Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-first 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.

But this week, it's a special week. The Fifth Annual Rumour Awards...

It was the dead of night as the FedEx black helicopters descended on the ruins of Troy in north-west Turkey. ComfyCrates TM spilled out of the sides of the carriers, each carried by a parachute to its resting place upon the remains of the walls. Where armies had fought armies, where cities had fallen under seige, where Brad Pitt had oiled himself nude, so the crates slowly opened in the dawn light and comic book people rubbed their eyes and slowly stepped out for the fifth Annual Rumour Awards.

Previous awards had been held in less tempestuous areas, such as Reykjavik, Robben Island, the Seychelles or Tikrit, but everyone has seen "Troy" and thought that would be super, even thought it had actually been filmed in Spain or something.

And so the judges emerged and began to take their place at the table. The late and great of the comics industry, whose antics had filled Lying In The Gutters in many ways through the year. Dan DiDio, Alex Ross, Frazer Irving, Brian Bendis, Lysa Hawkins, CB Cebulski, Robert Kirkman and Alex De Campi.

For the fifth consecutive year, Warren Ellis' crate had gone astray. Weeks later it would be found in Rob Liefeld's warehouse where he's still searching for Rick Veitch's missing Supreme pages. Rob would then divide Warren into three, and send a third to his inker.

The judges got straight down to it with the opening crowd pleaser


Alex Ross asked if his Phantom costume could be entered again, after cruelly being beaten last year by Dan Buckley. But Alex De Campi just started snickering about the sweat patches. CB Cebulski tried to get that Scott Kuntz used to fool Rich Johnston into thinking a Dazzler revival was on the way.

Dan pointed out Scott's surname was misspelt but no one seemed minded to change it. Mike Netzer's decision to reinvent himself as the second coming of Jesus, through comics brought a few chuckles.

But strangely Brian Bendis felt himself drawn to this cult and instantly whipped himself up a toga and began worshipping at the remains of a temple. Though that was shortlived after being distracted by Shanna's nipples.

One of those scenes hasily being redrawn by Frank Cho after Avi Arad's stamp on Marvel reverberated through the corporation. Luckily a few images from the upcoming "Lost Girls" collections helped bring Brian's smile back.

One image was sadly not available - that of a beauty contest ripped from a newspaper, with Bryan Hitch and Adam Kubert's heads posted on a couple of stunners, asking the viewer to decide which of these stunning beauties will be the latest with their current work. At one point pinned to a Marvel editors door, now lo longer with us.

Sticking with that theme, though, images of the "Species III" babe from San Diego were commonplace.

The rest of the images came thick and fast, a Newsarama typo, an Aradicated cover to "Captain America," Plastic Man hiding as The Talon in "Smallville," David Mack dancing, John Dokes on the sax and the My Little Justice League

Alex Ross nearly exploded at that last one. "That My Little Pony is showing the ultimate disrespect for the memory of Hal Jordan by dressing in Kyle *Spit* Rayner's Green Lantern costume! Burn the pony! Burn the pony!"

Thankfully Alex De Campi was on hand to distract him and pitch him a series about zombie waitresses in Prague.

But the top three visual nominations were standouts. At number three, an unfortunate misplacement of speech balloons on "X-Men: Dream's End" TPB saw Wolverine express a new side of himself.

And Paty Cockrum was able to express from within herself, her inner super-villain.

But there can be only one winner. An image that causes more comment than any other and one which, if John Taddeo has his way, will see publication on a real comic this year, the one, the only, cover to the abandoned "American Power!"

Everybody joined in, getting down to the Al Queda boogie! Man, that CB Cebulski can really throw some shapes on the dancefloor.


In a feature in "Comics International," an ex-editor at IPC talked about his decision to turn down "Viz Comic" after trying to create a bowlderised version of the then cult adult comic book. He failed, he let them go, and "Viz Comic" would go on to sell over a million an issue on the newstands from Virgin and John Brown Publishing. He defended his decision as being a mark against purility, dismissed "Viz" as being simple and one-joke and he honestly seems to realise that deciding not to publish a comic which would become the third best selling magazine in the country, was a stand against morals and not the reason he is now an ex-editor, while IPC went on to create the lads magazine market with "Loaded."

Issue 173 of "Comics International." Our judges could feel his pain and tears dripping off the page.

Both Marvel and DC seem to have enough shelved work in their files, some literal, some virtual, to make a fanboy cry. From Bill Siencewicz "Batman" to Frank Quitely "Lobo," from Andi Watson's "15 Love" to the entire Darick Roberston "Deathlok" series, anything from relationships with licences, creators and profit levels can stall such bodies.

But this year Marvel's decision to turn down a TV sitcom based on their revival of "Rawhide Kid" can only be a case of New New Marvel fighting Old New Marvel. Same reason for Shanna's disappearing chesticles.

CB Cebulski could only shrug, saying "gaw cowboy sitcoms, come on after 'Deadwood' it's a cliche, right? Right?"

Marvel's decision to cancel the Tsunami line, full of manga-friendly possibilities, was briefly considered but the judges imagined what would have happened right now if there had been a comics line called Tsunami. It would have been like having an imprint called World Trade Center Go Bye Bye three years ago. They swiftly moved on.

But in the end, it had to be Paul Levitz decision to can Brian Bendis's "Flash" movie, and his "Batman/Daredevil" comics project because Joe Quesada had been rude about Superman and Batman's genitalia, ensuring Brian Bendis' loyalty to Joe Quesada, and thus concreting Joe's position in his job, if he should want it, that had to win the prize.

Dan DiDio accepted the award on behalf of Paul Levitz, but later told CB Cebulski that he had no intention of passing it to Paul. Dan started wooing Brian telling him "you know, it doesn't have to be this way. All I need is an open window and a clear line of sight... then we can make things all better." Bendis showed Dan his contract with Joe, signed in blood. "Not mine obviously, I used Oeming's."

Alex De Campi took Dan DiDio aside to pitch him a series about a demon hitman with a chest of drawers for a head. In Gotham City. Called "Tallboy."


New for this year, the NOT PAYING AWARD had so many entrants. DC were instantly disqualified, although Lysa Hawkins impassioned plea for comps to be taken into account when making rent didn't stand muster. And Frazer Irving's despair at the plunging dollar and that he was getting paid more to stack shelves in Sainsbury's than to draw a page for an American publisher didn't cut the mustard here.

88MPH were instantly disqualified for only not paying a few people, as were MVC for not paying a few more people, but that's because they too had not been paid by another contender and at least were being open and honest about it. Dreamwave managed to do it all over the world, but kept a lid on most of it. In fact, as of this week Dreamwave assets and employees were shifting over to a new company called DreamEngine, started by Roger Lee, Pat's brother.

The dreamengine.ca domain was registered in Roger's name on the 9th of December, to the same address that DreamWave is registered to.

UPDATE: 4th January 2004: I understand that yesterday a number ofpeople received e-mails from Dreamwave clarifying its current status,though in a pleasant, appreciative tone. An official announcement ofDreamwave's status is expected today.

I'm told Pat's promised that everyone owed money will be paid, but to be fair I've heard that before. Principally from the winner of this award...

CrossGen. Like Dreamwave, Lying In The Gutters was reporting initial lack of payments nine months before the situation became desperate. Both then tried fake promises, attempted to get new creators in to take the place of those who dropped out for not being paid, and used legal threats against those who tried to get the word out.

CrossGen's operations, however, were on a much grander scale. With people moving houses, investing their careers in the company and eventually seeing their trust betrayed, CrossGen lied, bullied and schemed their way to bankruptcy, taking many innocents along with them.

Dan DiDio and CB Celbulski were the only voices to argue with the decision... on the basis that all those people not getting paid by CrossGen were perfect for making deals with them to come to DC and Marvel. But everyone blew raspberries at them. Hard to find at this time of the year as well.


Always popular at the Rumour Awards, this kicked off with The Devils Due Vs Dabel Brothers fight of press releases, where each contended they'd left the other for a different reason and that the other had acted illegally.

As was the original comic book pitch to BMW for comics by the likes of Greg Scott and JD Mettler and Tony Harris based on "The Hire," who co-operated and created work, arranging meetings with the rest of the industry, until BMW dumped them for Dark Horse.

Igor Kordey's firing from "Excalibur" saw the East European now living in Canada let off quite the bit of steam over what he saw as his mistreatment at Marvel. Josh Middleton joined in, at the time contracted with Marvel by attacking the company, and by implication his writer Joe Quesada, over "NYX." A month or two later he'd signed exclusively at DC.

Alex De Campi took notes. CB Cebulski tried to outstare her but failed.

Dez Skinn's history of underground comix saw him go up against the Comics Journal messageboard over use of photographs and text descriptions seemingly pilfered uncredited from other sources.

The fight of blogs and message boards saw Phil Hall make veiled allegations against Kev Sutherland's running of UK conventions, until eventually they were going at each other hammer and tongs, to the extent Kev felt he had to drop out of running any conventions at all, and Phil Hall cancelled his blog.

And then someone mentioned John Byrne's name and everyone sighed.

There was Jim Lee, over John Byrne's claims to have been invited to be a Founder of Image.

There was Erik Larsen over his criticisms of George Perez.

There was Paty Cockrum over her beliefs about what John had said about Dave Cockrum.

There was Neal Adams over comments made about his work on X-Men and design of Batman.

There was comments involving Warren Ellis over schedules.

However this year, most creators have learnt to leave a bear with a sore head alone and so most of the argy-bargying petered out rather rapidly.

The continual feud between CrossGen and its ex-employees was the most consistent and wide-reaching fight, with allegations of incompetence, maliciousness and downright betrayal were commonplace. But it wasn't all one sided, CrossGen decided to try to sue employees who weren't staying quiet and it all got rather messy.

Harry Knowles and Mark Millar went at it, putting up $1000 in charity money over the casting of the new Superman. It turned out that it was actually a fight between director Bryan Singer and the wishes of the studio Warner Brothers. Both Harry and Mark were correct... but Bryan Singer's vision won.

Dan DiDio started to mumble about the PR debacle on its way, but more on that later.

But the winner of the year had to be Marvel and DC. Despite Bill Jemas' ejection, and a return to less abrasive styles of promotion, Paul Levitz and other prominent DC employees have a personal grudge against Marvel in the hands of Joe Quesada. Much stems from the newspaper interview Quesada gave where he's quoted saying, "'What the fuck is DC anyway?' Mr. Quesada said, stoking the fires. 'They'd be better off calling it AOL Comics. At least people know what AOL is. I mean, they have Batman and Superman, and they don't know what to do with them. That's like being a porn star with the biggest dick and you can't get it up. What the fuck?'"

Some have encouraged Joe Quesada to apologise for this, but he's of the opinion that he has nothing to apologise for. And a number of exclusive deals with creators have been designed, on both sides, to annoy the other.

Brian Bendis, being given a piggyback by CB Cebulski started jousting with Dan DiDio and Alex Ross in an attempt to restage the current situation for the local tourists and Channel 4 camera crew but Alex Ross' insistence that he was Brad Pitt, over CB's equally valid claims turned the event into quite the debacle.


Lysa began this award discussion with her hand raised. "Ooh! Ooh! Me miss! Me miss!" And certainly her firing from DC in the light of the CompGate scandal, when she went and accidentally contradicted everything Paul Levitz had told Human Resources in an e-mail, was a star nomination. But she wasn't alone.

Brian Bendis being fired from "The Flash" when Paul Levitz got involved, over Bendis' close association with Joe Quesada was a strong contender. CB Cebulski started underlining this one, especially when someone else asked about Theresa Focarile's dismissal by Marvel and instant hire by Bill Jemas at 360ep.

Especially when Theresa is Bill's sister-in-law... boy, that managed to escape a lot of people's attention.

The vast armies of CrossGen sackings, leaving pink slips fluttering in the Tampa breeze, for sheer size was unsurpassable. But it's not like it was a surprise by that time.

But even Robert Kirkman, and a team of zombies he quickly summoned up from the dusty ground, couldn't draw attention away from the winner, Jim Valentino. A bloodless coup, Jim was ousted from his position as Publisher of Image Comics by a series of press releases which assured everyone that everything was nicey-nice, that Jim was a valued member of Image and that his creative work would be paramount. Jim's face at San Diego told a very different story and you could cut the atmosphere between him and newly-appointed Publisher Erik Larsen with a plastic knife that Uri Geller had had a go at.

Alex De Campi asked Robert Kirkman to look at her proposal about a young girl with the foresight that she'll assassinate the President, but she's a paraplegic!


It was a year of spin. And some of it was more believable than others.

Bill Rosemann's that CrossGen weren't going into bankruptcy and that everybody was going to be paid was certainly an A-list candidate for the award. Even though Rosemann himself had competition from himself, insisting that certain CrossGen comics were cancelled due to poor sales, and not because the creative team had resigned en masse (for the third successive time) for not being paid.

Then there were Matt Hawkins open denials that Top Cow were in talks with DC Comics for a North American publishing deal... when Lying in The Gutters had already been passed the relevant e-mails.

Or AP Comics's Tony Lee defending the company from accusations of spin by further spinning till he resembled a spinny top?

But, with the cheers of "Transformers" addict Frazer Irving, Candice Chan took the star prize for insisting that creators were changed on "Transformers" to keep things fresh and that everything was okay and hunky dorey, while simultaneously sending out private instructions to take action against these new ex-employees. Our judges were equally impressed by her insistence that Dreamwave were just closing down for the holidays.

It's useful to know that after he's freed, Comical Ali can have a long and fruitful career in comics, should he wish it.


While late books aren't as prevalent as they have been in past years, there are a few which stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Alex De Campi asked CB Cebulski where "Amazing Fantasy" was. CB decided to hide inside the mock Trojan horse instead.

"Youngblood Bloodsport" issue 2, which has been announced as ready for printing and at the printers repeatedly through the year, which repeatedly never shows up. Indeed, Arcade hasn't actually printed anything new since the first issue of "Youngblood Imperial" for San Diego. No issue zero or issue two of that either. They wouldn't even do another print run to fulfill Diamond orders for "Youngblood Genesis." A few people have started to wonder if Rob's just lost the address of every printer in the world.

Robert Kirkman said, "Look, I know, I wrote a few of them, but... you know? I like comics I write to be published. Funny thing that. Probably a superstition of something."

Kevin Smith has also put in his own strong contribution, with "Daredevil Target" and "Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do" but distant memories.

Bendis also had a distant memory about Kevin's withdrawal from the "Daredevil What If" based on his work. "I had to basically rip off all of Smith's Daredevil work and get paid for it." Funny, Frank Miller felt the same way...

With no one even mentioning Loki & Bartleby anymore these days, Kevin would have been a sure fire winner if it wasn't for...

"Daredevil Father." Coupled with "NYX," this has been a terribly late book, for many reasons, but that fact that the former is written and drawn by Joe Quesada and the latter written by Joe, it does make for a terrible example to other Marvel comic creators.

"Not me," said Bendis. "I can write seven books a day." "Me, too" chimed in Kirkman. "Did you see the other week? The 2099 books? That's not a year, that's actually how many comics I wrote... they only chose to publish six of them."


Dan DiDio turned to CB Celbulski, "You're Marvel's Talent Manager, right?" CB replied, "Who's asking? I'll send you my CV if you want."

"No no, CB, I was just wondering. How do you define 'manage'"

"Oh I see. Well, less like 'manage' I suppose. More like... um... 'crush'?"

And certainly, as the eradication of Marvel began to be felt more, so certain talent felt crushed there. Grant Morrison's decision to up sticks to DC, Bob Morales departure from "Captain America," Frank Cho's demand that he change "Shanna" artwork from scratch, the cancellation of Peter Bagge's "Incorrigible Hulk," and the constant repetition from creators, even from someone like Chuck Austen that they "play it safe," for Gui Kayro, for Isaac Perlmutter, but especially for Avi Arad who's had enough of gay cowboys, fascist spies, topless jungle heroines and dead princesses to last him a lifetime.

Coupled with the occasional blip like the editors of "New X-Men" not actually understanding what had happened in Morrison's run on the book and, well...

Of course, this was only equalled by Bill Jemas' own oar-sticking the previous year or two. But at least he'd done that to try and make better comics, as opposed to bowlderise them.


Could it have been the one signed by Jack Lawrence with AP Comics, where he believed he was signing a creator-owned contract, only to discover he owned none of the rights to "Darkham Vale" when he left? And all Mike Bullocks' attempts to take the rights were in vain?

Or could it have been this sample Marvel separation contract, with lots of comics people clustered round going "how many noughts???"

But the winner, ironically, was a lack of contract. Marvel never getting round to issuing them... allowing Alex De Campi to withdraw as writer of the newly revamped "Amazing Fantasy," taking all her concepts for the new "Scorpion" with her, without even a Non Disclosure Agreement to keep her from blabbing, a weekend before the Previews solicitations were due for the comic, over creative disagreements.

Alex accepted an award to herself from herself. And used it to strike up a conversation with Dan DiDio about a DCU series involving a vampiric music hall double act called "The Blood Brothers."


Could it have been students being taught hardcore porn alongside pages of "Ultimate Spider-Man?" Brian Bendis couldn't see what the fuss was about there.

Or maybe Alan Moore and Brian Eno doing their version of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore - "The ambient follows you around the room" for the BBC? By the way, the Chain Reaction series has started... catch up on Jimmy Carr and Jenny Eclair this week.

Candice Chan's letter over the departure of James McDonough and Adam Patyk from Dreamwave, when she demanded all message board operators delete all the posts they'd made concerning Dreamwave ever, raised a lot of laughs.

Michael Netzer's decision to save the world through the Second Coming, with comics was a favourite. As was David Choe, who'd left Marvel on a stream of filth and abuse, becoming a born-again Christian. Geoff John's vaginal insertion of Ant Man in "Avengers" was a favourite, as was the ending of "Identity Crisis" as being beyond description.

Rebellion boss, Jason Kingsley's star turn on BBC4's "Crisis Command" where he tried to drown prisoners and villagers alike, turning from liberal do-gooder to fascist dictator in about ten minutes, left our judges open jaws apart from Frazer Irving. "You realise, that's who we base all our Judge Dredd stories on now?"

CB Celbulski started to blush at the repeated lettering problems on Marvel's trades and hardcovers. "The only problem I find with lettering," added Brian Bendis, "is when people start to letter their own artwork. I think it makes something snap in the head." Everyone had a quick think about two specific people. Dan DiDio added "you know, I made him use another letterer. Maybe that'll help." Everyone a bit looked sheepish.

There was DC's decision to up the sex and violence in the "Eye Of The Storm" books in order to justify the mature readers label, by adding naked hookers to the mix. Dan DiDio added, "I never thought I'd see the day when Paul Levitz stood on his desk and shouted 'more naked hookers!'" Lysa Hawkins added, "It was just waiting to happen. That elastic ball was going to snap any day."

And whoever was licensing DC's content for the hardback British annuals deserves a solid mention for including a Catwoman story about murdered prostitutes in the "Justice League" annual aimed at five year olds.

Marvel's decision to hire Karl Zinsmeister, noted neo-conservative writer, and contributor to those who made President Bush's mind up over the invasion, to tell "true" stories about American soldiers in Iraq when all he'd done in that vein was tell horribly biased, twisted and jingoistic versions of those stories, gained some international notice. CB said he's tried to Talent Crush Karl but had received a mysterious call threatening his manga toy collection if he changed a word.

So in the end, there could be only one. Micah Wright's outing as being a continual and habitual liar, over his history as an Army Ranger, in order to justify and bolster his politically and military minded work. It was a shame that such a talented writer could be brought down by a puffed up CV, but at probably the most sensitive time, to be exposed in the newspapers as such a fraud, the instant explusion and blacklisting by DC was an expected one.

Dan DiDio's mind had even been scrubbed of Micah's very existence, so he looked on blankly. Apparently Lysa's attempts to sell these mind-rubbing secrets on eBay had also contributed to her dismissal.

Alex de Campi suddenly had an idea for a new pitch.


And so we come to the final award of the night. Rumour Of The Year. The one story that gripped us, held us in its sweaty embrace, then left us, exhausted, spent and panting on the rocks.

Sadly Frazer Irving took that allegory literally. As everyone turned their faces from the grunting man, Frazer missed his own involvement in a nomination, the "Seven Soldiers" series from Grant Morrison and a bunch of ne'erdowell artists, as Grant's massive project, seven series, all interlinked, reviving forgotten DC characters was eventually announced after repeated details were broken all over the place.

Dan DiDio denied all knowledge of an individual called Micah Wright. And as he was fired off "Stormwatch," with one issue left to go, writers were approached to finish off the series as scab labour, before the book was cancelled on a cliffhanger. Very messy, with DC not even choosing to publicly defend or comment on their actions.

The Eminem and "Wanted" debacle drew laughter from... well, pretty much everyone, when Mark Millar attempted to deny that he'd ever linked the two over a movie deal, despite doing so in his first Millarworld post about the comic. As it became clear that his agent had done much of the legwork, it had almost scuppered an actual movie deal, and Millar continued to keep pushing the possibility for publicity's sake, while denying it was something he was ever doing, and misrepresenting his actions to his readers.

The emergence of "Sin City" as a movie rumours slowly revealed the reverence and respect given to Frank Miller by Hollywood, with director Robert Rodriguez resigning his union status to get Miller a co-credit. And with panels and pages reproduced exactly, with all guest directors following in Robert's lead, with spinoff benefits to the "300" movie. And Lying In The Gutters had every move...

The rewriting of credits on "Witches" might have had more of an effect if anyone had read the damn thing. Lysa Hawkins began to weep in memory for the comic, edited by her, written by Bronwyn Taggart, about superwomen trying to usurp the power and control of men. Only to find, when the comic was finally published, their credits pushed aside as the book was supposedly rescripted and re-edited by men. Even artist Mike Deodato was mystified - he'd drawn from Bronwyn's script. Oh, the meta-textuality of it all...

It was also a year of spoilers with Lying In The Gutters inadvertently spoiling Hawkeye's death, then deliberately spoiling Scarlet Witch's madness (with a warning that some didn't spot) and finally the "Identity Crisis" killer (though this time learning its lesson with a nice big white out). Brian Bendis tried to kill Rich Johnston on several occasions but is yet to succeed. "All I need is one convention appearance... just one!" he mumbled.

There are already rumours groaning about his next big project, "House Of M," the rival to DC's Crisis II. In which, Lying In The Gutters is told that Magneto, fearing that Emma Frost will have his dear Scarlet Witch murdered, has her daughter remake the Marvel Universe in his ideal "image" - mutants as homo superior exerting their control over the homo sapiens. Supposed to run for a couple of months, before Wolverine, of course, realizes things are not as they should be, and tips the other key characters, Cap, Spider-Man, DD, etc to make things right. Very Age-Of_Apocalypsy. Marvel's using the stunt to fix any and all continuity gaffes through their history as well. Their version of Alan Moore's "Fluke" from the Twilight proposal.

And talking of Crisis II, there was the Crisis II rumour! It's existence all but confirmed now, with Geoff Johns and Phil Jiminez rewriting DC for a new century, and tying in all the big events into a continuum that may explode into Grant Morrison's various delusions about the sentience of the DC Universe, as the ultimatisation (now All-Starring) of DC Comics kicks off.

While the Eradication of Marvel was in full swing, Bendis moved "Powers" to Marvel taking "Kabuki" with it, and setting up Icon to tell tales of monkey sex. Thankfully, you could only tell it was a Marvel comic if you looked really carefully. And Icon could prove a useful get out clause for projects Avi Arad would throw Elton John at given half a chance.

But then there was the Superman movie rumour. Still not totally resolved, still looking more likely by the minute, with massive impications all over the place, it had to be Rumour Of The Year.

That Bryan Singer wanted to cast an actor who was in the closet, and who would declare themselves to be gay in the lead up to, or during the release of the film. So that it would have a meta-textual element, over secret identities, and also give young gay individuals a positive role model in their lives. And presumably, not make stereotypical remarks about men dressed in tight colourful leotards.

On, and then, Brandon Routh being cast in the lead.

As the evangelical churches of the USA hold their breath, ready to start an onslaught of whipped up mob-hatred, Dan DiDio gingerly accepted the award on behalf of DC. "You know, we're appointing a Senior Vice President of Marketing? Something tells me I think we're going to need him..."

And so the awards came to an end. Everyone began to get back into their Comfy Crates TM except for Frazer Irving who had developed a new level or respect for this historical land and decided there and then to stay. And have sex with it.

The crates were lifted into the air, and as they rose, Frazer quickjly graffitted "Kyle Raynor Rulez" on Alex's crate. On landing, the explosion would be heard across the world.

As everyone was departing, and Frazer was getting to know a hillock rather well, Rich Johnston arrived with the results of the "All-Star Batman & Robin" vote, where Lying In The Gutters readers chose their ideal writer for Jim Lee on the book.

Rich Johnston pulled out the result. "The winner" he announced to the dead air "is Frank Miller." He folded the piece of paper into four, pressed a pin through it and stuck it into a voodoo doll of Paul Levitz. The deed was done. Frank Miller would be the writer of "All Star Batman & Robin," with Jim Lee on art. Expect an announcement from DC later in the year. Or whenever the Wizard solicitation gets leaked.

And while no one was listening, very very quitely, Rich Johnston began to talk about plot points from the upcoming "Batman Begins" movie.

"There's a brief glimpse at the origin, or pre-origin of every famous Batman villain. Because Gotham is a city without super villains, until The Scarecrow releases a toxin that will create an army of weird freaks that will, in time, feed Arkham's groaning halls."

And when he was sure no one was listening, he whispered "Oh, and Evan Dorkin is working on a 'Kamandi' comic book..."

The night fell. But Frazer had already lit a few romantic candles.


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