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.


[Green Light]Warren Ellis would like me to tell people that he's not the writer of the upcoming Thor comic. He's been there, done that, either doesn't want to or hasn't been asked. So leave the poor man alone to write more "NextWave", "newuniversal" or his Icon project that Marvel are eeking out.

Anyway, he can't be writing Thor. Joe Michael Straczynski is.

And here's Stuart Immomen's Joe Friday illustration that slipped through the Newsarama cracks.


[Green Light]Mattel just bought exclusive rights to the 1966 TV Batmobile for a hefty fee. Expect them to get their money's worth this Christmas.


[Green Light]The Alan Moore poster for Defend Northampton Council Housing mentioned a couple of weeks ago has been selling briskly. If you want one, email Norman Adams to check there are copies left. They've got a PayPal address now as well. How futuristic!

If they run out, the local Northampton comic shop, Phoenix, is selling them too, signed and unsigned. They're also doing t-shirts.

They also have a PayPal address. Again, best make sure you e-mail them here first, for price and availability.

How cool will that sound at the summer convention? "Oh this t-shirt, yes, it's an Alan Moore original. No, no you can't buy them anymore, no..."


[Green Light]"Meltdown" is a new superhero mini-series from Image Comics coming out in November. It's written by David Schwartz with art from Sean Wang and it's a rather tip top superhero tale - with some very interesting twists.

Here's his website and this is the pencils to a Chris Bachalo cover.

I hear there's a Greg Horn cover coming, too. Look for solicitations in a few weeks time.


[Green Light]A few month's ago, LITG reported on allegations of plagiarism in the Rising Stars Of Manga recruitment drive run by TokyoPop. Well, in for a penny...

Daniel Cross is making allegations of the same from the published third runner up in the UK version of the competition, "Dojo Dynasty" swipes images, designs and layouts from his work.



He does seem to have a point, no?


[Green Light]A few months ago, I raved about the fortnightly Classic Marvel Figurine Collection, who publish on UK and European newsstands a painted lead figure of a Marvel character, along with a heavily researched magazine on the character's history, background and cultural impact. So much so that I ended up doing a few for Nightcrawler, Punisher and the Juggernaut.

Well, it's coming to America, something unprecedented for a UK partwork publications. From October, American comic shops can order issues 31 and 32, and in November 33, 34, 1 and 2, December, 35, 36, 3 and 4 and so on.

Until now, Americans have been forced to pay high amounts on eBay. Now they won't have to.

Damn. How am I going to pay for the loft conversion now?


[Green Light]Remember the scene from "Superman Returns" when he makes a guy shoot him in the eyeball.

Well, here's a scene from the even-more-heterosexual Supreme Power last year.

Look at the bullet! Keep your eyes… on the bullet!


[Yellow Light]Last week's defence of John Byrne by this column ruffled a few feathers, but I stand by every word.

However, Byrne has thrown out a few more toys this week. To paraphrase Steve Coogan in "Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge," "There's been a conspiracy to deprive me from readers."

In a thread celebrating the rather wonderful new "Atom" comic, one reader wrote, "…The reactions across the net seems to be good for what i did see (excepted for the few people who won't buy anything with the name Byrne on it, but that's a minority. a noisy one, but just that.) most of the people seem to enjoy it, both art and story...." he replied "My sales recently suggest otherwise, Stéphane." He later continued "One cannot fly in the face of reality, Ronald. To this extent, the sad boys on the internet and the self-fulfilling prophets in the shops have won. My current career is a shadow of its former self -- brought down almost entirely by lies."

This is nonsense. I'm sure such retailers exist, but are in the minority and, by their nature, aren't the successful businessmen who go on to sell awful lots of comics. I'd make that point, but Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience went and made it for me. He wrote, "First off, while I have no doubt that there are some retailers that 'Won't order (x)' (whether 'x' is a JB book, or a self-published title, or the releases of a certain publisher), they're clearly the minority of store owners. In point of fact, the majority of comics sales come from a small percentage of stores. This is generally referred to as the 80/20 Rule - where 80% of sales come from 20% of the stores -- though it often can be more like 90/10 on many books…

"I think that if you do any serious effort in seeing who sells the most comics (and is, thus, the 20%)(or 10%), I think you'll find these stores tend to be the most egalitarian about what makes their racks, who are happy (nay, ecstatic) to maximize their sales on as many items as they can…

"The upshot of that is that you can have 25 different stores who all 'hate JB,' and all of their volume combined is less than that of a single store like, say, a Jim Hanley's Universe in NY. The important thing to understand is that, in most cases, the "haters," while *possibly* seeming more numerous, have much less impact on the sales potential/velocity of a series than the top 20%....

"It is generally true that creators find the audiences they earn. This is as true of JB as of anyone else."

Hibbs then included a breakdown of "Lab Rats" sales and enquiry experience to illustrate this point.

Byrne ignored Hibbs' rejection of Byrne's central thesis, instead saying, "I find it truly impressive that you remember in such minute detail how many copies of which issues you ordered, and even your interaction with customers in respect to particular issues. All on a book that lasted only eight months, four years ago."

Hibbs replied with, "John, I'm not sure what you're trying to imply, but I have paper records dating back to April '89 showing how many copies I ordered, had preordered, and sales week-by-week for the first four weeks. They're called Cycle Sheets, and they're a primary tool for a DM retailer.

"It took less than 10 minutes to find and transcribe my LAB RATS sheet. Give me 24 hours, and I could make you a chart of how I've sold the last 204 issues of BATMAN, as well.

"As for the anecdote, that situation really stuck with me over the last four years because of the 'retailers hate Byrne' threads and comments that started being really noticeable at that time. I saw a pretty direct cause-and-effect of that thread (again, I think it was on ComicCon), and the individual who got indigent at me over #8. Those kinds of things stick with you.

"I don't doubt, for one second that there are retailers who refuse to order (whatever) -- there are, have been, and always will be short-sighted people in any field or endeavour. What I do very very much doubt, however, is that the 'problem' in your specific case is a) at all wide-spread, or b) impacts your bottom-line circulation figures by anything but the teeniest amount. Some little store that's only selling 10 rack copies of their very very best-seller not carrying your work absolutely pales before the buying power of a JHU or Golden Apple or a Phoenix Comics or a Coliseum or a Lone Star or or or or or...."

More in the link.

Mind you, Bug-Eating Brian Hibbs has shown he does a bit of hating himself, saying he's decided he's never going to order an Avatar comic again, no matter what because they shipped their entire horror line in one week.

Including the upcoming Alan Moore OGN next year, I presume…

In the thread, Byrne also stated "CHAPTER ONE was one of the best selling titles Marvel put out that year. They asked for CHAPTER TWO, which they would not have without a solid performance from the first series."

I emailed Paul O'Brien, industry stats keeper, extrapolator and wit. He told me "SPIDER-MAN: CHAPTER ONE spent a grand total of one month in the Top Ten, namely October 1998, when issues #1 and #2 charted at 10 and 8 respectively - just below SLINGERS #1. Then it dropped down to the midtable, and it ended up at number 49 by the end of its run.

"The first two issues did beat the 100,000 mark, which was unusual for the time. So an arguable case can be made that it was 'one of the best selling titles Marvel put out that year,' if you're prepared to judge that solely by the sales of the first month. By the time it finished, CHAPTER ONE was being outsold by 28 other Marvel titles (including dross like MUTANT X and CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS II), with a further 19 below it."

But as we've learned, you can prove anything with facts.


[Green Light]Recently, Todd McFarlane published "Sam & Twitch: The Bendis Collection." In the intro to same, Todd writes about how wonderful it was that Bendis wrote the series and how he feels proud of having hired Bendis before his star rose on titles such as "Ultimate Spider-Man."

Not wonderful or proud enough, to not fire Bendis from "Sam And Twitch" when Bendis dropped writing "Hellspawn" to work on those titles, however.


[Yellow Light]On the Bendis Board, Bald Steve posted about the upcoming "Superman Returns" DVD project.

Yup, that's how desperate I am this week. Cutting and pasting from the Bendis board. Honestly…

"DISCLAIMER #1: This comes from a guy whose name appears within the first 30-50 listed in the opening credits so I would think this stuff is legit. It is all heresay, though, so take what you will and leave the rest.

"1. Wait before buying the DVD unless you just want a bare-bones edition with only a few deleted scenes and such. There's an extended edition coming which will include a pretty long sequence where Supes is piloting a Kryptonian spaceship (just like the crystal one he took to Earth) and actually finds a pretty large chunk of the planet. Here is where several more Brando scenes occur as well as other scenes with the actress who played Kal-El's mother (digitally recreated, obviously). Singer demanded all effects be finished so this stuff is already in the can. It will NOT be on the initial DVD release, though, as it is already complete.

"2. That scene where Clark throws the baseball out to the horizon and the dog looks him like, "Yeah, right"? In a deleted scene set later that night over dinner the dog actually returns with the ball. Clark picks it up, spins it on the table and the spinning ball morphs into the Daily Planet Globe and serves as a pretty cool transition to Metropolis. I don't believe this will appear on the initial DVD release either.

"3. The entire process slowed to a crawl towards the end because…."

Well, let's leave that for now, shall we? You can always click on the link…


[Green Light]

This is a mock-up cover to "Civil Wardrobe," coming out from Brain Scan Comics in October, written by me, drawn by everyone and listed in next month's Previews.

As the Old Fanboy Warriors are killed in a mysterious explosion, the President of the USA announces the Decompression Act. Split in two, the superheroes must redesign themselves with new costumes, names and abilities for the upcoming battle…

It will be incredibly hard to find on the shelves I'm guessing. I suggest that if you'd be interested in picking up this rather entertaining part of your collection, in a couple of weeks enquire to your retailer concerning its availability.

Basically, nag them until they promise to order you a copy. If only to see Fred Hembeck draw Captain American Idol.

The cover artist, Mark Stafford, is currently engrossed in a graphic novel for Dark Horse, written by Bryan Talbot. He's probably the greatest British cartoonist without any profile in the USA. The last thing I recall was, ironically, in my own X-Flies comic ten years ago. This will change.

He's also in residence at the Cartoon Museum, a wonderful place tucked away place near Gosh Comics and the British Museum in London with thousands of cartoons and pages of comic art to browse through. It's worth anyone's time - and you get to poke Mark Stafford with a stick. There are also free family days on second Saturdays in the month

As for Brian Hibbs' 20/80 description above - well, Gosh Comics is preordering 50 copies of "Civil Wardrobe" and Silver Bullet Comics are ordering 100. Obviously, I'll be directing people towards those stores if their own fails to get enough copies, but it feels strange to see that between the two stores, out of the two and a half thousand Diamond accounts, that's going to be 10% of the print run alone, right there. Not so much 20/80 as 2/98

Civil Wardrobe is lettered, edited and produced by Thomas Mauer, who's proving a real gem in my attempts to control the world. However I don't have him all to myself, over at Silent Devil he's been a technical assistant and letterer on the "Jim Reaper" one shot by Dwight MacPherson.

Get off him, Dwight, he's mine.

Nice comic though. Mmmm.

Hang on, I seem to have deviated something rotten. A bit like "Civil Wardrobe" does.


[Green Light]Michael Chabon has already talked about his unsuccessful X-Men movie pitch ten years ago. This week, he's talking about pitching his Fantastic Four movie idea before even that.

"The story, then, is the ironic one of how the FF save their world from turning into ours -- and of how Reed and Sue finally come together. The Torch and Thing would play an ancillary role, here, I guess, although there's always Alicia Masters to come between them."

The fans would have hated it. Mind you they hated the 2005 one too, so who knows.

Hat Tip: Film Ick - which also has Neil Marshall directing "The Incredible Hulk."


[Green Light]Seems to be a lot of nice art going around the place.

A strange Sean Philips original piece…


[Green Light]Doctor Who ended on Saturday. It was great, wonderful, stupendous, obviously but…

Well, there has been some criticism of sexual messages in the last two series of the show. All that "dancing," Captain Jack's bisexuality and what not. There was a little less of that this series. But it seems Russell T "Queer As Folk" Davies was just waiting for the last episode to, well, climax.

This was the Big Bad from the last episode.

If Rose or Mickey touch it then it opens up and spurts out...

Russell, Russell, Russell…


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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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