Anyway, Lying In The Gutters is the number one source for comic industry gossip, rumour and general nonsense. Yes, even more than Millarworld. Red light means it's probably bollocks, Amber light means it's could be tainted by a partisan source, Green light means you can rely on it. Up to a point. Maybe. Your call.
So what's happening at Chicago?
Well, basically all the DC announcements expected for San Diego but never happened. Possibly.
The greenlighting of first-mentioned-in-LITG "52," whatever it may be called, is having an effect on schedules as the editorial reality of a universe-spanning weekly series kicks in.
So we may hear about a new "Blue Beetle" series. A new "Atom" series. An "Ion" series. And "Freedom Fighters." A new "Shazam" series. But everything is subject to cancellation before being announced, or reduction to mini-series if a significant amount of time and money has been spent.
Will Geoff Johns be placed on a Superman title yet? Will it be "Superman Confidential?"
"Infinite Crisis" spin-off books such as "Shadowpact," "OMAC" and "Checkmate" are fairly safe, though "Suicide Squad" has been nixed.
"Gotham Central" is being replaced by "Streets Of Gotham" from issue 40. Either "Superman" or "Adventures OF Superman" is being replaced by "Superman Confidential" from issue 226. "Legends Of The Dark Knight" is being replaced with "Batman Confidential" from issue 206.
And on a number of high profile projects the creators have been jiggled around quite significantly - including some A list titles. Dan DiDio's flying by the seat of his pants again...
So how will House Of M change the Marvel Universe for ever? Well, LITG has alluded to this in the past, but for those who like to remain spoiler free, the following is whited out.
Expect a massive reduction in the level of mutants in the Marvel Universe, almost to the 1960's level. Being a mutant will become something very special, as opposed to the almost everyday occurrence prevalent in books like Mutant X and Morrison's New X-Men.
How this happens? Oh no. I'm not going to spoil *that* for you...
Return to your House Of M spoiler-free state.
CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE
So what's the big surprise that will "change the DC Universe forever" in Infinite Crisis. Come on, whip out that spoiler white space.
Okay, okay, Even I'm not going to totally ruin this one. But a major character dies and is replaced by their successor, just as The Flash did in the first Crisis On Infinite Earths. This will kick off a new mini-series, which will turn into an ongoing.
No I'm not saying who. Shut up.
CHURCH AND GRACE
It's already been established that Thomas Hayden Church is playing Chameleon in the next Spider-Man movie. So which villain is Topher Grace, also cast, playing? Especially considering Sam Raimi's statement, "Topher Grace is an extraordinarily talented actor and will be perfect for the complexities of the role we are developing."
Again with the spoiler space for you timid types. No I mean it, this is plot-twist spoiler stuff here. Dear me, we're going through it today.
Chameleon is also being played by Topher Grace. There will be a big reveal half way through Spider-Man 3 that they're the same person, as Grace's character gets close to Mary Jane.
Back to your unsullied Spider-Man 3 viewpoint with you!
THE NEXT IN A SERIES OF ALAN MOORE-BASED CINEMATIC FARRAGOES OF NONSENSE
From the man who wrote "Batman & Robin," "Batman Forever," "I Robot," "Lost In Space" and "A Beautiful Mind." From the producer of "Mr & Mrs Smith," "Constantine" and "Starksy & Hutch." Comes the next Alan Moore-based movie.
Akiva Goldman is currently involved as a producer for… "Top Ten."
Funny, we were expecting a coffee cup placed precariously on a Porsche dashboard. Still.
Dream Engine plan to publish their own books in the near future. Not printed by Quebecor, who refuse to publish Pat Lee's books again after the unpaid printing bills left by Dreamwave.
One project from Dream Engine that Pat Lee's been promoting is an upcoming possibility for signing up with SONY, for a 20 million dollar budget movie and online game project. And he's currently trying to recruit as many people as possible to show to SONY that he is capable to do the job.
Not the biggest budget in the world - although that figure is after Dream Engine have taken their own cut.
Pat Lee has just moved into a top floor suite at a very nice apartment, bought for half a million Canadian dollars before the bankruptcy. Nice. I bet it's got good parking.
The recent London bombings have caused quite a downturn in city centre business, caused by casual people less willing to use public transport. And this has been hitting the Central London comic shops harder on one of their busiest days.
While Thursday-- the UK's general New Comics Day-- and Friday traffic has been unaffected, based as it is on people coming into London for work, Saturdays have seen a real drop in custom.
This, then is the Square 200 Metres Of Comics in London. Five comic shops so close together they can smell each others farts. Shaftesbury Avenue runs into Charing Cross Road which is next to Great Russell Street.
COMICANA237 Shaftesbury Avenue
Or The Mighty World Of Comicana to give it its full title. Duncan McAlpine's shop, it's heavy on new comics and the last few weeks comics, with good back issue selections going through the decades. This is a superhero comic book shop and it sells comic books uber alles. Small, compact, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
COMICS SHOWCASE63 Charing Cross Road
On Charing Cross Road, London's bookshop throughfare. Close to Waterstones, Foyles, Borders and the many second hand bookshops that line its route, Showcase fits in snugly. Originally a superhero-concentrated comic shop, its new location has seen its diversity widen incredibly, putting the superhero and manga comics in the middle of the shop and leading with cartoons, media tie-ins and popular graphic novels. They also run a loyalty card with 2% back on purchases.
FORBIDDEN PLANET179 Shaftesbury Avenue
The Wal-Mart of comic books. Leading with statues, toys and sci-fi ephemera at Forbidden Planet, comics are in the basement along with books and DVD/videos - but what a basement! The place to come when every other shop in London has run out of something. Walls of Marvel and DC Archive collections, walls of manga, walls of 2000AD... walls basically. A Time Out or Prince Charles Cinema subscription card gets you 10% off.
GOSH39 Great Russell Street
Opposite the British Museum, Gosh Comics put forward a very tourist friendly image, dark professional bookshops, with wide browsing space, this is minimalist, clean professional shopping. They lead with big arty graphic novels, Fantagraphics, Hellboy, Sin City and European tastes. They stock a large amount of self published work, small press and mini-comics. And keep as much of the work of the likes of Dan Clowes, Peter Bagge, Los Bros Hernandez, Eddie Campbell and the like in stock. Good manga selection.
ORBITAL148 Charing Cross Road
The cheapest place in London to buy comics off the rack, Orbital offer a wide back issue selection, a very personal service and suit the basement browser very well. They're the only shop to have a large sofa as well. Good on manga, some small press, any lacking from being a small, new shop is made up for by their effortless charm and good natured banter. The best place for a comic fan to start a discussion about who's cooler, Wolverine, Punisher or Jimmy Corrigan.
Not a central London shop, so what's it doing here? Well, owner of Comix-Shop James Britnell makes personal deliveries to the workplaces in central London, carrying large rucksacks full of comics. Yes, I know, but he hasn't been stopped and searched yet. For personal service, this cannot be beat. Try ordering all the Ultimate hardcovers and break his back.
Honorary mentions also go out to Avalon Comics (Battersea), They Walk Among Us (Richmond), Mega City Comics (Camden) and 30th Century Comics (Putney).
HOUSE OF SPLUTTER
Thanks to whoever at Marvel added the Face Down In The Gutter gossip column by Dick Jonston in the "House Of M: Pulse" newspaper edition. Made me choke on my tequila with pride, so it did.
SAN DIEGO RELEASE
The big release at San Diego this year was on the bowels.
A fair few people came away with a serious stomach virus.
You know those sweets in bowls that some publishers put out to attract custom?
Just imagine how many stormtroopers who hadn't washed afterwards, put their hands in those bowls...
The Image Tenth Anniversary Hardcover edition, featuring work on Spawn, Dragon, Cyberforce and Shadowhawk by their original creators, has finally been scheduled again for November, over three years after its original due date.
Originally planned for 2002, the volume was to have featured 100 pages of stories from the remaining Image founders in hardcover for $25. Although Larsen and Valentino were said to have finished their stories in time, both McFarlane and Silvestri had a number of production delays. The Shadowhawk story has already been printed. McFarlane's story is said to feature Marvelman/Miracleman, something Neil Gaiman's lawyers will eye with interest, and the Savage Dragon story features the character's origin.
In Image Publisher Erik Larsen's forum he writes "it's being resolicited and IT WILL BE ON SALE IN NOVEMBER.
"It's finished. For real. We have ALL the pages in our hands. Retailers asked that we re-solicit the book because it's so late and so we're complying with their request."
This volume has been delayed for a very long time… almost as long as "Youngblood: Bloodsport." As Liefeld was left out of the anniversary edition, after leaving Image Comics, he promoted "Youngblood: Bloodsport" as his own tenth anniversary of the comic book that started Image Comics. At the time, Rob Liefeld said that Bloodsport was intended to also be "commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the book that started a revolution." The book was intended to be published in print and online "Definitely by summer 2002," he said.
As to not being part of the 10th Anniversary Image project, Liefeld said, "I'm not offended at not being part of the 10 year annish, I would have participated, despite my own reservations because it would have been a treat to the fans and let's face it, they deserve better than what they're getting. I would not have approved of an expensive hardcover that prohibits access to loyal fans as a result of the bloated price tag. The hardcover would have functioned better as a compilation of individual, affordable commemorative issues available down the stretch. It's not fair, in my opinion to keep events such as Dragon's origin and Spawn's secret out of the reach of the casual, modestly budgeted buyer. It's a shame that the remaining partners didn't work harder to facilitate a special event commemorating Image's 10th year. Rest assured, Mark Millar and myself have cooked up a raucous celebration of Image's flagship title with Youngblood: Bloodsport. I've dissapointed plenty of fans in my time and learned how damaging that can be, I don't intend on repeating past mistakes."
This kicked off an argument with Erik Larsen:
"The Image Comics Hardcover is in line with books that have come from other publishers. It was patterned after the JLA: Earth 2 book in terms of price and page count and just as with that book, there will eventually be a less expensive trade paperback published later on. The purpose was to do something special that not only saw the remaining Image founders returning to their original creations but to give the bigger picture as well-an account of Image's history and other features. Loyal fans will be able to get these stories at a reasonable price while those that like upscale products can get that as well."
Both books were seriously delayed. By the end of June, "Youngblood: Bloodsport" was rescheduled to be released in October.
Jimmy Jay said, "When preparing the book, and the entire series in general, we did not want to run into the same problems that IMAGE did with their 10th Ann. hardcover, where it was solicited and months and months late as a result. Instead of jumping the gun, we want to have the work completed before we make any promises to the fans and retailers. Look in the upcoming previews, and please ask your retailers to order it."
Arcade Comics published the first, well received issue of "Youngblood: Bloodsport" at conventions, eventually resoliciting it through Diamond, in a variety of variant forms. There was no sign of the Image Anniversary edition… but then no sign of the "Bloodsport" second issue either. By August 2004, Rob Liefeld had said of the very late second issue of "Youngblood" Bloodsport." "Ask away, the book is late as hell but at this point the series will be completed before the Image annish arrives."
If Larsen is right, you've got till November, Rob.