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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 63

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.

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Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT… the seizing of comic pro artwork by lawyers at SDCC…

LAST ORDERS PLEASE

[Green Light]The biggest story coming out of San Diego seems to have been missed by everyone. It's not an exclusive creator deal, not a new title, not a movie director.

A year or so ago, Marvel Comics instituted its Final Order Cut-Off (FOC) programme. Where comic retailers could set initial orders for Marvel Comics just as they used to, but then allow retailers to increase or decrease orders 3 weeks before the comic in question shipped. This enabled retailers to match their orders more closely with what people were buying on the floor. Some lost sales, some gained sales, but retailers were happy. Indeed, some shifted their entire ordering for Marvel to the FOC. Nothing like living on the edge.

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Now DC is instigating its own FOC system with the new Previews. At San Diego Comic Con, DC announced that retailers will be able to change their orders up to 3 weeks before the comics ship, or 5 weeks before trade paperbacks ship. Hardcovers and CMX titles however, only one week after the order form is due. And for DC Direct items, 5 weeks after.

Of late, "52" has been used as a test for the system by DC, with each issue being order adjustable 3 weeks before it ships. And it's certainly helped DC iron out any kinks.

There has been some concern that retailer discount will differ - currently, the more product advanced ordered, the higher discount of cover price the retailer receives - and this measure might shift orders away from the advance order tally. But, as happened with Marvel, Diamond will be freezing retailers current discount and will work out a new formula to measure monthly orders in the future - which is what they did with Marvel.

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Which does mean, of course, that if you're a growing retailer, about to switch from one discount to a lower discount, you'll have to wait six months for that to kick in.

One other side-effect of the new measure is that DC will curtail their Sneak Peek programme, where retailers get a number of issues of next week's comics, to aid in promotional efforts. This relies on the books being printed early enough to ship with the previous weeks' order, which will be unable to be maintained with the FOC programme. But there will be an online version for retailers instead.

This is part of a continual tweaking of the current direct market model to reflect the changing marketplace - continuing books have a far more fickle audience these days, far more susceptible to superhero events, creator changes and willingness to drop books. And it's only the big superhero publishers who have the financial resources and flexibility to allow this kind of change. What this means to everyone else is yet to be seen.

And why Final Order Cut-Off has not been hilariously shortened to FOC-Off is still unclear.

And Tom, in case you didn't notice, this is a news story.

I LUV GETTING PAID

[Yellow Light]Ben Roman employed Studio Makma to create grey tones for 50 pages of "I Luv Halloween #2" published by Tokyo Pop. And they were credited for such. But as of last week had not been paid.

Ben stated in an email to Ed Tourriol of Studio Makma "I told you TokyoPop is aware of the problem and said they will handle it. I HAVE NO SAY IN WHEN THEY"LL PAY."

But Bill Josey, General Counsel & Vice President, Business Affairs at TokyoPop stated in an e-mail to Studio Makma, said "We have no arrangement with you or Studio MAKMA for toning I Luv Halloween volume 2 and therefore we are the wrong party for you to be contacting. We suggest you contact Ben Roman, co-creator of I Luv Halloween, who was responsible for delivering completed artwork to us for the book." and then in another "we did not contract with you to provide toning on the book and, therefore, it is not our responsibility to pay you for any work you may have done on it. The fact that your name is on the credits page does not establish any business relationship between you and us.."

Studio Makma had been trying to resolve this situation with both sides to no avail for some time, never get past the seeming steadfastness on both sides. In desperation, Ed contacted this column, and I made a few enquiries to the involved parties.

The next day, Tokyo Pop agreed to pay Studio Makma in full.

Ah, the power of the press.

WILD GEORGE

[Yellow Light]Last week, Lying In The Gutters reported that George R. R. Martin was lining up for a project with DC Comics at San Diego.

Other reports from the Con suggest that there are plans for a new "Wild Cards" series of comic books, based on the superfiction novels edited by George R R Martin, previously adapted in comic form under Marvel's Epic line.

One of the original contributors to the series John Jos Miller has said that his involvement in the new trilogy of "Wild Cards" books announced by Tor may be impacted by another project that's been in discussion.

It's fun to join dots, isn't it?

SAN DIEGO THIEVING PART TWO

[Green Light]It seems that last week's San Diego Comic Con was a boom year... for thieves.

Neal Adams lost one of his signature series Superman with original art, and a Green Lantern with original art, and a barbarian sculpture from his son.

A Battlestar Galactica prototype model ship from Art Asylum.

Personal items from Stan Sakai.

And an unrestored copy of Green Lantern 1

CAPTURED

[Green Light]Next weekend, the longest running British comics convention, CAPTION, kicks off in Oxford, this year with a "remix" theme. As well as the best of the UK small press in attendance, there will be workshops, exhibitions, jam sessions and presentations. 2000AD and Megazine will make an appearance along with sessions from the likes of Al Davison, Neill Cameron, Matthew Badham, Dez Vylenz, Andy Luke, David Baille and Leon Hewitt.

It's on the 5th and 6th of August, at the East Oxford Community Centre, Princes Road, Oxford OX4 1HU, UK. £5 per day entry (concessions half price) including entry to the Caption film show on the Sunday, which includes "The Mindscape of Alan Moore," with accompanying Q&A with director Dez Vylenz. Other special guests include Al Davison and Matt Smith.

No one steal anything.

SI SAYS

[Green Light]Si Spurrier, currently working on a new Image book with Frazer Irving, has just signed a two-novel dead with Piers Plofeld over at Hodder Headline. Piers is also lining up a graphic novel line, so…

Si describes the books as "fucked-up crime weirdness". The first is "Contract," due spring/summer next year.

HANGING ON A WEB

[Yellow Light]The Chuck Dixon/Shadow rumour from last week has a glitch. Turns out he's working on a Spider project for Moonstone - who are in discussion with the license holders for a Shadow oneshot, which Dixon might write - if they get the rights.

SWAMP SUNK

[Green Light]I understand Twomorrows will be cancelling their solicited volume "Swampmen: Muck-Monsters Of The Comics" which would have explored the histories of the likes of Man Thing, The Heap, Solomon Grundy and more - including an indepth interview with Alan Moore about Swamp Thing.

Apparently one of the authors has failed to submit the finished text after multiple deadlines.

The book is still available to order on their website ... for now.

EASY AS 1 2 3 4

[Green Light]The ABC A-Z series chronicling the cast of Alan Moore's ABC line has been cancelled after four issues. The following two editions will not be published, and publisher Wildstorm have paid out kill fees to the people involved.

NILES APART

[Green Light]This is a sticker image that's been touted around the place advertising Steve Niles website...

BABYLOIN 5

[Green Light]Marvel have gained a reputation for being careful with their crossovers of late. "Civil War" and "Annihilation" were carefully planned and executed which much thought. The days of the willy nilly crossover where anything goes are long gone.

Oh...

Hang on...

Fanboy Radio have just interviewed JMS, in which he says he's submitted a Spider-Ham script that Quesada is going to 'fast-track'

I'm told "This is Ultimate Spider-Ham, and it crosses over to sub-universes featuring Iron Ham, Fantastic Ham, X-Ham, Wolverham, and so on. It even features a 'Civil War' crossover."

As you were people. As you were.

SUPERMAN VS X-MEN

[Green Light]

by Pacheco and...

by Pacheco.

Who wins?

TITANS CLASH

[Green Light]Titan Books received a package the other day, which they have forwarded on to its intended recipient.

It was addressed to Alan Moore care of Titan Books and was sent from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

It's started.

LAID MAN

[Green Light]What actually happened at John Layman's party at San Diego is gaining epic proportions. I understand a small get together of Wildstorm and ex-Wildstorm friends spilled out of the hotel room once Ale Garza invited everyone he knew. And everyone they knew. And everyone...

And then security closed the party down. And then again, once it spontaneously regenerated.

Suffice it to say, it was enough for James Kochalka to immortalise his own take on it all.

IRON CHEFS

[Yellow Light]In a recent blog, Tom Brevoort wrote, "David Michelinie and Bob Layton, for example, pitched me an 'Iron Man: The End' project a few years ago. But we weren't able to come to a meeting-of-the-minds on the story, so the project never happened, and they took some of the ideas they'd had for it and used them in their 'Future Comics' line. And that's fine -- it doesn't prevent them from pitching something else up here again. But it also doesn't mean that I'm going to put out a book that I don't think has merit solely because it's pitched by a classic creator."

Bob wrote "Gee...I don't want to say the Tom Brevoort isn't telling the whole story about 'Iron Man:The End.' On second thought--I'll say it: 'He's NOT telling the whole story.'"

You can read Layton's side here. Then Tom's response. Then Bob's response to that response to his reply to Tom's... anywhere, here. And the original plot to "Iron Man:The End" here.

And for the incredible wise words, industry history, perspective and sheer quantity, check out Tom Brevoort's blog every day.

COSFLIGHT!

[Green Light]Phonogram's Kieron Gillen at San Diego. Fighting Foxes.

Photo by Jill Allyn Stafford.

FOUNDRY WORKS

[Green Light]The Comics Foundry San Diego report is quite fun - and includes Tom Spurgeon and Heidi MacDonald talking about me (01:25) in a clear attempt to get me to link to it. It also has reports of a sloppy Neal Adams (03:35), and an unconscious goliath (05:35).

CAREY UNDERGROUND

[Green Light]Next Saturday at Orbital Comics on Charing Cross Road, London, MikeCarey is doing a signing. Orbital have bought a bunch of ComicsShowcase's shelves and covered them with Carey's work. Quite a...diverse selection.

Go and scare him by saying you loved his Ozzy Osbourne comic. Or ifyou want his wrath, Pantera...

IF A BOOK IS CANCELLED AND ONLY 20,000 PEOPLE ARE READING IT…

[Green Light]"X-Men Unlimited" was cancelled back in April. No one noticed until Paul O'Brien started working up this year's sales statistics.

Ouch.

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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