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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 65

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.

BURNING SWIPE FILE

[Green Light]We don't normally lead Lying In The Gutters with a Swipe File entry, but this was such an unusual one, I felt I had to.

David Schwartz, writer of new Image title "Meltdown" commissioned Chris Bachalo to create the cover for issue #1 of the title, which LITG scooped a couple of months ago.

So imagine their surprise on reading "X-Men" #189 to discover the very same art being used for the last page…

How did this happen? Did Chris take the page from X-Men and offer it across, or did he somehow engineer the last page of X-Men to be the cover he'd drawn?

And how did he think he'd get away with it?

Naturally, due to ownership issues, I understand Image has delayed the first issue of "Meltdown" to the following month while Chris creates a new cover.

BAT ART

[Yellow Light]I understand as part of Jeph Loeb's exclusive deal with Marvel Comics, that there is an Art Adams Batman project exclusion as part of the contract. The artwork is taking its time, so there's no scheduled publication date.

BARRED

[Yellow Light]James O'Barr has an unclaimed Batman project in the works, based on the Black Dahlia murder. As it stands, it's considered too adult themed for DC right now, without major changes O'Barr seems unwilling to make.

DOSSIER DISC

[Green Light]There have been enquiries as to the status of the audio element to "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier" that had previously been discussed but not on the solicitation.

I understand that due to size constraints and Moore not wanting the product on CD, it will be released on vinyl as part of the "Absolute" edition next summer.

SOMEONE DESERVES AN OSCAR - Updated 14:45 Pacific

[Red Light]Last week's kerfuffle over the Oscar Jimenez Garrido/Juan Barranco confusion has gained further twists. First, from well sourced Spanish individuals claiming to speak for Oscar backed up by other Spanish sources, to a direct denial through on behalf of Oscar from acquaintances on Millarworld, which led to last week's correction and apology, followed by e-mails from other furious Spanish sources who say I'm being conned by Oscar, that he's been lying to close friends and all I have to do is compare pages of art...

But right now I don't feel like surrendering my soft drink to get on a plane to find out first hand.

UPDATE: I have had confirmation that one of the pages in Juan's online gallery is from a tryout project for a French publisher... by Oscar Jimenez.

MILLAR WHIRLED

[Green Light]Last week, Mark Millar descended upon the sleepy British town of Bath. Home to publishers of SFX, Future Publishing, for whom who Mark writes a column. He opened an invite to members of the Millarworld website who descended from all corners of the British Isles and beyond, to drink, chat and take photos of each other wearing Mr T sweaters and viking helmets.

And naturally, the location chosen was a basement bar on one of the hottest days of the year.

Thankfully a night-time retreat to an open-air reggae bar cooled things down a tad.

And most importantly this Millarworld gathering allowed an Avengers Assemble moment

Mark Peyton, James Dodsworth and John Hendrick- all Millarworld moderators and inspiration for the new secret identities that Daredevil, Goliath and Captain America have adopted in the "Civil War" series.

I've also got a few spare Millarworld "Civil Wardrobe" Bath Ashcans left... drop me an e-mail if you want one.

HOUSE OF IDEALS?

[Green Light]Marvel's current approach to homosexuality in comics has been raised again. Lying In The Gutters originally spotted this issue back in February, but it heated up recently at Chicago.

As it stands, while many Marvel titles have gay characters, certainly more than DC, the very possibility of a title with a gay lead has been dismissed, unless it is labelled a MAX book. The reason given is that Marvel feels it is exceptionally vulnerable to criticism from parent and legislative groups, however ill thought, and that Stan Lee's treatment on Crossfire over "Rawhide Kid" has put the company off any similar approach. And that there is the fear of generating a Wertham-style response against the industry.

My observations are:

a) A MAX label is no proof of such criticism, as "Rawhide Kid" demonstrated, but it does give the book the equivalent of an 18 or an NC 17 rating, just for having a gay character in the lead without any graphic content whatsoever - totally out of proportion, especially considering Marvel's range of alternative labels.

b) Marvel has a history, however clumsy on occasion, of addressing social issues from a progressive perspective - indeed the X-Men franchise was built around it, showed that success in the movies, and this feels like a betrayal of that ideal.

c) If DC can do it with their potentially upcoming "Batwoman" series, linked to their leading franchise, then Marvel could do it with anyone. It is an observational truth that lesbians appear more acceptable than gay men to a wider audience, but Marvel aren't even doing that.

d) There has been a swing away from the extremes of conservative social pressure a couple of years ago, and it just feels quite peculiar that DC seems visibly willing to move further on this issue than Marvel would dare right now. No one is calling for gay/bi/lesbian leads for their own sake, but to dismiss the possibility entirely as Marvel has done, feels a rather blinkered act

e) As for another Wertham, well, there are other projects which are far more likely to do that than anything Marvel would publish right now. The lesson from "Seduction Of The Innocent" is that when the industry capitulates to such pressure, it sets things back decades.

f) Marvel has published a title with a gay lead of late, Freedom Ring in "Marvel Team Up." The character hasn't been marketed as such, but it makes a mockery of Marvel's stance and seems to be part of a "don't ask, don't promote" approach.

I understand there is more on this to come.

WIZARD'S SPELL

[Yellow Light]Dealers reporting dramatically reduced revenue. Attendees reporting a much smaller crowd. Event holders wishing for much more attention spent on their concerns... and less on the wrestling ring. And Wizard announcing record convention levels. Something at Chicago hasn't quite been gelling.

Well, word reaches LITG that two of Wizard's higher-up convention staff, Stewart Morales and Gabriel Fieramosco have just been dismissed from Wizard Entertainment, in the light of Chicago performance. Morales has been there for the best part of a decade and was very much part of the landscape, last year becoming Director/Strategic Planning and Marketing for Wizard Conventions. Gabriel had been Product Manager for some time.

A Wizard spokesman replied saying ""While we can confirm that Stewart Morales and Gabe Fieramosco are no longer with the company, the terms and reasons for this are confidential. Wizard thanks them both for all their hard work, and wishes them the best in their new endeavors."

The spokesman insists there is no connection between this and the performance of Chicago, which is still expressed in positive terms.

Expect this story to gain legs any day now.

SHIPPING FORECAST

[Green Light]A slight time ago, I talked about iComicsOnSale, a way to view upcoming comics, only available on a Mac. Well it's gone Windows beta. If you'd like to test a copy, e-mail here.

CENTRAL ENQUIRY

[Green Light]A reader enquires...

"The Gotham Central trade paperback series is missing issues. And they're all issues, it would seem, that Ed Brubaker wrote and/or Michael Lark didn't draw. They're not being excluded, as they might have been in the past, due to crossovers. These are, I should think, important stories in the course of the series that are being left out for no good reason that I can figure. Maybe they figure if they exclude those issues, they can print one less trade to collect the "whole" series, thus saving themselves from losing money? I dunno. Have you heard anything about this?"

Ed Brubaker replies, "The only issues missing from the trades so far are ones we asked them not to collect because we weren't quite so happy with them, or they just didn't fit in with the trade -- like the all Stacy issue.

"Contrary to popular belief, I don't think every issue of every comic deserves a collection. Since it took us years to even get rolling on GC trades, Greg Rucka and I helped pick the stories to be collected, so there are some skips, to move further along through the issues. Like in the recent 'UnResolved Targets trade' -- we collected 12 - 15, then skipped 16 - 18, and went right to the Bullock story, which I think is the best work Michael or I did on 'Gotham Central.' So, no conspiracy, sorry.

THE 500

[Green Light]Diamond is making a new change to ordering policies.

In a move designed to ensure maximum availability of merchandise for the majority of the program's users, effective the week of August 7, Diamond will implement single order limits on most products available from its Reorders Online service.

As a result of this change, Reorders Online ordering limits will include:

  • Comic books: 500 copies maximum of any given title per order.
  • All non-comic, non-supply products: 250 copies/pieces maximum of any given product per order.
  • Supplies: No limit.

This change is being made to ensure that large volumes of unconfirmed inventory remain available to all Reorders Online users. Retailers who exceed Reorders Online's ordering limits on a single order will receive a pop-up message to that effect, and the order will not be accepted. (Please Note: Upon placing an order for the maximum allowed quantity, retailers may place a second order for up to the maximum allowed quantity, and so on. For example, a retailer who wants to order 1,000 copies of a specific comic can do so by placing two 500-copy orders.)

This policy, as I understand it, is to stop retailers doing a "let's order 1,000 to see what Diamond really has" trick to measure backstock anymore, before altering their order - which could tie up stock allocation for days.

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.

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