LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 52
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.
Quotes Of The Week - "It would be great if DC hired a continuity editor" - Geoff Johns. "He'd be dead in a fucking week" - Howard Chaykin, at the DC Panel, Bristol.
Back from Bristol's Comic Expo in a blur… as are any and every photo I tried to take. Apologies for the quality…
Mike Allwood. "I made this!
Tony from Knockabout. "Are Customs coming???"
Kieron Gillen hands out comics and warns children
Tommy Lee Edwards…
…being Joel Meadows' bitch.
End Of The Earth Is Nigh steals the show
Al Davison visits MAM TOR!!!
Bryan Talbot moonlights as a bouncer
Natalie Sandalls showing off her superior tech
Alex De Campi and a wall of Manga
Pat Sullivan of Diamond UK holds court
Playing Buckaroo with Jamie Boardman
The Eagle Awards were held at Bristol on Saturday night. Hosted by comedian, musician and comics fan Mitch Benn (his "Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now" still plays in the wee hours on some cable stations) he began with a song dedicated to an early life steeped in 2000AD, before an array of British comics people stood up to hand out awards, and Bob Wayne stood up to accept most of them, the table groaning under the weight of golden eaglets - although not before Mitch had led everyone in an Elvis-style singalong of "Happy Birthday," Bob, coincidentally, is as old as the name of a certain weekly comic that debuted last week.
There were highlights, there always are. Tony Lee accepted Axel Alonso's award for best editor with "Axel cannot be here to accept this award as he is a Marvel editor and this is Bristol." Dez Skinn took his opportunity when handing best British colour comic book to "Judge Dredd Megazine" to slag the comic off something rotten, implying it is not long for this world, before being slapped down by one of the awards organisers. And for some reason they asked me to present the award for "Best Villain." I also accepted the Best Webcomic Award on behalf of Batton Lash and Jackie Estrada for "Supernatural Law."
A wonderful mess as always, which nicely set the tone for the rest of the night.
Tony Lee and Danny B, from the comic "Gloom," wore top hats and tails, didn't go to bed, fell out of a tree and went on some bizarre Sunday panels. Tony had to drink home on ProPlus and coffee enemas. But they did at least get a football chant song out of it -
"Tony Lee, Tony Lee, he wrote a back up story in 'Amazing Fantasy,' Tony Lee! Danny B, Danny B, he got quite drunk with Tony and he went to climb a tree, Danny B!"
Two fans attempted to perform a Fastball Special. And I was on hand to badly record it. Turn your head, it's worth it. Click here to watch it.
People were sellotaped to chairs, Dez Skinn tapdanced, the bar was (as always) overrun and drained to its last drop… the wonder that is Leah Moore held court… my WarrenPhone destroyed the DC Vertigo panel… Howard Chaykin's bladder was the topic of everyone's conversation… Alan Davis was on Full Hard Cynical Alert… Dave Gibbons and Geoff Johns decided to plot future "Green Lantern Corps," but only after a few drinks…the walls and walls of manga…
Bristol also held host to the legendary Hypotheticals panel, hosted by Dave Gibbons and written by Lee Barnett. Naturally none of the responses can be printed, but a line from the script, describing the parallel world that Hypotheticals takes place on, Earth-Dave, did include the proviso "And on this world, you wear a swimming suit before taking legal counsel"…
British conventions have often been the same old faces seeing each other once or twice a year. This year, with queues out of the door, there was a clear new fanbase filling the bar until 2 in the morning, fuelled by a boom in self-published works. Notable this year were "The End Of The World Is Nigh" now onto its third quality-filled volume.
Jock and Diggle's new DC project wasn't announced. Neither was the new artist on "Desolation Jones." But there were a few interesting things I heard, both on and off the record.
"God Save The Queen" is a new original graphic novel from DC Vertigo announced by Bob Wayne at the Bristol convention. Written by Mike Carey and composed by John Bolton, it's a "Sandman Presents" title featuring a young London girl with possible faerie heritage who hangs out with a bad faerie crowd patrolling a Faerie border, as a coup breaks out.
BLACK OUT SOMETIME
I'm given to understand that "Blackout" is a new Wildstorm series by Geoff Johns and Howard Porter. Nothing more is known...well not by me, anyway. Not exactly unusual, that.
Risk and Argent are both members of "Teen Titans East." However, the book, reported by Dan DiDio and written by Geoff Johns has yet to be internally scheduled.
FACT OR FICTION?
The Vertigo panel commented on the "Fables" coincidences. Just as Snow White was made pregnant, so was editor Shelly Bond. As a marriage was plotted, so artist Mark Buckingham announced his own engagement. As a result, Bill Willingham is writing a spinoff series "Jack Of Fables," where Jack is chased down by Hollywood starlets…
WRITES OF PASSAGE
The Write Stuff panel was an incredibly interesting panel moderated by Tony Lee, with Alan Davis, Geoff Johns and David Hine talking about the issues with writing existing long running series or concepts. But it was the tangents that made the panel.
Alan Davis presented either a cynical or realistic interpretation of the industry, where writers, needing to increase their salary after royalty payments disappeared as the norm, stretched their story ideas into multiple issue arcs, a five issue arc taking less time to write that five separate stories, so that they could write more titles. And artists demanding that editorial ask writers to give them splash and double splash pages for extra resale value. And editorially driven comics deriving from set plot points, and the writer's job nothing more than finding acceptable ways to join the dots.
He made David Hine look like an irrepressible optimist in comparision. Great panel.
Away from Bristol now… though I'll scatter a few bullet points throughout.
Recently, Joe Quesada restated Marvel's commitment to not featuring characters smoking, and that anything that slips through is an artistic glitch not spotted by an editor.
Last week however, Wolverine featured handing out packets of Lucky Strike, as an actual plot point.
Damn. Looks like that product placement is really getting out of hand.
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>>Howard Chaykin believes the Oans are highly evolved Smurfs.
BACK TO THE GIRLS
The world is going to have a problem with Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's "Lost Girls."
That's what I reckon anyway. No matter how much equivocation is expressed to critics along the lines of "but they are just drawings," "it's a valid artistic statement and experiment" or "you're just falling into the traps that the book is intent on exposing," there is little that will get in the way that this is a comic book, being sold in comic shops, bookshops and through online services, that features young children having graphic sex with each other and with adults. Not only that, but many of the characters are drawn from classic children's literature, in a way that the original creators would be appalled at.
Thanks to "V For Vendetta," Alan Moore's name is never better known in the media's eye than right now.
Throw in the fact that Great Ormond Street Hospital receives money from any exploitation of the Peter Pan copyright, and that's a brick of gelignite with the Daily Mail and Fox News on hand to give it a good shake.
Expect massive media coverage and predictable outrage from all sides. People's belief in free speech and artistic expression will be challenged. Questions asked in Congress, in Parliament. Comic shops exposed, as well as the people who work there. Customs and Vice Squads put to use. The CBLDF on overtime. Boycotts of Moore's work, of Top Shelf's work, pickets at shops that sell the book. You might even see a mob descending upon Moore's Northampton home.
None of this is in any way fantastical. All is perfectly possible.
A number of people have said they can't understand why certain Muslims acted as they did over the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. This could well be the Western equivalent.
Which side are you on?
I asked a few professionals their thoughts, based on the above. The following are from those who chose to reply:
David Lloyd - "I'd be surprised if there was a lot of trouble, but if there is it'll be healthy to get a real debate going that might once and for all get the general public to accept that 'comics ' are an unlimited medium of expression that must be allowed to be so. And great publicity for the book."
Leah Moore - "I think they'd both feel swizzed if it didn't cause a furore.
"I think that there are more pornographic and more obscene things in print, in comics and in fiction, (I've seen Manara'a latest while I was in Denmark and he has The Pope doing unspeakable things to youths and nursing mothers and in another tome, a woman yet again fucking a donkey).
[That would be Milo Manara, the new "X-Men" artist - Rich]
"I don't think Peter Pan is named; they have had the foresight to avoid actually breaching copyright laws. It will cause a stink on some scale, but then it doesn't take much to do that. WH Smiths wouldn't sell 'Oink' for example. The head of Borders says they won't be carrying it yet they have the complete 'Crumb,' which also has incest, people having sex with minors, not to mention lots of other difficult material.
"If The Guardian is prepared to reprint 'Crumb' then the mass media should be able to have a rational debate about the issues raised by 'Lost Girls.'
"If it does get onto the radar of the red tops, I think it will be too weird and arty a book for them to be too appalled by. No-one knows if it will make it into the country yet, less obscene things have been seized by customs before now.
"All this said, obviously I can't know what effect it will have when it arrives, especially in America. I also don't know if this type of speculation on the subject will have a positive effect on the launch or a negative one.
"If the CBLDF think the book is defendable, then it must be. Surely they'd have the most experience on that kind of thing?
"I doubt my dad and Mel would devote 16 years to a project like this and then be really shocked by the response to it, so we can only assume that that is the whole point.
"I dislike intensely the thought of 'a mob descending upon Moore's Northampton home,' but then I would wouldn't I?"
Paul Gravett - "You're right to raise this - and you know which side I'm on, as you've seen me write about 'Lost Girls; in the Graphic Novels book and I helped write Top Shelf's press release for the book. Plans are advancing for a major public discussion and signing here with Alan and Melinda, too."
Paul Jenkins - "Well, I have been pretty familiar with this project since its inception. Remember, it was originally a 'Mad Love' project for Tundra. God... that means it has been in the works for over 15 years. In those days, Alan used to describe the project (half jokingly) as 'good porn.' But he was serious in wanting to do something erotic that had a serious story, good characterization, etc.
"I did not know, however, that the story would eventually depict children having sex. That is quite a surprise, I must say. I think I am a little torn on the subject because I loathe child porn and the exploitation of children.
"On the one hand it reminds me that if Mike Diana was prosecuted for 'Boiled Angel' (which he absolutely should not have been, IMO) then Alan and Melinda are going to possibly face some hurdles along the way. I don't know, of course, because I have not seen the material yet so I can only go on a summarization of its content.
"But if anyone has earned our trust as a writer it would be Alan Moore. I know from some of our conversations that Alan has always wanted to simply 'get it right' as far as his work goes. He wholeheartedly believes in the work he produces, he has a track record of handling difficult material with extraordinary guile, and he is a pretty uncompromising guy when people try to tell him what he 'should have done.'
"My guess is the work will be amazing as usual. If it depicts children having sex then I have no doubt it would be handled as honestly and frankly as Alan handles everything else. If these scenes you describe are distasteful to me I am of the inclination to put the book back on the shelf and move on. It may be a case of Alan honestly not wanting to shy away from an idea if he feels it makes the story work -- that sounds like his usual M.O.
"But I tell you, Rich, that is a tough one."
Mark Evanier - "You ask which side I'm on. Well, which sides are there to pick from? I'm certainly not on the side of anyone who'd picket a bookstore or organize boycotts or arrest creative people for creating. I would never support that kind of action against any writing or drawing, regardless of content.
"So I guess, if I'm going to take sides on this, I must be on the other side. I hope it's a side that believes in letting writers write and illustrators illustrate with only two possible penalties for doing work that someone finds offensive. Being criticized is one and being ignored is the other.
"Will people riot in the streets over 'Lost Girls?' I dunno. I haven't seen it and even if I had, I've found it near-impossible to predict what will trigger mass umbrage. I hope that kind of thing doesn't happen because it's a no-win situation for both protesters and protested. But outrage over printed matter is so illogical that you never know."
Dez Skinn - "Along with Alan's bizarre belief that if he didn't invoice me for Warrior work he wouldn't have to pay tax (oh, but Alan, I don't pay without an invoice...), it was his barrier-pushing risky approach which created the rift between us. Warrior was sold through WHS and, for everybody's sake, I couldn't afford to lose a significant chunk of distribution. But his principles (of not being edited) were more important to Alan than the effect his work would have on everybody else's livelihood.
"We were kicked out of Smiths because of the Bolland Zirk strip in W #3. We got back with #11 (hence the quick more V commercial cover last minute substitution by Garry instead of DL's original) and I didn't want it to happen again.
"Let's hope his barrier-pushing isn't detrimental to his latest publisher chum. Or more to the point, why doesn't he revive his own Mad Love publishing company and take the risk himself?"
Don Murphy - "The first releases garnered none, No one will care. No matter how hard you try to stir shit up yourself, Rich."
David Hine - "Which side am I on? Freedom of expression. Always. The only exception is art that exploits or abuses human beings (or animals). There is a huge gulf between film or photographs and a drawn image. No one is being exploited or abused by Melinda Gebbie's artwork. Art always has, always will and always should offend somebody. I supported the right of the Danish cartoonists to depict the prophet Mohammed in any way they want. I support the right of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie to publish "Lost Girls"."
Patty Jeres - "As I expected, I am somewhere in the middle. An artist is free to express. The press is free to cover. The publisher is enjoined to inform (here's where it may all fall down, esp. since the publisher is also president of the CBLDF one would think he'd have been more sensitive to this aspect of the process.) The bookseller/retailer is advised to remain informed and decide what to sell and how to display it. By the USA definition, pornography is a community standard. 'Real' art is often exempt. (But then we puritans are known to get our knickers in a twist.) The reader/consumer is free to purchase and read or ignore. On a personal level -- which I guess many might share -- I have much less problem with artistic renderings of children than I would of photos in the Body Shop-advisory way "no children were harmed... "
"I might worry about Alan and his reputation, but I suppose Alan doesn't. Other 'owners' and co-holders of his properties may have cause to worry but then people would have to be smart enough to put it all together."
Erik Larsen - "Depicting beloved childhood characters engaging in sexual behavior is generally reserved for snickering teenagers. It's nothing that interests me. Alan Moore's treatment of these characters doesn't change my affection for the source material. Those books will continue to exist on book shelves all over the world, intact and unaltered. I think it's kind of sick that somebody would want to see children having intercourse. Yes, I get it -- these kids are 'forever young' in their respective fairy worlds and would, therefore be considerably older than they appear, but don't try to tell me that a paedophile would make that distinction as he thumbs through the pages of this book and shakes hands with the unemployed. Still, at the end of the day, this may prove a healthy outlet for those perverts and no real children were harmed in the process. We can all be thankful for that. Alan generally entertains, so I imagine this will be a fair bit better than the efforts of the snickering teenagers. But I'm unlikely to check it out."
Chris Ryall - "I'm on the side of 'can't wait to read this book.' I think some of the possible reactions you mention below are hyperbole and exaggeration -- at least, I hope they are, although it'll be equally dismaying and unsurprising to me if they do come to pass. As you say, it's a work of slash-fiction from maybe the best writer this field has ever known, which is reason enough for me to want to see what it's all about. Luckily, in these types of cases, the work itself always far outlasts any potential uproar it may cause, so I look forward to any such controversy perhaps opening some more folks' eyes to the fact that graphic novels can be so much more than just superhero works, and then quieting down so we can all enjoy a good, titillating read in peace and quiet."
Steve Gerber - "Freud's."
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>> Look for The Question to get his own series from Greg Rucka.
When writing "New X-Men," Grant Morrison talked of a new age when we'd start to see people becoming super people, through genetics, technology or other enhancements.
Looks like L Ron Hubbard was ahead of him. Starting this summer, expect to see Super Scientologists! People who's inner Thetans have been atuned to super powers!
You know, if this had been a plotline on South Park, you'd have laughed.
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>> "Torchwood" was originally the name used to disguise the nature of Doctor Who film materials being sent from Cardiff to London. Then it took on a life of its own…
"Watchmen" #1 1986
"Beat Dis" by Bomb The Bass 1988
Cue the massive revival of the smiley face via ecstasy and dance culture in the late eighties and early nineties. And the current Wal-Mart fight. Thank you, "Watchmen."
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>> "Torchwood" plotpoint for being set in Cardiff, is due to the Space Time Rift established in Doctor Who episodes "The Unquiet Dead" and "Boomtown."
DON'T WALK AWAY…
There's been a lot of criticism of Ronee Garcia Bourgeois's columns regarding the incidents between Charles Brownstein and Taki Soma. Saying that her approach, with so many incorrect details that she refused to accept when confronted with the reality, a dogmatic approach that inflamed readers into threatening extreme acts of violence and generally not being journalism.
Guy Le Charles, the EIC of Buzzscope, the PopCultureShock news and opinion website has been defending Ronee at length, pointing out that her column is not journalism but opinion, despite much of her words being framed in terms of facts, and indeed, Ronee accepting compliments on being a journalist on her boards.
What everybody here is missing is that Ronee is clearly a journalist. She's just a bad one, that's all. There are plenty of those around. I've been accused of being one myself. So why pick on Ronee? All she did was put out false information concerning a serious and inflammatory event that could have life-changing effects, acting as judge, jury and executioner, ruining a few lives in the process, and making PopCulture Buzzscope the possible subject of litigation. I mean, come on, get a life, people.
And you know… while a fair few people have been criticising Newsarama, The Beat and Comics Journal for being biased over this… has anyone noticed the web address for Friends Of Lulu -- http://www.popcultureshock.com/lulu/ -- the charity behind the Fund?
Hey if everybody is biased, does that just kind of even out in the end?
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>> The new Miss Martian is based on Wizard writer Ben Morse's girlfriend Megan, and her secret identity is Megan Morse…
UP THE WIZARD'S SLEEVE
I understand that WizardUniverse is going to be going through a revamp, with frequent new material and a fan community to go up against the likes of CBR, Newsarama and Comicon Pulse.
To that extent they've been contacting a number of creators and possible writers. Here are two versions of the same letter they've been sending out
I'm sending this message to let you know there's going to be a new WizardUniverse! As we prepare to launch the new Wizard website on May 31, I wantto make sure you know about some of the new features of wizarduniverse.comand how [your company], its creators and comics can be a part of Wizard's newonline existence. The new Wizard Universe will feature breaking news,exclusive content and announcements from around the comic industry, alongwith regular columns by some of comics' top creators and comprehensivepreviews, reviews and resources for fans and creators alike. So how do youget involved? Just make sure firstname.lastname@example.org is included on yourmailing list for press releases and other news, and when it comes time tomake that big announcement, you'll know who to contact. We can't always fitall of the news, features and other content we'd like to have in the printversion of Wizard, so I hope to provide a more comprehensive look at comics,the people who create them and the industry itself on the newwizarduniverse.com. In addition to email@example.com, you can alsoreach me, Online Editor Rick Marshall, and the rest of the Wizard Universestaff at 845-268-2000 (ext.111). In the coming weeks, expect to hear from usas we spread the word about the new Wizard Universe. I hope to hear from youin the near future!
(845) 268-2000 ext. 111
I've got exciting news. Wizard will be relaunching its website, wizarduniverse.com, on May 31, which will provide yet another venue to promote _______ projects!
We will breaking news on an ongoing basis on our website which will allow us to dedicate even more feature pages to ______ content. Our new website will also allow us to supplement ______ editorial coverage with exclusive online comic previews and exclusive online content in addition to the exclusive deals we broker for magazine usage.
Expect to hear from wizarduniverse.com news editor Rick Marshall (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the coming weeks as we discuss specifics of coverage. I would also ask that you add email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to your press release routing list.
Thanks, and I'll talk to you soon!
151 Wells Avenue
Anyone want to have some fun with that "exclusive deals we broker for magazine usage" mention?
Wizard told me "Yeah, we've got some big things coming down the pipe. Can't say much, but you're not too far off the mark. Keep your eyes open on May 31."
I asked WizardUniverse how, as a daily news and features service, they might cover more controversial aspects of the industry as they happen day to day, such as the aforementioned CBLDF controversy, to no response, sadly.
Well WizardUniverse haven't asked me to do anything for them, the bastards. They probably like their DC advertising too much…
Here's their big ad
Remind me, what is it that black holes do again?
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>> Marvel writers' retreats have games and toys to play with in order to create a group mentality.
Dennis Calero, the artist of "X-Factor," has had a bit of stick for his portrayal of Wolfsbane, Rahne Sinclair, in the title. So he's decided to turn it into an opportunity for promotion!
Email him here with the subject line "Your Rahne Sucks" and either a reference to your preferred published version of Rahne, or your own drawing. And Dennis may well make a change or two. Dennis promises to at least send some original art to the winner of their version.
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>> As we speak, Alex Di Campi is pitching her new film at Cannes.
Kieron Gillen, pictured earlier, is the writer of the new Image mini-series, "Phonogram" drawn by Jamie McKelvie's. All the covers are swipes from classic albums from the Britpop boom. The first was Elastica, the second, pictured below for the first time, is from Black Grape. Future covers will include album covers from Oasis, Suede and Manic Street Preachers.
What, no Pulp?
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>>Paul Cornell, the writer of "Father's Day" for "Doctor Who" had recently pitched a Saturday evening superhero TV series to the BBC… but sadly it seems to have gone into limbo now.
This is a t-shirt design from "CSI: Dying In The Gutters".
So. Which of you bastards are going to make real ones? I want a cut, alright! And I don't mean my throat…
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>>Issue 25 of "52" has been written. Issue 17 has been completed.
Jared from OK Comics writes "Over last couple of years Free Comic Book Day has been a major event on our retail calendar. Personally I look forward to it on many levels. It draws people to our shop; it massively increases sales for the day; gets us local, national and sometimes international publicity, it makes visitors aware of comics they may not previously have been aware of, and this year it did a little bit for charity.
"We arrived in the morning to find a small line of people wanting to be the first to get the free books. My staff and I encouraged everybody to take as many of the comics as they wanted. Soon the shop was filling up with happy faces, young and old. And even though people had come along to pick up the free books they were all spending too, and spending lots. The whole morning we were rushed off our feet.
"We invited Oxfam down to the shop to promote their 'Control Arms' campaign. It's a petition for a global arms treaty which aims to prevent the deaths of the half a million people who're killed in armed violence every year. The petition is 'signed' by providing a self portrait. We had illustrators and photographers on hand to help out. Our shopping arcade was buzzing with life.
"Many of the visitors were surprised to find that we had more than just the advertised free comics available. We'd invited a few local small press creators to contribute to add a little local indie flavour, so had a small selection of black and white self published stuff on offer too. All through the afternoon we were kept busy and the Oxfam stall outside continued to draw attention.
"And we had buns. One of our favourite customers had decided to treat everybody to some Superman and OK Comics Buns. She must have made hundreds. Thanks Georgie.
"We ran out of free comics at about 5pm which just gave us enough time to clean the store, cash up and head for the pub. It was one of our busiest days ever.
"Free Comic Book Day is a great way to promote the store. Unlike spending money on print advertising, flyering or radio adverts we actually see results on the day and have control over how we market the comics and the store on a more personal level with each individual customer. In the first week since the event I lost track of the amount of customers, new and old, who've revisited the shop and asked about comics they'd picked up.
"From a business point of view FCBD was a great success, we took more than enough money to cover the cost of running the event; and from a comic book ambassador point of view it was a great success too, we got people into comics that they wouldn't normally buy.
"I wish that Free Comic Book Day was more often than just once a year. Well, guess what. At OK Comics, it is. Just for the people that couldn't make it in on the Saturday we're hosting a mid week Free Comic Book EVENING, as part of Leeds Shopping Week, a city wide celebration of retail. Hopefully we'll expose even more people to the delights of comic books."
>>> BRISTOL BULLET >>> Geoff Johns would like to write Nightwing. Howard Chaykin would like to write prewar Superman stories.
PLUGGING THE GAP
I've been busy myself. Still a wonderful selection of Grant Morrison and other comics on my eBay list. And I recently starred in another RichAndMark.com film, "Behinder." Still haven't been killed yet.