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This is the sixty-second weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry’s mostly-favourite rumour column and gossip sheet. At all times, remember the rumour rules. Red light means it’s probably bullshit, Yellow light means I think there’s an element of truth and Green means you get bet your life on it. Or someone’s life. Not mine, I’ve been wrong before (see below). Take everything you read with a snooker cue and if you do repost information here elsewhere, please include a warning to that effect. And a link. Man does not live by hits alone – but I could do with a new wardrobe. I blame Danielle Batone.

ED AUTHORITY

[Green Light]

Ed Brubaker will be the new writer on “The Authority.” The artist on his first story will be DC’s Mr Fixit, Jim Lee.

ALWAYS WEAR UNDERWEAR WHILST UNDERWATER

[Green Light]

Someone’s been doodling on the original art. Changes made to “Captain America” 16. Thanks to the Unofficial Jae Lee Art Gallery for these, and more altered images.

Click panels to enlarge.

BURN OUT

[Green Light]

I hear Peggy Burns has resigned from her PR role at DC Comics. Her role, dealing with mainstream press enquiries and in charge of PR, will continue at the Canadian company Drawn And Quarterly.

TEAM CROSSGEN COMICS

[Yellow Light]

There’s been a lot of negativity shown towards CrossGen of late.

Okay, okay, some of it may have been as a result of this very column, but that’s no excuse! CrossGen are a comics company employing hundreds of people, providing entertainment for thousands and a line that reaches people other comics don’t reach. And they’re having financial difficulties – only this week I was told of one book that’s been burning through creators as they’ve all dropped off after not being paid – and not being told there were any financial difficulties when they took over from the last bloke who left. And statements that CrossGen staff are sticking with the company and remain loyal, is tempered by the fact that some of them can’t leave for a certain period of time without having to pay back significant moving costs stumped up by CrossGen as the price for moving them to Florida.

When these kind of problems affected Top Shelf, or Fantagraphics, everyone rallied round – why not with CrossGen? Okay, they haven’t actually admitted they have any comparative problem, but why take chances. Why the gloating? You’re mad all of you.

And yes, Marc Alessi does look like the devil.

But so what??

So it’s time to call for… A CrossGen Fundraiser. Whether they want one or not. It’s time to buy those books you were curious about but never tried. To get the next trade of the series you only bought the first trade of. To dip your toe into the fantasy world of CrossGen.

Here’s three upcoming floppies to help you get started:

“Route 666.” Recommended by Joe Quesada, and with the best title for any comic in decades, this is a road trip of heaven and hell. Issue 15, coming out September 17th, is drawn by John McCrea.

Did you like “Pirates Of The Caribbean?” Want a pirate comic book, beyond just rereading those bits in “Watchmen?” Try “El Cazador” 1, out September the 10th

Remember those Prince Valiant stories of old? “Scion” 39 is a tribute to the genius of Hal Foster, out September 17th.

And make sure you check out the first trade of “Ruse” and delve into “Crossovers” while you’re about it.

Go to their Web site for more details, go to the new inkers message board to find out whose being paid, and when… but stay here for more juicy CrossGen rumours!

CrossGen Comics are available from pretty much any comic retailer. And if they’re not tell them to start ordering!

MARVEL OUTSOURCING TO CROSSGEN?

[Red Light]

Of course, all the above may be moot. With Bill Jemas’ position now being redefined, Isaac Perlmutter selling one hundred million dollars worth of Marvel shares, could it be Avi Arad’s time to regain dominance at Marvel?

I understand there have been serious discussions between Avi and CrossGen individuals about the possibility of outsourcing the publishing of Marvel Comics down to Florida, along the lines of Felicia’s prophecy.

DC ALLYING WITH CROSSGEN?

[Red Light]

However, if Marvel want this, they’d better make a move. After all, even certain people at DC have been changing their tune ever so slightly about CrossGen. Lying In The Gutters readers know Michael Uslan by name as the man behind some of DC’s past and current successful Hollywood projects, and now allied quite strongly with CrossGen, and has arranged some interesting deals. A friend of Paul Levitz, there has been some move towards an alliance that would see Uslan doing even more work for DC than he currently does.

One of the reasons given for Jeannette Kahn’s leaving was her inability to keep Uslan totally on board at DC. Also a reason given for past DC animosity towards CrossGen.

However a source close to Uslan’s Branded Entertainment tells me Uslan says this is all total bollocks. Not those words exactly, but you get the drift.

IKE SALE

[Yellow Light]

Earlier this week, Isaac Perlmutter’s decision to sell 5 million shares in Marvel at twenty dollars each was leaked onto the Yahoo Marvel Investors Forum by an individual known as Marketmind. Think of him as a Felicia for the Marvel investors. This information helped a number of individuals to see before the inevitable blip drop in value when Ike finally sold.

This activity naturally caused a bit of a panic.

I have been told that Ike decided to hold off on selling a large amount of his shares when other Marvel execs did a few months ago, partly due to his belief in an upcoming buyout deal. His decision to sell has been seen by some as an indication that Marvel has currently no buyers.

BRU BAKED

[Yellow Light]

A recent piece on Newsarama about a new creative team on “Detective Comics” had editor Matt Idelson saying that it was writer Ed Brubaker’s decision to leave. “But finally, he was done – he has a lot of books going on right now, as well as a lot of other stuff he has cooking, so he figured it was time to go.” A followup with Brubaker poured a little doubt on that version of events.

I understand that Brubaker didn’t jump off “Detective Comics,” but was pushed. That his little doubt-pouring was phrased in a half-hearted way so as not make his friend and editor look bad. But Brubaker wasn’t exactly pleased to see how the situation was presented online.

DC and Brubaker’s relationship is still meant to be a good one, especially Wildstorm… see above.

Ed Brubaker did not respond to enquiries.

RIDLEY’S GAME

[Yellow Light]

Web site The Higher Authority, you know, the one that nicked all the original Authority art I dug up without credit or link, are reporting that John Ridley has been approached to write an “Authority” mini-series. Ridley mentions the gig in an interview in the “Those Who Walk In Darkness” DVD.

SPLENDID AMERICAN FILM

[Green Light]

Last Tuesday I went to see an advance screening of “American Splendor” courtesy of Gosh Comics. Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, Danielle Batone and Paul Giamatti were part of a question and answer session and a fun time was had by all – I was accosted by Tim Pilcher, who edits this very column for Comics International. Hi Tim!

It’s a fine film. Probably the best adaptation of a comic book onto the screen. It finds its own narrative tricks when focussing on itself, just as the comic does. It plays with the medium of comic books onscreen, its own sense of reality, and some great gags with how people are portrayed by actors onscreen. It’s more than just an autobiography, it’s a film about the art of telling someone’s story. It has more in common with “Adaptation” than “Ghost World,” say.

Danielle, Harvey and Joyce’s daughter is kinda hot actually. “Blossomed” I think is the word. The only person whose portrayal onscreen was less attractive than reality. Hmm. Sorry, where was I?

Snippets:

This was very much a family onstage. They bicker delightfully.

Titan Books are to publish the American Splendor library in the UK.

“Our Movie Year,” the cover of which is glimpsed at the end of the movie, is indeed Pekar’s next project.

The mercurial entrepreneurialism of both Pekar and Brabner shown onscreen was prevelant in their stage discussions afterwards. Joyce summing it up as “If there’s any gold to be mined from visiting this country we’ll find a way to do it.”

In person Harvey doesn’t look like a comic book character. Of course he doesn’t, why would you expect he would? He’s flesh and blood! What were you thinking? Except of course his eyes. Dark, shaded, absorbing… basically looking as if someone has been crosshatching on his face.

Danielle publishes her own writing, as zines and on the www.harveypekar.com Web site. “You thought I’d gain friends, but I lost a lot.”

In the stage play of “American Splendor,” one of the actors who played Harvey Pekar was Dan Castellaneta, who now plays Homer and other on “The Simpsons.” The similarities between the two are many.

Toby, the character who steals the show, already has several movies of his own out there – and as Danielle says he does “all his own stunts.” “Killer Nerd,” “Revenge Of Killer Nerd,” “Townies” (in which city-folk fight… nerds). Toby is taking advantage of all the new “American Splendor” publicity, and in Los Angeles went around taking pictures of different oil prices in gas stations, different MacDonalds. His philosophy is that he’d rather be stared at for being famous than a wacko. See more Toby at www.lurid.com.

Joyce Brabner will go back to making Harvey Pekar dolls out of Harvey’s old clothes for charitable purposes – and for a lot of money.

One thing that isn’t touched much upon is the role of art in “American Splendor,” aside from Robert Crumb’s initial appearance.

However not everyone’s been as pleased with their portrayal in “American Splendor”. Artist of “Our Cancer Year,” university professor in his sixties and abstainer, Frank Stack, is portrayed as a druggie dropout twenty something irresponsible father, “Fred.” Village Voice reported:

“Brabner was also the one to tell him about the movie’s divergence from reality. ‘[She] called me up and said, ‘I hate to tell you this, Frank, but in the screenplay you turn out to be this fucked-up drug dealer father.’ I try not to let it annoy me,’ Stack says diplomatically. Though he hasn’t seen the film (as it turns out, ‘Fred’s’ messed-up state is more vaguely alluded to), Stack is clearly annoyed by this glib fictionalization of his role in creating ‘A Cancer Year.’ ‘I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke – I did nothing. I drank coffee. It seems like dishonest art to me.'”

REMEMBER 94? 137? 201? 281? 116?

[Green Light]

Marvel are expecting big things from “New X-Men” 146. They are currently looking into ways they can tell the retailers why they should be upping their orders, without giving it away to the fans. It’s the beginning of the “Planet X” storyline. But it will have major implications for sales.

What? You want to know what’s in it? But that would be a spoiler wouldn’t it?

No, no. We don’t do spoilers. You might want to run to pick it up though…

Marvel have pushed back the release of issue 147 by a week, giving retailers enough time to increase their orders after they’ve seen 146. This looks like it could be a big deal, folks. On the kind of level of the Death Of Jean Grey…

Oh you haven’t read that issue yet either? Sorry… maybe she doesn’t die. I dunno.

HE’D HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT TOO…

[Green Light]

Mike Wieringo has been posting on his blog about a series of swipes taken by that illustrious comic book publication… “Scooby Doo.” Namely issue 72, which features a character very similar to Serra from “Tellos.”

He posts the following comparisons:

   

A few out of many it seems.

Mike also confesses to a swipe of his own from years ago, nicking a picture of Storm by Jason Pearson for an appearance of Starfire in “Flash.”

JUNGLE CHOPPED DOWN

[Yellow Light]

I hear Janet Harvey’s “Jungle Girl” was cancelled by IDW because of poor pre-order sales. She only racked up about 1,400 orders… clearly needed bigger breasts on the preview art. What were they thinking?

IMAGE… OR FAÇADE?

[Yellow Light]

In the light of the departure Devil’s Due from Image, there are a number of high profile departures expected. Rumours of conflict between certain creators/companies and both Image’s Jim Valentino and Eric Stephenson are rife, and some of the other founders are believed to be concerned at issues being raised.

While none of the remaining founders are likely to leave, expect some changes in the company soon.

BLINDING ART

[Green Light]

Here’s another picture of Jim Lee drawing “Batman” without looking.

For artwork drawn by Jim Lee when he was looking, try The Art Of Jim Lee.

WALL OF WEIRD

[Green Light]

During the ComICA exhibition at the ICA, there was a wonderful Scott McCould-like cartoon wall, with one story continuing along the wall, with many stories spinning off it in different directions by different luminary artists.

It’s now online. See this wonderful piece of art by the likes of Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Mark Stafford, Roger Langridge and more right here.

CHUCK DICTATOR

[Yellow Light]

Chuck Austen pulled a tendon a short while ago – as a result, he’s been dictating all his scripts into a voice recorder.

So the next time you see Nightcrawler suddenly go out of character and shout at a non-existent postman, you know the reason.

AXE TO GRIND

[Yellow Light]

Could Thundarr The Barbarian be the next nostalgia character to make a comeback?

Thank you Mr Phil Noto…

YOU KNOW?

[Green Light]

Alan Davis has drawn his classic “2000AD” characters DR and Quinch for the first time in over a decade as his contribution to the Comic Festival’s Charity Deck Of Christmas Cards. Four separate cards feature DR, Quinch, Crazy Chrissie and Punch, representing Solstice, Chanukah, Hogmanay and Christmas.

The pack will raise money for Childline and will be available at the London Comic Festival on November 1st.

OUT OF HIS SHELL

[Green Light]

Rick Remender is working on a new Turtles book for Mirage. Here’s some art.

   

   

DESPERATELY SEEKING FELICIA

[Green Light]

Earlier this week I was Private-Messaged by Felicia asking me some odd questions. I emailed her back – only to find her denying she’d sent the message.

It transpires that one enterprising young fellow already trying to break into the industry managed hack into one of Felicia’s message board accounts, in an attempt to reveal her identity and use it to get work at Marvel. Not only did he fail but he brought suspicion on himself that he was Felicia when he forget to change his message board settings – which others seemed interested in exploiting so that *they* could get a job at Marvel.

They seek her here, they seek her there…

LIFE OF BRYAN

See Bryan Talbot get Waiting For Tommied in last Wednesday’s column.

I’ll be gone from Lying In The Gutters for the next two weeks, and have capable stand-ins ready. The second you may not know, but the first should be rather familiar. Waiting For Tommy should continue as normal.
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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