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Welcome to the one hundred and second 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.

So there you go.

WAITING AT THE CHURCH

[Yellow Light]

A few weeks ago, we reported that Jim Lee was falling behind on “Superman,” but that he was working night and day at the drawing board to catch up.

I understand that DC have made contingency plans to give their Vice President a little leeway in case it becomes too much. If the pages don’t come in, a four issue arc by Judd Winick and Ian Churchill will be inserted in the middle of the Azzarello/Lee run.

But they may not need to use them as Lee has been beavering away. Maybe we’ll see the pages used in a separate project?

WITCH WRITER?

[Green Light]

The new issue of “Witches” gives original editor Lysa Hawkins and original writer Bronwyn Taggart a “thanks” credit. Both no longer at Marvel, it may seem a generous tag to departed employees on Marvel’s behalf.

However, I understand that far from this comic simply being based on an original concept by Taggart and edited by Lysa, the artist, Mike Deodato, drew the artwork directly from Bronwyn’s full scripts. And while the dialogue has been rewritten, page sequence changed and additional pages drawn in upcoming issues, giving Bronwyn a “thanks” is a clear under-credit in this case.

And in a book that is now about women being controlled by men, for that to be the only credit given to the women creators seems awfully meta-textual to me.

AUSTEN OUSTED?

[Yellow Light]

Another story buzzing around Italy right now is that Chuck Austen is off “X-Men.” Indeed, he left a month ago, but it has yet to be mentioned outside the company.

I hear he’s handed in scripts up to issue to 170, but a new writer has already been chosen to continue after him.

Here’s the discussion for all you Italian readers.

Additionally, when Mark Millar asked about an X-plot point for his Wolverine series on the Millarworld board, he added “PS I’m not the new X-Men writer before anyone asks.”

COVER ME

[Green Light]

The poster ad/cover art to the new Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows series for Avatar, “303.” Take it away, boys.

I’LL GIVE THEM ABOUT TEN MINUTES

[Green Light]

Quite a few people (including Jose Villarubia, artist/designer for Top Shelf s “Mirror Of Love”) have asked me about “Technical Vocabularies: Games For May,” the short collection of structured poetry by Alan Moore and Steve Moore, mentioned in this column a couple of weeks ago.

Top Shelf have made it available to order online. I warn you, there are 75 published for public sale, there are less than 40 left as I type this, and they’re $25 each (although Chris Staros managed to get me to pay £20 for mine).

They’re signed, numbered and disappearing. If you’re an Alan Moore completist, don’t walk, run.

TONY BEDARD’S…

[Green Light]

Tony Bedard, considered a CrossGen “discovery” and lauded for his work on “Route 666,” “Negation War” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” for the company, has been picked up by Avatar.

They are expected to publish a new horror series by him, most likely to have the words “Tony Bedard’s” preceding it. It’s planned for December.

MAN WITHOUT GAME

[Green Light]

Encore Software, after spending two years developing a Daredevil console game, has had the plug pulled.

RAVENS LEAVE

[Green Light]

But is that the end for “Kiss Kiss?” Not at all. “Raven House” has officially been made a six-issue miniseries now, so that artist Mike Perkins will be able to return and illustrate “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” after the miniseries is completed.

“Raven House” is by Chuck Dixon, Mike Perkins, Andrew Hennessy and Chris Garcia colors. “Monster Rally” has supposedly been pushed back a month because Crossgen does not want press on two horror series launching at the same month to cancel each other out and result in low sales.

As for the delay on “Sojourn/Lady Death,” that is apparently down to George Perez’s hand injury. He’s intending to spend all of April and May finishing it, so it should come out in early July

PAYDAY! PAYDAY!

[Yellow Light]

So is CrossGen round the corner with all this?

Seems not. I understand a number of CrossGen staff members are working without pay right now. An expected payday for this Friday has had to be delayed after capital from an Asian investor failed to materialise.

SHELL SUIT

[Green Light]

A few weeks ago, we named Adi Granov as the artist working with Warren Ellis on “Iron Man” for Marvel.

In a recent email from his Bad Signal mailing list, Warren stated “All of the three Marvel books are varying flavours of SF. Bendis and Millar helped me out by describing the UFF’s stylised uniforms as ‘impact suits’ — pervert suits kind of tear the thin membrane of suspended disbelief for me. I mean, yeah, at heart they’re superhero books and you can’t lose sight of that. But treating them as SF is my way into them. The third book, the one Adi Granov is illustrating, is solidly built on an SF conceit — that, and getting to work with Adi, is why I took it. Adi’s got star quality written all over him.”

Let s notch that traffic light up one colour.

To subscribe to Bad Signal, email the word subscribe to badsignal-request@lists.flirble.org

MOVIE MAGIC

[Green Light]

Saw “The Mindscape Of Alan Moore” this week, with a Q+A session with David Gibbons, David Lloyd, Oscar Zarate, Jose Villarubia and director DeZ Vylenz, led my ComICA programmer and man-at-the-crossroads, Paul Gravett.

It does show what an icon Alan Moore has made for himself, as the man’s finger jewellery endeavour to make him appear a new candidate for the Witchblade. There was little that was new for the viewer already immersed in all things Moore, his growing up, his decision to move into comics, then writing comics, then working for the USA and his decision to move into magic. It does make a big difference that he’s saying all these things while his piercing eyes are burning into the back of your skull through all your fleshy bits however.

Some of the visual trickery portraying the comic book panels was dizzyingly distracting – the French film the next day on Chris Ware’s work had a more sedate and less annoying way of presenting scenes. But the realisation of V, Swamp Thing, Rorschach and Constantine were engaging in a low-budget kind of way.

Splitting the film into chapters using the tarot felt glib but was surprisingly successful, and the magical “shape” of the film was probably its strongest aspect, structured in a fine and decisive way, to reflect the changes in the message expressed by the narrative. Or, in less poncy language, “it felt right.”

Naming Alan Moore “writer and shaman” was bang on the money, and that was a strong theme of the film. Creating something from nothing, acting as a medium of expression, he sounded more like David Attenbrough narrating the history of Life Energy. An authority figure from one who has abandoned authority. If Moore ever decided to head up the Natural Law party, I think he’d get my vote.

And they should run this film as a Party Political Broadcast.

“The Mindscape Of Alan Moore” will be shown at a number of film festivals. If you’d like to arrange a showing, contact DeZ at www.ShadowSnake.com.

COMICA SPILLAGE

[Green Light]

I could attend hardly any ComICA events this year, due to extensive family commitments. However, for the nights I did attend, there was plenty of goss to be had.

David Lloyd is working on a new detective graphic novel called “The Kickback,” to be published as two 46-page colour albums. I saw a few pages he had on him, they looked lovely. He has sold the French rights, and it is expected to be published later this year. English rights, however, are totally available for any interested publisher.

Dave Gibbons also pointed out that the French rights are available on “The Originals.”

Oscar Zarate is working on a new graphic novel with Alan Moore, entitled “The Battle.”

With the publication of “Bannock, Beans and Black Tea” from Drawn & Quarterly, Seth has revealed his born name to be Gregory Gallant. The book retells his father’s stories about his life growing up in some of the hardest times.

And “McSweeney’s Volume 13” is fantastic.

SLASH SEQUEL

[Green Light]

“Hack/Slash” gets a sequel in October.

Looks like it’s everything you’d want from the comic.

EUROMARVEL

[Green Light]

Remember this story? “Two veteran Italian creators, Tito Faraci and Giorgio Cavazzano are also working on a US Marvel project, this time for Spider-Man. A one shot story set in Venice.”

And then this story? “Jean David Morvan and Philippe Buchet (writer and artist of “Sillage,” published in English as “Wake” by NBM ), are the first French authors who have signed to do original projects with Marvel characters for the local market. In this case, a 44-page Wolverine story in the traditional Franco-Belgian format: big oversized hardcover. This experience is only the beginning. 20 contracts have been negotiated with other Franco-Belgian authors to do more stories with renowned Marvel heroes. Panini plans to publish at least 6 of these albums in 2005.”

Turns out both projects are part of the same project. The Wolverine book will be the second volume of the new series “Marvel Transatlantique,” the official name of this original European Marvel project, and the book about Spider-Man in Venice was published on April 22 in France.

DRUNK IN CHARGE

[Green Light]

It may be the pot calling the kettle black, but one typo from Newsarama might not have sat so well with the people behind the award-winning graphic novel “Artesia.”

KINGDOM CAME AND WENT

[Green Light]

Superheroes never die. They just go into care.”

HOLED FORTUNE

[Green Light]

A few more comic shops with Rich Johnston’s “Holed Up” 1 and 2 to spare that somehow got missed off last week s list.

G-Mart Comics

http://www.g-mart.com/

Ian’s Comics & Books

195a Albert Road

Southsea

Portsmouth PO4 0JP

023 92422731

Waterfront Comics

609 Main St

Suisun, CA 94585

707 425-6308

waterfrontcomics@hotmail.com

Jim Hanley’s Universe

4 West 33rd St

New York, NY 10001

www.JHUniverse.com

212-268-7088

info@JHUniverse.com

Jim Hanley’s Universe

325 New Dorp Lane

Staten Island, NY 10306

www.JHUniverse.com

212-268-7088

info@JHUniverse.com

Jim Hanley’s Universe

4 West 33rd St

New York, NY 10001

www.JHUniverse.com

212-268-7088

info@JHUniverse.com

Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy

7959 Fredericksburg Rd. Ste. 129

San Antonio, TX 78229

(210) 615-1229

www.dlair.net

And I’ve no idea if they re stocking “Holed Up” or not, but DCB Service are offering the Complete Bone at 50% off cover price. That’s $20 for 1300 pages of Bone goodness.

Just thought that was worth mentioning.

RECRUITING IN THE GUTTERS

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:rich@twistandshout.freeserve.co.uk (which often gets full, but it’ll reach me during the day)
  • AOL Instant Message me at TwistRich
  • 0780 1350982 (01144780 1350982 from N America)
  • Anthrax packages can be sent to 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU, ENGLAND

Be seeing you.

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