www.cbr.com

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 66

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.

JOINING THE RANKS

[Green Light]Ian Rankin, crime novelist and author of such titles as "Knots And Crosses," adapted as the "Rebus" TV series for the BBC, announced at the Edinburgh Book festival that he is to write a comic book project for Vertigo.

Further investigation reveals it is a John Constantine project, with Constantine pitched as a pulp-fiction style private eye who happens to deal with supernatural clients.

I understand the introduction happened through current "Hellblazer" writer Denise Mina.

NATIONAL TREASURE

[Green Light]Coming from Desperado Studios and Image Comics in November. A phonebook collection of Jamie Delano and Goran Sudzuka's fantastic Vertigo series "Outlaw Nation." All 19 issues. A truly wonderful title, marred by a hurried conclusion when the cancellation notice came down.

This is the Sandman, the Preacher, the Transmet that the industry forgot. Reserve your copy!

CIVIL WAR

[Green Light]Right, shut up. Things to remember.

Warren Ellis has it right when he talks about "What if Marvel went away"? Could comic stores survive if they had no Marvel comics to sell? Any that couldn't might want to think about the whole eggs-baskets paradigm.

Yes, the "Civil War" delay, the subsequent delay of many titles - either losing issues altogether, or having them double up in future months reducing opportunity-to-buy windows - will have a significant financial impact on many comic stores. Discounts will be affected. Some fans will be disaffected. But "Civil War" also brought huge increased sales and new readers for many other titles up to this point. Swings and roundabouts. And if there's trouble now, imagine what could happen. Retailers need to be able to cope with a possible future without Marvel - because you never know what's round the corner.

Contingency plans are becoming the norm. I'm told that Diamond has plans to significantly increase their bookstore presence over fears that in ten years the direct market will collapse. Virgin Comics are looking to India for the bulk of their sales. Marvel have sent out questionnaires about downloadable comics. Retailers diversify, both within and without - that's the norm now. Me, I'm taking on freelance work.

The "Civil War" delay is annoyance for 40 year old fans from Cleveland and a financial hit for retailers, creators, hell even Marvel itself remember. But in the long run, it's only a blip compared with what could happen. And "Civil War" as a whole has been an unexpected boom. It will not end with a whimper.

Marvel have even rush solicited "Civil War" related product to fill the gaps caused by delays. "Choosing Sides," "War Crimes" and the "Casualties Of War" titles. They may not have the same impact as "Civil War" or "New Avengers," but it is a definite attempt to solve the resulting problems.

Nevertheless, the blame is going around looking for someone to land on. Initially readers thought to blame Mark Millar's serious health problems. Millar discounted that, talking about the complexity of the series on artist Steve McNiven coupled with a tight schedule, before Tom Brevoort said they were both partially responsible for the overall delay of the series, before all the fans decided to blame Brevoort instead. Tom can take it, he's got broad shoulders.

And handily, "Civil Wardrobe" has dropped smack into the middle of the Marvel drought, sitting on the shelf mid-October. It's almost as if I'd planned it that way. Maybe… I'm to blame? I seem to be blamed for most everything these days…

MELTUP - Added 6:00 PM Pacific

[Green Light]The new cover to "Meltdown" by Chris Bachalo from Image Comics.

CANADA COMES SECOND

[Yellow Light]"Lost Girls" ships this week. There are initial allocations, due to a problem with the shipping company, but more should be shipping next week.

Basically, if you want your pre-ordered store copy this week, queue.

I understand the "Lost Girls" will make it to Canada, though only in its second print. That there is a second print planned can only be good news for the sales of the first print - expect that in a couple of months.

As for the UK, no idea right now. Still in flux, due to licensing claims on Peter Pan by the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Worst case scenario, the volume will be delayed until 2008, when, thanks to a Parliamentary Act, the hospital will have no claim on whether or not the book can be published, though they may still receive royalties. If so, expect a vibrant grey market to flourish. Just like the good old days with "Lost Girls"...

CUT AND PASTE FILE

[Green Light]From the archive of the artist HOON

The cover of "Manga Quake" #2 "by" Pekka Maki-Kuutti

It all kicks off here with demands that all copies be returned and destroyed, even those already sold to customers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING OSCAR

[Green Light]That page submitted to French publisher Solei by Oscar Jimenez.

Juan Barranco's online portfolio!

MANCHESTER HUNTER

[Green Light]Why did A.J. Lieberman feel the need to name all the bad guys in "Martian Manhunter" #1 after football players, especially those associated with Manchester United? Rooney, Giggs, Ferdinand as well as Figo... did someone spend too long watching the World Cup this year?

NUMBER CRUNCHING

[Yellow Light]What's in a date? Two stories have come my way this week, where looking at the dates given, one can see discrepancies and could even make some interesting deductions.

Firstly, take Rob Liefeld and Image Comics, and their parting of ways, ten years ago. Over the years, both sides have stated that they were the proactive one in that parting. Liefeld claimed he was planning to resign before he knew of Image's desire to rid themselves of him. Image members have claimed that they fired him before they knew of his desire to resign. But it's always been one side's word against the other. And Erik Larsen's recent blind item in his CBR column has been interpreted as targeting Liefeld and stirring the whole issue up again, even if no proof was given.

Liefeld recently sought to prove his assertion, citing a series of "cold hard facts" to uncover "the truth". It's not an uncommon story in business, but in comics we're lucky to have a large trade press that can annotate much of the industry's history.

Rob refers to a CBG cover and interview from early September, conducted in July, and featured Rob's decision to move all his core Image titles to Maximum Press. He uses this as proof that he resigned from Image rather than was pushed. He states he did this well before he discovered Image were moving to fire him, which he dates as mid-August. He also talks about sending new Maxiumum solicitation information featuring his core Image titles to Diamond in June, for the September/October shipping Previews. He was fired on September 4th after the founders took a final vote.

Except the solicited titles in question appeared in the December/January shipping Previews, so the information would have been sent to Diamond in August. In an earlier interview, Liefeld stated he found out that Image were moving against him on July 15th "four days after San Diego" rather than mid-August. Which would give plenty of time to arrange a CBG interview/cover feature for September. And the initial vote on his dismissal was on August the 9th. If Liefeld discovered Image were moving against him well before that vote, that would also allow plenty of time to contact CBG with his new plans after that. And whether known to him or not, as part of a suit against Image over libel and seized assets, his legal team added "wrongful termination."

None of these observations disprove Rob's central tenent that he resigned from Image well before he was fired. But his "cold hard facts" he uses as proof, were either no such thing, didn't prove the case one way or the other, or suggested something else. The discussion continues with new facts, figures and dates emerging, with further details of one of the more interesting periods of this industry's history.

Secondly, the "Civil War - Interrupted" story kicked off across the messageboards this week, with Mark Millar telling his board that he received word from Marvel that there would be no fill-in artist for "Civil War" #5 on the morning Monday 15th August. A fill-in artist for #5 was something he was previously expecting to happen.

Not surprising. Joe Quesada stated that issue 4 isn't yet complete. With Breevort stating that issue 3 was received with Steve McNiven's three month head start eaten up, it would seem as if issue 4 was always going to be late. But that knowledge would have been received two months ago - which would have been a good time to start looking for an issue 5 fill-in artist. How much was Mark Millar aware of the delay? He was expecting an issue 5 fill-in artist, but has given no word of who that would have been - certainly with a two month lead, one might have expected not only the artist to have been chosen but pages for issue 5 to have been completed by now.

Either an issue 5 fill-in artist had been secretly chosen and had already done some work on the book before Marvel changed its mind - or that lines of communication are rather sparse.

A conspiracy too far?

DABEL IN DOUBT

[Yellow Light]What has happened to Dabel Brother Productions? No books out since early July and no listings in the most recent Previews... Marketing Communications Manager Derek Ruiz writes, "Rescheduling followed by some amazing new titles that will make your head explode."

Possibly not the most effective way to expand your audience, decapitation.

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR

[Green Light]Where I start worrying about finances, abuse my position on this column and promote the fact that I'm selling lots of stuff cluttering my study on eBay... click here.

SMALL PRINT

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum.

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.

JJ Abrams' Marvel Debut Drastically Changes the Spider-Man Mythos

More in CBR Exclusives