Welcome to the most popular and longest running comics column on the column on the internet. In its various forms, Lying In The Gutters has covered rumours and gossip in the comics industry for thirteen long glorious and quite scary years.

All stories are sourced from well-connected individuals and checked with respective publisher representatives before publication. Mostly. The veracity of each story is judged by me and given a spotlight - Green is the most reliable, Amber means there's likely an interest involved or the likelihood isn't set and Red means even I can't quite bring myself to believe it.

Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced.


[Green Light]Every now and then, when retailers ask why Marvel can't give them more details about products than they give the readers, Marvel point out that any confidential information gets leaked instantly.

Like these visuals for zombie variant covers, shown confidentially at Baltimore.

"Howard The Duck" #1 by Juan Bobillo

"Ms. Marvel" #20 by Aaron Lopresti

"Amazing Spider-Girl" #13 by Arthur Suydam and "Punisher War Journal" #12 by Ariel Olivetti

And the Punisher one on its own from elsewhere

There are also zombie covers for "Runaways" #28, "She-Hulk" Vol. 2 #23, "Ultimate X-Men" #87 and "Wolverine" #58... anyone got snaps of those?

Also, this looks a fun Cheung Hulk cover for some unnamed project

UPDATE: It turns out that, while presented at Baltimore to the industry attendees, there was no indication that these were in any way confidential images. Apologies. Still, ain't they pretty?


[Yellow Light]First the good news.

Just what we all wanted. Garth Ennis M&Ms.

And now the bad.

I hear Garth Ennis is leaving "The Punisher."

I understand after seven years, he feels he's said all he has to say with the character, and he's moving on to other work, including new Marvel projects.

He leaves behind him a quite extraordinary run on the book taking the character through both slapstick black comedy and a serious and compelling study at violence in the criminal world and how it spills over, Garth Ennis has imbued his characters with humanity, emotion, desires and quite a lot of bullets.

From his original 12 issue black comedic run in 2000 with Steve Dillon for Marvel Knights, a second run that began with even more madcap stories, but then matured into stronger more adult themes for three years before the book went into all out MAX territory where it has remained, with a number of miniseries and one shots such as Born, Barracuda, The End, The Cell and The Tyger.

One of the most remarkable reinterprentive runs at Marvel, up there with Grant Morrison's "New X-Men", Brian Bendis' "Ultimate Spider-Man," Frank Miller's "Daredevil," Peter David's "Hulk," Byrne and Claremont's" Uncanny X-Men," Byrne's "Fantastic Four", Garth Ennis' "Punisher" has redefined the character, refreshed it, taken the extraordinary and made it the norm.

Just remember, before Garth came back to the title, Frank Castle was an avenging angel with wings and drawn by Pat Lee. Now he's the most fascinating character being published by Marvel.

It will be a tough act to follow. Luckily Mike Benson, writer of one of my face US TV shows, "Entourage" and the "Punisher MAX Annual" is one name being lined up to take over the book.


[Yellow Light]Dave Rothe was a letterer on the comic book "Ant," created by Mario Gully and published through Arcana and Image. Mario is currently penciller of "Treasure Island" for Marvel.

After working on "Ant" for a number of issues, Dave says he left over delayed payments (he was finally paid), though Mario states he was fired.

Recently, he received a number of emails from Mario and his creative partner Jeff Kaufman concerning certain layered colour files they believed Dave might still have, after they lost them in a computer crash.

Dave told me that if he still had them, they would have been compressed for his use, and not "layered". Unsure if he still had them, he asked, he asked "what's it worth?"

Slightly mercenary there, Dave, definitely on the dickish side, but a suitable response might have been "love, kisses and the gratitude of a publisher." Instead of threatening to put Dave on the street whether he had the files or not, and to destroy his reputation in the industry.

Which might have been stretching Mario's arm somewhat.

After pointing this out to Mario, he told me "I did threaten him. You would threaten a gu,y too, if you were good to someone and in the end he gave my buddy an altitude. I treated everybody that worked on 'Ant' good. Do you know how many guys that work on Indy books are owed money or never got paid at all? You probably know better than I do! That money would probably balance the national budget. I tried to get money for people even when Image was paying late and many times I didn't even get a check from them at all.

"I do have a lot of weight in this biz. That's my opinion. Am I Joe Q or somebody? No. Are many or my buddies top talent and top editors in this biz? Yes. I already had various Indy publishers contact me regarding Dave's work. I told them he was an ok guy. I guess that makes me a double idiot.

"But thanks Rich, I'm glad you got my side of the story."

My pleasure, Mario.


[Green Light]They could probably do with a more alert editor over at "Nightwing." Check the third panel from #135:

Working in advertising, you get a key sense of language and how it can be interpreted. Take the "World War Hulk: Frontline" comic shipping this week.

If you squint a little it looks like this

Still works, either way.

Oh, and there's a bit of Nike logo-ing inside Frontline on Crab Man's shirt. That's not a superhero or villain, that's the character from "My Name Is Earl" popping up for some unknown reason alongside Earl. Wearing Nike.

Also looking at the very end of "World War Hulk: Gamma Corps," would they really let a spinoff title carry that sort of plot twist?

Sorry, I wandered.


[Green Light]From Travis Charest's new four page story with CB Cebulski in the summary-comic "Ultimates Saga" coming in November…

Chin chin!


[Green Light]You know how occasionally you read something in the comics internet and suddenly realise that it's going to be quoted and quoted and quoted? Latino hookers, broken vaginas, broken internets…

Well, here's another one. From the Missed Connections section of Craigs List. Verbatim. Bloody hell.

Midtown Comics boy, you're hot. - w4m - 23 (Midtown West)

Date: 2007-09-12, 1:03PM EDT

You- gorgeous comic shop cashier, maybe 20ish years old, black t-shirt, asked blonde/red-head boy in white polo to "hold down the fort," lip ring (but then, you all had lip rings, didn't you?)Me - 23, brunette, red tank top, black skirt-only girl in comic shop, Monday, sept. 10, afternoon

I waited in line to ask you about a special comic order. I am ashamed to admit that I stared heartily at your beautiful dark eyes while I stood there. I fantasized about nibbling that hot lip ring on the right side of your lip and grabbing your crotch. I didn't get a look at your crotch. Damn. On most guys, lip rings don't work but there is something about you that makes it the hottest thing in the world. Cute comic shop boy, I want to make out with you. I want to feel your lip ring all over my body. I came in with a guy, but I was not dating him. He is my trainee at work. I am not interested in him at all.

Cute comic shop boy, I fantasized about throwing you into a supply closet and tearing off your pants and raping you until you couldn't walk. I guess that's somewhat unlady-like and rather slutty. If you remember, though, I did not tear off your pants or even rape you while we exchanged sexually charged comic banter. I wanted to. I wanted to take off those loose fit jeans and go. To. Town. I am sorry I led you on when you showed me some comic recommendations. I'll probably buy another one next week so I can see you. But I don't think I'm that into comics. I want to be, for you. But my heart isn't into it. My heart is into your body. I hope you wanted it. I hope you wanted me to give it to you. But I can't. Because I have a boyfriend. We've been together for three years. I know it doesn't matter to most hot guys but it matters to me. So even though I wanted to rape you crooked, sideways and covered in chocolate sauce, it can't ever happen. I'm sorry. I am hoping this is a letdown for you. I am hoping you wanted me covered in chocolate sauce as well. I suppose there is always the chance that you didn't want to rape me, too. You told me your name and where you live, though, so I think the wanna-rape-ratio had to be pretty even. So I'm sorry. But look on the bright side. There's something you don't know. It's terrible. While I am, to the general population, pretty cute (and have a top notch rack), I harbor an insidious secret.

Cute comic shop boy, I'm a nerd. I play World of Warcraft and like to read gaming webcomics. I sit around in my pajamas and lead midlevel instances over Ventrilo. I'm dying for my epic flying mount. I like to go to Staples and purchase office supplies and organize my desk. There is a of picture me in a World of Warcraft shirt at jinx.com, with a fork in my hair. I love Age of Mythology, even though it's about a hundred in gaming years. I have a Playstation 2 and Xinaghua pwns my face. I say pwns, even in real life. I wish I could sew so that I could wear her sexy bellyshirt outfit and parade around town, hooking up with other nerds who like hot chicks in skimpy gaming outfits. I go to I-CON at Stonybrook every year so I can watch Voltaire sing about Star Trek, and so I can flirt with him because he's in my 'five.' I love Stargate SG-1 and Richard Dean Anderson. Claudia Black is a goddess.

Cute comic shop boy, I hope one day I hope I let my inhibitions and your pants down and our rape to rape ratio with each other becomes 1:1. Maybe another girl can even get in on it. In the meantime, I'm going to take you (and this hot girl) to bed with me every night for the rest of the week. I've already thought about you twice. You were great. So was she.

I love your lip ring.

P.S. I'm sorry about my terrible lesbian vampires joke.


Girl who doesn't love comics that much but loves your eyes.

Anyway, a little detective work uncovers his photo...

So, ladies, would you, um, you know?


[Yellow Light]So what happened to the rumoured non-Premier reorder fee changes and the emergence of new potential comics distributors at Baltimore?

Well, there's a lot going on and a lot of dots to join. Some may even make a pattern, who's to say?

I hear the current rival distributor plans are at least a year away, and depend on certain publishers' exclusive deals with Diamond coming to an end.

Not DC though, their relationship is assured. Even among the Premier publishers, DC has a kind of Premier-Premier status, with more Previews covers, reportedly a better brokerage deal and the right to buy Diamond under certain circumstances - though DC has no wish to, it stops any other publishers jumping in. And indeed, why bother?

Bob Wayne and Diamond's VP Purchasing Bill Schanes were seen watching the Baltimore Marvel industry presentation together like the long-standing fanboy friends they are, Bob taking notes, Bill suggesting which of Marvel's launches to work around, and which to go head on with. One overheard snippet between the two was that the "Sinestro Corps" should have been handled like "World War Hulk."

Cut to Diamond telling retailers that stopping the re-order penalties for smaller publishers would cost Diamond much needed revenue. Certainly right now more and more publishers continue to creep into the lower discounts bands being offered to retailers, while Diamond's profit margin on those books continues to increase. It wasn't that long ago that publishers could expect retailers to order at 55-57% off cover price from Diamond, now some have to accept retailers ordering at 35% off cover, which severally restricts sales with no change to the 60% off cover price Diamond pay the publisher for the product, in an industry that is supposedly growing year on year. There could be plenty of scope for a rival to step up if they could also grab one of the current exclusive-to-Diamond Premier publishers

Cut to Steve Geppi's Museum. A pet project of Diamond President Steve Geppi, housing and displaying many classic comic books, artwork and materials to the public. It contains a good sample of Steve Geppi's own personal collection.

I understand that in August the museum had to auction three of Steve Geppi's Carl Barks paintings away for their employees to get paid and to pay off other debts owed by the museum, as well as other rare and museum-worthy comic items.

Cut to this month Steve Geppi, making a $7,000,000 donation for his name to be placed on a brass plate in the Baltimore Oriole's baseball stadium in Camden Park, a donation to which DC Comics is contributing. He's also fundraising with ex-player BJ Surjoff as guest bartenders to raise money for an autism charity.

Cut to this week DC President Paul Levitz, presenting a humanitarian award in Washington to Steve Geppi.

There are dots to join. Any conclusions however are all yours.


[Green Light]Jason Berek-Lewis, reported last week in LITG to have an outstanding debt of $250 from the Dabel Brothers from October 2005, was suddenly paid in full this week.

LITG works, folks.

Also the Screenwriting Expo Screenplay Contest has had to write to entrants stating that Dabel Bros. Pro will no longer provide the comic book production deal which has been listed as one of the prizes again this year. Entrants may withdraw from the competition and receive their entry fee back if they wish. However, they have signed a deal with Atlantis Studios to to fully produce a print-ready graphic novel from a winning script with colour artwork, lettering and promotion.

As for confidence in future Dabel productions, I understand that Chuck Dixon, who was very badly burnt by Rick Olney, is writing/scripting Dean Kootz's "Frankenstein" for the Dabels.

And the Dabels are also doing their best to get Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy to adapt before "The Golden Compass" movie hits.

Pullman loves comics you know... especially Batman.


[Green Light]BBC4 aired "Searching For Steve Ditko" last night, I reviewed it here and it's repeated on Wednesday night.

Couple of things. Firstly there's the moment after this clip where Stan Lee clarifies that he is happy for Steve Ditko to be credited as co-creator of Spider-Man but asserts that he believes himself to be the sole creator. Quite the bit of television, look for a YouTube serialisation soon, or if you have a UKNova account, the whole thing is up there now. The BBC are generally fairly laissez-faire with both services.

Secondly, my one gripe is that the reason Steve Ditko left Spider-Man is portrayed as a great mystery, and one that he won't speak about. Well not in public perhaps, but he did to friends, colleagues and people who just asked him. Mark Evanier shares that gripe, stating, "He was unhappy because he believed Marvel's then-owner was reneging on certain promises about sharing in the revenues of the characters Ditko co-created, Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. He was upset with the way his comics were then produced, feeling that he was doing most of the writing work on the comics he did with Stan Lee, but that Lee - as dialogue writer - was getting too much of the credit and money. (Marvel's two other best artists of the period, Jack Kirby and Wally Wood - both good friends of Ditko's - felt the same way.) There were also personality clashes between Lee and Ditko - they didn't speak for the last eighteen months or so of their 'collaboration' - and Ditko was displeased by many of the creative choices Stan was making, treating Spider-Man as a morally-confused, troubled protagonist. Ditko, as was obvious from his subsequent work, didn't like heroes who didn't rigidly adhere to his own interpretation of good and evil, black and white. But Stan, of course, was the editor and had the last word.

"Ditko told me all that in his studio in 1970, not long after he quit. He's said it to others and I also think it's pretty easy to perceive in his other comics and in the occasional essays he's written for the fan press. He may write things like 'My reasons are my own and I've never divulged them to anyone' but we don't have to believe that…"

First hand source there. Any chance of a sequel documentary that mentions Speedball as well? No? Damn.


[Green Light]Paul Cornell removed "Crosby" from his favorite music

Paul Cornell added "Crosby Stills and Nash" to his favorite music


[Green Light]No sooner do I run the article about low "The Flying Friar" orders than a retailer tells me he's upped his order by 50 copies - only for Diamond to say he's only getting nine because they've sold out. Despite the book not being published till Mid-October. I understand Diamond will be increasing their order shortly. Good. I got a lovely email from someone there after seeing previews of the coloured book telling me they thought this was potentially the most underordered book of the year.

See? Diamond are lovely again.

Here, have some previews of Thomas Nachlik's art, coloured by Ian Sharman and re-lettered by Thomas Mauer.

If you want a copy, tell your retailer instantly. The order code is AUG073845

Okay, plug over, you can all come back now.


[Green Light]"X-23" art by Mike Choi.

Internal images released by Marvel and labelled as concept art for "X-Force" by Clayton Crain.


[Green Light]Byrne Vs Kirby, Byrne Vs Moore… And the John Byrne Diet.

Flash Conspiracy.

Written by John Wagner and Alan Grant and drawn by Jose Ortiz, "The 13th Floor" was one of the favourites in the classic, short lived horror British comic from the eighties, "Scream," and continued on in "The Eagle."

A new independent collection collects the full story from the first 11 issues of "Scream" with an introduction by John Wagner, and an article by Ed ("Judge Dredd Magazine") Berridge on the short lived "Scream." The print run is limited to 700 copies and costst £4.5/€6.75/$10. Contact publisher David McDonald here.

Alex Milne talks about the money and credit he's owed by Pat Lee here

Civil Wardrobe," free on Wowio.

Apparently "Readers of this book also downloaded XXXena: Warrior Pornstar 01."

For all you new American viewers of "Jekyll," enjoy the Moffatverse and for British Politics Watchers, new Guido Fawkes cartoons at RichAndMark.com


Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

My social networking is pretty much all Facebook these days, but I'm around at MySpace, ComicSpace and Twitter, too.

The remnants of my life are on eBay.

And my Wii number is 0512 2690 8446 2879


Contact me on richjohnston@gmail.com or on AOL Instant Messenger as TwistRich.

You can also write to me at 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU ENGLAND

Or call me/text me on 0780 1350982 from the UK or 01144780 1350982 from the US.

SDCC LIVE: Netflix's The Witcher Panel Reveals Exclusive Scoop

More in CBR Exclusives