Kid” with Mike Kunkel set to write and direct the animated version of his own creation.

Look here for more…

KRUEGER AND…

[Green Light]

Jim Krueger has been talking to his friends in the industry about a possible anthology of stories based on his “Doorman” idea. The premise is about a man who forged a deal with Death. In exchange for eternal life he is forced to grant dying people their last wishes. Jim is talking about either a book of prose, a graphic treatment or possibly both getting his friends in the industry to provide stories.

Jim is also going back to press on his “Foot Soldiers” graphic novel. It will be black and white in a digest size from AiT/Planet Lar.

Jim’s newest project, “The Last Strawman,” coming out from Image in February is a western story about a gunfighter dressed as a scarecrow and is painted by the colorist of the “Clockmaker,” Brett Weldele.

As to the “Clockmaker” format changes this column reported on previously, it was originally 12 issues of 12 opened out pages. It will now be broken into 3 books of 64 pages each, first releasing what would have been issues 5-8, then reissuing 1-4 in the new format, before publishing the final book. The books will also contain development art from Phil Hester and Guy Davis.

HE WHO PAYS THE WIZARD…

[Yellow Light]

The new issue of Wizard has some major Marvel news, thrown away as tiny news bites.

The Buzz Bin section on page 16 confirms the LITG-reported rumour that “Brian Michael Bendis’ top secret project has been revealed–the ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ writer will team with Italian painter Gabriele Dell’Otto on an upcoming six-issue ‘Secret Wars’ mini-series!”

Next, in the “Mega” section on page 90, it’s reported “Fantastic Four #509 kicks off a new arc with new writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Steve McNiven” – the first mention of the new artist on the title.

Normally these stories would justify large features. Is something up?

SUPER IVAN

[Green Light]

Superman artist Ivan Reis has posted about his upcoming work on the book. Translated, “it’s just a short story introducing Lana Lang back into Supes’ universe… a 6 page story. It started really well with a dialogue between Lana and Supes’ mother. It’s no use asking what are they talking about… that’s secret.”

Ah c’mon Ivan, spill…

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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