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Welcome to the ninety-sixth 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.

HOLED OUT

[Green Light]

Back in Blighty. Barely. This was mostly written in Budapest.

It’s weird when a major creative work you’re involved with is launched and you happen to be in another country or three. Gives a strange sense of distance.

Rich Johnston’s “Holed Up” #1 came out last Wednesday. Some shops sold out straight away. Some reordered. Some have copies left. Some didn’t order any. It can be found. And if your comic shop doesn’t have it, they can get it for you.

Here’s the Fourth Rail’s verdict.

And here’s The X-Axis’s take.

Thanks to everyone who help promote and sell this thing to the populace. I owe you a lot. And it’s not over yet…

AMERICAN CUSTARD PIE

[Yellow Light]

Bob Morales gave a bigger description of the reasons he left “Captain America,” directly referring to Gui Kayro, Dun Buckey and Joe Quesada, and their differing roles and beliefs over the book. He seems to confirm the rumours originally stated in this column when the story broke, over the suitability of Captain America to tell certain types of stories changing by the day (and the employee).

And he chose to do this on Joe Quesada’s own message board.

Let’s print the big post verbatim, shall we?

“Gui Kayro – Marvel’s Chief Information Officer – hated what I was doing with Cap, even though I was doing precisely what Marvel Edit asked of me. Evidently Kayro thinks topicality is the same as political bias – it’s not. (I think my Cap is as political as ’24’ – i.e., it’s right on the line.) That’s one.

“Two, Dan Buckley wanted Iron Man, Thor, and Cap to be support titles for Brian Bendis’ new Avengers run. I’d been okayed for a completely different storyline – mind you, the MK Cap was to be out of MU continuity originally, but Buckley wanted that changed. That Cap or any of Marvel’s other titles were to be directed toward a non-traditional comics audience was an idea he was abandoning.

“Brian Bendis called me and we discussed what we were both doing, and once he heard me out, Brian said he a) thought the direction I was taking Cap was really interesting, and b) he would tell Marvel they should leave me alone. My understanding is that Buckley took Brian’s comments to mean that my Cap run was therefore useless when it came to supporting what we were all calling ‘the Bendis Event’ at the time. So he insisted that my 18-issue storyline be scuttled, whether Brian or anybody else at Marvel wanted to do that or not.

“Yes, Steve Rogers was supposed to eventually become an independent vice-presidential candidate, and he was supposed to eventually become President of the United States. But the challenge was you’d never get a real handle on his political stance – it was all about his character, and what everyone else would project onto it.

“In early February, Joe and Axel and I went out to lunch – pretty much to part company, but instead Joe came up with another story arc that was really great and challenging. We fleshed it out and were surprised at how positively the afternoon turned out. However, Buckley killed that idea.

“Then Axel came to me again and asked if I could come up with something else, so I suggested retelling Cap’s origin for a modern audience, which hadn’t been done in awhile. You’d find more about Cap’s interaction with real history, where his shield and costume came from, it’d have cameos by Sgt. Fury and Bucky and Hitler and Ike – a big, sweeping historical epic.

“Buckley decided that World War II wasn’t big enough – and it was clear to me then that Marvel management just didn’t want me writing Cap, period.”

Morales testifies to Marvel’s changing behaviour over marketing, statingm “Cap as President was supposed to be a highly-publicized event – unlike Luthur’s win, which I didn’t know about for a while, and I follow comics. That they’d decide not to go with that storyline is understandable to the extent that Marvel isn’t doing the kind of outside media promotion they used to for their books.”

Morales also took a firm line over his future with the company. “I committed to doing 18 issues of Captain America; my run will end with eight issues. I’ve turned down any further work from Marvel, including a ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ series and a ‘1602’ spin-off.

“I’ve told Axel I’d only discuss doing another ten issues of Cap.”

As for his final issues, Bob writes “Cap #26 is a stand-alone story. Cap #27-28 involve an alternate future, and it’s both horrific and funny. (I hope.)”

So what now? Morales says his next project is “a series of graphic novels with Kyle Baker. We’re shopping the idea around, and we might self-publish if no one makes an offer we like. I’d like to get the first volume out within the year – as would Kyle’s wife Liz, who keeps hounding me to start writing.”

And for the last word, “Writing ‘Truth’ was really depressing, writing Cap was a lot more fun. He’s a much nicer person than I.”

LACK OF AUTHORITY

[Yellow Light]

Cully Hamner was to have been the new regular “Authority” artist, had his schedule been able to come together in a monthly fashion. But now he’s not. These things happen.

But could DC have found space for Jim Lee to make an appearance on the title?

BLOK SIGNING

[Green Light]

“BlokHedz,” the Image title from Brandon Schultz, Mark and Mike Davis and Imajimation Studios is being heavily pitched around LA right now as an animated series, and an expected signing is imminent.

MOVIES IN DISGUISE

[Yellow Light]

More on the Hasbro potential buyout of Dreamwave… seems that Marvel Films is dealing with the film rights to “Transformers” right now. They also have their hands over the “G.I. Joe” film license… can the comics licenses be far behind? Change in policy if true…

FRAZER FACE

[Green Light]

Frazer Irving is an artist LITG has been championing for ages. And in TwoMorrows ‘http://twomorrows.com/books/truebrit.html”>True Brit‘ look at British comic artists, that’s Frazer´s gormless face on the cover.

We’ve never been so proud…

TWO YEARS AND COUNTING…

[Green Light]

Adam Hughes’s six-month “Batman” run is a go. He’s got the script, but it won’t come out for a year and a half. 6 issues in 2 years… it can be done!

SUDDENLY SCHEDULED

[Green Light]

Abandoned for “New X-Men,” Phil Jiminez’s “Otherworld,” his 12 issue Vertigo book (inked by Andy Lanning) is confirmed to come out in September. And over at the DC Universe, he’ll be “righting a wrong.” A certain Ms. Troy there then…

THE WOMEN IN KYLE BAKER’S LIFE

Everyone’s an editor. Kyle Baker’s young daughter objected to the revelation at the end of #5 of “Plastic Man” that the female FBI agent was the villain. So Kyle rewrote the ending.

She’s got a fine future ahead of her, it seems.

ANOTHER ICON

[Green Light]

From the self-publisher Third Eye

And Iconic Comics might have a thing or two to say…

And what is DC’s continuing trademark interest in the Milestone comic book “Icon” anyway? I hear their lawyers are checking it out…

BACHALO BOY

[Green Light]

What’s Sandman/Shade/Death/Gen X/Steampunk/X-Men/Cap artist Chris Bacaolo up to these days? Quite a bunch it seems. Look for “Hipflask: Captain Stoneheart and the Truth Fairy” with Joe Kelly from Comicraft, in an artistic collage style similar to his “Withcing Hour” work. Then Marvel will be publishing a new mini-series by Bachalo and written by Akira Yoshida. Bachalo also hopes to write a project for Marvel to follow that.

MILLION AIRS

[Yellow Light]

The recently arrested Ross Allen Rojek, of former American Entertainment and Another Universe infamy, had his bail set at a million. Ouchie.

His ex-girlfriend seemed to have a few things to say about the whole situation, too.

THE WRIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS

[Yellow Light]

Micah Wright’s entertaining use of Amazon’s ability to capture bookstore trade paperback solicitations, available before schedules are firmed up, have seen him publically campaign across the net for orders for the officially-cancelled third trade paperback of his definitely-cancelled “Stormwatch: Team Achilles” series.

Despite some muttering that he’s been encouraging people to block order, and then cancel the order if the book is made available, Wright denies that, stating he’s only encouraged people to order real copies they’d intend to buy if DC did change their mind.

And, if sales boom as they have been, if DC were to just collect the issues and ship the book tomorrow, it would instantly sell over 2000 trades through Amazon alone. Admittedly, that might be at the cost of people who would have bought it through the direct market, but it’s a respectable figure.

However, unlike Marvel, DC rarely plays fast and loose with its decisions once they are officially official. Reversing such a decision as a result of this kind of action may be seen as giving in, losing face. And while not publishing could be seen as them as cutting their nose off to spite it, better that than being pulled around by some creator playing silly buggers with the internet.

Still, it’s interesting, eh?

WAITING FOR WAITING FOR TOMMY

And people think advertising comics is hard.

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.

Discuss this column on the Lying In The Gutters Forum.
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