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This is the forty-second weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry’s premier rumour column and gossip sheet. But please, no Hitch-Hikers jokes. 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 Idi Amin.

THE BROOM SWEEPS

[Yellow Light]

Now I’m hearing it from involved parties. Vertigo is to get a spring clean next year from the hands of Dan DiDio. There have been certain allegations made about how Vertigo is creatively eggbound; not even accepting submissions from established familiar creators till the end of the year. That personality politics are playing a greater role in the imprint, with editorial staff leaving or being forced out. And that falling sales have hurt Vertigo far harder than other imprints.

Certainly Vertigo’s breakout book, “Y: The Last Man,” having both the editor who commissioned it and the editor who nurtured it fired doesn’t exactly help their public perception. This summer’s project announcements may be make or break time.

This is Vertigo’s tenth anniversary. And in all that time, there have always been rumours that it was to close down. Well, this isn’t one of them.

The central rumour goes that Karen Berger will be promoted within the company… and that Axel Alonso will be headhunted from Marvel to spear the relaunched Vertigo line.

But, as usual, I’m sure the truth will be far weirder than the rumours…


OVER HILL AND DALE

[Yellow Light]

Wondering just how well Dale Keown’s going to be keeping his schedule on the “Darkness” from Top Cow, considering how both “Pitt” and on occasion “Hulk” went to pot, well…

It turns out that despite having a long lead in time, a lot of that time went on Keown’s work on the upcoming “Hulk” film, from storyboards to toys to packaging design. Not to mention a couple of “Exiles” covers here and some other Marvel odds and sods there.

Still he’s hard at work on the “Darkness” now.

Um.

When was it meant to come out?

THERE ARE EIGHT PEOPLE IN THIS SUPER-HERO TEAM

[Yellow Light]

Gutterati Schblum informs me that in the “Wizard X-Men Special” that’s coming out in time for the new movie, Mike Allred reveals about “X-Statix,” “Later on, we’ll have what we hope and intend to be a highly controversial three-part storyline that will, if we do our jobs right, put an end to all our respective careers. One of the late-twentieth century’s most iconic, photographed and talked-about figures is resurrected from the grave… and in America. And made an honorary member of X-Statix.”

For fuck’s sake everyone. Princess Diana is joining “X-Statix.”

SIM BULLISM

[Green Light]

You know, we don’t get enough Dave Sim around here. Been buying “Cerebus” for decades now, with the last issue out in a year, currently railing against Canadian cowardice, women and Gary Groth, it’s good to get back in touch with someone who makes Steve Ditko look sane, yet can make angels dance on his pen nib.

The Cerebus Yahoo Group collared Dave at the SPACE convention and got a few titbits out of him.

Issue 289-290 will be another double issue, like 112-113. Apparently this will put the book back on schedule for the big finish. Apparently there’s some numerological significance between 112-113 and 289-290, but buggered if I can work it out.

Dave completed almost all of the double issue himself as, apparently, Gerhard quit “Cerebus” over “burn out.” He’s been enticed back of late however. Falling sales can’t have helped – the recent Cerebus Fangirl interview put sales at the low 6000s.

Hardcover collections of the “Cerebus” books are being seriously considered, and will probably be published one a year and won’t be reprinted until the last hardcover comes out, and then we’ll get a second print, once a year. Basically, if it sells out, you’ll have to wait fourteen years.

Dave Sim also confirmed that the “Me” referred to in Chasing YHJW, is indeed him. The decision was made to go with “Me” after a Peter David article complaining about Sim inserting himself into the comic.

A year to go folks, a year to go… after which, Matt Wagner says Dave will shoot himself.

SAVAGE DRAGONS

[Green Light]

Looks like the next nostalgia licence doing the rounds… “Dungeons And Dragons” from Hasbro. Here’s some preliminary art from… well, I guess we’ll find that out eventually. Dreamwave? Dark Horse? CrossGen?

IT’S IN THE BAG

[Yellow Light]

Talking about Bristol, it seems like the comic convention has been having a little bit of a ruck with Forbidden Planet. Specifically I understand they’ve chosen not to distribute flyers for the convention in-store because they didn’t get exclusive rights to supply the goodie bags to the show… Forbidden Planet Scotland got in there first.

Yes, they are two companies. Yes, I know. But it leads to situations like this.

I’ve been waiting years for an excuse to post that link. See how long it takes for Dirk Deppey to pick up on it…

I understand that Forbidden Planet may still supply goodie bags to the convention – just not exclusively. The conflict may also spill over onto buying table space at the convention… but it seems there’s quite a waiting list for tables as well.

ROBOSCOOP

[Green Light]

Robocop. Story by Frank Miller. Cover by Frank Miller. Untouched by Hollywood. Joy!

GUS FUSS

[Yellow Light]

So why is it that only after Marvel published the kid-friendly “Gus Beezer” comics that I remember that there’s been a long standing weekly British kids comic called “Beezer” – which could have certain implications for Marvel’s ability to continue the series?

Let alone their plans for Dylan Beano, Colin Dandy and Jim Whizzer And Chips.

ANOTHER DOUBLE SCOTCH PLEASE, FRAZER

[Green Light]

Oh that’s brilliant. The Frazer Irving (“2000AD,” “Authority”) kicked out of Croatia story that’s been doing the rounds this week. As part of his defence that he was freelance, rather than unemployed as the authorities believed, he pointed out that he was on fifty thousand pounds a year.

Right then Frazer, if you think anyone but you is getting the drinks in come the Bristol convention, you are very much mistaken.

AGAINST THE MACHINE

[Green Light]

From what I hear Raijin Comics may be in a spot of bother.

Apparently, despite the wave of manga supposedly cascading across the States, the company is having…a cashflow problem. I understand that Raijin/Gutsoon’s parent company Coamix is having a tough time of it, which isn’t exactly helping.

With nervous investors and without sufficient profits, the CEO has already left without replacement. Sega’s involvement has meant to have been withdrawn and certain staff have left and not been replaced – the American crew now half what they were. This includes the departure of Sam Humphries, seen by many as the company’s friendliest and most pro-active employee in the US. When contacted by LITG, Humphries would only say, “Yes I have left Gutsoon effective immediately, and yes it has been amicable split. I was brought on over a year ago to help launch the company and their main publishing lines, and now that they’re up and running, it’s time for me to move on. I wish them the best of luck. Everything else, I have no comment on.”

The future for Raijin is currently uncertain. A shame, because the comic is still selling in amounts that put most other US comics to shame. Their trade program this summer, with “Fist Of The Blue Sky,” “Slam Dunk,” “City Hunter,” and “First President Of Japan,” all in digest size, black and white at $9.95 might also give the company a much needed boost.

CREDIT DUE?

[Red Light]

Gutterati Major Joe points out that Barnes & Noble released their paperback versions of the Marvel Masterworks this week. Looking through the titles turns up two interesting omissions:

CEO & General Counsel: Allen Lipson

Chief Creative Officer: Avi Arad

Marketing Communications Manager: Michael Doran

Two positions conspicuously not listed? President and Editor-In-Chief.

Jemas and Quesada’s names are listed in all the other Marvel TPBs, why not these five?

Marvel tells me it’s an accidental omission. Hell of an omission though – surely couldn’t have been the influence of the Chief Creative Officer?

No, probably not.

SLAB RIVALS

[Green Light]

CGC, bane/potential saviour of the comic book industry’s lives, right. Applauded and critiqued for its influence in persuading people to encase their comic books in solid plastic so they can’t be read or “damaged.” And responsible for, on occasion, sending certain comics’ prices into the stratosphere. Since the slab itself costs $15, that’s an instant price hike from the beginning, that gets multiplied up the levels capitalist style. Hell, if you give the receptionist a $15 rise, the CEO has to get $100,000 extra, right?

Well, looks like there’s some lookalike competition about to burst that bubble just a little. And here’s where the acronyms get confusing. CGC, meet CGG. Comics Grading Group.

With CGG charging half the price for grading and slabbing a book that CGC do, this could be an issue. Okay, CGG don’t have the reputation, brand or census data that CGC do – but they’re a lot cheaper. And sometimes, with such a close likeness, that’ll do it.

Let’s see, eh?

HULK OUT

[Green Light]

Earlier this week on Comicon Pulse, Frank Cho mentioned an upcoming CBLDF anthology he’s been creating, and the following sneek peek image was shown:

Well, what did I find in my inbox but a very similar picture.

It seems that Marvel have approved the CBLDF using Hulk on the front cover of this book.

STARK REALITY

[Green Light]

Remember a piece I did a while back about Marvel dropping Comiccraft’s lettering services? While Richard Starkings didn’t comment at the time, in the followups to an interview with design student David Velez recently, he said “Do I fear that the companies will eventually letter all their comics inhouse? I don’t really have to fear that any more either… Because Marvel Comics recently took more than fifteen titles away from us in the course of just two months. However, I was always aware that this might one day be a possibility and built as broad a base for the business as possible. When I started lettering comics in America fourteen years ago, work provided to me by Marvel Comics represented more than 90% of my income… One year ago Marvel represented 50% of Comicraft’s income… Today they represent less than 5% of the company’s income… And we’re still going strong with projects for Harris, Penny Farthing, Beckett, Archangel, Nickelodeon, MAD magazine, Tokyopop and, of course, DC Comics.”

In a related story, “Strange Embrace” is a new comic coming from Comiccraft and Active Images by David Hine. I’ve been handed the introduction by Pete (X-Statix) Milligan and it reads;

“There’s no getting away from it, ‘Strange Embrace’ is dark. ‘Strange Embrace’ is very… strange. In part psychological horror, in part an existentialist study of the classic ‘outsider,’ this graphic novel, unlike most of them, really does warrant the term ‘novel.’ It has the emotional, thematic and historic sweep of a novel, but manages to retain the immediacy and cerebral impact of the best comic.

“The narrative is intricate, shifting – sometimes breathlessly – between place, time and character: we are led into the story by little Sakumar, a product of late twentieth century multi-cultural Britain, into the past, into the strange, and into horror. And it is at times real horror.

“Prepare to be shocked.”

HOW FAST CAN FIVE YEARS OF MORRISON BE WIPED FROM CONTINUITY?

[Yellow Light]

On the John Byrne Message Board, Byrne told his assembled troops that he’d been approached by Mike Carlin exploring the possibility of working on an upcoming “JLA” arc. In a recent post, Byrne mentioned that if it were to happen, you might see new villains and guest stars, and the arc would possibly be five issues long.

PLUGATHON

[Green Light]

I’m having a major spring clean on eBay. Every day this week I’ll be putting more and more lots up… comics and DVDs. As of writing, the “Elseworld 80 Page Giant” is at £4 and the Alan Moore “Daredevils” are at one pound each and the “Miraclemen” are going for pennies. And everything has free worldwide shipping.

After you’ve enjoyed this year’s Live-Ing In The Gutters at Bristol, why not enjoy Lee Barnett and Dave Gibbon’s Hypotheticals panel.

This week, lunching partner Adi Tantimedh has a new JLA Elseworlds book is out. I’ll be buying my copy. Maybe you should too.

I’ve just interviewed Andy Diggle for Waiting For Tommy – including at one point prodding him with a stick. Join in the fun.

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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