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 twelve 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]Last week, I heard that Pete Tomasi, Senior Bat editor, has resigned from DC Comics. And that he is now a newly exclusive DC writer.

Tomasi tells me, "I recently sold a screenplay and I've decided there isn't enough hours in the day anymore to raise a family, go to my day job, write screenplays and also write comics, like 'Light Brigade' and other assorted projects that DC has allowed me to do.

"I have a good agent at CAA and it basically boiled down to finally saying I needed to put my writing hat on full time and not let all the opportunities that are presenting themselves due to my recent script sale slip away because of time constraints.

"Now, thanks to Dan and Paul's gracious offer, I get to do the two things I love the most, write movies and comics while sitting home in my PJs."

I can picture it now…


[Yellow Light]LITG has been covering what some have called the insider trading scandal of comics - the mass purchase and eBay flipping of "Captain America" #25 by WizardUniverse.com, based on information made available to Wizard Magazine that was withheld from rival retailers.

Last week I spoke to Wizard Entertainment's Director of Corporate Communications, Drew Seldin on the phone. Drew wanted to make it clear that Wizard was one company and didn't have any walls within its organisation regarding sensitive information - that all departments "rely on each other and work together as one unit." So, yes, the online store orders were based on information received by the magazine and this was "never a back room deal, the information was definitely talked about. We knew there would be demand for the books that retailers wouldn't be able to match, we wanted to make the books available."

I pointed out that this sounded like insider trading, working with information unavailable to the rest of the market, it wasn't as if Wizard were just selling the books for cover price and, on eBay, there were no shortage of $50 book eBay sellers.

Drew took the point, told me that the reaction was an unexpected one for Wizard. "Although we're in business to put out a great product to make money, we're not out to upset anybody" Drew told me. "We've been listening to the reaction of fans and retailers." This was the reason behind Wizard's decision to end all its Captain America eBay auctions early. So what happens next time, if say, the Hulk dies? Drew was guarded as to actual details but told me, "We want to work closely with Marvel, with any publishers, as the whole company, we want to work for the good of the industry."

Of course, one other fly in the ointment is the Newsarama interview with Ethan Sacks, the NY Daily News journalist who broke the Cap 25 story, where he says "I had done the interviews with Quesada, Simon, Brubaker and a comic book store owner over the previous two weeks."

From the NY Daily News article, "I was shocked. I was not expecting it," said Gerry Gladston, co-owner of Midtown Comics in Manhattan. "I'd rather they didn't kill him - but it's going to mean great sales."

Giving Midtown plenty of time to up their orders?

Midtown represenatives tell me, "Midtown Comics was notified by the Daily News briefly before the story broke, but well after the order cutoff date. We had already 'gambled' and ordered heavily thanks to David Gabriel's hints in the Marvel Mailer (#36 to be exact) that Cap 25 would be a very important issue. We actually ordered less then what we did on Civil War #1. After the interview with Ethan, we were satisfied with out initial order.

"Midtown Comics sold out of the book in a little over a day, even with a 1 copy per customer restriction. We sold out of the reorder received the following week in two days. But every copy was sold at cover price.

"This book has been great for us and great for the industry, even though clearly no one had enough. We look forward to continued strong sales on all the follow up books."

That autopsy issue can't come soon enough!


[Green Light]HERO, the charity that acts on behalf of comic book creators in financial need formerly known as ACTOR, is about to negotiate a group healthcare plan for freelance comics creators.

As a Brit, it's not the kind of thing I've had to worry about, but Americans, without a state healthcare system, have to either get coverage from their employment, reduced due to company schemes, or take a personal plan which can be very expensive indeed.

And for freelance comics creators, that's often the case, unless they can wangle an exclusive deal from a publisher. Indeed, healthcare costs are often the reason why creators sign such deals.

With Jim McLauchlin now a full time executive of HERO, the charity seems to be upping its involvement in the industry, and is taking their first steps towards industry wide healthcare for freelancers. HERO will attempt to qualify for guild status, and membership will be a nominal fee. If successful, this could make a major change in the lifestyle and security of many comics freelancers.

HERO is also about to start shipping the Marvel Then and Now DVD which everyone should have on their DVD shelf.


[Green Light]The creative team on the upcoming "Great Ten" series spinning out of "52" is the fresh faced indie comics writer Tien Pham, and familiar workhorse Ron Lim.

DC are pleased that they have a creative team with asian heritage working on the Chinese super group title. However, with Tien having a Vietnamese background, there has been some disquiet - "getting a Frenchman to write Captain Britain" was how one wag put it to me.


[Yellow Light]New, Mighty, Classic, Initiative - four Avengers ongoing titles, is that enough? I understand there was going to be another, that would star both New and Mighty Avengers, going up against increasing levels of threats, The first arc would have had them taking on the dead Goliath, whose corpse had been possessed.

Sadly, the series was forgotten when writer Sean McKeever was signed up to DC exclusiveness. I do hope that particular plot can be recycled though!


[Green Light]People who use Diamond's Comic Shop Locator Service are about to receive a 10% off voucher for Spider-Man comics among participating retailers, to coincide with the new movie.


[Green Light]Tom Brevoort on his bloghas shown art for a new, unannounced "Howard The Duck" project...

That's one tired duck...


[Red Light]Another fake John Byrne identity - john_l_byrne@yahoo.ca - in this email sent to me:

"Hello M. Johnston,

"I still refuse to do an interview with you on your column about my comic book work - but if you wish we can discuss my political and social views (specificaly what i beleive is a zionist conspiracy at Marvel and DC to keep me from getting work), and the overabundance of jews in the media.

"John L. Byrne"

Or rather, not. Please.


My brother's band The Austin Francis Connection needs your votes

Film Ick fingers Ricky Gervais for Harry Knowles' movie.

Websites for Andy Park, Bagwell.


My eBay sales are reaching a peak right now, discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

Visit my MySpace or my ComicSpace as I discuss next week's column. Maybe.

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.

The Walking Dead Reveals the Identity of the Whisperer Spy

More in CBR Exclusives