This is the thirty-fifth weekly episode of Lying In The Gutters, the industry’s premier rumour column and gossip sheet. So, reckless ruffians, 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 scathing abuse – 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 Joe Quesada.
My official e-mail address has also changed. Check the bottom of this column to update your records.
In the old days, Epic was the name of Marvel’s adult-themed comics anthology, sold to the magazine market. It soon spawned a diverse line of creator-owned or creator-participant comics, unmatched in the industry, from “Groo” to “Alien Legion” to “A1” to “Nightbreed” to “Yuppies In Love” to “The Bozz Chronicles.”
Since Bill Jemas came to the fore at Marvel, he’s been threatening a revival. And for the last few years, Marvel have been promising creator-owned titles from a number of their A-List.
Expect some announcements very soon, and they’re going to be odd ones.
The Epic line is being put together by Stephanie Moore – and there will be familiar and unfamiliar names there. And expect Ralph Macchio and Bill Jemas to have editorial input, as well as Mark Millar.
Mark Millar is believed to be writing the very first, the launch book, but expect to see a lot of very different books from some very different people, creator-owned, creator-participant and work-for-hire.
Also look for work coming from the individuals he chose as “stars of the future”, people he promised to help give a leg up. Namely Mark Peyton, Brandon Thomas and Barb Lien
They all refused to comment.
“Aliens/Dredd” writer Andy Diggle was also mentioned to me as a contributor, by he has refused to comment. As did Steven Grant, who declined to say whether he was involved or not. And Matt Fraction who didn’t say a fucking thing.
Other names mentioned include John Romita Jr, the only person who has previously confirmed he has a title in the Epic line. The Kubert brothers are also believed to be involved.
Again, no response.
In fact, despite rumours that have escaped about this project, for the amount of people involved, security is incredibly high. And indeed, people have said they’ve been threatened if they leak.
One unique aspect of Epic is, as well as featuring familiar A-list names, that a number of fans have been targeted and asked to pitch to the line. From Comic Book Resources alone, a handful of columnists and regular message board figures have been asked to pitch.
Names such as Chris Ryall, and Rob Worley were amongst those mentioned as well as X-Fan’s Eric Moreel’s, said to be pitching an Aboriginal superheroes idea. Pop Image folks as well. Basically, pick a prominent comics Web site and there will be individuals who’ve been approached.
But that’s right, none of them agreed to comment.
This will no doubt be criticised by some for a kind of creative inbreeding, fans being encouraged to turn their fan-fiction into canon, but it’s not as if it’s Marvel’s only form of outreach. Marvel seem to be looking far and wide for talent for a series of one-off projects.
One thing that has been commented upon, is the pitch requests. Apparently pitchers have been told that Marvel get all rights to pitches using Marvel characters, whether they are used or not. Which means the individual can’t take the ideas elsewhere with an eye to rewriting them for non-Marvel characters.
Also, a number of individuals are said to have turned it down due to a lower rate than they were used to. Indeed pay seems to be on a sliding scale of sales, above a very low minimum payment for writers, on a full script submission.
And there are allegations that higher-priced writers with better deals have been teamed with low price artists to keep costs down.
But for entry-level, new talent to mainstream comics, Marvel have in one step leaped well over DC when it comes to recruitment. And they may well have bought up much of the vocal fan base who may have been bitching… but are now pitching!
And of course this can only help the precious marketshare that Tsunami is already flooding into.
As to the red traffic light above, while I’m definitely sure that Epic is happening, much as it’s been stated, when it comes to the individuals, well, your guess is as good as mine.
And no I wasn’t asked to pitch. Clearly where the bitterness and jealousy comes from according to some…
THE RETURN OF OLD CONTRACTS
Will those contracts be honoured?
Will it be
- “My creator-owned thing is where all the genuine bad taste and madness has gone. The lead character kills gays for a laugh, rapes his old high school teacher and joins a super-team all in the first four issue arc. DC’s gonna love this one!!!”
- “A four part thing which is being co-produced as an animated feature (and which my agent called the most perverse series in the history of comics)”
- “something bright and breezy for girls– as patronizing as that sounds. You won’t believe what we’ve got lined up for this, but the girl’s book won’t be out until I’ve finished X-Men in Jan 2003.”
- something else?
NOSTALGIA COMIC GETS ALL NOSTALGIC
EARTH X BACK ON TRACK
Joe Krueger reports that, after discussion with Marvel, cancelled titles that would have fleshed out the final Paradise X arc are back on again.
At X-Fan’s message boards, Jim wrote, “This is a follow-up to the Avenging Host being cancelled. As of this moment, Both ‘A’ and ‘X’ are cancelled and we’ve been told to finish the story with #12.
“But, things are going on inside editorial, the TPBS continue to make great money, and where there was a point where any further discussion seemed to be getting nowhere, things have changed. I know Bill Jemas is reading and taking your letters seriously. It is working. He’s mentioned them to us. And ed. Mike Marts has talked about how many notes he’s getting.
“If #12 is indeed the last issue, though, it’s still going to be quite an issue. I’ll explain quite a bit more later depending on where this all goes.”
Krueger also commented about the absence of the planned epilogue “History X.”
“As far as ‘History X’ goes, probably not for a while. ‘History X’ was to be a 4 issue Limited Series that takes place during the day after tomorrow in the current Marvel Universe and sets up a direct link to the ‘future’ events of Earth X.
“It’s important to remember that these guys want to please the fans. I don’t believe this was out of spite, and may even have been done more as a result of some number cruncher at Marvel that isn’t even aware of what this series is or what it was. He just looked at ‘A’ and ‘X’ and said, let’s lose the specials, not even being aware that ‘X’ was the conclusion of the series.
“‘A’ and ‘X’ were both cancelled at the same time. I just waited to reveal ‘X’ out of a sense that we still didn’t have anything in paper and we should wait to see what happens.
“The good news is, though, that Alex had a conversation with Bill Jemas last night in which efforts were beginning to be made to try to conclude this series correctly. Bill is being moved by your letters and how important these stories are to you.”
He then continued, “By the way, things are changing on this as we speak…
“‘History X,’ which I don’t think Alex and I will do for a while, will be interesting compared to the others, and perhaps most like ‘Kingdom Come.’ What ‘History X’ will be (indeed if the title remains) is a bridge from current continuity to the X trilogy.”
Then it went official. Jim wrote, “I can’t say how this is going to work out, they be just be two regular-sized issues instead of double-sized. But your words have been heard and recognized. For all those that sent in letters, thank you. Letters of thanks should also now be sent to Jemas and Quesada.
“But, it’s a lot better than it was.
“And thanks especially to Bill Jemas.
“We’ll see how this all breaks down. Mr. Jemas just wants to make certain that we get a chance to conclude the project properly. I’m not saying ‘A’ will be called ‘A’ although it might. It just means, we’re getting the room we need.”
STREET FIGHTER AT UDON, PICTURES
Artist Matt Broome wrote on the Dreamwave message boards, “‘Lying in the Gutters’ reported incorrectly. I did that piece simply for fun last week and it’s not tied to Dreamwave or Capcom in any way. I posted it on the Optical Res boards last week and, apparently, some one sent it to the columnist saying it was an official piece. If it were an official piece, I would have taken more time on it to make sure the characters were more accurate. I can only assume, since I freelance with Dreamwave, people assumed I must have done it for them.”
The picture featured a number of Street Fighter characters, which I heard Udon won the rights to. Erik Ko confirmed that story and offered up ample art from this upcoming project.
AT LEAST SOME PAGES OF BLOODSPORT HAVE BEEN DRAWN, PICTURES
Also, this week, Rob stated “We are no longer distributing ‘Bloodsport’ first printings through Diamond, this has been made clear for several weeks.”
How you’ll get your copy, however, has not been made clear – nor how much extra it might cost.
At this point, a quote from Arcade Comics boss Jimmy Jay from a while ago now, on the old Spinner Rack forums. Call it nostalgia.
“Instead of jumping the gun, we want to have the work completed before we make any promises to the fans and retailers. Look in the upcoming previews, and please ask your retailers to order it.”
Ah, happy days.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
VERTIGO GETS THE AXE
Surely Dan Didio can’t be looking at Vertigo already?
THE DC AXE CUTS DEEP
“All that aside, I’ve heard from several people –writers, editors, artists, executives– that these were two of the biggest ‘rewriting’ editors at DC, and I was told several times that I wanted to keep my sanity, I NEVER wanted to work with them.
“I mean, Dan Raspler rewrote Grant Morrison on ‘JLA,’ for Christ’s sake.”
“As for Andy, he’s a great guy… I met him and hung out extensively with him at the San Diego Comicon last year. I never worked for him, so he never rewrote anything of mine, but I did have the strange experience of having him ask me to pitch him… and when I sent him three different proposals, one month apart on each, I never even heard so much as ‘eh… I don’t like it.’ Just dead air, which is kinda hurtful, IMO.”
JLA writer Adi Tantimedh added to that “When he was on form, Andy could be one of the best editors out there. He definitely improved and sharpened several parts of ‘JLA: Age of Wonder.’ He changed bits and pieces of dialogue, but I didn’t object to any of it, since he and I were already of one mind on the book. He did, however, cut out the word ‘socialist’ in a political argument between Luthor and a young Superman, but I’d wondered whether the word would ever be included.
“Grant Morrison once told me that on his run on JLA, it got to the point where he would fax his script to Raspler as late as possible, so that Raspler couldn’t rewrite him, as he had to rush it to the artists in order to make the print deadline.”
He gave us some pencil examples.
He added “What the solicitations don’t say is that the inker is BILL FREAKING SIENKIEWICZ”
Everyone is reading “Stormwatch,” right? Right?
“Yet another female comic book character who has rape in her past.”
And continued in conversation, “–but is a comic book like ‘Robin’ the place to discuss this subject? And if the author so chooses then why use a previous established character with a ten year history and, possibly, a long future?
“Back when I was writing ‘Robin’ we handled the subject of date rape without there actually being a rape. Ariana simple got scared by a boy’s aggressive advances and escaped what would probably have become an assault. I was under some pressure from DC to actually have Ariana raped. But I said that I didn’t want that character to always have a rape incident as a part of her continuity.”
He added, “The plot device is tired.
“Black Canary, the female Captain Marvel and Big Barda were all rape victims. There are many others.
“Barbara Gordon was victimised. I’m no persistantly outraged feminist, but I am sick of seeing stories where rape or beatings are used to ‘explore’ a character.
And when Chuck discovered about the fate of Dudley in Nightwing.
“This post nearly drove me to break the obscenity section of the Rules of the Road. I certainly did in my office.
“I created Dudley. He’s at the core of Nightwing continuity. He also has a visual unique to comics that made him a shoe-in for an unusual villain to be used in movies or TV should the opportunity arise. Kevin Spacey with his head on backwards? You got MY eight bucks.
“To kill of a character that had this much potential and history AND the participation of two creators is like hacking into my bank account and draining my kids’ scholarship fund.
“I’m PRAYING this turns out to be a trick.
“But I do have participation in the character along with Scott McDaniel.
“It’s an unwritten law among freelancers that you don’t kill characters that one another created.”
It’s IDW’s “30 Days Of Night.”
Well done lads.
A MAN CALLED STEVE
THE LAY DOWN
Now, am I going to have to show you a picture of me in a “Got Layman?” shirt to make you check them out? Well do I?
STEEL GOING ON
So, since it’s on the schedules now, let’s repeat it!
SURROUNDED BY COMICS!
Although, clearly comix-shop.co.uk is the place I go for all my new trades and stuff. Clearly.
Just want to make that clear.
NAMOR 2 DELAYED, SHOCK HORROR
At the time, it was stated this would allow for readers to buy a cheap Namor, then pick up the second issue sooner rather than later.
That was then.
“Namor” 1 has now been delayed from the 16th of April to the 23rd of April and “Namor” 2 has been delayed from the 30th of April to the 22nd of May. “Namor” 3 will now not be solicited until June shipping.
On a related note, Diamond UK tells me that it has ensured that UK retailers will indeed receive ordered copies of “Namor” 1, despite previous Diamond order forms starting that they would not.
You can buy it online from www.bugpowder.com/sentence as well in person at Gosh! Comics in London. It’s great.
WAITING FOR PART TWO
And not all of them were started by me.
It’s the most bizarre interview I’ve ever done.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org (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.