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This is the sixty-first 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 Ben Sherman.

JUMPING DEVIL

[Green Light]

I have just had it confirmed that Devil’s Due is to leave Image Comics, and they have given their notice period. From January, you can expect to see them, just like Dreamwave, with their own publisher listing in Previews. Indeed they’ll be very close together.

Devil’s Due, amongst other things, publish “G.I. Joe.” Sales on that book have helped Image’s marketshare quite considerably, and the Image Central line will look worse for the wear now that they’ve gone.

FUTURE FROG

[Green Light]

Ethan Van Sciver is better known to modern comic book fans as a Marvel artists, especially on “X-Men.” But some of us old-timers who still remember the early nineties know a very different work of his. Published by Harris, at a time when certain young hotshots inside and out of Image were getting major exposure, Ethan brought us… “Cyberfrog.” And now he’s bringing it back. “Cyberfrog Vs Adolf Hitler: Ach-Tongue”

Oh boy.

FIRST OF THE FALLEN

[Yellow Light]

Been quite a week for CrossGen, hasn’t it?

The solicitation of the last issue of “First” from CrossGen, ending with issue 37 has caused some fans to question the original description of the title, one of a number from CrossGen, originally described as ten year epics. I’m told the upcoming “War” may cull a number of similarly described and lower-selling titles as well

Bookstore returns seem to have been a major problem for CrossGen, with some venues reportedly pulling the whole line off the shelves. This isn’t exactly uncommon for comics, and it’s quite likely that the same places will, a few months later, request them all back again. But it can cause cashflow issues.

Mark Alessi’s recent follow-up interview at CBR did bring out one very interesting wrinkle, that Mark Alessi has spent pretty much all his available money on CrossGen. Many industry commentators had assumed he’d put forward a stack of cash, and used it to secure loans on which to base the rest of the company – but it seems he used a lot more of his own money than many had previously believed.

But CrossGen’s financial position can’t be too easily diagnosed. The company just bought two rather large buildings right next to their original offices in Clearwater. Doesn’t sound like a decision from a company about to go belly-up, especially considering the Florida property market right now.

And then there’s Mark Alessi. It’s been reported that, despite his online image, Bill Jemas has got nothing compared to Mark Alessi when it comes to pursuing issues, pushing agendas and basically causing a ruck. And Mark’s recent reported comments on CBR certainly back that up.

Basically, never underestimate a rottweiller dressed as a poodle.

THE JAWS OF VICTORY

[Yellow Light]

CrossGen aren’t the only ones having problems with uppity freelancers. Steven Preston wrote to complain to the column about being upaid by Cold Fuzion, the people behind the “Victory” comic for Image.

He writes “Basic story is, I was asked by Kevin Campbell (Editor of Cold FuZion) to design the Cold FuZion site, in return for an ad in Victory and them brokering web design deals. I did the site and other stuff for them, but no ad was produced, and no deals. I was later told by Sara Stevens if I was unhappy, that I could take a cheque for my time and leave. Kevin also told me that I could take a cheque and leave if I wanted.

“Anyway I decided to leave a few weeks ago, but haven’t heard anything from them about a cheque being sent, or anything else. Last I heard is that they want to run the ad for me in issue 2 of Victory, but I don’t know if they’re doing that and are going to say that that is my pay for the sites.”

A few weeks probably isn’t the same as a hundred days, but if Steven wants this out there, who am I to stop him making sure he never gets paid.

Cold Fuzion employees did not respond to inquiries.

BIO DEGRADE

[Green Light]

Craig McGill is currently working on a biography of Grant Morrison with Grant’s blessing (so far). If anyone has any anecdotes to share, please contact McGill here.

CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE

[Green Light]

According to the new solicitations, “Crew” is cancelled with issue 7. That’s the end of Christopher Priest’s deeply involving Black Panther saga from Marvel. I hope he gets something else to shine on soon.

“Eternals” is also cancelled with issue 6. Alongside “Metropolis,” the reason Chuck Austen should be allowed to write in comics – because sometimes he comes up with beauties like this.

No news if the planned trades of both books are going ahead or not. Hope so – that was kind of the point of these books…

A bunch of Tsunami books are getting a price increase a price increase to stave off cancellation.

It also appears that the MAX line is gone, merged into Epic. A quick way to bolster a line struggling to get attention, Epic now contains “Supreme Power,” “Thor: Vikings” and “Alias.”

SHOCK HORROR COMIC CREATOR GOES… OFFLINE

[Green Light]

Could this be part of the Great Write Flight? Mark Millar writes in e-mail, that after his laptop had to be repaired he found himself permanently offline for the longest he’s been in quite some time. And found… well… “Like the rest of you, I’m an email junkie and agonized over not being able to reach my messages and/or gaze upon some online praise for whatever crap I had out there on the stands during that particular week. However, one thing that really struck me at the end of those eight days was that I’d gotten about 30% more work done and finished early every night (as opposed to my usual twelve hour stints I’ve been doing over the last three years).”

So, he’s going offline much more, save for Monday afternoons (so he can read LITG when it goes up, apparently) and catch up on most of his e-mail. And then he’s back to the phones.

“So here goes; life without email. It’s back to human voices for a while and embarrassed Americans trying to decipher my thick Scottish brogue.”

I’ll give him a week.

TELL HIM, PIKE

[Green Light]

Maybe Mark should get his own Guttertti Pike with a bevy of tip top rumours gathered online. That’s right, Pike goes online so you don’t have to – and he’s gathered quite a treasure trove.

Whether it’s Brian Wood shipping a new project “Life During Wartime” …

Larry Young putting out script and art samples for his Capes book…

Peter David’s Wizard Award that no one told him about…

A script sample of Andy Diggle’s Swamp Thing

Gutterati Pike’s been on the case! He also points to news that after stacks of sales on Naifeh’s “Courtney Crumin & The Midnight Kingdom”, Oni want a sequel as well as some more stuff

And fellow columnist Steven Grant has been writing about an old pitch to DC for Blackhawk here and here

Thanks Pike! Drop by anytime!

AND NOW THE WORDS…

[Green Light]

If you liked the artwork from the last couple of weeks from the original “Last Wolverine Story”… maybe you’d like Joseph Harris’ script to help make a story out of them.

Okay then. Click here.

LO BROW

[Red Light]

Names to start dropping around the “Lobo” film currently being planned? Joel Silver on production and they’re courting Bryan Singer for director. The latter would seem like a typecasting move but stranger things have happened. You know, like Singer doing “X-Men” in the first place.

THE LANDFILL HAS SPOKEN

[Green Light]

Julie Burchill is one of my favourite modern writers – as is Dave Sim. I very rarely agree with a single thing they say, but I love how they say it. Julie has described herself as a Stalinist Thatcherite, has embraced hypocrisy willingly as an artform and was found in a state of mild panic when the ‘I’ button failed to work on her machine. Basically, she’s great.

And in this week’s Guardian column (the one thing the paper publish that is guaranteed to fill the letter columns) she decides to plug comics. Ish. A bit.

“Adults who read comics was a big one with me. I didn’t just believe that anyone over the age of 15 who read comics should have their voting rights removed (even if they didn’t have them yet), I also believed that they shouldn’t be allowed access to further education or to adopt small children.”

It goes on as Julie had a Damascan experience and proceeds to plug the works of Metaphrog. Whether they wanted it or not.

Read more here.

It’s also possible that in one article, she’s done more for comics amongst the British chattering classes than, well, pretty much anything since Viz Comic.

RIAN MAN

[Green Light]

Rian Hughes, designer of the Forbidden Planet logo, artist on “Dare” and now a very high profile British designer, is to put his stuff on display and sell prints as part of his “Toybox” exhibition.

PRIVATE VIEW – Tuesday September 23, 6.00pm – 9.00pm

EXHIBITION DATES: Monday September 22 – Saturday October 4 2003.

at

THE CONINGSBY GALLERY

30 TOTTENHAM STREET, LONDON W1 9PN

Mon – Sat 10.00am – 5.30 pm

Go here for more details.

TIGHT BASTARDS

[Green Light]

Remember those wonderful Amazon listings that gave a look into Marvel’s trade paperback plans? Well, you can do the same with DC… not quite as impressive though.

Basically, all I could find was the “American Century” trade “White Lightning” for May, a softcover version of “Green Lantern: Will World” and… Wonder Woman Valentine Cards – presumably for February.

Looks like they’re a little less slap-dash that Marvel with their book listings…

TO COME

[Green Light]

Next week’s column will be the last for a little while I visit my in-laws in South Africa. Should only be two or three weeks off, so keep e-mailing me. And I should have a few Waiting For Tommies in reserve to keep it going – check last week’s for some Top Comic Speculation Tips, and look forward to Bryan Talbot on Wednesday…

And if any Cape Tonians are around, feel free to call. My mobile phone works in all countries!

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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