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This is the fifty-third weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry’s premier 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. Take everything you read with a basil crust- 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 the attention. I blame Felicia.

Before I start, just to let you know that I’ve done a Waiting For Tommy interview with comics writer Adi Tantimedh. A talented chap, more people should know his name. Find out why he’s such an exciting find, here. And look forward to a new column on advertising and marketing comics on Wednesday.

FAMILY VALUES

[Green Light]

It’s been mentioned before that a new A1 (with help from Avatar) will be publishing new “Warpsmith” comics from Gary Leach. What hasn’t been mentioned before, and was brought up by Leach at last nights COMICA Alan Moore talk at the ICA is that A1 are also republishing Moore’s third “Warrior” strip, “The BoJeffries Saga”… including new stories by Moore, again drawn by Steve Parkhouse.

“The BoJeffries Saga” is a kind of “Addams Family”/”Munsters” set in a British council estate. It’s also hysterically funny.

HOLDING COURT

[Green Light]

Epic editor Stephanie Moore has been holding court over at X-Fan over Epic Submissions.

Stephanie’s comments about Bill’s preferred stories struck a chord, quoting “Die Hard” as an example, starting small scale then building big.

I was told the original film Bill Jemas used to use as an example of how he liked his stories, was “Star Wars,” for the same reason. One employee pointed out that actually, “Star Wars” started with a big action scene, and then went small, before going big again. They didn’t last long, and Jemas changed his example…

X-Fan is obviously a much better way to contact an Epic editor than e-mailing the address of, ohh, I don’t know, an Epic editor whose e-mail address was published on a rumour site after an editor-in-chief sent it out for publication, thus filling her in-box with hundreds and hundreds of e-mails. Ahem.

Sorry Theresa… and Stephanie’s address is a lot harder to guess… smoore@marvel.com just goes to Stuart Moore’s dead inbox.

TRANSATLANTIC

[Yellow Light]

I hear Warren Ellis’ next upcoming project for Wildstorm is called “Oceans.” A six issue mini-series, with art by Chris Sprouse, “Oceans” has already been written, and all six scripts are in house at Wildstorm.

BIRD IN THE HAND

[Green Light]

This is clearly a concern for some. On Millarworld, Cully Hamner replied to questions about the status of the Warren Ellis project “Faster” being drawn by studio partner Brian Stelfreeze. Hamner wrote “‘Faster’ hasn’t been written yet. And Brian’s not someone who’s comfortable working on something until he has the entire story in hand. So, at this point, that ball is in Warren’s court.”

And on another non-Warren series by Devin Grayson, Hamner added “‘Matador’ is fully written, and is ready to go. Brian is finishing up the last issue of Domino (which he is pencilling, inking, and coloring) as we speak, and then he’ll immediately start work on Matador.

“I would imagine that, if Warren can turn around the scripts while Brian is doing ‘Matador,’ then ‘Faster’ will be next…”

WHEN IS A DOOR?

[Green Light]

Bryan Talbot has been talking further about his “Nightjar” series by Alan Moore, due to appear in “Yuggoth Cultures” from Avatar. You can read his description of Moore’s first horror story here.

Bryan also added in e-mail, “Two days after I received the script for this first chapter, I was drawing while listening to local radio when the news came on. The night before, in one of the small stone terraced cottages in a tiny village crouching in the darkness on the slopes of Pendle Hill, an old lady had been burned to death when a fire gutted her home.

“I should point out that this is how the first chapter of Nightjar ends.”

STORIES SENT MY WAY TO MAKE MARVEL LOOK LIKE NINCOMPOOPS, PART ONE

[Yellow Light]

Part of what looks like a recurring feature.

Around the time “Transformers” was kicking Marvel’s arse all over the charts, Marvel employees out drinking one night, the idea of reprinting or getting the G.I. Joe license comes up. Joe Quesada dismissed it, saying it was eighties nostalgia and wouldn’t last.

Bill Rosemann also tried to pressure Joe into pursuing it, saying it was the next big thing. No joy.

Then Devil’s Due started selling oodles and the company flip flopped, scheduling the “G.I. Joe” trades as quickly as possible…

Not quite turning down the Beatles, but certainly giving the Rolling Stones short shrift.

STORIES SENT MY WAY TO MAKE MARVEL LOOK LIKE NINCOMPOOPS, PART TWO

[Yellow Light]

Remember the “Captain Britain” trade paperback that caused a small ruckus when it was printed without the correct copyright notices and a missing page? A Marvel employee recalls the designer on the book wanting to show Moore the final version before it went to the printers, in case there was anything they’d missed.

Marvel editor Matt Ryan’s response was “no, he’ll want to change something” so the book went to the printer instead.

Oops. Joe spent a long time fixing that relationship.

GOT WOOD?

[Green Light]

Brian Wood has been posting updates about his upcoming project over in his Yahoo group . As well as confirming there will be previews of his DEMO series for AiT/Planet Lar at San Diegio, he writes “I have to start on COURIERS 2 soon, as well as an 8-pager for Ryan Young to draw for TRASHOLA (I think about wiffle ball), and also to formally write up the proposal for my first monthly ongoing series, LIFE DURING WARTIME.”

DC PUBLISHES SCI-FI LINE. AGAIN.

[Green Light]

DC is launching a new line in the near future of sci-fi-related, non superhero stories, starting with six titles. Jon Lewis is one writer named, with a creator-owned ongoing series. Steve Gerber also named as a writer of one of the titles.

Hope it does better than Helix.

JENKINS FALLS FROM THE WEB

[Green Light]

I hear Paul Jenkins has been dropped from the newly relaunched “Spectacular Spider-Man,” before the first issue has been printed.

This rumour was circling a couple of weeks ago, but because Paul was then on holiday and hadn’t been informed of the news, Joe Quesada confirmed the story but requested that this column hold the story until they’d contacted Paul.

But Quesada states that Paul is being “promoted” to a new, higher profile title starting next year – and that it was this move that triggered the change over at Spider-Man. Apparently, Marvel don’t want to dilute time spent on this upcoming project.

UPDATE: Spider-Man CrawlSpace is reporting that Paul Jenkins has denied he’s being dropped from his Spider-Man title. This is at odds with what Marvel told me last week. I’ll be asking questions…

ALIAS THE ROSTER

[Red Light]

Earlier this week, I was told that “Alias,” the ongoing MAX series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos is no longer ongoing. That it had been cancelled and the central character, Jessica Jones, would join the cast of a new series.

Joe Quesada informs me that this is not the case, though I can see where the rumour came from. Apparently, the status quo of “Alias” will change with a larger ongoing cast. Bendis confirmed an upcoming upheaval…

MANY A SLIP

[Green Light]

This is Warren, in the bar at the ICA, fresh from his audience interview as part of COMICA.

This is what Warren was wearing on his feet. He called them “comfortable shoes.” Everyone else knew exactly what they were.

The Granddaddy Of Comics was wearing slippers…

BLEEDING CHEEK

[Yellow Light]

Rob Liefeld has confirmed he is direct-shipping “Youngblood: Bloodsport.” Retailers will be able to order the book from him directly, rather than through Diamond. Individuals will also be able to buy the title throughout the summer at the Arcade Comics convention booths, from July the 18th.

Talking of which, no Marvel booth at San Diego this year…

PRETEND YOUR NAME IS KIETH

[Green Light]

David Hahn of “Private Beach” fame, currently finding much favour at DC Comics, will be drawing a mini-series written by Sam Kieth, called “What Chico Knows,” a four part mini-series coming from Dark Horse Comics.

Kieth is not having as much luck. His project with Ashley Wood, “Dark Room,” is currently on hold at DC. The pair are looking to work on something else.

FREEDOM FIRST

[Yellow Light]

One side effect of Marvel’s decision to legally force Skindex from using Marvel skins, was that one of the site contributors was working with software publisher Irrational Games about turning Freedom Force into a Marvel title, through Epic.

Not any more. Talks have already opened with other publishers.

CREW WHO?

[Yellow Light]

Fans of Priest’s sensational new Marvel book, “The Crew,” have a lot to look forward to. For example, the character Justice, currently seen wearing a Captain America suit, is both a Muslim and a Communist.

Wonder if Marvel will try to get any publicity out of a black Islamic commie Cap?

And fans of Deadpool may get a lift, when Agent X does come to an end, Deadpool will appear in the second story arc of The Crew.

RICH JOHNSTON’S GUIDE TO BRITISH MEDIA

[Green Light]

Last week’s articles on “X-Statix” in the Daily Mail and The Guardian. A timeline:

Friday. I ring up The Guardian, whom I’ve written for before, with the story. They’re not interested.

Saturday, I ring up the News Of The World. They’re full, but suggest I call back on Sunday for The Sun.

Sunday. I call The Sun, but the journalist I speak to think I’m making a hoax call and hangs up.

Sunday, I call The Daily Mail. They’re all over it like a cheap whore. I give them quotes (which they don’t use and fake the ones they do).

Tuesday, they print the article.

Tuesday, I get a call from The Guardian, asking why I didn’t give the story to them. They offer to pay me to get them the “X-Statix” artwork for a couple of articles. I do so, but cutting and pasting from the CBR site.

INK IS THICKER THAN WATER

[Green Light]

Over at the Inkers Yahoo group, things have really been heating up. Yes inkers. Look, don’t look at that me like that and no one start quoting Chasing on me.

Inker Chuck Gibson started the ball rolling by posting, “I’ve gotten word that the folks over at Red Sky Entertainment are starting up again with the new name Fuzion comics. The email that was forwarded to me was also marked ‘Jason Carson’ rather than Jason Fliegman as I know him. For those that don’t remember, Red Sky was an up and comer about a year ago that ended up stiffing some people here on the list—namely me and Jason Maranto. I know Bob McLeod was slated to do something for them too. If you dare to do business with this guy, by all means protect yourself by demanding every dime up front before you dip a tool in ink for him. This guy took me for a grand and took Tom Lyle for 2 grand last year.”

Hours later, Jason was on board making his defence.

“Ok here is the deal, As for my name change it is actually my birth name and must be used at this point for legal and finance reasons. Yes Red Sky could not pay a few people torwards the end of it’s days. However unless you know the cirumstances no one has a right to bad mouth anyone! Yes we were unable to pay Chuck,Tom Bob,Jason and a couple others. However we had paid on time and very well to many creators before them, and chuck recieved partial payment. Due to the fact that our investor passed away due to colon cancer and very untimely may I add we were not able to finish payment and or continue any work at all. Try having 5 projects going, along with statues, san diego con expenses and just about any other merchandise you can think of, not to mention just signing a contract with another company that would have brought revenue in excess of $516,000.00 in twelve months, as well as having over $90,000.00 in contracts we had to pay for , and then finding out that the check you were supossed to pick up from the investor on thurs. that would have carried you through the year is not coming because your investor passed away that morning. So that left me in a huge bind, so here is the run down on what I had to do or felt I had to do.

“1. empty my personal bank accounts to pay who I could pay, and then
it was who came first until the money ran out.

“2.Move out of my newly purchased house so I could afford to live.

“3.Borrow $15,000.00 from family to be able to support my family until I found a job, (and to pay more people).

“4.Cancel all plans for the san diego con less than 3 weeks before it was to begin. I sat at home while I scrounged up the money to pay for the hotel that I promised some of the creators that were already locked into going. Which cost another $800.00

“5. and worst of all had to bankrupt Red Sky.

“So I really don’t feel like I screwed anyone. I tried my best to do right by many and still survive myself. I think I did the best I could with a situation that was thrown upon me, and would have had most men crying. I was upfront and honost with everyone from the start. So basicly all I had after a year and a half of hard work and desire to make it was debt up to my ears a bankrupt company a stack of useless art for five different titles a huge amount of phone calls everyday and a wife and a daughter that I had to now support with not a penny to my name. All this happened in five days. Now it is a year later and I am finally on even ground again after working my ass off to get there. Now I have to put up with people like Chuck Gibson who are understandibly upset, but that is the way business goes. Chuck lost $740.00, Tom lost $2000.00, Bob Mcleod lost $1000.00 Jason Maranto lost $140.00 and yes I’m sorry but I lost a whole lot more not to mention my lively hood for a year. Business is business that is just the way it goes sometimes. I apologize to The guys mentioned above but you can’t get blood from a carrot. So once again I am sorry but you can’t knock a guy down for working to get started again on a dream. Chuck you survived this last year and yes the $740.00 probably would have been nice no doubt, But quite honostly your $740.00 compared to surviving myself was not a concern for me.I had about 30 contracts out at the time of the companies demise. I made the best decisions I felt I could. Chuck for you to post a message like this to try hand make it harder for me does not phase me. I have been through the hardest already. another thing I don’t appreciate you makeing me feel as if I have to post such an in depth post showing business figures and all to defend myself. You should ask yourself (exactly how many of these post can you put up before you start looking petty?) This is the only reply I will post to your attempt to make me out as an evil business man, in fact I will gladly make arrangements to pay you and Jason but the arrangements will be on my terms and my terms only.So I ask you all put your self in my shoes and what would you have done? Take care Chuck and I wish everyone on these boards a great career in comics. P.S. Anyone may feel free to email me for details and or any questions they may have.”

Chuck bounced back with

“Absolutely the master of spin. What you neglect to tell people about was the multiple promises you made that money was coming soon. How you would ‘take care of me’ on this money. How you would pay all late fees that accumulated. I’d brought my son out for the summer—the one I only get to see 2 months out of the year. Instead of having money and showing him the summer of his life, I barely had the money to feed the kids at all! All the while, Jason’s telling me “just a couple more days”. Then there’s unreturned phonecalls, people playing interference for you and multiple promises about when money was coming. It was only by the SKIN OF MY TEETH that I didn’t get evicted. My phone was shut off for 6 MONTHS afterward while I tried to catch up the ground I’d lost on private commissions, day labor, and anything else I could do to keep the kids fed while paying it off.

“Everytime I contacted you, you said you’d be sending money by such-and-such date and everytime the date would come and go and no money would show up. You wonder what you could’ve done to make the situation better and not make people feel like they were screwed by you?? TRY TELLING THE FUCKING TRUTH about the situation sooner so that people can “cover their asses”. I even tried to SETTLE the whole thing with you in TRADE for computer equipment that you already owned—no more money out of your pocket. I was willing to PICK THE STUFF UP here in state where your EIC was living. You say “ok, well give me a couple of days, and I’ll talk to JR and set it up and call you” then I hear NOTHING again about it. Then, 2 months later, I hear you’re back up and running with a new name and a new business name. What would you think in my position???!!

“All I know is that here it is a year later and I still dont have the money, the late fees that were promised, and I sure as hell dont feel “taken care of” over the whole thing. Well, maybe I do….you “took care” of me alright! So to come here now and make it out like I “have it in” for you is such TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT that I cant stand it. ROT IN HELL YOU LYING FUCK!!!!!”

Told you things were hotting up. Jason responded.

“Look Chuck, I am not going to stoop to your level, and start throwing words around that just shows your not able to express yourself properly! You seriously have your facts backwards, I told you that I would talk to jr because the equipment actually belonged to him not that it was a done deal. As for promising you payment if you want to take me saying I would like to be able to send you such and such amount by such date or me saying I’m working on it as a promise then fine. As for telling you sooner there were problems, well I don’t now how much sooner 5 days is, I needed to take time to try to avoid the whole situation. Once I saw that it was unavoidable I had to tell everyone, or I could have just vanished like so many others. As for soliciting artist , asking if someone is still interested and having a done deal are two different things. Look Chuck I never lied to you, and you know it. I delt with bigger names than you and all were happy. I never denied you were owed the money. Look if a big corporation goes bankrupt what happens to all the employees and there backed pay? They lose their jobs and their money and move on. I honestly don’t know why I am having this conversation with you. Bottom line is I owe you the money your right we can make arrangements and settle this as I do not want to make it tougher on you or me. We are all just trying to make it in a field we love that is it nothing more.

Chuck replied to the whole group.

“‘His terms’ usually means he promises the money and doesn’t deliver. That’s MY experience with him anyway. Nothing ever happened at Red Sky when they said it would happen. From “when” the pages were supposed to show up and I was to start work to “when” the pages would be paid for.

“Keep in mind too that this guy only listed the people he fucked over here on the list. There’s also Federico Zumel, who penciled the issue I’d inked. Federico did a great job, turned it in on time for the promise of a measly $50 a page and then Red Sky stiffed him anyway, knowing that Federico lives in Argentina and cant do anything about it.”

Jason added, “I would like to just end this and pay you what I owe you. This is way out of hand on both our parts. We could voice opinions all day. But the facts are I owe you the money I never denied that. Let’s just settle it so we can get on with the creative process! I am tired and really just don’t know what to say anymore.”

Chuck responded, “I’m absolutely fine with that as long as it actually happens this time around. Don’t be surprised if I’m not holding my breath over here though. I hope you can understand why I’d feel that way.

“and as I said to you in a private email, I’m more than happy to post that you paid me when you do to be fair about the whole thing.”

Jason added, “That is fine , I am a little pissed though as I am sure you are so let’s talk about this tomorrow . You have my email and now I have yours.

“To all,

“I can understand Chucks posting a heads up as I would probably have done the same thing. Bottomline things got out of hand last year for many reasons. This is a new year and we are all a little smarter and a little hungrier for the dream. If there is ever a time where we come to this board needing inkers I will be more than happy to pay half up front half on delivery. As a show of good faith. wich won’t happen for at least 6-8 months. Nothing more to say on the topic. Just going to take care of business and move on. Good luck to everyone. P.S. Chuck I still like you man , no matter what you think! ”

Can’t hate a man for wanting his money! Good luck to all.

Chuck replied, “Ok–fine. I was a over-heated in my post here. This whole thing is a real sore spot with me. I had my electricity, phone, internet and everything else cut off as a result of this happening. I was going to churches to get food boxes to keep the kids fed here. It took me 6 months of shitty jobs and suffering to begin to recover from the whole deal. That’s the kinda thing that’ll make a guy bitter. I’m sure that much is understandable.”

Jason concluded, “Very understandible as I went through the whole thing as well except I was the one everyone was calling for money. The debate is squashed! Let’s just take care of business talk to you tomorrow evening.”

And Chuck shook hands, “Jason, on a personal level you’re probably an “ok” kinda guy. You have seemed to be in our phone conversations. I understand that none of this was “your fault”. What really irked me here was getting an email from someone telling me you were “back with a new company and ready to go again”, trying to get an artist to do work for you, when you hadn’t bothered to try to contact me to make good on the money owed.

“Put yourself in my place here—a guy owes you money for a year and breaks every promise to pay he’s ever made, and then you find out that he’s back with a new name for his company and going by a different name and he’s looking to hire artists before he’s square with you. You’re a penciler yourself, you know the work that goes into putting together pages. How would you feel about it? It all comes down to the way you do things, man.

“I also want to point out that when I wrote you about payment on this after hearing you were back, you told me that you weren’t set up yet, so you hadn’t contacted me to make arrangements. Ok–fine—–Why are you soliciting artists to work on your stuff before you have money to pay them?? That doesn’t strike me as going about this “a little smarter” in my view. Looks like the same old story from where I sit. You’re still trying to get artists to do work that you can’t pay for currently based upon speculation that you’ll have the funds later—-which is exactly where things went wrong last year.

“I don’t hate you either, I just dont think you’re a very good businessman and I wouldn’t do anything for you again based on the history involved here——-which is prettymuch what I initially posted about the whole thing before you spoke up.”

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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