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.


[Yellow Light]This week, a V For Vendetta special. England may well prevail, but I'm in South Africa at the moment, so bear with me.

In interviews, Jim McTiegue, director of "V For Vendetta," has expressed ignorance about Alan Moore wishing his name off the book."I don't know whether he really doesn't want it made. Obviously the rights were out there for the film to be made. So at some point he wanted the film to be made."

When DC Comics bought the rights to "V For Vendetta" from Alan Moore, David Lloyd and Dez Skinn, the graphic novel/trade paperback market was in its infancy. The rights, including movie rights, would have reverted to the original owners after a period of time after "V For Vendetta" had gone out of print.

That never happened. And no one at the time would have predicted that twenty years on the book would still be in print.

"The graphic novel is great, we made a great adaptation of it, but it is a film. You cannot make a word for word adaptation of a graphic novel." Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez may disagree.

Last word from Jim "So I hope that in the end he's happy with it."

Here's the extended interview with Alan Moore from this week's Culture Show and a discussion by him of the movie.

It's not going to happen, is it? As to Moore's request to have his name removed from the project, it's been agreed to by Warner Bros. Apart from on publicity outside of the US and the UK, it seems. Or on the novelisation. Or on the novelty bubble bath bottle... (okay, I made that last one up, but come on, merchandising people, I want my matey with a V mask, okay?) I now hear that Warner Italy have destroyed their print run of "V per Vendetta" posters in order to remove the Alan Moore credit. There is still a promotional poster listing all the four poster images, where you can just read "Alan Moore," but the final posters have the credit removed. Will any other countries follow suit?

Probably the biggest change from comic to movie is thematic, the central dichotomy of Fascism Vs Anarchy, one presented as the only alternative to the other. A challenging political-philosophical point to make, it's reflected in V's devil-may-care attitude to the consequences of his actions, being an end in themselves. The movie rejects this theme, positing Fascism Vs Democracy, a much simpler and easily resolvable dilemma. Indeed, that the two aren't contradictory, defeats that central thematic point.

Already there's a movement being organised (I know, I know) by anarchists to protest this change in the movie, including leaflets to be distributed outside cinemas, talking up the politics of the book and encouraging people to learn more about anarchism. Website soon.

But yesterday the noted Observer film reviewer Mark Kermode called the movie "the closest thing I'd seen to a big-screen advertisement for anarchy in the UK."

The Observer is the Sunday sister paper to The Guardian. The Guardian Newsroom gallery is also showing original art from the series, as well as colour proofs, original sketches and other V paraphenalia. I was honoured to be invited to the preview night, and took a few Ellisian photos... it was attended by David Lloyd, Glenn Fabry, Ilya, David Hine and more.

Check out those V snacks! It was also wonderful to see the art in its original form. Highly recommended. The exhibition runs until Friday 17 March. Admission is free. The Newsroom is at 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R.

There's a real-world political aspect, too... two weeks ago, gossip column Popbitch (from which I draw much of my inspiration, reported):

N for Nepotism

How to blow up the Houses of Parliament

Two years ago, Richard Curtis was refused permission to film in 10 Downing Street for "The Girl In The Cafe." Government officials said they were sorry, but it was a government building, not a film set. Yet last June, "V For Vendetta," the Wachowskis' new film, which opens here this month, managed to get Whitehall shut down for four nighs to film the Tube and Houses of Parliament getting blown up by a bomber dressed as Guy Fawkes.

So either the Prime Minister's people are huge fans of the "Matrix" and fantasy movies, or they're less sniffy about granting access to parliamentary buildings if Euan Blair is given a job as a runner by the producers...

Popbitch also ran one of my old stories about "Superman Returns" this week... I should give them the full scoop.

Talking of British politics, the week before I left had one government minister declaring a huge increase in street cameras all across the UK to catch motorists on mobile phones, as well as camouflaging speed cameras.

A number of comic book stores, as part of publicity for the movie, have received posters, masks and inspiring stencils and chalk. Expect the sidewalks and walls near your favourite comic shop to get a little more anarchic.

Talking of which, and I'd hate to encourage any illegal behaviour, but if you "see" any new V signs aerosoled on walls, do take a photo of your-- of the perpertrator's work-- and email it to this column.

There's also allegations of illegal subliminal advertising for "V" going on in Saturday Night Live.

In a Natalie Portman sketch, one blogger reports blips of V appearing within. He's put up a frame-by-frameable Quicktime version on a link, and told people where to look in the sequence. A few frames are cut into the clip of a grafitti outline of what appears to be V.

Is this of dubious ethical standing? Or in keeping with V's subversive politics?

Still, if all this nonsense is making you less keen to see the film, let's put a stop to that with the V For Volume: The Drinking Game.

Every time they use bullet-time lines, when the original comic declined to use such comic book stylings, take a swig.

Every time they use a sledgehammer to make a subtle point, glug.

Every time they say "eggy in a basket", finish the glass.

Every time they refer to the company "FedCo" finish the case.

Every time they portray anarchy as everyone dressing up in the same outfit, slide under your chair.

See? Even if you hate the film, you'll at least enjoy yourself.

Nevertheless, even without alcohol, and sarcastic asides aside, I reckon I'm going to enjoy the film very much.

And to finish, a mashup video by myself and a writing colleague, based on the V trailer and footage from... well... another film.

Please enjoy "V For Vera Drake"... then send it round the world.


[Yellow Light]Joe Quesada banned Marvel from showing any of its characters smoking in comics a while back. From the Thing to Nick Fury to Wolverine, it seemed that he cried, Scarlet Witch style, "no more fags."

That's the UK version of the word, obviously. Not a reference to Rawhide Kid, okay? Not opening up that can of worms again.

Well, just like the mutants in "House Of M," someone's slipped through the web. Spider-Woman seems to have not noticed. "Ms. Marvel" last week, featured the web-affected lady sitting in a cafe with Ms Marvel, puffing away.

Scan courtesy of Tom Burgos.

Fire extinguisher someone?


[Green Light]Talking of possible changing attitudes, the "dead is dead" aspect of the New Marvel Universe is probably pushing up the daisies. Further proof? The next issue of "Runaways." In which Wilder returns, brought back from the dead. You'll have to see it to believe it...


[Green Light]Joe Casey's new book from Boom! Studios. Something to do with this:


[Red Light]Josh Howard is the creator of popular indie hit "Dead@17," starring the short-skirted, axe-wielding Nara, who comes back from the dead looking for revenge.

In a listing now removed from his blog, he wrote, "During my internet travels, I came across this today - a recent independent film called Tamara about a teenage girl who comes back from the dead for revenge.


"And as you can see in the poster, Nara *ahem*, I mean, Tamara, is decked out in a short skirt yielding what else but an axe.

"Sure you could make the case that it's a coincidence. There's thousands of ideas churned out every year. Some of them are bound to be similar. You could make the case that I'm being paranoid. It wouldn't be the first time. But take a look at the top: 'From the creator of Final Destination.' What importance does this have? Well the creator of Final Destination happens to be Jeffrey Reddick, who, strangely enough, actually wrote the treatment for the potential Dead @ 17 movie back when Stan Winston Studios had optioned the rights. I even spoke with Jeffrey a couple of times on the phone going over ideas for the film. I still have the treatment saved to my hard drive.

"Yes, the actual storyline is a bit different. But I don't think the glaring similarities can be denied."

Jeffrey disagrees. I contacted him about Josh's insinuations and he replied, stating that it was the other way around;

"I wrote the treatment for 'Tamara' in early 2003. It's registered with the WGA and with the Copyright office in early 2003. I finished the script and it went out to all of the major studios in January 2004. Actually, Brian Gilbert at Stan Winston's company read 'Tamara' and really liked the script. That's why he approached me in 2004 to consider adapting 'Dead @ 17.' When Brian Gilbert and I pitched the project, we even intentionally went to studios that had sparked to 'Tamara' initially.

"Beyond that, the plots couldn't be more different. Tamara is an unattractive, unpopular girl who's picked on at school and has an unrequited crush on her English teacher. To make herself feel better, she dabbles in magic. The popular kids at school pull a prank on her and accidentally kill her. They cover up the crime, but Tamara's brought back to life through a spell she cast, as a sexy vixen who knows all of the secrets, and sins, of her tormentors. She brings these sins to life and forces her killers to turn on each other and destroy themselves. She also sets out to get the teacher that she's in love with.

"'Tamara' was my homage to 'Carrie' - an attempt to update the theme of 'an outcast getting revenge on her tormentors' for a new generation. The idea of someone getting revenge from beyond the grave is certainly nothing new...it's been a common theme in horror movies from 'A Nightmare On Elm Street,' 'Prom Night 2&3' to 'The Grudge.' After reading the script, you'll see it's not similar to 'Dead @ 17' at all.

"As for the poster art...I can see where that would give you pause, but the poster is not indicative of the film. Lions Gate was originally going to release 'Tamara' direct to video. The picture below was the DVD artwork that Lions Gate created and released to video outlets.

"City Lights, the producers on the project, decided to release the film in limited theatrical and didn't think the above image stood out or really sold the movie. Their logic was, 'we've got a sexy lead - let's show her off.' Someone in their marketing department thought a hot girl with an ax would be sexy. In the movie, Tamara never wields an ax. She puts people under a spell and forces them to kill themselves, and each other. The new poster was just an image that City Lights put together with no input from me. And just to nitpick, but while Tamara wears that outfit in one scene - she's got about 6 other sexy, costumes she wears."

The coincidences might warrant investigation, but if Jeffrey's timeline is correct, and it seems so, then that's all they may be. Nevertheless, I can totally understand why Josh may be pursuing the matter here.

For more about Tamara go here and here. For more about Jeffrey go here. For more on "Dead @ 17" and Josh Howard, go here.


So... Perry Ellis... or Adrian Tomine?


[Green Light]One Year Later spoiler zone again for "Birds of Prey"... be warned...

Black Canary has defected and she has been replaced on the team by Lady Shiva a.k.a. the Jade Canary now. Also the Society of Supervillains is still very active, one year later. Handy for that upcoming 'Secret Six' series.

After that appearance in "All Star," no wonder...


[Red Light]This video purports to show Stan Lee in the StanLee.Net days, hanging out in Peter F Paul's office and meeting Stanley Myatt aka Stanley Posnack, reportedly a CIA assassin.

This is, apparently, the only known video of Myatt.

There's got to be a comic book in that, someone?


[Yellow Light]Some concept sketches for a new series by "Starship Troopers" artist Natalie Sandells called "Dragon Empire." Watch for this one.


[Yellow Light]Look for an Ethan Van Sciver "Green Lantern" variant cover for issue 15, in the manner of the one for issue 9.


[Green Light]"Untold Tales Of Spider-Man" was a series published by Marvel at $.99 cents (when everything else was $1.95 or more). Written by Kurt Busiek, it was seen as proof that just because you reduce the cost of comics, they won't actually sell any more. Telling stories in and around the early years of Spider-Man, some fans of the series were upset with John Byrne's "Spider-Man Year One" series as it ignored Busiek's work.

Well, it's back. Amazon are listing "Spider-Man Visionaries: Kurt Busiek Volume 1" as collecting "Untold Tales" #1-8 for $19.99 in August.

It's quite remarkable for such a series, which many have thought forgotten and superseded by other work, to be published in today's market by today's Marvel. Shame it's not $7.92 though.

Also in August is a hardcover of "Nextwave" #1-6 and "Spider-Man: Kraven's Last Hunt."


[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.

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Or call me/text me on 0780 1350982 from the UK or 01144780 1350982 from the US.

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