Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-eighth chapter in the latest volume of the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Over ten years damnit! Written by British comics commentator, me, Rich Johnston, it's read by comic book professionals and readers alike. Loved and hated equally, every Monday (ish) it brings the stories not-quite-ready-for-primetime, a look behind the curtain, a sniff of the toilet seat, the worst and the best that the comics industry can inspire. Go in with your eyes open, your blinkers off and a peg on your nose.

As for the traffic lights, RED means that the story is unlikely to be true, and you should read that with that context. AMBER signifies an identifiable agenda/slant or bias in the source that may affect the work, or that the source isn't clear, or another factor that might bring the piece into doubt. GREEN means that the story feels right to me, my gut instinct says go for it. However, as is often the case, while the gist may be correct, the detail may be wrong - and in fact I may be having an off day and the whole thing may be buggered. It wouldn't be the first time.

Oscar Wilde helped give this column its title when he said "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

This week, as I returned from Los Angeles and checking email at the airport, I was reminded of another of his quotes. "There is only one thing in life worse thanbeing talked about, and that is not being talked about."

Onwards. Also writing a piece on "V For Vendetta" for Newsarama this week. Should be interesting...


[Yellow Light]Letters have gone out to DreamWave employees setting out the exact nature of the companies debts. And they're massive.

Principle secured creditors are Teddy and Anne Lee on $141,000/ I understand these are Pat and Roger Lee's parents. However, it appears they were assigned that amount of security for $35,000 in January. All legal and above board. But the likelihood of owed money trickling down to unsecured creators much further down the list as a result is considered very slim indeed.

Also, these letters are dated February the 9th. What this means for previous declarations or receovership/bankruptcy is unknown.

Another interesting note under Dreamwave assets are vehicles - $89,000. Porsches don't come cheap folks.

Still, there are plenty of opportunities at Dream Engine for young keen bright eyed chaps and chapesses out there.

Or maybe just give Devil's Due a call. The Hasbro Transformers license decision is due this week. It really could go in a variety of directions. Devil's Due are favourites but they played hardball at the end. If another publisher give Hasbro what they want, they may go with it.


[Green Light]Strangely I discovered I was staying just a couple of blocks down from Top Cow, at the Beverly Pavilion. Which put me in the perfect position to get to the bottom of those rumours about Marc Silvestri's workload.

Turns out Marc broke his leg towards the end of last year and went into surgery. The resultant pins and cast prevented the Image founder and Top Cow Publisher from getting to his drawing board - at a time when his pencilling skills were in more demand than any time since Image started.

This led to fears expressed by Top Cow staffers, that eventually made their way to me through the LA grapevine, about Marc's ability to fulfil his commitments. However, of late, he's been back in the studio regularly working away, without delay, and "Hunter-Killer," by Mark Waid and Marc Silvestri, is expected to be Top Cow's killer app.

I didn't get too close to the studio however. Even in his current state, I didn't want to risk the chance that Marc could hunt me down like the dog I am. Probably still got those vicious crutches to hand as well…

The other Top Cow line I heard while I was out there was an old one from Marc's mouth. "Never name a comic book publisher when you're drunk…"


[Green Light]In the old days, Avatar were known for publishing titty books and horror comics. Now they're known for publishing titty books and books by Brits that no one else would publish. Thank goodness.

But with the acquisition of Brian Pulido's line, and an exploitation of Alan Moore's horror comics, Avatar were clearly in the process of ramping up their old horror rep, especially in line of IDW's recent swamping of that territory.

Now the other shoe has dropped.

Avatar have the licenses to the New Line Cinema movie monsters. Written by Brian Pulido, in full colour, they are "Nightmare on Elm Street" drawn by Juan Jose Ryp, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" by Jacen Burrows and "Friday the 13th" by Mike Wolfer. In the full X-rated tradition of the originals.

Have some solicitation cover art.

Yes... that should do the trick. How soon before the mega-monster crossover?


[Red Light]At San Franscisco Wondercon, Neal Adams let it be known that he's talking with DC over a new Batman project, with Frank Miller on dialogue...

Not sure if Frank knows about this yet. Might have to hold off on this one.


[Green Light]Whoever forwarded me this recent Doom Patrol panel, a word of caution.

This is an all ages comic, and making mock of some accidental innuendo is both immature and childish. I'll have nothing to do with it, you hear? Honestly.


[Green Light]Todd McFarlane, recently of the bankrupt Todd McFarlane Enterprises, is featured as part of a business class.

You know what? I fancy having a go at those questions.

  1. Money. By not giving a shit about anything else.
  2. By realising there's no such thing as a lowest common denominator.
  3. A speculation market gave him money to buy baseballs. The courts.
  4. James Dyson. Both excel at creating products that suck.

Do I get an A?


[Green Light]"2000AD"/"Authority"/"Seven Soldiers" Frazer Irving's artwork from the Charlotte Hatherley video "Bastardo" featured a few columns back. The CD and DVD are available for purchase from today.

I love it. Great pop song, great pop video, great comics.


[Green Light]The UK newstand magazine "Spectacular Spider Man" which publishes original Spider-Man material created by Panini, will feature a Captain Britain team-up in issue 114. The first time in 13 years that Captain Britain appears in an original strip in a British comic. By Jim Alexander, Jon Haward, John Stokes and Alan Craddock. Out on the 17th March


[Green Light]Hero's Realm is the site that Bill Jemas bought, that runs his own and the 360EP site to boot. They also run a review column of mine, Read My Johnston, currently reviewing "Astonishing X-Men" #8.

Like many news sites, they receive advance solicitations covering company products, with a date when they can go "live."

Sadly HeroRealm have decided not to make those pages inaccessible until the scheduled date. And every month you can pop along and read the latest Marvel solicitations well before their due date.

A number of rival news sites who do play ball have complained. But little seems to be happening.

Although me, if I had 'em early, I'd plaster them all over the skyline of New York City. With a big brush.


[Green Light]This week I was approached by a London headhunter asking if I'd be willing to move to New York to work in a marketing department of a New York book publisher. "They're called DC Comics. You've worked on comics before haven't you?"

I politely declined. After all, there's already one Richard Johnson in the marketing department there. Yes, that would be the problem. Nothing else.


[Green Light]There's a TV show Nathan Barley, based on a character created by writer Charlie Brooker for an old website of his that no longer exists. In the show, the website designer character is well known and liked at the magazine Sugar Ape. Naturally that magazine had a spinoff website of its own in our real world. And apparently this metatextual body approves of and likes "Holed Up."

This can't be good.


[Green Light]Just spent the weekend reading "Promethea" #32, spread out over my lounge floor. It's more of a grimoire than a comics narrative, and if you're waiting for the trade, it won't spoil anything. Doesn't even matter if you've never read an issue before.

I recommend reading it with a good bottle of red wine (a decent Merlot, for choice). Then reading it again with mushrooms. It's Alan Moore's Answer To Life, the Universe and Everything.

It's also the first genius comic work of the 21st century.


[Green Light]LA was fun, if wet. We won. Yay us.

Cheers to everyone I met in Los Angeles, especially Mike Meyer, Marz Richard, Jonah Weiland and Ford Gilmore for going above and beyond. And thanks to Lemmy and Franz Ferdinand's lawyer for making me feel local whichever bar we ended up in.

Thanks to Jodi Ruggieri and Danielle Gavey for getting us into the Sky Bar on Saturday night. Rather marvellous place, and the mattresses by the pool overlooking the city are ace. Highly recommended. Yeah, like they need it.

Hello, Nathan.


If you've got a story, talk to me. Your identity will remain anonymous unless you wish otherwise. You can choose a pseudonym and join the ranks of the Gutterati. Or be a demon reposter, join the Gutter Snipes and spread the word about stories in this column across the Internet, where relevant. Then tell me where you've put them up - the more mainstream the better!

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Be seeing you.

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