No, not DC's new "Countdown" series, or whatever MArvel has planned. Buta new UK weekly anthology.

Including a new strip by "His Dark Materials" best-selling author, Philip Pullman.

Pullman has long expressed his love of comics, and seemed a natural choice to be snapped by the likes of Marvel and DC. Looks like he's found his own -- very British -- solution instead.


[Green Light]Okay, this is a bit of a spoiler, but worth it I think.

This week's "X-Factor" has an official outing of one of the lead characters, Rictor, as a bisexual man. Handled, shall we say, much better than a certain Northstar. Get your copies before the shops sell out.

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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Comics ship monthly and very few artists can draw 22 pages in a month, or 12 issues a year. That's just facts. So late-shipping books are bound to happen, no matter how well a publisher plans for trouble." - Axel Alonso.


[Green Light]So what are the Big Two giving retailers this Christmas? Well, regarding all that fuss made about the extra weight of ads, inserts and 3D glasses in recent DC titles, DC have made a shipping credit to retailers of 5 cents (2 ½ pence) for every copy of "Superman Confidential" #1, "JLA Classified" #29, "Teen Titans" #41 and "Robin" #156 they ordered.

And because of the delays to "WildCATS" in particular, DC have made all Worldstorm titles ordered so far, fully returnable. And "Batman" #659, because they had to move the Grant Morrison/Andy Kubert issues up.

While over at Marvel, they've made "Spider-Man: Reign" #1 returnable, because it shows an aged Peter Parker with a small penis, and slightly bulbous testicles (leaving retailers with a now-rare "Parker's Peter" variant).

They're giving retailers free "Marvel Initiatives Previews" along with "Civil War" #7 to preview the upcoming Marvel books spinning off from "Civil War," along with a conference call to disseminate information.

A free Marvel Dabel Brothers Sampler, to push the Dabel Brothers books and free Stephen King Dark Tower Sketchbooks, for the "Dark Tower" series. Throwing in a free "Ultimate Spider-Man" #104 white variant… more on that in a minute.

As for the issue caused by increased ad space increasing the weight of the comics, retailers will be able to check which upcoming books have increased page counts, so as to alter order numbers if necessary.

Ho ho ho.

UPDATE: The Marvel Civil War Aftermath retailers conference call has been delayed. You just couldn't make it up.


[Yellow Light]So, what's going to be coming in and out of "Civil War?"

From Tom Brevoort's blog, under "Secret Project":

Is Power Man going to get an Iron Fist?

Is Black Panther going to fight on the side of the Pro Reg Civil War after all? The variant cover to issue #23 suggests it...

Could be, according to this "Civil War" spoiler post which we all missed from back in April Especially combined with Axel's quote from Newsarama, "Black Panther and Storm are going to find a new home…and their family will grow."

And are they going to find a way to explain the continuity difference between "Black Panther" and "New Excalibur" - where Black Panther and Black Knight both possess the ebony blade, a time travelling weapon which can only exist in one place at any point of time? Look for some hideously forced explanation in the "New Excalibur" any issue now.

UPDATE: That could that be The Gauntlet from She Hulk of course... and the logo is rather familiar.

DISNEY DISTRESS - Updated 12/12/06 7:00 PM PST

[Yellow Light]Reacting to last week's story about Gemstone not paying freelancers, Kneon Transitt e-mailed with his perspective.

"I've been freelancing as a colorist for Gemstone for nearly two years now. They are an absolutely fantastic group of people to work with, and my experience has been nothing but positive.

"However, to help put an end to some speculation, I can verify that there has been difficulty securing payment for past due invoices over the last few months. This shouldn't reflect poorly on John Clark or the rest of the Gemstone crew -- they've done everything they can possibly do to try and remedy this situation, and have gone above and beyond to maintain good relations with their freelancers in the process.

"My understanding is that accounts payable is not releasing payment. There has been no explanation as to why this is happening, or even when to expect payment.

"Once again, I'm imploring readers to not think poorly of the editorial staff at Gemstone in light of this situation. They honesty have done everything they possibly can do, but it's no longer in their hands."

Marie Javins is also a Disney colourist, and she blogged something intriguing here, though Javins clarifies it's not the "bulk"…

Gemstone has stated that the cancellation of "Mickey Mouse and Friends," "Donald Duck and Friends," "Mickey Mouse Adventures" and "Donald Duck Adventures" is down to rising paper prices. However, this doesn't explain the payment delays or lack of information as to when people involved will be paid.

Gemstone representatives did not reply to email inquiries.

UPDATE: Jon Clark of Gemstone emailed the column to say "Please reassure everyone that all companies owned by Mr. Geppi are healthyand that freelancers will be paid shortly." We're glad to hear it Jon, and will follow up to that effect.


[Yellow Light]The last few weeks have seen LITG report on the claims of creators, including Chuck Dixon and Val Staples, over non payment from Rick Olney and TightLip Entertainment, with Rick fighting every comment.

Ronee Bourgeois was a controversial online reporter, whose breaking of the Taki Soma/Charles Brownstein/CBLDF story received much criticism. Sometime afterwards, she was hired as TightLip Entertainment's PR and Marketing Manager.

Today, she resigned, in an email to Rick Olney, which I have just received. She stated, "I can no longer work for a company and man on self-destruct mode. I also cannot defend a company against non-payment to creators when I have not been paid myself since starting with TightLip Entertainment over seven months ago. The amount currently owed to me well exceeds 1,000 dollars and I can no longer work off faith when I have children to feed.

"I understand this year has been rough for you personally, but from a business standpoint I can no longer be linked to TLE and as ChrisCross's agent and with his permission I am pulling him from any current or future work with your company in order to save my client from a similar fate.

"You already have my invoice totaling $800 and have decided not to charge you for the DSL connection you promised to pay for as I am ready to cut my losses and go at this point. I will also remind you that you neglected to get an NDA from me... I never signed one so any threat of lawsuit will be in vain.

"I hope that you get all of your problems worked out and everyone gets paid in a timely fashion. I look forward to my compensation for services rendered."

Earlier, Martin Oakley of Bloodstained Productions had also written to LITG, stating he's still owed money from work on his websites "a year or two ago," citing Ian Shires of DimeStore Productions as having a similar experience. And Scott Reed of Web's Best Designs wrote claiming he'd inked and coloured several pages, work that was approved, and created a preliminary website construction, with payment overdue for five months.

Rick has made a number of replies to criticism and this situation on his blog here, here, here, here and here.

When asked for comment on the earlier people to go public, Rick told me, "I am sitting here laughing my ass off at the phony attention seekers crawling out of the wood work, as they say, in getting on this imaginary hayride of yours. THESE are the people you claimed you had. I suggest that you ask each of them to provide you with signed copies of contracts and non disclosure agreement from my company before you place Jonah and his company is possible legal harms way.

"I seriously suggest that you investigate your sources. Of the people you mention, Scott Reed is the only person that worked on the 'Tales of The Spooky' #1. And he's recently been rebuked for fraud regarding his attempts to swindle TightLip Entertainment on a separate matter involving an upgrade to the www.mightyminicon.com website.

"Far as Martin Oakley and Ian Shires, I'd suggest that you investigate further. Neither of these people have credibility and Chuck Dixon wasn't involved with the very short period of time in late 2004 that Martin Oakley tried to nuzzle up under my arse to free ride. Oakley is known to be two quarts shy of full crank case. And Shires and my back association with his small press group as a co-administrator is well known to people like Tim Tobolski, aka Doc_Absurd on the CBR message boards. You should seek Tim out and get his input. Or not. Again, you don't appear to be on anything but a witch hunt, adding to the bully pile. Sad for you and your readers actually, far as I'm concerned.

"When this matter gets introduced via the court system after the holidays, it won't take long to clear the lies. I'm surprised that such a non story has lasted in your columns coverage since October 21st, when you first contacted me.

"And while you are digging into my life with all these wacko lying son's-a-bitches, be sure to go back to the TRUTH about why Comicon.com doesn't allow my last name to be displayed when my name is brought up in either bonfide legitimate news coverage or via their troll contingent.

"Beyond all that, enjoy!"

UPDATE: Martin Oakley responds: "Okay, first of all I was not associated with Mr. Olney back in 2004 as his claim states. It was in mid to late 2005, and early in 2006 that I had any association with Mr Olney. I remember this clearly because said association coincided with my move from one city to another, and it bulloxed up the promises of some web work that I had made him, and I had to readjust a deadline with his permission. It was shortly after this that Mr. Olney accused me of hacking into his computer, being a "spy for Ian Shires," and conspiring to cause him untolds amounts of pain. I left his boards and his employ at this point.

"Later on, we communicated via e-mail and phone calls, which is when I learned of Mr. Dixon joining up with TightLip Entertainment.

"As for my mental status, I am completely honest that I am bipolar and take great offense at Mr. Olney placing this personal attack on such a public board."

UPDATE 12/12/2006: Rick has removed almost all commentary and discussion on this matter from his blog.


[Green Light]On July 31st, this column reported a disagreement over payment between TokyoPop, Ben Roman and Studio Makma over the payment for Makma's work. And how the involvement of this column saw the publisher promise to pay the studio paid in full.

However, as of this week, the company still had not been paid - it seems the accounting side had not been informed of the decision. And when they then started paperwork, they seemed unable to pay the studio through usual means.

The situation is still ongoing.


[Yellow Light]"Cowboys & Aliens" from Platinum/Image shipped last week.

A few months ago, I reported a rumour that certain shops had been "incentivised" by Platinum to order very large quantities of the graphic novella. Possibly by paying the cost of buying them through Diamond, in order to achieve the No.1 sales of a graphic novel in December, at a time when the media property developer might need the publicity.

MidTown Comics in New York is giving copies of the graphic novel away for free. And MileHighComics is selling them for only $2.50.

You fill in the dots.


[Green Light]Marvel PR is always fun to point at. Whether it's describing The Black Panther as an African/American, or directly contradicting what the Editor In Chief is saying, it's a cheap and easy tactic that ultimately benefits nobody.

So let's do it again?

From the Ultimate Spider-Man #104 variant announcement, "As the incredible Clone Saga reaches its mind-numbing conclusion in Ultimate Spider-Man #104..."

Mind numbing? Is that really what they meant? I mean, I'm all for honesty in PR, but come on, I didn't think it was that bad…


[Green Light]This weekend saw the first UK convention to be held in Birmingham for over ten years, and I wasn't able to attend. I did of course have my spies there, who informed me that I wasn't the only one missing - Special Guests Skottie Young and Andy Diggle were among the guests who didn't attend either, Diggle going one step further on Warren Ellis's THE ENGINE forum where he explained that he couldn't make the show due to the fact that he was putting up shelves.


The initial reports from the show were that it was an enthusiastic, if low turnout, especially on the Sunday when many of the small press publishers packed up and left early. The theatre where the lectures were held had continual problems with the AV, and this meant that the artists portfolio panel, where aspiring artists had a page displayed on the screen and industry professionals critiqued for the audience turned into host Tony Lee holding up the art at the front of the stage like a "Wheel Of Fortune" hostess while the artists huddled around it. In fact, the portfolio event was one of many panels where last minute changes due to not attending professionals meant a complete change of line up, with old hands like Gary Leach stepping into the breach on most parts and members of the audience like "Civil Wardrobe's" Bevis Musson and "The Gloom's" Dan Boultwood being dragged up to assist.

Ade Brown and Lee "Budgie" Barnett's "Kryptonite Factor" panel was a high point of the show, including an incredibly politically incorrect missing words round and Jamie McKelvie being Galactus to John McCrea's Silver Surfer, by miming his helmet. I kid you not.

The biggest complaint about the convention seemed to be the post-convention scene, with the "convention bar" marked as the "Medicine Bar" nightclub, with a VIP lounge for guests - a bar that for the entirety of the convention seemed closed, the alternatives being a small bar in the centre, the pub down the road and the main convention hotel and bar being the Radisson SAS hotel, over a mile from the convention itself, a small, expensive bar that didn't seem to be aware of the fact that they were the convention bar and on several occasions after 11pm actively turned away comic creators who weren't residents. On the Saturday evening many of the creators rebelled against the bar and instead trouped en mass to a local Goth night club around the corner where a local creator knew the DJ. How a sight of so many normally dressed creators including a guest publisher went down at the club will never be known, but the one report that did come out on (again) THE ENGINE was that Tony Lee at one point was the victim of a random drink spiking.

It does seem a blisteringly obvious thing to forget - the focus of any UK convention is always the pub/bar. That's where you start from, work out the rest, hotels, venue, events, around that.

DC Editor Michael Wright attended, keeping a low profile for most of the weekend and flying under most prospective creators' radar, but after the artist portfolio panel on the Sunday he was swamped in the bar by a continuing swarm of prospective creators, his identity now revealed. On a side note, upcoming Avatar artist Lee O'Connor was told on the panel that not only did Wright like his work, but he would "talk to him later."

All in all, though, the reports of the convention were that it was small but fun. And next year's American-guests-who-won't-show-up include Mike Mignola and Adam Hughes, they intend to keep going.

All they need to do is find a closer convention bar...


[Green Light]It's this simple. I want someone to arrange a way for me to buy a UK region Nintendo Wii at retail price. In return, you will have the gratitude of the comics industry's favourite columnist. And possibly a plug. What more reward could you wish for?

Comic-to-film gossip hound Brendon Connelly has directed the new video for Boo Radleys-spinoff, Paperlung. See "Do What Thou Shalt."

Smallville pictures of the Justice League of America have hit the net.

Nice costumes, but with all those hoods, they'll never be let in shopping malls.

And blowing up a Luthorcorp building? That's got to be in breach of one of their ASBOs.

Okay, Gutterites, time for everyone reading to join ComicSpace, the MySpace of comics. I'm at http://www.comicspace.com/richjohnston,obviously.


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