LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 45
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.
TATE TART – Updated 1:45 PM
I popped along to the Tate Britain’s rather wonderful exhibition on Henry Fuseli, William Blake and the Romantic movement entitled Gothic Nightmares.
Alan Moore was doing a talk that day, which packed the place out, much to the delight of the diminutive Tate staff member, whose eyes were gleaming with the untraditional Tate Britain demographic that was filling the room.
Alan Moore in front of “The Oath on the Rütli” by Henry Fuseli.
Moore stated that he suspected he’d been asked to do a talk over the superficial similarities some people see between Blake’s work and that often featured in comic books. Any other similarities Moore dismissed citing Blake’s artistic intent and life experiences, placing all comic book creators below him. Moore would only allow two comic creators to be compared to Blake, Jack Kirby and Al Schwartz. The former, for his simple bold romantic religious strokes in both art, theme and story, and the latter for his eventual belief that Superman existed in a very real sense.
Click here for Moore’s retelling of an Al Schwartz anecdote.
Moore also stated that Blake’s life was one lived in poverty and ignominy, while these days comic book creators are lauded for their successes. He stated that Fuseli never reached Blake’s heights in his opinion, because of Fuseli’s early success and relative comfort, telling an anecdote of Fuseli coming across Blake eating scraps of meat and stating that he could never achieve what Blake did because he could not live without comforts as Blake did.
This comparison of Fuseli and Blake’s achievements struck a chord, especially how it relates to Alan Moore’s decision to remove himself from moneys and credit from Hollywood work, and recent criticism of this decision by Peter David. David stated on his blog’s comments:
“I’ve seen way too many stories about once-famous writers living in one-room, freezing cold apartments because they’re out of ideas, or their ideas are out of style, and bottom line, they’re out of money. Writers having to take menial jobs just to make ends meet. Forrey Ackerman– in his day and in his way, as famous as Alan– had to sell off his entire famed memorabilia collection just to survive. Why else was ACTOR formed if there isn’t a general acknowledgement of this problem?
“Alan (whom I’ve never met) is tossing away enough money to guarantee a comfortable old age. It’s easy enough now for people to cluck about the evils of Hollywood and heap accolades on Alan for refusing to take the money. And forty years from now, if you read a story about poor Alan Moore, once famous, now destitute, are you going to sigh and say, ‘Oh, dear, what a tragedy. How depressing,’ and then turn to the sports section? Or are you going to ponder the words of Samuel Johnson: ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.’
“Now I don’t know about you, but personally, I’d rather see Alan Moore live a well-deserved long and comfortable life, benefiting from the fruits of his labors instead of uprooting the tree.
“Others, of course, needn’t share that opinion.”
Moore yesterday made something clear. He believes inherently in two worlds, the world out there and the world inside our heads. Discussing a theme of his I first saw him explore explicitly in “Voice of The Fire,” he talked about how science can satisfactorily reduce everything aside from consciousness, how early man would have had far more separation between lobes of the brain and that thoughts would have been as real events as rocks, the sky and animals, explained as coming from gods, spirits or demons, that Blake suffered a bipolar viewpoint, and that this led to the conclusion that the material world is nowhere near as important as the internal world. But that the former can distract from the latter.
I think Moore sees himself as Fuseli. Someone who had early success, and had comfort as a result. “Watchmen” is his Nightmare. I think Moore wishes to be more like Blake. And so rejects material comfort for his own principles, rejecting the external for the internal, no matter how much it may harm him. Because that’s not important. And he’s much happier pursuing the route he is taking. Others may see him as cutting off his nose to spite his face, but for Moore, noses and faces aren’t as important as they might be to others.
Moore’s also been in the news… below is a scan from the front page of the Post, concerning Alan Moore’s support of a Northampton campaign, Defend Council Housing, targeted against a combination of developers, gerrymanderers, councillors and government officials.
Moore’s artwork is “a cartoon that is showing a view not dissimilar to the one from the top of Scarletwell Street looking up to the tower blocks which is a view I remember very well from my childhood
“You’re looking up from somewhere around the top end of Spring Lane School and you’ve got a gigantic, very fat cat that is pulling back one of the skyscrapers and, with a look of vicious greed in its eyes, is leaning forward to rake its claws across Scarletwell Street”
100 posters will be printed and put on sale, with the original artwork sold on eBay. Lying In The Gutters will provide availability information when we have it.
SWIPE FILE OF THE DEAD
From Ennis and Robertson’s “The Boys.”
Or Simon Pegg, off of “Spaced,” “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Faith In The Future?” After forwarding the images to him, Simon told me “That’s quite the most brilliant thing I have seen and will see all day and I have just leapt through a plate glass window!”
You know, appearing in a Garth Ennis comic isn’t always good for your health. Just ask Neil Gaiman.
Simon’s weblog for his new film with Edgar Wright Jr, “Hot Fuzz,” appears here. In which Bill Bailey has a role. Ooh, it’s all just so cyclical isn’t it? “Hot Fuzz” is scheduled to come out on 16th February.
Also at the Tate Britain event was comedian Stewart Lee, author/director of “Jerry Springer The Opera.” Lee interviewed Moore for BBC Radio 4’s Chain Reaction, before Moore would go onto interview Brian Eno. The second series is almost at an end, but if you’re quick you can catch Bill Bailey interviewing Simon Pegg – which includes updates on the future of “Spaced.” Basically a one-hour finish-it-all-off special.
The show is available on the BBC website to “Listen Again” until Wednesday.
Thanks to Film Ick for all Pegg links.
Marvel Comics characters smoking on panel, bad example to children.
Marvel Comics characters licensed as online gambling games, clearly designed to appeal to an adult audience. Or something.
Place your bets as to how long it takes for someone to have a word with whoever signed off on this one…
Randy Stradley is Vice President of Publishing for Dark Horse, who publishes Star Wars comics, licensed from Lucasfilm. He’s also heavily active on the Dark Horse message boards. And last week, there was a little friction between the two.
Understand this. Star Wars comics sell. So do Star Wars novels. There’s lots of them, there’s a fanatical audience, they make money, and they’re all beholden to the mighty Brand Of Lucas. Lucasfilm are known for their attention, diligence and micromanagement on occasion when it comes to presenting Star Wars material.
Del Ray publish the Star Wars novels and last year, hired author Karen Traviss to write novel spinoffs from the Star Wars computer game “Republic Commando.” The novel “Hard Contact” is into its eighth printing and the sequel, “Triple Zero,” has just been published. This is considered a very successful extension of the brand.
On the Dark Horse message board however, Randy referred to the sequel like this, “Sorry. I tried reading it, but couldn’t get past the opening. First, I couldn’t for the life of me imagine a clone trooper keeping a journal — let alone a novel-style journal like the one presented. To whom does he think he’s writing? Who is his audience?
“Second, the opening line, ‘You have to see the funny side of things in the army,’ seemed complete incongruous. See the funny side of things in the army as compared to what? As a clone trooper raised in a factory, what other experiences has he had besides being in the army?
“Ms. Traviss might be a fine writer, but the opening sentences of ‘Triple Zero’ booted me right out of the story, and my own ‘offended’ sense of logic wouldn’t let me continue.”
When one reader responded, “So Ms.T won’t be writing for Dark Horse anytime soon.”
Randy replied “I didn’t say that.
“But I’m sure I’m a different kind of editor from the folks at Del Rey.”
And when told of later content of the book, added, “Clones falling in love?
“Clones freakin’ falling in freakin’ love?!
“[Randy looks around at the rapidly shrinking raft that was the Star Wars that he and Jeremy knew and loved. Kicks Jeremy off. “Sorry, pal. It looks like there’s only room for one, now.”]”
From a standard Star Wars fan, this kind of public message would be par for the course, tame even. But possibly not when you’re Vice President of a publisher behind another Star Wars brand extension with significant audience crossover. On a messageboard where people are more than willing to forward your messages on. A new thread began.
“In the less than twenty-four hours that have passed since I voiced my opinion about the opening paragraphs of Karen Traviss’ novel ‘Republic Commando: Triple Zero,’ at least three people (that I know of) have read additional, unintended meanings into my relatively brief post…
“First of all, as I made it clear in my post, I did not read the whole novel. I’ve heard it’s a good read, and I will, in all likelihood, give it a complete read at some point in the near future.
“Now, pay attention to this next part, because it’s the crux of the matter: My gripes should in no way be perceived as directed at Ms. Traviss, Del Rey, or at any of the fine folks at Lucasfilm. My gripes are directed at the ether, at the zeitgeist, or at whatever undetectable community spirit moved everyone but myself (and possibly Jeremy Barlow, though I will not speak for him) to view the nature and aspect of the clones in the Clone Wars in a certain way — a way different from how I viewed them.
“See, I pictured the clones (based solely on what I saw in the films) as less-than fully developed humans. Possessing more of a sense of imagination (i.e., better problem solving skills) and more mission flexibility than any droid, but molded on a military framework that allowed concerns for little more than chain of command, mission parameters, and loyalty to the Republic and their fellow soldiers. In other words, I never envisioned them as being capable of possessing the hopes, dreams, desires (beyond the completion of their current mission) of a “normal” human. But I now see that I am in the extreme minority (lessee, there’s me, and maybe Jeremy, and… well, me, for sure).
“So, do I take the news like a man? Do I accept with calm reserve that the truth is other than what I imagined it to be? What — have you not been paying attention?
“Of course I don’t accept it. I rail against it, kick its mighty stone foundation until my toes are bruised, shake my fist at its towering battlements, and make off-hand comments that can be misconstrued as criticism of those lucky souls working within the same system as I, but who have not been afflicted the same way I have. Long story short, I act like a dumb-ass.
“I apologize to any readers who mistakenly thought I was on a crusade against the status quo, or who somehow thought that I thought that I ever had a chance.
“And, I apologize to the folks at Del Rey who may have taken offense at my comments. Even though we all work in the same arena, theirs is a different job than mine — and one I would not presume to oversee.
“To Ms. Traviss, my sincerest apologies for any perceived slight. Please know that my comments were in no way meant to be taken as an indictment of your skills or your work. As I stated above, my grief is all of my own making.
“And, last but not least, I want to apologize to the people at Lucas Licensing, who I count as friends, with whom I work every day, and without whom everything Jeremy and I do would quickly go off the rails. No one should ever blame them for my occasional rants, and I’m truly sorry if they were caught in the fall-out from this one.
“So, let that be a lesson to me to keep my big mouth shut. Especially when I know I have the weight of the entire Star Wars galaxy teetering above my head.”
Don’t Fuck With The Force, perhaps? And would it be churlish to compare Randy’s claims of addressing the ether, with his question as to just what audience a clone would believe his diary would have…?
I hear a potential return to the Onslaught/Heroes Reborn is being planned by Marvel to follow up their recent “Age Of Apocalypse” revisitation. Along with an insanely-demanded TPB collection of the ten year old crossover, it looks like Rob Liefeld will be revisiting the world he recreated.
No jokes about Captain America’s breasts. Save them for a more appropriate venue.
WHO IS THAT MASKED MARVEL? – Updated 1:45 PM
In “Civil War,” Speedball dies. And Joe Quesada has been rather gloating about it.
In the June Marvel Previews, the ‘Young Avengers” #12 and “X-Men” #187 listings include a sidebar with a sketch of a character, and the text: “Includes an 8-page bonus story featuring the first appearance of the Masked Marvel!”
This new character is a young guy with blonde hair who wears a costume that covers his hair, and has an energy signature that’s circular, with a couple smaller circles coming off it… and sports the name “Masked Marvel” – the same name Speedball originally used for himself back in the first Steve Ditko series years ago…
All seven Speedball fans are currently willing that this isn’t as obvious a red herring as it appears to be…
FOUR TO END WITH – Updated 1:45 PM
Gail Simone’s “Tranquility?” Series about old-age superheroes?
I just hope it will look more like this.
“V For Vendetta?” Could have been worse.
And Power Girl, if her costume existed in the real world.
Wally Wood lives.
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