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This is the forty-third weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry’s premier rumour column and gossip sheet. Soft, strong, two-ply and very durable. 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 Ali G.

THE PHOENIX’S NEED FOR SPECIAL WAXING COSTS HER DEAR

[Green Light]

And the “X-Men: Phoenix” mini-series that caused quite a fuss with its open legged covers? Marvel have retroactively changed the rating on that series from PG to PG+. So that’s all right then.

EMPIRE BUILDING

[Green Light]

Mark Waid’s “Empire,” formerly published at Bulldog… sorry, Gorilla Comics, has long had a promised home at DC. Basically, it’s a comic book about what if a “Doctor Doom” type figure had… won. In July, DC will publish a new “Empire” 1, but in June, they’re rush-publishing “Empire” 0 which collects the previously published Empire 1 and 2. Waid’s first issue of his 12 issue series “Birthright” with Leinel Yu also comes out in July. What a happy man!

Talking of Gorilla partners, look forward to Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco’s “Arrowsmith,” from Cliffhanger. This new magic/World War 1 series also begins in July.

WANTED: WANTED

[Green Light]

So, if Mark Millar’s series for Epic is “Trouble,” what ever happened to “Wanted,” doing the rumour rounds a while back? Mark Millar’s been talking on his message board.

“‘Wanted’ is a six issue, creator-owned superhero series debuting later this year and is about as different from ‘Ultimates’ as ‘Authority’ was from ‘Superman Adventures.’ I’ve been a good boy and playing nice for the last couple of years, but this is the bad shit I’ve been saving up and I’m loving every second of it.”

“Details of who’s drawing it, who’s publishing it and when it comes out will be released when the first issue of ‘Trouble’ launches. I’ll be giving the exact details on ALL my creator-owned stuff on this same day– all mature readers and all drawn by literally the biggest names in the industry. JC? CB? AK? FQ? TD? AR? Oh, yes!”

A quick bit of literal and lateral thinking and…

AK = Adam or Andy Kubert. Probably Adam, considering their run on “Ultimate X-Men”

FQ = Frank Quitely. Grant Morrison already made comments about Millar stealing “his” artists.

TD = Terry Dodson. Well, got to have something else to draw while waiting for Kevin Smith to write the second issue of “Black Cat,” working on “Trouble.”

CB = Chris Bachalo. Again, worked together on “Ultimate X-Men.”

AR = Alex Ross. Ross was part of Millar’s failed pitch to bring back Saviour for Vertigo.

JC = John Cassaday. After he’s done “Planetary,” before or during?

As for “Trouble,” it seems there’s been some debate as to whether or not it takes place in the Marvel universe. Millar said it did, then Marvel said it didn’t and now they say all it “kind of” does.

ROBOTS IN PINK?

[Green Light]

The artist of the new “GI Joe vs Transformers” is apparently, none other than Mike Miller. That’s what the last few Previews have said anyway. Then it struck me. The same Mike Miller who claims he was blacklisted, or as this column amusingly renamed it, pinklisted, from working on DC titles over his repeatedly excited views about homosexuals, homosexuality and general goings on that he really didn’t want to sully himself with.

Looks like that’s no problem when drawing a bunch of beefy soldier boys who love going into action together, though…

Did Mike Miller play with GI Joe as a child? Did that help his choice of sexual orientation at all? We demand an answer!

NILES CRANE

[Yellow Light]

Steve Niles’ departure from “Hellspawn” may not be as smooth as the press release allows you to believe. He wrote “This is a peaceful, mutual decision between Todd and I so don’t read into it TOO much.”

I’m told by someone close to Niles that it involved a certain straining of relations. And that the famous “free at last” speech may not be entirely inappropriate for this occasion.

I understand Brian Holguin will be taking over the title from the next issue… whenever that comes out.

I CAST THE ‘RUN ROUND IN A MAD FLURRY’ SPELL

[Green Light]

Pierre-Andre Dery emailed me all of a flurry after last week’s “Dungeons And Dragons” art piece, wondering if I’d hacked their servers. Turns out the posted artwork was done by Grafiksismik, of which he’s Art Director.

Pierre wrote “Without going into specifics, we tried to produce a comic series based on Hasbro’s D&D licence but we failed to obtain the licence.”

So who did? Rumours say Dreamwave are in the offing…

LANCE A LOT

[Yellow Light]

Looks like “Dragon Lance” is the latest Hasbro licence to get comic’ed up. Here’s a visual from what’s meant to be from Roaring Studios for Image Comics’ Fantasy line.

Ex-DC “Dragon Lance” editor Brian Augustyn is to write the book, with art by the previously-mentioned Mike Miller. Hopefully there’ll be lots of heterosexual heaving breasts everywhere!

As to Image’s Fantasy Line, expect to see licensed comics adaptations of the works of George R.R. Martin, Raymond E. Feist, Robert Silverberg and Tad Williams when it kicks off this summer. Look forward to Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey and Orson Scott Card in the pipeline.

SILVER SCOOPER

[Yellow Light]

Newsarama’s recent article with Tom Brevoort on the new Silver Surfer project included reference to a series that Steve Niles and Milk pitched to Epic. Niles decided to read between the lines.

“Man, I just read the article. Tom makes it sound like they rejected our pitch. Truth is, we walked away.

“I’m gonna write me some harsh emails.”

There then followed a series of visuals and descriptions of the series, which may well be published from another company later this year. But they deleted the thread, and I’ve been asked not to comment on them. So I won’t. But feel free to bug Niles, or his co-writer on this project, Chris Ryall over at MoviePoopShoot until he cracks.

GHOST SUCKER

[Green Light]

Mark Millar has been sending all sorts of fun stuff to friends and colleagues in his e-mail. This one particularly took me eye with the caption “Did things really get this bad after his book was cancelled???”, LITG is proud to present Ghost Rider Porn.

Come back Ian Ungstad, all is forgiven

THE FANTASTIC… HOW MANY?

[Green Light]

Marvel are to return “Fantastic Four” back to its original renumbering (bearing in mind volumes 2 and 3), with issue 500.

Joe Quesada has mentioned before how much he’d like to return issues to their “proper” numbering. With the likes of “Amazing Spider-Man,” “Avengers” and “Daredevil” also getting close to that figure, this may become a regular event in the months to come.

COWABUNGED!

[Green Light]

On Tuesday the 22nd April, I received the following email from Derek
Choo-Wing, Production Manager at Dreamwave productions. It was cc’ed to Pat
Lee, Roger Lee, James, Ted and M Moylan, all also at Dreamwave.

He wrote:

Dear Rich,

I recently came across an article you posted on your column “Lying in the
Gutters” titled “Cowabunga Dude”. It makes specific reference to LeSean (the
current artist of TMNT) and some alleged comments he made. This email is a
request for you to remove the article immediately. Dreamwave may suffer
severe ramifications from this posting and in turn, so could you. This email
is by no means intended as a threat. We just feel that removing the post is
in the best interest of ALL parties involved.

Thank you in advance.

The original comments were made in an open message board, with no mention
that they be kept private. However, I’m always happy to oblige. The article
is removed, pending discussion.

SENTENCE BEFORE CASE

[Yellow Light]

I get the word based on recent coverage that Richard Starkings’ Comicraft has lost a lot of lettering business for Marvel of late, that this is part of Marvel’s plan to bring all lettering in-house. Indeed the adoption of the “sentence case” lettering is part of a plan to have a standard in-house lettering style.

X-MANIA

[Red Light]

Sometimes it’s nice to open a door into a new world of rumours. Like the X-Men fans who simply had to tell me all the latest mutant rumouring. Ah go on, then. Let’s hear from you….

X-Men fans tell me that in “Uncanny X-Men” they can look forward to a Havok/Polaris wedding in 425. Jubilee’s death before that will be nicely solved by Archangel bringing her back to life. Hers won’t be the only death in the title. Another marriage for issue 450 and the return of Mr Sinister and his mutant experiments are expected.

What might throw things for a loop is Nightcrawler getting more of a central stage thanks to his role in the movie as his father, an evil magical warlord named Draco from another dimension, pops on the scene.

Over in “New X-Men,” the apparent death of Emma Frost in New X-Men 139 seems to have forced the new Emma Frost series into a bit of a bind, making it a flashback series. Not everyone involved is happy with this.

I hear the murderer of Emma Frost will not be found in the 3 part “Murder At Xavier’s” arc and the following assault on the “Weapon Plus programme should keep them busy. Then the “Planet X” four parter by Phil Jiminez and it’ll be time for Marc Silvestri’s turn at the pad.

New Marvel’s no-bringing-back-the-dead-except-for-special-occasions might get a new twist with “X-Treme X-Men.” It’s been no secret that Chris Claremont intended to bring Psylocke back to the living a lot sooner than he has… and he’s been trying to get permission to do so for a while.

Well, according to some fans, it looks like he’s found a loophole. A “hidden telepath” character has recently been revealed as a female telepath enslaves against her will. She may be the conduit to revive Psylocke. Not a literal resurrection, but maybe enough to slip by Marvel.

Okay, enough! Next!

BOLT FROM THE BLUE

[Yellow Light]

While “Black Panther” fans are treating it as inevitable, “Thunderbolts” fans are spitting mad over the cancellation of the series in the new Previews. Especially considering a certain Marvel story that seemed to indicate the series was doing rather better…

CAPTAIN’S PAGE COUNT DROPPING. WILL THE EMPIRE BE NEXT?

[Green Light]

As reported recently, Marvel trade paperbacks have been seeing a page reduction between solicitation and printing. The latest victim is “Captain America Vol 2: The Extremists,” again down from 128 to 120.

BRING ME THE HEAD OF A PORN KING

[Red Light]

So is Avatar’s William Christensen being head hunted? I understand that his relationship with the likes of Alan Moore, Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis is envied by a number of publishers, and the word is that both DC and Marvel have been making approaches.

William stated his position loudly and clearly. “While I am flattered at all the attention Avatar is getting these days, it remains my baby and I have no intention of leaving Avatar or pursuing any other opportunities. I have barely scratched the surface of everything I want to do with Avatar and I love being my own boss.”

DIXON IN THE DOCK

[Green Light]

Chuck Dixon’s comments over his belief that artist John Severin was not informed about certain aspects of the “Rawhide Kid” that made the headlines, and then spewed vitriol against Ron Zimmerman and Marvel for deceiving an old man.

Recently on the Chuck Dixon message board, a thorn in Chuck’s side posted the following exchange from Comic Book Marketplace #98 (January 2003) and an interview that took place in November that, although a little warped does, seem to imply that Severin knew what he was getting into.

Severin: It’s kind of weird. (laughs) I guess, yeah, I think the information is already out there. The Rawhide Kid is rather effeminate in this story. It may be quite a blow to some of the old fans of Rawhide Kid. But it’s a lot of fun and he’s still a tough hombre.

Scott added “Oh, wait! You know what would be really cool is if instead of adding his insults to Mr. Severin is if Chuck took back the nasty things he said about Zimmerman and gang at Marvel! Wouldn’t that be cool? And totally Christian humility to boot!

“P.S. Hey, Chuck, remember when you said that me telling you about comics would be like you telling me when to take the fries out at my job? You take the fries out when the beeper goes off. But thanks for your kind offer.”

In response, Chuck wrote: “I owe you an apology. You DO know when the fries come out.”

SIMPLE CREATORS

[Green Light]

Last week’s Frank Miller cover to the upcoming previously-announced Steven Grant adaptation of Frank Miller’s “Robocop” movie script into comics seems to have gone global. What hasn’t, is that Nick Locking and Jeremy Rock’s are working on “Robocop: Simple Machines,” after the Miller version finishes. Expect a preview in Avatar’s Free Comic Book Day publication, but to hear what Nick has to say about “Robocop,” robots and why he’s clearly the best man for the job, check last Wednesday’s Waiting For Tommy. And while you’re waiting, here’s a lovely little preview…

HULK SMASH TELEVISION

[Green Light]

Do you like the Hulk? No, do you really like the Hulk? And you live in the UK? Then a TV crew want to talk to you. Contact Stephen Yarish at joefixit2@incrediblehulk.com if you want your face on the telly. Talking about The Hulk.

RICH JOHNSTON SELLS OUT

[Green Light]

Or rather I’d like to. Truth is, I am selling a major load of comics. Bones, Sandman, Ultimate everything, Strangers in Paradise, Transmet, lots of weird stuff by Morrison, Ellis and the like… oh have a nose round here. There’s a bunch of stuff about to run out of time, so snipers get ready…

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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