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This is the forty-fifth 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 sense of increasing irony – 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. Blame the wife.

This week’s Gutters comes from the idyllic countryside of Abberley, near Worcester in the Midlands of England. Visiting the parents, I can see sheep giving birth through the window. Hmmm. How inspiring.

No, not literally “through the window.” That would be quite hazardous to the lambs’ health, especially if the window was still shut.

Anyway, that’s how I spent my Free Comic Book Day 2, more on that later.

FELON AT LARGE

[Yellow Light]

Matt Clark and Greg Rucka seem to be fighting it out with Top Cow for the rights to “Felon.” “Felon” has had a long history at Lying In The Gutters. I reported before how the book, despite being a key title in the Minotaur imprint, went from eight issues, down to six, then only seeing four issues actually published.

Top Cow offered to exchange the “Felon” rights they owned back to Rucka and Clark. Rucka and Clark, though annoyed the publishing deal collapsed, agreed, intending to take the book elsewhere.

But suddenly USA Television Networks started to take an interest in optioning the series, so Top Cow hesitated and withdrew their offer.

Rucka and Clark proposed that Top Cow keep the entertainment rights to “Felon” in return for handing over the publishing rights, and Top Cow agreed.

HYPER-CROSSOVER

[Yellow Light]

What is Grant Morrison doing after “X-Men?” Well, he’s talked about some creator owned work in a vague non-announcey way. But as for his Next Big Super Hero Thing? Well, I hear he’s been telling people it’s his sequel to “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” “The Hyper-Crisis On Infinite Earths.” This sprawling cross-over series would alter DC’s characters and would spin off a bunch of new Morrison-conceived titles, at least one of which he’d write.

This may well be part of Grant Morrison’s announced intention to access DC’s vast complexity of continuity and use that continuity to make the DC Universe self-aware, as well as writing a living, breathing comic book.

However, I hear that DC, after doing its umpteenth crossover series over the last few of years, including “Worlds at War” and “The Last Laugh,” has taken on board criticism from both pros and fans. There may have been sales spikes during the events, but creators and readers as a whole didn’t seem that happy with this trend.

BAT PROJECTS

[Yellow Light]

What comes after “Batman: Hush?” I hear it’s a toss up between “Batman: Jeckyll & Hyde” by Jenkins and Jae Lee, or a six issue arc by Azzerello and Risso. Whoever finishes the work first.

I understand Ed Brubaker is also very happy that Ryan Sook is taking over the art in “Detective Comics.” Apparently, he was Brubaker’s first choice from the very beginning, but at the time Sook was trapped in “Arkham Asylum: Living Hell.”

NIGHTCRAWLER: THE ORIGIN

[Green Light]

For all those Americans who loved Nightcrawler in “X-Men 2,” here’s a little treat. What you will need.

a) A DVD that can play Region 2 discs and a PAL-compatible TV.
b) A credit card.

Go to Amazon UK and order “The High Life,” a sitcom from the early nineties that was Alan Cumming’s (Nightcrawler) break out starring role as a camp Scottish air steward who turned “Eh!” into a catchphrase.

Oh, and make sure you get “Spaced Vols 1“, 2, “Brass Eye” and “Jam” while you’re there… Alan Cumming isn’t in those, but they’re rather good.

DC DIVIDE

[Yellow Light]

DC editorial has always split itself into certain political territories, but I’ve been told that there’s an Iron Curtain at the moment. One camp, represented by Mike Carlin, Joey Cavalieri and Bob Schreck believe everything is just fine and that even though Marvel seems to be re-energized it will self destruct as always and DC will come out on top. So there is no need to rock the boat.

The other side lead by Dan Didio with Eddie Berganza and Peter Tomasi want to spend some AOL-Time Warner money on new creative teams and look-at-me marketing. And Paul Levitz? Content to let the two sides fight each other. Classic divide and rule.

So come on then, DC employees, which side are *you* on? Mm?

FLY BY NIGHT

[Yellow Light]

Mike Turner’s upcoming comic from his new company, is to be renamed from “Dragonfly” to “Dragonfly: Soulfire” or just “Soulfire.” Reasons given include making a break from Top Cow, who promoted that title, and then there’s the Kevin Costner movie from a few years ago… would anyone want to be associated with that?

AVENGING ANGEL

[Yellow Light]

Who is going to be the new writer on “Avengers?” Well if Joe Quesada gets his way it will be Chuck Austen. But I hear editor Tom Brevoort has other thoughts, it seems. Decisions are yet to be made.

CHOP CHOP CHOP

[Yellow Light]

“Automatic Kafka” cancelled. “Harley Quinn” cancelled. “Batman: Gotham Knights” cancelled and replaced with a new Bat title.

Maybe.

EMBELLISHING BYRNE

[Yellow Light]

I’m told that John Byrne won’t be working on all art duties during his previously Guttered upcoming “JLA” arc. Editor Mike Carlin has commissioned Byrne to write and pencil the arc, but not the lettering. I understand Jerry Ordway will ink and Doug Mahnke will continue with his covers.

DELAYED MUTANTS

[Yellow Light]

I understand that production on Marvel’s “New Mutants” series is well behind schedule. If the penciller can’t catch up to the new deadline, it may be time for a “Namor”-style switch.

TROUBLED PAST

[Yellow Light]

A dickie bird tells me that the teenagers portrayed in Mark Millar’s “Trouble” title may be revealed to be versions of well known Marvel characters in their youth. Marvel’s previous desire to disassociate the characters from the Marvel Universe, despite Millar’s earlier insistence that they were part of Marvel continuity, may well have stemmed from this little aspect of Epic’s launch title.

GIRLFRIENDS

[Yellow Light]

On his Web site Peter David recently discussed his original plan to alter his “Supergirl” title after issue #80, before the title was cancelled. It involved his Supergirl joining up with the “new” silver age Supergirl and Power Girl into a new Birds Of Prey style superteam called perhaps “Supergirls.” Well we know #80 was the last issue of the title, but DC is still considering doing the book but with the Steve Seagle created Cir-El Supergirl involved instead of the Peter David-Matrix and the Supergirl from the “Superman vs. Aliens” 1 mini replacing the silver age version.

Oh, and without Peter David.

FREE COMIC BOOK DUD

[Yellow Light]

With some exceptions, Free Comic Book Day was a little bit of a damp squib in the UK. Shipping costs made the programme too cost-prohibitive for many retailers, with copies costing more to ship than they were bought for.

Some bright spark suggested that next time, why not delay the UK’s version of FCBD by a couple of months, and send the freebies on the slow boat across the Atlantic rather then send them zooming at Mach 3 over the pond.

However, many US stores seemed to have a grand old time. Especially one Comics Etc, who decided the really liked the web address www.freecomicbooksday.com and linked it to their online store.

Hope they did well out of it.

TURNER ROUND

[Yellow Light]

Top Cow have cashed in a favour owed to Geoff Johns by getting him to write a fill-in issue of “Witchblade.” This is intended as a “spoiler” project for Mike Turner’s Aspen Entertainment, given that Johns is also set to write the sci-fi series “Ekos” for the new company.

However, I hear that Aspen haven’t even noticed.

ELSEWORLD’S END

[Yellow Light]

Did you like “Superman: Red Son?” “JLA: Age Of Wonder?” Looking forward to “Batman: Nevermore?” Cherish them. Elseworlds’ titles do not, currently, fit in with DC’s editorial plans. That’s your lot.

On the Comic Industry Forum, there have been a sizeable number of requests for a reprint of “Red Son 1” from retailers. But last week’s story may possibly put the dampers on that.

GHOSTBOOSTERS

[Green Light]

Remember all that “Ghostbusters” nostalgia revival stuff I posted a few weeks back? Well, it seems to have gone allofficial. Ghostbusters.net was planning to put up a whole bunch of new visuals as well as details of the new Ghostbusters comic.

But apparently, it all fell foul of internal Sony bickering and the information has been delayed. Leading to a lot of annoyed Ghostbusters fans.

For now.

THE HOKEY KOKEY

[Yellow Light]

In the old days, when Marvel wanted to reduce staff drastically, they held a Marvelcution, cutting reams of jobs at once.

These days, it’s eeked out over time. While the gutting of the trade paperback crew is history, even in the last six months there seem to have been quite a few. Here’s a bunch who have been let go or “quit” in that time.

Lynne Yoshii, Assistant Editor (to Andrew Lis)

Sarah Filderman, (Sales Assistant)

John Roberts, (Web Designer)

Joey Zerbo, Sr. Manager of Marketing Communications (for three weeks)

Susan Crespi, Production

Bill Rosemann, Marketing Communications Manager

Brian Smith, Associate Editor (from the Ultimate office)

Nova Suma, Assistant Editor (from the X-Men office)

Paul Tutrone, Production Manager (from the Bullpen)

Tim Smith, Production Manager (from the Bullpen)

Susan Crespi, Production

Juan Collado, Subscriptions Manager

Karen Staff, V.P. Legal (ten years at the company)

Jennifer Beemish, Manager of Trade Sales (two months)

Chet Krayewski, Licensing Manager

Gamal Hennessy — International Licensing

Leaving parties must be a regularly scheduled event in that place. The crew also have ‘deadpool’ for the next employee to get the axe. Editorial resignations have also come from people who described their position as a “dream come true.” Could this be preparation for selling the company?

Of course, Marvel are hardly alone in this kind of turnover. Anyone fancy helping me piece together names and numbers for other companies out there?

UNDERHAND

[Yellow Light]

Regarding last week’s story about Dan Brereton’s work on the comic book adaptation of the upcoming “Underworld” movie, Dan wrote, “they flaked on me- the company hired by Sony to do the comic for the movie approached me about doing a dozen covers- they were all over me for it and I was waiting for a contract-

“in between, they tell me sony likes my work and wants me to draw the entire thing- which I couldnt do, and had to turn down.

“a month goes by- no word from them. finally they come back and tell me sony insists that the cover art match the interior.

“whatever!! so i didnt get the gig in the end. sucks, it would have been fun.”

EPIC EPISODIC

[Green Light]

Mike Sangiacomo is to write a column for Newsarama, a week-by-week description of getting his Epic comic published.

One surprising detail is that one rather big name asked to draw the project when it was going round the company – but Matt declined.

CLASS OF HULK ’84

[Green Light]

Douglas Noble was on hand to point out that last week’s extract from a twenty year old letters page from Hulk Weekly featuring Frazer Irving’s first published work in comics had something else going in there.

“Great column, as ever, but I think you might have missed out on a double with your Fraser Irving Hulk letter story. If you look at the letter immediately below Fraser’s you may spot another name familiar from both 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine – Nick Percival, who I’m sure used to do Brit-Cit Brute and Slaine. And they say that everybody who reads comics want to create them!”

PRETTY PRETTY PRETTY

[Green Light]

Here’s the cover by John Picacio to the collection of Jess Nevin’s notes to The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, coming out from MonkeyBrain in June.

GAIL WARNING

Gail Simone stepped in for a live AOL Instant Messenger interview over at this week’s Waiting For Tommy, which seems to have gone down a storm. And while Chris Claremont may have gone AWOL for now, could it be, could it possibly be, Bryan Hitch for Wednesday…?

The last of my eBay auctions are almost done. If there are any Londoners who fancy dipping into what’s left of my longboxes for some very good deals, give me a shout. Especially if you like Cerebus or Eddie Campbell.

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.

Discuss this column on the Lying In The Gutters Forum.
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