Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-third 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.

From the 10th to the 13th of February, I'll be in Los Angeles with work.

On the tenth, I'll need LA people willing to help keep me and two workmates awake till at least midnight (8am our time). We've got an award show to attend the next night, so we want to knock jet lag on the head straight away. Any volunteers, email me at richjohnston @ gmail.com. Food, drink and dance suggestions are most welcome! And if you want to meet up on the Saturday or Sunday, shout!

DEVIL WITH NO DRESS ON - Updated 1/19/05

[Green Light]Now this takes me back. Last time I did this, was over changes Paul Levitz instructed be made to original art in "The Authority" comic book.

Now it's changes Marvel have made to "Shanna The She Devil." This original art would have seen print in first issue, as well as the cover to the second issue.

And here are the published pages.

Anyone care for a weapons of mass destruction gag here? No? Please yourselves.

Before this column went to bed, I received a comment from Frank Cho.

"There weren't too many changes that needed to be made. Sure there were few pages that had to be adjusted to fit the rating especially in 'Shanna' #2, but the overall story wasn't altered. I didn't put any nudity for the sake of putting nudity. If the scene didn't warrant a nude shot, I didn't put it in. So the transition from Rated R to PG13 was relatively smooth.

"To be honest, it wasn't the nudity that I was afraid of being censored. It was the violence. Much to my relief, Marvel didn't tone down any of the violence. (I guess that says a lot about this country.)"

Indeed, Frank, indeed. Though I must say if I had to be hit full in the face by an immense object, I think I'd prefer the one you initially chose.


[Green Light]"Iron Man" is going to be late.

An industry janitor has been onto me with a few papers he came across while sweeping up shredded copies of "Identity Crisis" 7.

"Iron Man" issue 4, being solicited right now in January's Previews, has been delayed until July 20th.

However, unlike other similar delays recently, Marvel and Diamond employees were suddenly instructed not to publish, email or communicate with anyone, including retailers, about this delay.

Which will mean a three-month gap between the already late issue 3 and issue 4.

It's likely this is because the schedule isn't fixed. So that it gives the creative team flexibility. And may well be tightened up in the future.

But, it's also possible the news is being kept secret because retailers often believe late books lose sales. Janitor, what do you think?

"I leave that to brighter minds to figure out, as I've got plenty more sweeping and mopping to do here."

Damn. Here's the Top Secret Code no one is allowed to know.

JAN051839 D IRON MAN #4 07/20/05


[Green Light]John Ney Reiber writes"

"the dream circus continues to amuse and astonish. The more I see and hear, the more i feel like i'm watching some dark comedy--an epic clash of alternate realities.

"dream-whatever's press releases continue to dazzle with their camelotian radiance. in glorious Spinworld, you can almost hear the proud banners sighing in the wind as the noble knights who strove so valiantly to rescue a stagnant, relentlessly shrinking comic book market bid their faithful retainers a fond and respectful farewell, and ride off into the sunset.

"meanwhile, in an alternate universe where faithful retainers actually live, pay heating bills, and buy groceries, there's not so much chivalrous trumpeting going on. while at least 17 unpaid freelancers--claiming amounts ranging from $350 to $40,000, or so i'm told--have been informed that a receivership company is now responsible for settling dreamwave's debts, dreamwave seems to be unwilling to disclose the name of the company, or provide the contact information which would enable dreamwave's creditors or their legal representatives to, umm...

"to find out what's really going on.

"lawyers involved have remarked that dreamwave's unresponsiveness on this front was unusual, compared to other companies they've dealt with in similar circumstances.

"one aspect of this situation has struck me as being particularly sad. from the people who've been the most outspoken about this situation to the people who've been watching from the sidelines, a disturbing number of the freelancers involved have been worrying: if they stand up and speak up here and now, will other comic publishers be afraid to work with them in the future? will they be branded as 'difficult?'

"but i believe there's a reason that so many comic book heroes and heroines are courageous and honorable. i believe that most of the people who edit and publish comics believe in that stuff."

You heard the man.


[Yellow Light]Angel Medina has been drawing a lot of Avengers since Todd McFarlane Productions filed for chapter eleven. Look for that to be announced, and maybe even join the "Young Guns" despite the usual caveats.

Though with Marvel, at least he'll get paid…


[Green Light]It's been expected for a while now, but "Shadowhawk" will return soon from Image with Jim Valentino plotting guiding CBR Comic Book idol winner and "The Pact" artist Carlos Rodriguez as he breaks out the pencils.

Though sadly, no longer the spines. Expect another Valentino book shortly, to boot!


[Green Light]Paul Ryan, long time "Fantastic Four," "Flash" and "DP7" artist, has landed a rather fun deal with King Features, drawing the "Phantom" daily newspaper strip. His work begins on the 21st of January.


[Yellow Light]Here's an illustration of "Shaun Of The Dead" by Horacio Domingues ("Lazarus Jack"), commissioned as a sample for a publisher pursuing the comics gig.


[Green Light]According to one informed CBR poster, Image's "Forsaken" series is no more, with no issues published after #3. Apparently, it's a falling out with the creative team.


[Yellow Light]Rob Liefeld's got a new forum where he can ban Mike Daniels at Bill Jemas' HeroRealm.

Mike Daniels is Rob Liefeld's nemesis, fiendishly saving everything Rob posts publicly so that he can rub Rob's nose in it when Rob changes his position on anything. He's like a bloodhound. Everyone thinks Mike must really fancy Rob, deep down, and he's just trying to get his attention.

Recently Rob's stated that Mike Daniels is an amalgam of ex-Image employees after him. However, in all my dealings with Mike (including a phonecall), he's one person, all his IPs resolving to his Irish Internet provider.

And what are the odds Mike Daniels will appear at Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's signing at Dublin on Saturday the 29th at "The 3rd Place" comic book store?

Fair to middling apparently.


[Yellow Light]I understand Devil's Due Publishing is canceling the "G.I. Joe" title as of issue #45 (though it could be as early as #44).

However, all is not lost. The book is allegedly going to be relaunched with an all-new continuity and an all-new #1 issue, and writer Joe Casey has agreed to write it.

With just four or five issues left to go, Josh Blaylock intends to add in some bigtime shakeups - probably deaths of major characters. This will "stir reader interest," hopefully boost sales, but in the end, continuity will be rebooted. Either continuing from Marvel's last issue, or starting from scratch again.

The aim is for a "grit-n-gritty" Joe title, ala Reloaded (which, by the way, has also been cancelled).


How Kurt Busiek went from Married Spider-Man Lover to Single-Spider-Man-Preferrer...


[Yellow Light]Apparently the Ultimate Longshot is gay.

Anyone who can think of a decent gag to finish this, please write in. After last week's Supermanlove story, I'm all gayed out.


[Green Light]"Evil Ernie," last seen dodging CrossGen's lawyers, will re-emerge in "Hack/Slash: The Final Revenge of Evil Ernie" coming from Devil's Due in July.

Oh lovely. We haven't had a totally gratuitous crossover project like this for ages. Nothing like an Iron Maiden reject with a smiley button to get those jaded fans off their seats.

PLANE SAILING - Updated 1/19/05 11:30 AM PST

[Green Light]Don't you hate it when your plane is cancelled?

Diamond UK do. Seems that Britain's shipment of comics will be delayed due to airline cancellation... for a whole day.

Can the British hordes wait one more day to receive their fix?

Well, yes, probably.

UPDATE: Diamond UK have turned around a night shift and are now telling comicshops that they can make the Thursday delivery after all. The world issaved!


[Green Light]On this Sunday's Fanboy Radio show with Geoff Johns, he stated that he's writing "Green Lantern: Secret Files" for April with Darwin Cooke.

"It's totally going to help bridge the gap, I guess, between 'New Frontier' and the modern day DCU Green Lantern book. If you're a fan of Hal Jordan from 'New Frontier' I think you'll be a fan of this book."


[Green Light]The Dabel Brothers have signed with Red Eagle Entertainment for licensing, design, comics, and movies and stuff.


[Green Light]After last week's ego-athon for Ian Edginton, Chris Ryall wrote to add "I should also mention that Ian Edginton is doing fantastic work adapting Richard Matheson's 'Hell House' for us, with Simon Fraser on art."

I also managed to snag some images from Edginton and D'Israeli's upcoming "Scarlet Traces 2."

[Green Light]More art, now from Lew Stringer. In March cometh a collection of "Lew Stringer's Brickman," with a new strip and pinup art from some of Britain's star artists - Alan Davis, Ian Churchill, Dave Hine, Hunt Emerson, Mike Collins and Charlie Adlard! Here's some of Alan, Ian and Lew's art for "Brickman Begins" now...


[Green Light]Tony Lee, Tony Lee looking for a plug

Tony Lee, Tony Lee with his beaming mug

Asks if there's room

For a picture of The Gloom

Tony Lee, Tony Lee, Tony Lee

And he's got a movie option, so that'll make him happy.

Also Michael Moorcock has allowed him to use Jerry Cornelius as a recurring character in his upcoming comic "Midnight Kiss." Sounds very multiversial.


[Green Light]Dynamic Forces are running a Jae Lee original competition. Did you know about it? No? Chances your friends haven't either. Get in there first!


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!

You can contact me at:

  • mailto:richjohnston@gmail.com
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  • 0780 1350982 (01144780 1350982 from N America)
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Be seeing you.

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