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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 35

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.

GOSPEL FROM THE SUMMIT

[Green Light]

While Mark Millar, Brian Bendis and Joe Straczynski were waxing lyrical over the recent Marvel summit, Bendisboard punters questioned Warren Ellis’ lack of presence at the Marvel Universe shaping project.

He replied, “I did a few of those in the Nineties. Never again. Horrible. I remember the then-editor of BLADE, a strapping young African-American lad, singing doo-wop songs while I swear to god dancing through a long row of crocuses on the conference centre grounds. Horrible.”

Oh, please. I’ve been to Southend, Warren.

RETURN TO SENDER

[Green Light]

The comic book “Marlene” shipped a couple of weeks ago from Slave Labor. Written and drawn by own of my favourite comics artists, Peter Snejberg, it tells a gripping story about a murder investigation of a peeping tom that turns into pure horror.

Only thing is, it does so via full frontal nudity, male and female, erections and explicit scenes of oral sex. It shipped without a “Mature Readers” code. And some retailers seem to think it should have been labelled “Adult,” and placed in what’s known affectionately as Diamond’s “porn ghetto,” the sex comics catalogue that ships separately from Diamond Previews.

And I picked my copy off the shelf at my local Forbidden Planet next to “Marvel Tales.”

I contacted Slave Labor publisher Dan Vado to ask him what the situation was. He told me;

“The fact that the book itself was not labeled was our mistake and we’re accepting responsibility for it by accepting cover only returns.

“As for the Mature vs Adult thing. Diamond was sent pages, which included the scenes in question, and it was their call to make it a Mature book. They not only did that, but made it a highlighted selection.

“On top of that, we have a mailing list of almost 300 retailers who were sent the same preview, so presumably any one of them who read the stuff we sent out would have been able to make a judgement on the book on their own. For me, I did not really consider it an adult only thing in the same way that Eros comics are adult only.

“Regardless, we’re accepting the returns on the book.

“Although, as I write this neither me, nor Deb Moskyok (who is the sales person here who retailers would complain to) nor Jennifer have gotten any retailer complaints.

“As for ‘Marlene’ being next to ‘Marvel Tales’ at a shop. Why would anyone put the two books together anyway, it’s a lousy way to sell both comics.”

One Diamond representative I talked to, on learning of my intent to run this article was concerned – that they might not have enough copies available to fill the resultant demand.

“Marlene” is a very entertaining and enjoyable graphic novella. That it happens to feature a blow job, is just gravy. Man gravy.

WHEN CONVENTIONS ATTACKUpdated 4:20 PM

[Yellow Light]

The Toronto Comiccon, organised by Paradise Conventions, has found itself in a spot of bother. For the second year in a row, they’ve discovered that rival Toronto Comic Convention organisers Hobbystar Marketing have organised a spoiler – a free mini-convention scheduled a week before the Paradise event in April.

Paradise co-promoter/organiser Kevin Boyd, “Last year I was told by Hobbystar that the first Fan Appreciation Event was ‘in the works’ for a long time and that the Sunday the week before our convention ‘was the only date available.’ Being an easy-going guy I didn’t like it, but accepted their word but stated clearly that if it happened again there would be no doubt that this was an aggressive tactic.

“Well they did it anyway. There is no doubt about it, this is an act of overt aggression. This isn’t Wizard scheduling a show on the same weekend as another beloved convention in a different city. This is a local promoter deliberately scheduling a show less than one week before an announced convention less than a mile away in the same city with the intention of hurting the latter event.

“When it became evident that this was going to happen again, I did try to talk to them. I was told that they might consider not doing it if we were to relocate our event to the winter and reduce it in size and scope, moves that would hurt our growing convention. They even tried to hire me to work for them on the comics side of their end of summer Expo, provided I give up the Paradise Comicon, knowing that this too would hurt the con.”

As a result, there have been some attempts to increase awareness of creators and fans to the situation.

Representatives from Hobbystar were approached, but did not respond to inquiries. But organiser Aman Gupta has been responding to criticism here however.

INTERVIEW WITH A SUPERHERO

[Green Light]

Thanks to the Warren Ellis site, the comics community have recently become aware of a pair of real life superheroes, who patrol the streets as part of the Justice Society of Justice, Mr Silent and Doktor DiscorD.

Mr Silent agreed to be interviewed by Lying In The Gutters. I started by asking if he was part of Grant Morrison’s prediction, when he started writing “New X-Men,” that we would start to see real superheroes in the next few years – and what led the JSJ to don costumes to fight crime rather than become volunteer police.

MR SILENT: Superheroes have been a part of the American psyche for some time now, I was especially touched by them. I just think that having the traditional police job is not for everyone. There is also a need for superheroes. People want something to believe in. I would rather it be a superhero than a villian.

LITG: I’m sure that’s true for all of us – but what’s your success on the streets been so far?

MR SILENT: There have actually been very few events so far. This is probably because we live in Indianapolis. The police do a very good job of keeping the crime rate low. We have prevented one crime so far, there we some people messing with little old lady and we appeared and they walked away. I don’t think they were prepared for that kind of shock. We have also had confrontations with people who want to start fights or take off my mask. We don’t mainly look for criminals. We are more focused on finding people to save. If that person needs saved from a mugger or rapist, then so be it. We also only fight violent crimes. Property crimes don’t concern us as of yet. We also don’t concern ourselves with drugs. Just the crimes where someone is going to get hurt.

LITG: So what is your official legal situation – have you had any reaction from traditional law keepers?

MR SILENT: As far as the police are concerned, we hardly exist. They will usually drive by with out looking at us or they sometimes even wave.

LITG: And could your very presence create an equal and opposite – super villains?

MR SILENT: We have thought about the question of super villains long and hard. What we have decided is that it is most likely going to happen. I think the Universe will have to balance itself. If there are superheroes eventually someone is going to decide to get some press too. Except they will not have benevolent intentions. When that day comes we will be ready for them.

LITG: Really? One common comment on message boards is that you’ll likely find yourselves seriously wounded or killed. Is this a worry for you?

MR SILENT: In my opinion, I’m going to die anyway. Might as well leave a good looking corpse. Even if said corpse has a superhero costume on. We are also very careful.

LITG: Your “Mr Silent” identity reminds me of characters such as Big Ben, Silver Surfer, and the Droogs from Clockwork Orange. Do you have any specific influences in terms of superhero style?

MR SILENT: I would have to say I’m kind of influenced by Rorschach from “Watchmen.” Even then, only a little. I do get the Clockwork Orange thing a lot.

LITG: I wonder why… have any of the inner conflicts common in the superhero fictions come true for you?

MR SILENT: I can only speak for myself on this one. I don’t really have any inner conflicts which induced me to become super. I mainly liked superheroes and decided it was about time we had some. I knew that someone had to take that first step. I do keep my identity secret in order to protect my family and friends. Other than Doktor DiscorD, no one in the entire world know who I am. I imagine that when I am too old for the superhero thing that I will retire and reveal myself to the world. Maybe not though. People are always trying to find out who is beneath the mask. They are not very likely to find out though. I do not really talk about superheroes in my regular life. I figure if I say anything someone might remember it later.

LITG: Thank you, Mr Silent. Do keep us up to date with further events, or any psychological revelations.

MR SILENT: Thank you for your time. I hope your readers are satisfied with this. Good luck to you in everything you do.

We hope to ask Doktor DiscorD similar questions in the near future.

RETURN TO SENDER II

[Yellow Light]

There have been a few more nitty complaints over the premium “Youngblood Maximum” One Volume that recently shipped. Diamond solicited it as having 184 pages, but it shipped with only 48…

Jimmy Jay of Arcade Comics, the publisher tells me, “I sent the correct information to Diamond Comics for the most recent offering. Further, we had this book at our convention appearances this past year at San Diego, Chicago, Baltimore, and WWTexas.”

The book, featuring a rescript of issues 1 and 0 of “Youngblood” by Joe Casey with additional promo pieces was priced at $29.99. But if it was Diamond’s error, as Jimmy states, then Diamond should have to eat any returnable copies. And I do mean literally eat.

LEGAL VIRGIN

[Green Light]

Richard Branson’s previous dealings with comics in the UK before the upcoming Virgin Comics have been mentioned here before. But what about his father?

Ted Branson was a magistrate who, in the Wells Street Magistrate Court in 1985, presided over a case of obscenity against a number of comics seized from the publisher Knockabout Comics, including “Fresca Zizis” by Cobweb and “Lost Girls” artist Melinda Gebbie.

These comics were left over from a large seizure of books and comics for which Knockabout had been tried at the Old Bailey as a test case under the Obscene Publications Act. Because the Police had seized quantities of 75 different titles they selected 15 representative ones to go forward to the Central Criminal Court to save court time. It still took a month, but Knockabout were acquitted on all counts.

However, instead of returning the 60 remaining titles, Knockabout were taken to a magistrate’s court on lesser charges, with Ted Branson presiding. And he seemed to have made his mind up.

Joyce Farmer, editor and cartoonist of “Tits N Clits” was in court as a witness, looking smart and respectable in her grey skirt. And Melinda Gebbie, creator of “Fresca Zizis,” reports that after making an impassioned plea on the stand to Branson, “Thanking me for my ‘well-considered comments’, Judge B went on in a plummy voice to tell me that before I had spoken he had been prepared to judge Fresca Zizis a work of pure obscenity. ‘Now, however, I shall look through the work seriously before considering judgement. Court will reconvene on Friday.'”

Knockabout’s solicitor Bill Nash, of Nash & Dowell solicitors, was so pleased, they retired to a nearby pub for celebratory drinks. On Friday, all the comics seized were summarily decreed illegal, obscene, ordered to be burned and from then on, illegal to possess.

At a court, a hundred yards from Richard Branson’s Virgin Megastore, where the comics in question had been on sale.

FANTASY JOB

[Yellow Light]

Fred Van Lente, Marvel writer for “Amazing Fantasy,” has announced on the Cindy Center podcast that he’s relaunching “Super-Villain Team-Up” for Marvel this summer…

SWIPE FILE 100

[Green Light]

“Iron Man” 100 by Starlin.

“She Hulk” #100 by Greg Horn

All Tom Brevoort’s idea apparently… but no “After” credit on the page.

PEEP SHAME

[Green Light]

The cartoonist and author of “Palookaville,” Seth, has stated that the slightly-hyped “Joe Matt’s Peepshow” TV pilot was never even produced.

Shame. I’d have liked to see it fight with one of my own favourites.

HOW TO GET FREE COMICS… AND START A FLAME WAR

  1. [Green Light]

    Buy an AiT/Planet Lar comic from a bargain bin. Like “Black Heart Billy” by Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer. Then rip it a new one in a, frankly, rather upsetting review on your blog.

  2. Wait until publisher Larry Young reads it, says he agrees with most of your comments and offers to send you a free comic, international mail.
  3. Get added entertainment as Rick Remender, the author of the comic, has a real go at both of you on the Comments section.

Note: Rick Remener says he’ll soon be writing for Marvel or DC for the first time in the near future.

WIKPEDIA VS DREAMWAVEUpdated 4:20 PM

[Green Light]

The battle between John Byrne and his Wikipedia entry is famous. There have been less well-publicised examples as well.

Take the Dreamwave entry. Thankfully, Wikipedia preserves previous entries and changes in its history section – as well as the IP addresses of the changers.

Take, for example, the changes made by user 70.30.112.102. The only Wikipedia contributions he has made have been to the Dreamwave entry, and one to Speakeasy.

They dropped the word “alleged” before the phrase “pay disputes” – despite the official bankruptcy papers detailing such debts.

They deleted “Capsoul” from the list of properties bought by the new DreamWave – the property that Pat has been pushing as his pet project for awhile including in his online Wizard promotional piece last year. John Ney Reiber emails to add “The ‘Capsoul’ property was verifiably sold to the new Dreamwave people. Who’re apparently quite aware that Pat may be trying to shop the project around.”

In the Speakeasy entry, they point out that Adam Fortier had been fired from Speakeasy – the only other time that’s been mentioned was from the “DW insider” mynameisstan with an interest in certain comments against ex-Dreamwave employees.

They removed the link to the hilariously embarrassing Pat Lee angelfire site, mocked and quoted by many.

They then added a link to Pat’s personal art selling site just as the site was updated and ready to go live. Just in time for what looks like a preplanned Pat Lee relaunch – big time gigs from Marvel, DC, and Image, with a new softball Wizard magazine interview arranged just in time for con season.

The IP address? Resolves to an Internet supplier… in Toronto, Canada. Home of Dreamwave, and Pat and Roger Lee. Well, there’s a surprise.

And for those wishing to ask the old Dreamwave people about all that money owed? Well, he’s just been quietly added to the guest list for the Wizard con in LA. Book your tickets now.

MOORE COCK

[Green Light]

On Wednesday, the great and the good of the London comics and fantasy scene will be descending upon the bookshop Blackwells on Charing Cross Road, to enjoy a conversation between Michael Moorcock and Alan Moore about everything and anything.

Tickets are sadly sold out. But maybe you can blag your way in. Wear some shades and pretend you’re Neil Gaiman. It’s worked for me before now…

SMALL PRINT

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.

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