Welcome to the one hundred and ninth 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, RAPED means that the story is unlikely to be true, and you should read that with that context. KILLED 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. ALIVE 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.

You could not see one far end of the San Diego Comic Con from the other end. This was possibly due to the curvature of the Earth.


It's been a week of rapes, hasn't it? If it wasn't the mad-on or mad-love most fanboys seemed to have at San Diego for DC's Identity Crisis and the "you've been Dibnied" comments that spilled over into injokes and that even seem to have affected this week's traffic light scoring system, it was Mirror Master in The Flash flashing back to an attempted rape on him in an orphanage, or it was message board regulars setting up a rape wish-list of people attending the WizardWorld Chicago. This action saw them banned from other boards, the Bendis board shut down in an attempt to curtail the activity and Mark Millar and Warren Ellis, both who have used fictional rape as a cheap shock tactic, giving the individuals grief on Millarworld, and finally the decampment to a new Bendis Board. Yes, rape is definitely the new black as far as comics are concerned.

Maybe this is what they want… maybe CMX can publish that manga classic "Rapeman"…


Eddie Campbell's new graphic novel is "The Fate Of The Artist" to be published by Top Shelf (although they didn't even know the title when I asked them about it). It's an autobiographical-abscence piece, as Eddie Campbell's character disappears and has to be replaced by stand-ins. The last moment in post modern comics sees how what the man in the street calls writers block, is actually the moment when the artist wakes up, despises himself, his readers and doesn't know what happens next...

SAN DIEGO QUOTING - "Our job is to try to get them not to screw things up. We fail, most of the time." - Greg Noveck on representing DC properties to TV and film.


I hear rumours that Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, may have an heir to his estate. Previously thought to have none, this may prove a threat to DC's ownership of the character, and at least see another bunch of lawyers sat at a table thrashing out a deal...


Liam Sharp is behind Man Tor Gems, an Epic Magazine style publishing project which will see the cream of comic book talent contributing to high-value anthology series.

SAN DIEGO QUOTING: "Hot American Dickings" - DR Tran


The people behind "The Red Star" comic have recently been working on Peter Jackson's "Kong" - and the word is that they've put as much effort into "Kong" as into the whole of Middle Earth.

"The Red Star" game, with the feel of a traditional shooting level game, used the digital files used to create the characters in the comic, to create the characters in the game. Look for Red Star for PS2 and Xbox in September (Christmas for the UK).

SAN DIEGO QUOTING: "Reavers…" - Summer Glau, Serenity trailer.


Dan Didio has the reputation for squeezing every drop he can out of each talent on a DC exclusive. Marvel, however, have a reputation for allowing exclusive creators to get away with less work than they were doing before they went exclusive.

Nevertheless, amongst the hoi polloi of non-exclusives, they seem to prefer DC's methods of operation, citing a number of Marvel employees as hell to work with.

As the Cold War of exclusives continued at the con, could this be the establishment of a two-tier system? Exclusives go to Marvel, non-exclusives go to DC?


But here are a few things to look forward to from Rebellion in 2000AD. September: "Dredd Total War" by Wagner and Flint, "Strontium Dog" by Wagner and Ezquerra, "Asylum II" by Rob Williams and Boo Cook. "Robo Hunter: The Firzt Case" by Grant and Gibson. October: "Lobster Random: Tooth + Claw" by Spurrier and Critchlow. "Faces" by John Higgins and Mindy Newell. November: "Red Seas" by Edginton and Yeowell in November.


With rumours of Michael Oeming working on a "1603" sequel to "1602," here's a blast from his own past...


The "Species III" display - a glass tank built into a wall in which a tiny-binkinied babe lay sprawled, fiddling with a tentacle while fanboys attempted to take photos of her labia. At one point she was so bored, she even started reading comics inside there.

One to spot were those who took the ironic stance of watching those who were watching the display. While sneaking quick peeks of the display themselves...

SAN DIEGO QUOTING - ""If you really like the characters, we'll bring them back in another episode. If you really, really like them, we'll kill them." - producer John Rogers on regular characters in "Global Frequency," the TV series.


I understand Garth Ennis is the new writer for "Ghost Rider."

Finally, Ennis can write a character who smokes.


I understand Talent Caldwell left Aspen not under the mutual decision it's been painted as. Bit of a spat all round it seems.


Sometimes Eisner Awards seem designed to embarrass. Bruce Jones won for his Marvel work, just after he signed exclusive with DC. DC won for "Formerly Known As The Justice League," just as the sequel had been aborted down to"Identity Crisis." And Marvel deservedly won for "Unstable Molecules," a title that they all but abandoned and mis-marketed in the first place.

However Defender Of Liberty winner Jim Lee made everone proud by going out of his way yo use his role to attack the Patriot Act.


Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon and Jimmy Palmiotti are working on a prequel to the "Punisher" movie, which will be inserted in the Punisher DVD when released.


Dan Didio's nickname amongst some at DC is "scrubbing bubbles."

James Kochalka's new book for Top Shelf is called "Superfuckers."

SAN DIEGO QUOTING: "They just call me Whore" - Morena Baccarin, Firefly/Serenity panel


Ah yes, the "Firefly"/"Serenity" panel, which showed a preview trailer for the movie, and brought on the entire cast of the TV show for the crowd to scream at. And what a performance they put on, especially the mimes while the crowd screamed. And screamed some more. Far too many quotes to use, but when Joss Whedon described the character Jane as being the Cordelia of the show, Adam Baldwin asked "Who?" and Nathon Fillion whispered into his ear, mimed a thin hourglass figure, then proceeded to mime the opening of a centrefold.

It is also apparent that Joss Whedon cast Alan Tudyk as Wash. Alan looks very much like a younger, slightly thinner, slightly hairier on top Joss Whedon. And Joss gave him the wittiest lines and the hot babe as a wife. Hmmm.

Oh, yes. Comics. Um. There will be a "Serenity"/"Firefly" comic book from Dark Horse. Shame. If it come out from IDW, I'd have been writing it...


While Warren Ellis stated his Marvel exclusive contract allows for "Planetary," Joe Quesada said it only allowed for a couple of issues a year. Which, to be frank, may still be a better schedule than what we're getting now…


Alan Moore and Leah Moore's IPC Comic for DC/Wildstorm is still the thing that had me spinning most this weekend. The first book for DC Moore's done outside the ABC firewall for a long, long time, looks like the opportunity was too good to pass up.

We're talking Steel Claw, Kelly's Eye, House Of Dollman and more. Drawn by Shane Oakley, inked by Sandra Hope with covers from Dave Gibbons.

For Brits, this is like a revival of Spider-Man, Superman and Batman - when they haven't been published for forty years.

The deal was also spearheaded by the publisher of Loaded magazine - the lads mag that kick started the genre that would expand to include FHM, Maxim, Ice and Sky…

Leah Moore's abilities as a writer should also not be questioned. I read her "Paul Saveen" story in "Tom Strong," and thought it was a good Alan story before I checked the credits.

Another old IPC property, "Charley's War" is being reprinted by Titan Books. They are also looking to do new material - the name Garth Ennis can never be far away from that.

SAN DIEGO QUOTING: "At last, we can retire and give up this life of crime" - Gina Torres, "Serenity" trailer.


Warren Ellis will be on set for the entire "Global Frequency" shoot. I hope they've told him. Directed by Nelson McCormick, he first arc is written by David Slack, the second by Diego Gutierrez (of "Buffy"), the third Ben Edland. Warren will write one episode.

And with four episodes already paid for, John Rogers says they'll have to shag it not to get the full 13 episodes.

The FX house have been busy with a London skyline effect - so expect the Parkour episode of the comic to be well reflected.


Disney approached a number of creators at San Diego about starting a graphic novel line.

Anyone remember Touchmark Comics?


Coming from Marvel: "Age Of Apocalypse II," an anthology concept/project,


Look forward to a bunch of 48 page one shots by Warren Ellis coming out from Image.

SAN DIEGO QUOTING: "You're a lot younger - and hotter - than I expected." - male fan to Richard Kelly, writer/director of Donnie Darko


"Spaced" is coming to a US cable station, which also means you unrelentless people who won't buy multi-region DVD players will get to see to the sitcom you were born to watch.


"Ultimate Nightmare" is the first part in a Warren Ellis trilogy that will expose the "ultimate conspiracy" that is underpinning the Ultimate Universe.


Howard The Duck will appear in an upcoming issue of "She-Hulk."

Marvel seems to be considering the idea that Peter David may well return to the "Hulk" ongoing comic book.

Robert Kirkman is writing a new "Marvel Team Up" series. And I hear Marvel intend to expand the "2099" one shots into ongoing series if they're a success.

The post-Oeming Thor is no longer going to be written by Neil Gaiman, plans have changed, but expect a new writer announcement soon.

Dan Buckley's hairstyle actually makes him look like he's wearing a chicken headdress.

Marvel are the ninja of comic book publishers - they hide in plain sight. Or at least somewhere inside the Activision booth. Joss Whedon was able to sign there without the huge crowds he attracted the next day at his panel.


While Quesada confirmed the return of Longshot at some point, I hear Marat Mychaels is doing a "Shatterstar" miniseries for Marvel.


I understand Laurenn McCubbin ("Rent Girl") started a fight with a street poet. Finished it as well.


I understand that WizardWorld is seriously considering launching comics conventions in the UK and Canada…


Bruce Jones? Brian Michael Bendis? Mark Waid? What is this?

Well scratch the first one anyway.,..

SAN DIEGO QUOTING: "Jesus did *not* know karate"

"Jesus knows everything!" - All Babes Want To Kill Me

Next week in Lying In the Gutters, all the stuff I forgot to write about this week, all the stories I'm going to have to investigate a lot further before printing, and reviews of, amongst other things, "Normalman," "Sammy," "Youngblood," "Hire This Man," "TommySaurus Rex," "Flight," "Less Than Heroes," "Cartoonist" Volume 2, "Broad Appeal," "Licensable Bear," "A1" 0, "A1 Sketchbook," "Bunnywith," "Hero Happy Hour Special," "Supernatural Law 101," "Panda Days," "Phantom Jack" 5, "Art Of Liam Sharp," "The Cartographer Knight," "Shadowhawk," "Carson City," "Bone," "Killing Demons," "Bloodhound," "The Last San Cowboy," "Keyhole"... oh, and "Dr. Tran!"


My thanks to Mike Meyer for putting me up in Los Angeles, the V LA branch for just putting up with me, Jesse Leon McCan and Nancy McCann of Comics Unlimited for the place at the Eisners table, David Schwartz for the Disney Studio tour and Dan Buckley for being such a good sport.


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:

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Be seeing you.

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