LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 86
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.
DC COMICS, 9:30AM ON A THURSDAY
On Thursday, Paul Levitz gave his State Of The Union speech to DC employees, at 9.30 in the morning. Which meant one of my DC sources had to get in extra early - so they were glad they were at the back.
Levitz gave acclaim to department heads and stated that 2006 has been DC's best year in publishing, even better than the "Death Of Superman" year at the height of the market's boom, and that growth is sustainable - indeed Levitz said the same last year. All aspects of the business have had a good year, and apparently DC is one of the few Time Warner companies that is hiring.
Levitz intends to publicize and market the regular monthly comic books better through the internet. He stated that because comic books go to press as soon as they're finished, it's hard to provide story and artwork weeks or months in advance when you don't have any.
Levitz sees the comic book audience as changing, citing that DC had reached the "Tipping Point," citing the Malcolm Gladwell book of the same name. He states that people who have read "Watchmen," "Dark Knight Returns" and the like as children or teenagers are now creators, writers, filmmakers - opinion-makers even, thereby making the medium more acceptable.
He also asked that employees not leak information.
THIS IS 2007, DO YOU KNOW WHAT STATE YOUR COMICS ARE IN?
A number of retailers have been complaining that last week's Marvel shipment had a severe problem. These "eMusic" inserts, made or card, running through the book. A way to get people to sample download music, with Marvel.
Problem is, well a few problems actually. Number one is that in any of the books that didn't also ship with a card cover, there have been mass damages. Comics getting bent, crinkled, wrinkled and torn around these card inserts. And stacks slipping off the shelf.
When retailers have called damages into Diamond, they've been told that they can't get replacements or refunds on card-damaged items, as the same problem affects all the stock and Marvel aren't planning to provide any more undamaged copies
To add oil to the water, Marvel also shipped a whole bunch of eMusic cards separately to each retailer, so retailers could give the free downloads away to customers without them having to buy a Marvel comic. However, those cards have a slightly different internet address to visit, presumably so Marvel can test which approach is the most effective.
Oh and the increased weight has led to severely increased freight charges, which aren't being refunded.
The ironic thing is, there's no specific reason for the eMusic offer in the comics to be on cards, all it gives is a web address. An ad space would have given the same delivery, if perhaps not the impact.
Some retailers, if only so they can stack the comics well on the shelves, have been ripping the emusic cards out of the comics....
In related news, just how many retailers mistook ordering issue numbers on the "3 Geeks" comic shipping this month, each with a piece of beef jerky cover mounted, for case numbers of the comic by mistake? Quite a few, it seems. And stacking 20 of those on a shelf make DC's "Eclipso"-diamond-cover-mount pale in comparison. Especially when you only thought you ordered one or two... Ah well, if you have to eat your sales on this comic, at least you can do it literally. Unless you didn't order any, like some retailers, because you're vegetarian.
CHUCKED DIXON -- Updated 10:35 PM PST
Chuck Dixon has been calling for hard questions on Newsarama over his upcoming "Grifter/Midnighter" series for Wildstorm - for which I was able to find the original quotes that kicked off that particular furore, thanks to having printed them in Lying In The Gutters years ago.
However, it was the spinoff thread on Chuck Dixon's messageboard at Dixonverse that proved to be truly newsworthy.
When one aggressive poster David O'Neill stated, "Thank God there are people at Marvel who don't want you working for them ever again," Chuck replied, "If your God is one of intolerance and dishonesty and intellectual laziness then you can indeed thank him. Closer to home, you can simply thank Axel Alonso." He later clarified, "And were Axel to become the king of the world it would not affect my standing at Marvel one iota. I'm blacklisted," and further as to the reason, "It's the same reason that you have for wanting me blacklisted. I am apparently an intolerant, hate-filled bigot. And it is as petty as me being critical of Marvel's output. Of course, Mr. Alonso has never bothered to ask me my opinions personally. And the rest of the editors at Marvel are too spineless to go against him."
Joe Quesada has stated a number of times that no one is blacklisted at Marvel, although Marv Wolfman has previously been mentioned as an example. However, Joe did tell me today that Chuck Dixon is absolutely not blacklisted at Marvel.
ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A NIPPLE?
The cover to the upcoming Mike Carey/John Bolton graphic novel "God Save The Queen" from Vertigo has been making mini-waves in a Janet Jackson Style-ee..
Now, I think that's a shadow. But other see a nipple. Or see that others might see it as a nipple. Which could have all sorts of implications.
So what do you think - Teat Or No Teat?
Diamond Comics Distribution is not a great one for apologies. Their classic catch all catchphrase is the simple, "Diamond regrets the error."
Regarding the delay on "Civil War" #6 however, Diamond went to their thesaurus for the following:
***** FOLLOW-UP: DIAMOND LOS ANGELES SHIPPING DELAY
On Tuesday, January 2, you received an email from Diamond advising you of a weather-related delay that resulted in our inability to deliver several of the titles you were scheduled to receive this week, among them Marvel Comics' CIVIL WAR #6.
We understand that CIVIL WAR #6 is of particular importance to your sales, and we apologize for any disruption this delay has caused your business. We would like to clarify the reasons for that delay, explain how Diamond responded to it, and indicate some lessons we've learned as a result of this situation.
The affected titles were transported on a single truck that was stuck in Texas due to snow and ice. In fact, the books did not arrive at the Los Angeles Distribution Center until yesterday. There was simply no way to safely transport these books to Los Angeles in time for their regular delivery to retailers, and our Memphis Distribution Center did not have a sufficient quantity of extra copies of CIVIL WAR #6 or the other titles on hand to ship to our Los Angeles customers.
Reviewing the circumstances and options that were available to us at the time, we see now that there may have been better ways to address the situation.
For example, we could have tried to communicate the delay to you sooner, even though it occurred over the New Year's holiday weekend when our offices were closed. Also, instead of waiting until Tuesday to freeze extras of CIVIL WAR #6 in Memphis, we should have frozen all of our extras immediately and not allowed any direct ship reorders until Los Angeles initial orders for those titles were filled.
Some retailers have asked us why Diamond hasn't sent a separate shipment of these titles to Los Angeles customers. Logistically, this would have been very difficult for our Distribution Center staff to accomplish, as it was already squeezing seven days of work into six days because of the holidays. Plus, the cost of freight for this separate shipment would have been exorbitant given that many customers would have had to ship second day air to receive books by the weekend.
In the end, we decided against this.
Thus, while the weather factors are beyond Diamond's control, you have our assurance that, in the event of similar circumstances - particularly when a high-profile title like CIVIL WAR #6 is involved - we will apply the lessons learned from this incident to better serve your business.
Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact your Customer Service Representative.
DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS
All well and good. And this week, titles not reaching the West Coast include "Wonderman," "White Tiger," "Phonogram," "Magician's Apprentice" and "Nightly News."
The Rick Olney situation continues to go into meltdown on Gail Simone's CBR board. For brevity, Mark Waid has offered to pay for anyone owed money by Olney or TightLip to file a suit, if they can't afford the legal fees. Kurt Busiek has provided a business plan for creators to use the work they provided for Rick. Gail Simone has started posting emails from Rick that promised payment that never arrived. And a number of other industry names have turned up to make disapproving comments in Rick's direction who has, to every point, batted them back, even stating that he's now spending more on legal instead of paying back the owed creators. Tim Tobolski has posted one of the infamous NDAs and has drawn the conclusion that there's nothing there to prevent unpaid creators from talking about it. Other named creators who appear to be owed money include Mike Bullock, Flint Henry, Dave Lanphear and Sergio Cariello. But there seem to be a fair few more unnamed. And now Ronee Bourgeois has expanded on her resignation in her new Mike Netzer-hosted column.
This really is the story that keeps on giving.
COVER STORY -- Updated 10:45 PM PST
Earlier last year LITG reported on some conflict between Rob Liefeld and DC Comics over the selling of Variant "Teen Titans" issues (basically, the same issue with a new printed cover by Liefeld folded over the top). Although the flats of variant covers were given away by Liefeld at conventions as a promotional tool, Jimmy Jay sold the combined item from his JayCompany website and booth for around $15 each.
Well, now it's Marvel's turn. At WizardWorld Chicago last year, Rob Liefeld was giving away flats of variant covers to his old Heroes Reborn Captain America #1, retitled "Onslaught Reborn Preview" at Marvel convention booths. A cheeky fun way of reclaiming the '90s bestseller. But again, JayCompany have been selling an "Onslaught Reborn Preview" on their website for $25, quite a markup, using backstock of the "Captain America" issues with the new cover attached.
On the boards, Liefeld and Jimmy have always referred to the items as free, giveaway, flats. And indeed, that's what has been given away. But despite denials, they have also been sold by Jimmy Jay, folded around the comic in question, for a large markup.
Marvel, like DC, licenses the rights to create variant, sketch and signed editions of titles to other companies such as Dynamic Forces. This kind of activity can interfere with that.
Rob was signing and sketching at the Jay Company booth at Wizard World Chicago with copies of the stitched together comics clearly on sale.
And the "Onslaught Reborn Preview" variant of "Captain America" #1 was available for order at JayCompany's website before the convention started.
Which does seem to indicate some level of collusion. But Rob isn't having any of it. He tells me, "The flat, unfolded, makeshift covers were printed to the tune of 250 copies given away free from me in August at Wizard World Chicago. The purpose was for promotion of 'Onslaught Reborn.' If fans and retailers choose to sell them after receiving them free, that is beyond my direct control. I can only give them away.
"I congratulate the JayCompany for being opportunistic and upon hearing of the prints, immediately capitalizing on them.
"This must be why they are so successful at retail."
UPDATE: The Onslaught Preview item has been removed from JayCompany's website.
"We've totally dominated the charts for this series, rewritten the rules for tie-ins (the usual 15% bump being more like 200% in most cases) and hopefully delivered something that redefines the Marvel U for a long time. As Dave Gabriel in marketing says, we've INCREASED in numbers and issue seven looks like being another corker based on the numbers in so far."
Paul O'Brien/Milton Griepp sales estimates (while not totally accurate and ignore non-USA sales and news stand, but do include reorders, they are at least comparable month-to-month) tell a different story.
CIVIL WAR #1 357,601
CIVIL WAR #2 339,527
CIVIL WAR #3 330,304
CIVIL WAR #4 280,508
CIVIL WAR #5 272,603
As for the "Civil War" sales bump - nothing reaches 200%. Here are the highest issue percentage bumps per title (which also include reorders):
New Avengers #21 23.4%
Amazing Spider-Man #532 23.8%
Wolverine #42 58.1%
Captain America #22 77.1%
Iron Man 13 111/7%
X-Factor 8 71.8%
Black Panther 16 148.7%
Ms Marvel #6 75.8%
Cable And Deadpool #30 133.9%
Thunderbolts #103 156.2%
She Hulk #8 118.6%
Marvel Spotlight #6 131.7%
Fantastic Four #536 84.8%
Now, still outstanding jumps in sales, and "Civil War" has made a lot of people very happy, sold a lot more comics and made a lot more money for all sorts of people. An incredible feat - just one that shouldn't need as much exaggeration to sell it, Mark.
And Ariel Olivetti? When cut-and-pasting your backgrounds, say in panel three, page 13 of "Punisher War Journal" #2:
...remember to take the "Quake" crosshairs off first.
MY ATTEMPT FOR A GOOD OLD FASHIONED NO PRIZE
The "Civil War" continuity gaffes continue apace. Not just the usual nit picky different-versions-of-same-scenes, but the actual continuity contradicting plot points. Currently I believe it can only be explained if there's two separate timelines being shown, parallel, side by side. Universe 616 and, say... 616 1/3.
600 died at Stamford, mostly children
Sue Richard leaves the Fantastic Four quietly, slipping away after giving Reed a seeing to and a nice meal, leaving a note.
Iron Man tells Spider-Man that the Negative Zone prison is temporary.
Iron Man and Captain America have a Final Meeting.
The Black Panther has the Ebony Sword
Solo is in Prison
Spiderman escapes from Iron Man, get chased down and attacked by Jack O'Lantern until he is rescued by the Punisher and carried to the Anti-Reg HQ.
GW Bridge is pulled out of retirement to hunt down the Punisher
Captain America gets codes for the Negative Zone Prison from Ryker Island
Typeface gets sent to prison.
Captain America doesn't try to make a deal with villains before the Punisher shoots them
Cable leaves Captain America's side
Later, Sue Richards begs Namor to join Captain America's side
Scarecrow and Molten Man are working for the Government
900 died at Stamford, 60 children.
Sue Richards has a big barney, smashes the Baxter Building up and storms out. No note is referred to.
Iron Man tells Spider-Man that the Negative Zone prison is not temporary.
Iron Man and Captain America have a Totally Different, Superfluous and Contradictory Final Meeting.
The Black Knight has the Ebony Sword
Solo is in the Six Pack
Spiderman escapes from Iron Man, goes on Matt Lauer's show, making a speech about how he's changed his view on the Registration Act, and then joins the Anti-Reg group after meeting Captain America on a rooftop.
GW Bridge is in the Six Pack
Captain America gets a key for the Negative Zone Prison from Baron Zemo
Typeface gets killed.
Captain America makes a deal with villains before the Punisher shoots them
Cable stays on Captain America's side
Earlier, Namor begs Black Panther to join Captain America's side
Scarecrow and Molten Man are working for The Chameleon.
Seriously. I think they should do a cross-universe crossover thing, where moustache-twirling Iron Man from Amazing Spider-Man meets sane, reasoned Iron Man from Civil War, say...
It couldn't make things less confusing.
Thanks to: Village Idiot on the Bendis Board
BITS AND PIECES
Lying In The Gutters is an easy lay for Charlotte Hatherley's songs and videos. We drew your attention a couple of years ago to the wonderful girl's photo comic themed video for "Bastardo" directed by her partner Edgar Wright Jr, starring David Williams, Simon Pegg, Julia Davis, Lucy Davies and more (and here's a "making of."). Well, now there's a really rather fun comic/anime/geek culture video to the rather Blurish "Behave," directed by Edgar's brother Oscar Wright.
I'm confirmed as appearing at the Bristol Comics Convention in May 2007. I'm honoured to be hosting the Bryan Talbot interview, which looks at his history in comics and his new blockbuster (first revealed in LITG way back), "Alice In Sunderland" graphic novel out from Dark Horse and Jonathan Cape in February. And I will also be reviving my Live-Ing In The Gutters panel one more time…
Alan Moore's interview with "Playboy" magazine about... well, you can guess, can't you?... click the button at the bottom to turn the page.
Mam Tor's Matt Coyle makes the Telegraph with "Worry Doll."
A new video from RichAndMark.com for anyone suffering from Wii Ennuii...
Check whatever I'm selling on eBay ... I'm having a big New Year's cleanout. Lots of hardcovers, trades, DVDs...
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