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.


[Yellow Light]There's been a lot of fuss over the firing of Pat McCallum, EIC of Wizard, a story proudly broken by CBR earlier in the week. Well, the rumour mill has been busy suggesting that the current job wanted ad was just a technicality, that Wizard have their new editor-in-chief in mind and he was Bill Jemas.

The word was that Jemas recently submitted a plan to publisher Fred Pierce on how Wizard could be revamped, and then Jemas' company 360ep moved their offices to share space with Gareb Shamus.

Sadly, Jemas confirms for me that the "plan" was just a memo, with recommendations for Wizard, but that's all. Not a pitch for business and not a way in, Jemas and 360ep are rather busy as it is.

Shame. I'd have bought it, only to rubberneck.


[Green Light]The cover to the upcoming "Phonogram" TPB from Image Comics.

One thing of note. Turns out the "male gay kiss" Suede-homage cover of issue #5 of the book didn't harm retailer preorders of the title one bit.


[Green Light]Forget, whatever record it is that Marvel Comics say Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley set on "Ultimate Spider-Man," "Groo The Wanderer" by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, published 120 consecutive issues from Marvel comics, as well as a few spin off graphic novels along the way, before continuing publication at Image and Dark Horse. Well, twenty-five years after the first appearance from Pacific Comics, 2007 will see:

A Groo The Wanderer/Conan The Barbarian crossover mini-series.

A 25th Anniversary Special.

And a revamping of the entire Groo TPB line, starting with the Marvel run, from Dark Horse. And production continues on a Groo The Wanderer animated movie.

Groo is one of my favourite comic books ever, from the communist ecosystem upset, to the giant spider, to the free press, it got there well before Terry Pratchett and continues as a satirical comedy action adventure.

Now. Someone bring back "Beanworld," "Sleaze Castle" and "Zot!"


[Yellow Light]The latest TightLip creator to publicly speak out about payment is Val Staples. Val, who used to run the MVC Studios is no stranger to non-payment - the collapse of CrossGen left him owed thousands and with many other creators to pay. Nevertheless, Val's openness and honesty with people he owed money saw them repay him with understanding and Staples took up considerable personal projects to earn enough to pay back everyone. As a result, I've never heard anyone badmouthing Staples, for this or for anything else.

Staples seems to have has less of a positive experience with Rick Olney of TightLip Entertainment. He e-mailed me to tell me "Rick Olney of TightLip Entertainment is now 90 days past due in his payment to me. Most recently, he told me that I would be paid by the end of November. Unfortunately, that never happened and he is no longer responding to my e-mails. As a result, he has broken contractual and personal agreements, and I no longer feel bound by his Non Disclosure Agreement. It's such a shame, as I honestly believe that he means what he keeps promising, but it never comes to pass. When I found myself in a similar situation after CrossGen went bankrupt, I kept artists that my studio owed informed continuously. I then went out of my way, with the help of fans and retailers, to earn enough to pay back the artists despite still being owed that money from CrossGen. By comparison, all I've received from Rick are empty promises and reminders about my non disclosure contract. It's not enough. I hope Rick will do the right thing and work to redeem himself by paying artists in full in the very near future rather than threatening hard-working creators with legal action."

Val joins Chuck Dixon and a number of unnamed creators in similar accusations against both Olney and TightLip Entertainment.

When asked for comment, Rick told me "no comments at this time. I've been instructed to wait out this matter to see who else steps forward to face litigation."


[Yellow Light]Gemstone have cancelled four of their ongoing Disney comics titles, and have let all their freelancers go "until things get better." A number are still owed thousands of dollars, and there has been uncertainty as to when they will be paid. Maybe February, "but we can't promise."


[Yellow Light]Graeme McMillan's been doing some heavy lifting over the recent "Civil War" delay accounts.

I could treat you to my own attempts at picking at the "comment cadaver," as I'm naming it.

But I have been assured, by people I trust, inside and out of Marvel, that there's nothing conspiratorial to it. A few people may have misspoke. When Tom Brevoort talked about the book being on schedule two weeks ago, he may not have meant the schedule that Marvel had previously told the readers about. When Joe Quesada said that Steve was delivering a page a day, that may have been a generality, and not actually reflective of what had actually being delivered. And with so many fans and retailers hanging on to every word expressed concerning this series, it may have been best suited to have been more careful with them.

And as to the extra-week delay from the last week in December, until the New Year because of retailer concerns that the last week is a dead week sales-wise, every single retailer I've spoken to would rather have issue #6 ship in December, than in January, including Alternate Reality Comics of Las Vegas, Astro Books in Montreal, Impulse Creations, Dr No Comics & Games in Atlanta, Georgia, Lone Star Comics, Calliope's Realm Comics, Earth-2 Comics of Sherman Oaks, Velocity Comics and more, most preferring not to be named. Including one major retailer that was consulted by Marvel.

Of course, it's to Marvel's credit that they've created a book that's sold so well, revitalised so many Marvel series and if people didn't care about the book, this wouldn't be such an issue.

And no one seems to know what this Marvel item is all about, least of all Mark Millar...


Listed in the catalogue as "Civil War Spider-Man T-Shirt"

And for those desperate, the parody, "Civil Wardrobe," is still available.


[Green Light]From "Amazing Spider-Man" #525:

From "Civil War" #5, which follows afterwards:

Tom Brevoort:

"While 'World War Hulk' is going to be a corker of a storyline, it's not going to have anywhere near the impact on the universe as 'Civil War.'"

Joe Quesada:

"In scope and as to what it means to the Marvel Universe, 'World War Hulk' is every bit as important and huge as 'Civil War.'"

And it seems that Marvel letter about swiping has had an effect. Greg Land is now swiping from himself. Greg! It's still a problem when you swipe from your own art created for another company!


[Green Light]TokyoPop's Rising Stars competition has become quite the way in for all sorts of new talent in the US, Canada and UK.

Sadly, just before opening the "People's Choice" element for the second United Kingdom & Ireland competition, the editors e-mailed creator Nanna Lee to inform her that they'd reviewed her entry "Another Summer Day" and that it would not be included as it "didn't make the cut."

A shame that a month ago, they chose her entry for inclusion, along with fourteen others, and put it up on their website.

Rejection is always hard. But especially after you've already been accepted.


[Green Light]The energy released by turning almost all mutants into humans at the end of "House Of M" was a walking (or spiralling out of Earth's orbit) plot device. Clearly there were big plans for it.

Yes. Big plans.

So far, it has been used up, separately, by

a) Bringing Vulcan back

b) Bringing Onslaught back

And c) combining to create The Collective in "New Avengers."

That's a lot of energy to go round and keep getting used up. Say, I fancy a toasted crumpet. Oh magic Mr House Of M energy, any chance of a medium toasting each side? Thank you!


[Yellow Light]One curious observation. "Minx" by Peter Milligan and Sean Phillips from 1998 was edited by Shelly Bond. At the time, it was intended to be the new "Sandman," the new "Preacher," the new "Transmet" in terms of ongoing creator-focussed works. It lasted an unappreciated eight issues. I happened to rather enjoy it and Shelly championed it like no other Vertigo title. It only took her eight years to find a home for the name…

In related debate over the number of female talent named on the initial Minx lineup on the V, Andi Watson has apologised for having a penis.


[Green Light]The graffiti artist Banksy has launched a new exhibition. His Santa's Ghetto appears this year on Oxford Street, right next to Tottenham Court Road tube station, he's gutted the old Clark's shoe shop and filled it with his work and the work of other artists, including Jamie Hewlett. A lot of graffiti inspired, cartoon inspired and scene-inspired work, on display and for sale in London's most famous high street, during the Christmas shopping season. Absolutely inspired. And a great Photoshop image in the window to entice people in.

Here's me being funny in front of it.

Photo by Mark Gilmore.


[Green Light]You know when comic book fans go mad over, oh, I dunno, Norman Osbourne having it off with a young Gwen Stacy, or when "Star Wars" fans get upset with the stated number of clone troopers needed to seize an Empire?

That's nothing compared to comic strip fans' reaction when one of the characters parents mildly implies she might be better off with a friend than her current partner.

Here's the strip. And here's the nerd meltdown.


[Green Light]A Comic Critics Circle event this Saturday at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles.

How Brendan McCarthy and Grant Morrison invented Danny The Street… and how he would have crossed over with the DC Universe in "Solo."

The Hero Foundy have a charity sketchbook auction on Wednesday, with art from Billy Tan, Brian Denham, Greg Horn, David Finch, Dustin Nguyen, Ryan Sook, John Paul Leon, Bryan Hitch and more, to raise money to donate a sizable endowment of comic books, graphic novels, and trades to the New Orleans Public Library.

Joel Meadows's blog has been rather spiffy of late as he gets into the ins and out of comic creators and their art.


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