This is the forty-ninth 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 Scott Dunbier’s greasy hand – 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 Philip Larkin.
TALES FROM THE SUNDERLAND
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If you’re an American publisher with an interest in putting out a colour graphic novel for the masses, e-mail Bryan via firstname.lastname@example.org
“Alice In Sunderland” is a 250 page black and white with spot colour graphic novel, Bryan describes as a “Portmanteau Comic” and hopes it’s “like nothing you’ve seen before.”
Bryan continues, “The theme is Lewis Carroll and his muse, Alice Liddell, told in a dream-logic documentary style, but the book really is about history and storytelling and contains many other stories running a gamut of styles, all intricately interwoven and using the framing device of an Edwardian Music Hall. Beneath its seeming stream-of-consciousness surface is a rock-solid structure.
“Although I have been working in comics and graphic novels for many years, this will be only the second non-genre, ie mainstream fiction, book I’ve done. The first one was ‘The Tale Of One Bad Rat,” a graphic novel using a Beatrix Potter theme to explore the psychological after-effects of child sexual abuse.
“‘Alice’ is very different in style and content.”
The Fantagraphics Appeal continues apace. I’ve just bought a wodge of specially priced hardback Love And Rockets – and it seems I’m not alone.
Gary Groth tells me “We didn’t have the manpower over the weekend to add up all the numbers and we haven’t been able to process all the orders, but it appears as though we are about two thirds of the way to our goal of $80,000.
“We’re now pretty optimistic that we can make it with a little more flogging.The response has been pretty overwhelming and heartening. If we can make a little more during this period of unprecedented support, we wouldn’t discourage it. We still have a back debt — royalties and profit sharing, for example, that we’ve slipped behind on — that we are planning to pay off over the next 24 months and any dent we can make in that would help us over the long haul. But, if we hit the $80,000 mark, we’ll be able to catch up with our printers and suppliers, and that was our immediate and essential goal.”
Fantagraphics needs your help right now, or it may go away. Fantagraphics has it’s critics, mainly attacking it for the snobbishness and exclusivity of its members. Well fuck that, we’re all snobs about something, if Fantagraphics can help keep standards and quality high enough, this can only be good for the medium. And if Fantagraphics goes, a lot of work will go out of print, a number of other publishers will fall and the cultural impact on the medium will be heavy. It’s also refreshing to hear such a company being so open about it’s situation. Now, all of you, go to http://www.fantagraphics.com/cart/ and buy something. This is an order.
Their anthology title, “Aspen” #1 was meant to ship a few weeks ago. The fact that it didn’t was interpreted by many as the signs of another creator making brave promises and failing to live up to them… *cough* “Bloodsport” *cough*.
Aspen, however, is the victim of something else. Posted to the Top Cow message boards, Frank Mastrumauro from Aspen wrote:
“Bottom line, ‘Aspen’ #1 was completed weeks ago. The entire print run of the issue was done and sent out to all the Diamond distributing centers last week. It was ready to come out this past Thursday, one week early as we had announced. We also had our convention exclusives shipped directly to the show to have for sale this weekend at the Philly con.
“Needless to say, and as most people have found out, Diamond held the book from being shipped. We just found this out along with everyone else two days ago. Reason being, we are involved in a law suit with Top Cow right now (unfortunately) which is causing Diamond to hold our books until there is some type of resolution.
“How long this will last, we don’t really know. I did hear a few lucky retailers who picked their weekly books up early actually did receive their copies, but I’m not sure who or how many. I’m sure Diamond also told them to hold their books, but I’m not sure of this since I have not received any type of confirmation about it yet. All I can say is we are trying our best to ensure the comics we’ve worked hard to produce will come out as soon as possible.
“Also, I saw the EBAY listing for the ‘Soulfire: Beginnings’ book that we had made for this Philly con as well. This book was created solely for this show and is limited to only 1500 copies. It’s a prelude story that leads up to ‘Soulfire’ #1 coming out in August.
“We’re using it as a free promotional item for retailers and for fans attending our panel discussion over the weekend. Many retailers have received a copy of the book already so I’m not that surprised to see one up on EBAY so quickly. With us giving so many of these away, I’m sure there will probably be some others up there soon.
“Lastly, we will be having an official press release sent out and going up on our web site for all to see and understand what has been going on. As I’m sure you’ve surmised, the launch of our site has also been unfortunately delayed due to the law suit. However, we have continued to work as hard as possible to complete every book we’ve solicited in case things do get resolved soon and our books can begin to ship.
“We apologize for these delays because we really want everyone to have the chance to pick up our new books.”
“All we want to do is make the best comics possible for you all, but we need to ensure we protect ourselves in order to do so. Hope this info helps out!”
The lawsuit is believed to concern the use of Michael Turner’s character “Fathom,” who Top Cow published as well as other works Top Cow claim partial ownership of license rights to.
Dez has made this allegation a number of times in the past, before then dismissing it. If true, this would mean that ownership of the character will revert to the creators (of whoever they passed their share on to). Which means Gary Leach would be majority shareholder with 60%. Dez would be on 10% and Neil Gaiman on 30%. And Todd would have nothing.
But no one expected to look here.
There has been a rumour circulating a number of studios, that Todd MacFarlane is to cease publishing comic books, in favour of concentrating on his far more profitable toy and statue line. The comics themselves would then be licensed out under certain restrictions to whichever studio ponied up the cash. Top Cow, Dreamwave, Avatar, Image Central whoever. Jim Valentino at Image denied any knowledge of such a deal and believed it to be very unlikely. As head honcho at Image, outside of Todd MacFarlane’s gang, if anyone should know, he should. Matt Hawkins at Top Cow had a slightly different take saying “There has been a lot of talk about various scenarios, but nothing concrete yet to report”.
Until then, here’s a preview of some of Todd’s art for the Image Tenth, sorry, Twelfth Anniversary hardcover.
THE BOOK WAGON
THREE CLAWS CUT DEEPEST
That caused slight worry, with fans concerned Darick would have to make Wolverine conform to the prettier version portrayed in “X-Men 2.”
Darick responded to one such reaction from Andrew Crossett, “I can’t talk about it, because I’m under contract as an employee, but I will say that if we were playing a game show, Andrew just won the grand prize.”
Darick did then however elucidate a little. “Yes, Marvel is making sick bank on their movies and there will be no explanations. I am not happy about this.”
As to how this will manifest itself in the middle of a six issue story, Darick added “Remember that show ‘Bewitched’ and how Darren suddenly changed mid season into another Darren? Expect that.”
The thread then later seemed to confirm that this was a very recent mandate, not imposed before, and that it will be applying across the Xbook range.
Expect to see Hugh Jackman’s face everywhere….
Darick has written to LITG to update his previous message board comments. He writes:
“The good news is that over the weekend, I was able to sit down with the people in charge and we talked it out for the first time face to face. I was able to say everything I believe in and defend my position and they said their side and I listened. Everyone was far more amiable and open to discussion than I expected, and I appreciated that.
“In the end, it was chalked up to a communication error, and my Logan has an approved look we can all agree on. He’s still going to be short and how I’ve drawn him in my changes is close enough. It’s not going to be as jarring as I first believed it would have to be. He doesn’t have to be a spot on Jackman and he remain short, just not so short and not so ugly. ‘Just don’t make him a troll,’ I was told.
“We have a happy medium; one I can live with and I believe the fans can still respect.”
X MARKS THE SPOT
This currently has Salvador Larocca on issues 435-455, with Larocca drawing 16 issues and Philip Tan on 4 issues. Tan will be drawing all six issues of the “Draco” (Nightcrawler’s father) arc 429-434, guest starring Mystique. Larocca will draw Trial of Juggernaught, drawn by Larocca, guest starring Alpha Flight. Look for another possible wedding in 450.
Over on “New X-Men” 146-150, the “Planet X” arc will focus on Jean Grey. Marc Silvestri will draw the subsequent arc, part of which takes place in the future and 151 will feature Sentinels.
Look for Rogue and Gambit to return to “X-treme X-men” in number 31.
Merk Peyton denied he’s doing “White Light” with Tony Harris for Epic, but here’s a cover that’s been doing the rounds.
And after a drunken Bristol conversation, Paul O’Brien of The X-Axis and myself are going to pitch something soon…
Buy it. If it’s sold out, get your dealer to reorder it. If they never even ordered it in the first place, hit them over the head with the latest Previews.
As to why a double issue becoming two single issues meant for an expanding story, Bob explained “A double-issue was 38 story pages; two single issues are 44 story pages. So I had an extra six pages–a bitch to figure out; Neil Gaiman complained along with me in a recent call, because the policy change affected how he was plotting ‘1602’ –but it gave me the impetus for the historical cameo in ‘Truth’ #6, which I then rewrote from top to bottom.”
As to whether last week’s rumour about Bob Morales taking over the regular Captain America series from issue 21 is true or not, Bob e-mailed me to say ” .”
Joe Madueira may be returning to comics for one last project, “Street Fighter” from Udon.
Simon Furman has resigned his role at Titan Books and gone freelance. Well, with sales of his “Transformers” titles regularly topping 100,000 in preorders, wouldn’t you?
THE REASON WHY SO MANY MARVEL TITLES ARE NOW AT $2.99
This pales, of course, to the reputed 42 million dollars worth of shares reported to be owned in AOL Time Warner by Paul Levitz.
RECRUITING IN THE GUTTERS
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Be seeing you.