Welcome to the most popular and longest running comics 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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "These are points of detail, of interest only to the sort of nitpicker who knows the difference between a cat and a sasquatch." - Paul O'Brien, in another beautifully eviscerating X-Axis review, this time for "Wolverine" #55.


[Green Light]While you've all been sunning yourself in San Diego, I've been stuck in rainy, floody London. Thankfully "San Diego Dreaming" kept us SDCC rejects in the loop of the most important part of convention life, the bar gossip, snark and general bitchiness. And now the sun's come up, lovely.

Oh and I also wrote and sang the new Barack Obama TV spot. I know, I know, don't quit my day job. That's why I'm eBay selling to boot.

Now, the column the Monday after a major convention is generally light - all the good sources of gossip are still traveling, hungover or plain jetlagged. Anything really juicy usually has a week to make it to these shores.

So, make do with what you've got. Look, it's free, you want to complain, I'll set my copulating army of furries on you.

Also: Markosia are publishing the expanded "The Flying Friar" in colour later this year. The order code is AUG07 3845. If you didn't get a copy before, get this one now. Tell your retailer. It's the only way.


[Green Light]"Ant-Man's" Phil Hester and Ande Parks are working on a new DC project with writer B Clay Moore.


[Yellow Light]As part of the big Ultimate Universe revamp, I hear "Ultimate X-Men" is for the chop. And Ed McGuinness' one drawn issue of "Ultimates 4" may not even see publication...


[Green Light]Power Girl is to star in her own series, spinning out of "Countdown To Final Crisis."

Oh and yes, we got Kurt Busiek wrong. But we got "Final Crisis" right. Preserving the 50% accuracy that LITG has been so famous for.


[Green Light]When writing about his new ugly girlfriend "Astonishing X-Men Second Stage," Warren used one word that made my ears prick up. "Warpies." Created for the Captain Britain series back in the day, warpies were vestigial remnants of the Jaspers' Warp storyline, where reality fell apart. Ostensibly similar to mutants, warpies weren't analogies for adolescence, prejudice or powerlessness. Warpies were the analogy for the stillborn, the disabled, the deformed, the fear of every parent that there is something wrong with their unborn child. And so these creatures were born as superpowered monsters.

Basically they are a lot better than mutants.

Alan Davis put the warpies back in their box at the end of his spectacular run on "Excalibur" (a forerunning in terms of long term plot and structure within superhero comics that Morrison would copy in New X-Men). And now Warren Ellis is taking them out again. Good. Time to play.


[Green Light]Jenna Jameson's new comic for Virgin Comics isn't the first time she's appeared in comics. Indeed, old friend of the column Antony Johnston wrote her first comic for Avatar, "Spellbound" - watch out that's rather NSFW.


[Green Light]Why was Billy Tucci making such a big deal about not revealing his new project for DC - when at the Paradise Toronto Comicon in June, he was happy to show people his Sgt Rock script.


[Green Light]Anne Elizabeth Moore is no longer series editor of the "Best American Comics" hardcover compilation series from Houghton-Mifflin, which have seen work from Harvey Pekar, Chris Ware, Robert Crumb, Jamie Hernandez, Alison Bechdel, Joe Sacco, and Lynda Barry prominently featured.

I understand that cartoonists Jessica Abel and Matt Madden have taken over the position.


[Yellow Light]No mention of a Batwoman series…. again. DC aren't so much getting cold toes as frostbite. It happened before, is it happening again?

Still, prospective artist JH Williams III has been talking about a creator-owned series with Morrison. Which should keep him busy.


[Green Light]The blogosphere has been buzzing over the second shoe dropping over the Michael Golden commissioned artwork LITG story from a couple of months back. To summarize, a number of people commissioned Golden to create some original art for them, a common practice in the industry. His representative and famed Marvel Bullpenner of old, Renee Witterstaetter, made a number of time commitments which were repeatedly broken, yet refunds were refused.

One individual, Gerry Turnball, was quite outspoken on the matter, received the following last week:

That's Dr Strange blowing a raspberry to Gerry, rather that the requested $537 commission of Strange in dramatic pose, conjuring. Oh, and missing the t out of "virtue."

Gerry says he called Renee to complain during San Diego weekend, but Renee told him she didn't see the piece. Gerry told Renee that she'd signed the customs form on the package, but Renee denies that.

At which point the story started to spread as Gerry sought the opinions of others. John Byrne, a man whose current comics work consists solely of commissioned works decided to offer a replacement piece for free - eventually turning it into an extension on a piece Gerry had already commissioned from Byrne - as compensation, a move welcomed and cheered from all quarters. Intriguingly John Byrne left She-Hulk, ostensibly because he had differences with the book's editor, Bobbie Chase, only returning when Renee Witterstaetter took over the title.

Collector Michael Finn also received his piece, writing "I received my piece today. A Micronauts One Minute Later. Guess what, Baron Karza has his back to the team and is instead looking at the viewer saying "Patience is a virtue, Mr. Finn." $765 to get Baron Karza lecturing me.

"That is all I am going to say for the next few days. I will take the high road and hope that Renee offers up a solution. If one isn't forthcoming, I will take additional steps."

I emailed Renee, fresh back from San Diego who told me, "As you know, I take orders for commissions for Michael Golden and give the money and the orders to Golden. It's up to him to decide the best way to deal with those orders. He does them, and sends them out himself - very hands on.

"Usually I handle updates and keep in touch with folks, to free him up by relaying information.

"Recently, a group of four 'friends' that I had given a discount rate to as a favor for a past order, began four months ago to harass Michael and try to get him to put their commissions before other peoples commissions, which he didn't want to do, and certainly balked at it. But in order to get them to stop the harassing, he did his best to comply. However, I'm sure other fans on Michael's commission list aren't thrilled to hear that someone even wanted him to do that?

"When they pressured him to make this never before committed to deadline, and get the pieces out before San Diego, he did as said, but I guess they didn't like his sense of humor. The drawing on the pieces was sound, however. (And as you realize, these are the same four people that started the other nonsense.)

"At any rate, it's up to Michael how he would like to deal with these things. I was perfectly willing to get these four in touch with him directly before this Internet barrage...

"Nor, do I feel it was fair for these people to pressure him to put their pieces before others to begin with, as I said. It would be one thing if they had requested a due date when placing the order, but they did not. I have given them updates, but these were ballpark dates, and an artist does things in their own time. They are not xerox machines. Also, if these people need the pieces by a certain date, that should have been specified when ordering, and we would have turned down the commission. It's not fair to impose an arbitrary due date after the fact. No artist or creative person would like or accept that, I don't think.

"And I know these same four people have waited much longer on commissions from other artists. I know because several of those artists came up and told Michael so at San Diego. Not to mention the liaison for the four that I spoke with at SD admitted the same. So....

"One of the said people even called me in the middle of the San Diego comic con, as well, screaming at me in the middle of my work day. I asked him to let me talk with him after the show. Which apparently wasn't good enough for him. At that point this person also called me a liar, saying that I must have known Michael put this joke in the e-mails, which I didn't. Anyway, not really relevant.

"Michael handles his own commissions, and sends out his own commissions, as said.

"Anyway, what a bunch of nonsense. Michael will deal with it however he likes, and until then, he will continue to address his sketch list in order, and won't be pressured by anyone else again to put theirs first in the future. It's not fair to everyone else."

Renee made similar comments on this Comics Journal Message Board thread, with Gerry countering Renee's examples, denying he commissioned as part of a group, or that he received discount, as well as printing private email showing different delivery dates.

As for schedules, commissioned pieces always have to fit in and around an artist's other commitments, and there are tales of people waiting on Bill Sienkiewicz commissions for over six years. But if expectations are consistently raised and dashed, the customer has to chase for explanation and the final work designed is as an insult to the customer then maybe, just maybe, it's time to make a refund.

UPDATE: Michael Golden has responded here.


[Green Light]All those Brits waiting on Andi Watson's "Clubbing" from Minx, it apparently got lost in the shipping. But it should be with us this week.


[Green Light]Doktor Sleepless

Doktor Threadless.

I like the t-shirt so much, I bought the comic!


[Green Light]How to Commit Suicide on the internet.

Hey everyone, I'm a verb now.

Have we found Pat Lee?

Motorhead's famed roadie and cartoonist, Paul Hawden, died in his sleep on Sunday. He was a gent and a scholar. I will miss his sage advice, generous support and bohemian exhortations.


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

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