As this column goes live, my plane back to England will be taking off. Please, terrorists and/or freedom fighters, leave the Virgin Air 11.10PM flight from Cape Town to London Heathrow alone. Thank you.

On Saturday I'll be visiting Tate Britain with my copywriter colleague Cindy to take in the splendour of the Gothic Nightmares exhibition. And, while we're there, hear Alan Moore talk, not about "V For Vendetta," but about Henri Fuselli and those he influenced.

Should be educational. And please, people, don't bring your Vs to be signed. Bring your "From Hells," "Mirror Of Loves," "Voice Of The Fires" or "Small Killings." You'll get a much better reception.

Better still, just enjoy the performance.

The Village Voice is kind to credit me with the Alan Moore/V For Vendetta interview that kicked off the current fuss. Makes a nice change...


[Yellow Light]Last time the speculator boom hit, it raised the whole market. Hell, copies of "Hate" sold 30,000. This time, it's just Marvel and DC, and in particular their central superhero titles, while lesser known titles are seeing their sales fall.

I hear quite a lot of advance movement from chaps wishing to cash in on the upcoming "Action Comics" #839, shipping in May. The solicitation includes the phrase "and three unexpected words mark a turning point for Lois and Clark".

Speculation by speculators (and who better to engage in such) are calling this the moment that Lois tells Clark she's pregnant. This is bolstered by the solicitation for "Superman" #652, that indicated that dueing the One Year Later gap, Clark is made vulnerable - which nicely sidesteps the whole Larry Niven-penned dilemma.

Okay. Who'll be first with an embossed silver cover then?

You know, now that Speakeasy's gone, there is no much-needed second print of "The Flying Friar." That media-featured comic is officially rare. And I'd be happy to personally emboss your cover with a blunt pencil if you'd like.


[Green Light]George Pratt's declaration that the DC series "Solo" has been cancelled before his issue sees print has been widely reported. What hasn't been is some of the other artists whose work will be entering the infamous DC Bottom Drawer, never to be seen again... Berni Wrightson, Brian Stelfreeze, Jill Thompson, Brendan McCarthy, Kevin Nowlan, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez...

Cancelled Solo Cavalcade anyone?


[Green Light]The DC solicitations for the "Superman Returns" books were quite exciting. Including:


Story by Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris

Script by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray

Art by John Byrne

Cover by Adam Hughes

Produced in conjunction with Superman Returns director Bryan Singer and screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, four astonishing one-shots bridge the gap between Superman II and Superman Returns!

In the first, revisit the Man of Steel's origins and see the first glimmers of what has transpired since he left the Earth at the end of Superman II!

On sale June 7 o 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Byrne was asked on his board, "Given your repeated bashing of Singer's Superman John, why are you now working on his version of the mythos timed it seems to promote said flick?"

He replied, "As of this morning, I am not. When Dan DiDio offered me the job, it was to be the first issue of a four-part adaptation of the original Donner/Reeve movie. Apparently, it has morphed into something else entirely, so I have withdrawn from the project.

"Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will be continuing on 'The Atom,' however."

Okay. No one tell him that his Atom inker worked on "The Authority," okay? We need our Byrne-goodness.


[Green Light]On the Ethan variant Green Lantern cover story last week... it's almost true. Just without the variant bit. Ethan writes, "I'm the regular cover artist with GL #15."

There you go then.


[Green Light]I know Swipe Files are usually left till the end of the column, but that's because they're usually silly and this one I thought deserved higher prominence.

It appears that one entrant, Hendra Wahjudi, in TokyoPop's Rising Stars Of Manga talent competition liked the famed manga series "Blade Of The Immortal" so much that they lightboxed panels and pages as part of their submission, "Samurai Zombie." Which got through undetected and into the top twenty of the competition.

Click here for more comparisons...


[Green Light]One point that's been raised concerning a piece published in LITG a fortnight ago on the illegal download of DC Comics, and whether DC are preparing a similar strategy to that of Marvel.

I've been told from a DC source that DC does not believe they own the digital rights to their comics outright, and that clarifying that may be a lot more complicated than it's worth.

Marvel clearly believe they do own the rights - and contracts are much more severe in the rights they tie down.

So, expect more DVDs, CDs and online comics from Marvel. And not from DC.


[Green Light]The "Judge Dredd Megazine" is a monthly, more adult version of "2000AD" published by Rebellion. And it's taking quite a novel stance.

Matt Smith, editor of both comics, is asking small press creators to submit work, up to six pages long, for free reproduction in the pages of the "Megazine," based on Rebellion properties or not. More information can be gleaned from Matt here.

Andy Diggle used to be editor of "2000AD" and the "Megazine." A few years ago, this kind of scheme was put to him on the Usenet newsgroups, to which he responded strongly in the negative.

I asked Andy Diggle if he held by his earlier statements and how he reacted to the news.

"If this is what it looks like, it's contemptible. Rebellion isn't a charity - they obviously intend to profit from this work, and the creators obviously deserve to be paid for it. Anything else is exploitation, pure and simple. The mere fact that some individuals might be happy to be exploited doesn't make it right."

Well, Matt Smith seems to have clarified this a little. He told me, "From 'Judge Dredd Megazine' issue 244 (on sale 5 April 06), the cover price is dropping to £2.99 from £4.50, and the page count is being trimmed to 64pp. Concurrent with that is an obvious reduction in editorial budget. I want to give the readers the best value comic that I possibly can within the budget limitations available to me, and I wanted to reduce the amount of reprint in the Meg to the lowest its been since reprint has been included, way back in 1996. I aim to reduce the pages of reprint to no more than 6 or 7 pages per issue.

"To do this, it was decided to open up a platform of 6pp per issue to small and indie press writers and artists. They would be able to craft a story using their own characters, and not necessarily be constricted to the sci-fi genre. They would be able to plug their own titles/websites, and also retain copyright on their story. However, the published work will be unpaid. This enables me to funnel money back into the comic to generate original work, rather than rely on reprint. It also gives the readers more variety and an opportunity to see fresh work by up-and-coming creators that they might normally have missed (and possibly lead them to try out other independent titles), as well as allowing the small-pressers an opportunity to have their work appreciated by a much wider audience.

"The Megazine has always been about finding and nurturing new talent - the likes of Robbie Morrison, Gordon Rennie and Frank Quitely, to name but a few, have all developed through its pages - and this is an opportunity to make the Meg even more inclusive. The response I've had from the small-press community has been one of excitement and interest, and they've been eager to supply material for the ongoing slot."

Further discussion continues here.

Of course I'm submitting something. Obviously.


[Green Light]I understand Open Books has made Adam Fortier an offer for the rights to Speakeasy Comics, but he has declined to sell, even though he is closing the publishing operation. Unlike CrossGen or Dreamwave, the company hasn't gone bankrupt, so it might indicate undeclared plans for Fortier to re-open operations - despite bad publicity, retailer suspicion and creator skepticism.

Either that or someone has made him a better offer.


[Yellow Light]The piece last week about Stan Lee meeting CIA assassins in the office of Stan Lee Media brought up some memories from David Medinnus, in what I hope is the first of many memories of working for Stan Lee and Peter Paul.

Medinnus writes; "When I got my first call from Stan Lee Media, I was working as the Director of IT for Lycos at the time, and picked up my office phone:

"David Medinnus"

"Hiya Dave! This is Stan Lee"



"Suuuure you are."

"But Stan told me to look up the number for Stan Lee Media in southern CA and call him back.

"It really was Stan Lee who had called. He explained that he'd seen my resume, and wanted to talk to me about coming to Stan Lee Media - that they were launching web comics (he called them 'webisodes'), and that they really needed someone with a technical background in the team. I made arrangements to fly down and see him the next Monday.

"I don't remember much about the interview. I was met by Peter Paul, who brought me into his office. We talked about the terms and conditions of an employee contract for a year, with renewable options. Then Stan came in, and he started explaining what they'd want to do on the creative side.

"Listening to Stan is like watching a blacksmith grind metal - hundreds of sparks every second get tossed out, and while most fizzle before they hit the ground, some of them catch fire. He had a boundless enthusiasm and energy, and you could almost see the visions of what he spoke flash in front of your eyes like a strange biological Viewmaster (and if that doesn't date me, nothing will...) toy.

"The deal we'd worked out is that I'd work from my office in Sunnyvale, CA most of the time, but fly down at least once a week (every Tuesday) to participate in meetings and so forth, especially the management staff meetings. During the staff meetings, part of what I'd do is technically validate whether or not some of the proposals were technically workable - and many of them weren't. Every time I'd shoot one of his ideas down in flames, Stan would look at me and say 'Medinnus, you're fired!' Fortunately for me, I'd also make a progress report on the technical side, all of which was coming along nicely, and at the end of my report Stan would say to Peter Paul, 'Peter, that guy is brilliant! Hire him!'

"After a few months, after one of those meetings, I went up to Stan and said 'Stan, I don't mind you firing me and re-hiring me every week... but you're playing hell with my senority!'"

More next week. I hope.


[Green Light]

This is the cover to "L'Embaumer" by ChrisCross from Les Humanoides. Out in Europe, coming to America...

I was to have interviewed Mr Cross, but sadly he took exception to certain lines of questioning...


[Green Light]Sometimes my rumour mongering can have very unfortunate repercussions for everyone in the comics industry. Take my earlier "One Year Later" rumour concerning Batman. Search for it if you like, I'm not spoiling it in case it still plays out.

Someone else read it and had their own reaction. Ellen Fleischer writes "When I read that, well, the first thing that I thought to myself was 'that has to be one of the dumbest ideas TPTB@DC ever concocted. There is no way they could pull it off!'

"The second thing I thought to myself was 'unless...'

"I've been writing fanfiction for a little over two years, now. This was the first multi-chapter work I tried that didn't fizzle in the middle. It was the first thing I've posted to ff.net to garner more than 50 reviews, overwhelmingly positive. And it's also the first time that I really managed to pull off a fic that gave emphasis to plot, action, and character. (Mostly I do character vignettes.)

"I don't know whether you read fanfiction, but in case you do... I just thought you might like a link to what your posting spawned.

"I honestly don't think I would have dreamed up this story without that post. So thanks!

"Best regards,

"Ellen Fleischer

aka Esther-Channah

aka Dragonbat

aka Estherdragonbat (don't ask!)"

I won't, Ellen, I won't...


[Green Light]Okay, okay, so Obsidian may be officially gay and the Legion may be government stooges and all a dream of Supergirl anyway, but also in this week's DC Comics, Batman is seen with a teddy bear.

There's just so much he can fit in that utility belt isn't there?


[Green Light]Rob LIefeld, copying from the cover of "X-Men" #1 at WizardWorld LA.

I know, I know, but I just found it funny. Photo by Ben & Albert of The Daily Now.


[Green Light]Blood In The Gutters. With a new blog thing by Tripwire editor Joel Meadows. Absolutely no relation to this column.


[Green Light]Hell, just because Speakeasy died, doesn't mean people can't still write about "Flying Friar"... even if part of a larger article.


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.

Crisis: Why Did The Flash Have to Die to Save Infinite Earths?

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