Welcome to the ninety-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.

So there you go.


[Green Light]Okay, it's time. Those of you who read this column, but haven't pre-ordered Rich Johnston's "Holed Up" issue 1, it's time to do so. Tell your comic book shop that you'd like a copy, now.

It's not hard. Here are the numbers, if you feel you need numbers.



SPOT MAR04 2307 RICH JOHNSTONS HOLED UP #1 (Of 3) (MR) $3.50


But just going into the shop will do, today or tomorrow, hell pick up the phone or send an e-mail. Whatever.

Because unless you do, it is very unlikely that you will see a copy on the shelf when it's published. Very unlikely indeed.

If you've been umming and ahhing about it, here are a few things to bear in mind.

a) Consider the amount of time and enjoyment you get out of Lying in the Gutters every week. Isn't that worth it?

b) It'll stop me going on about it

c) That's it, really.

If you're a retailer, how about five minimum? C'mon, even you can sell five copies. Yes, I know it's Avatar, but the logo's very small...

Desperate? Me? Do I look the type?

Pre-order it. Now.


[Yellow Light]At WizardWorld LA, Brian Bendis announced the creative teams who would be accompanying his run on "Avengers," on the individual members titles, "Captain America," "Thor" and "Iron Man," and they're all his friends which should make for some clarity of direction.

But they're only on for one arc before the big Avengers relaunch (more on that later). So who's taking over then? Joe Quesada made some mention of lots of love coming to Thor, and I understand this may be based on Marvel approaching Neil Gaiman for the book. He hasn't said yes yet, and he's a busy fellow, but it's a possibility.

Warren Ellis also managed to masterfully avoid confirmation of working on "Iron Man" in this Millarworld thread, but did answer many more questions...


[Yellow Light]You know, it would be childish and immature to compare and contrast statements that Rob Liefeld has made last year, with the confirmation of the rumour that Liefeld has been working on the new X-Force series for much of it, instead of finishing Youngblood Bloodsport.

Oh go on then.

NRAMA: As it always comes up, does anything, or even thr thought to seeing if the door at Marvel is still open appeal to you? Do you have any thoughts one way or the other on Epic, or have you ever thought of going back to Marvel to do X-Force, Deadpool, Cable, etc?

RL: Epic, no. I'm not sure what that's about, aside from Trouble, I'm not following it all that closely. As for the other characters, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I don't think about them all the time. I mean, they pushed my career in to the big time in a big way, so it's natural that I'd think of the characters like I do my own kids. That said, I don't anticipate doing anything with them in the foreseeable future. Maybe the next regime.


NRAMA: What other projects that you wish to tackle next? Do you have anything else in the works?

RL: I just plan on finishing Youngblood with Mark.

So what's the state on "Youngblood Bloodsport?" Well, previews of the completed issue 2 were seen at WizardWorld LA, and Liefeld is working on the now-final issue 3. It's expected that Millar's "Wolverine" title and Liefeld's "X-Force" will help sell "Bloodsport" more effectively, and I understand that Liefeld has finally relented, and "Bloodsport," "Brigade" and "Genesis" will all be available through Diamond when "X-Force" launches.


[Green Light]Proof of the depoliticisation of Captain America? Here's the original sketch of a recent issue's cover...


[Yellow Light]I understand that Brian Vaughan is to write a new "Cloak And Dagger" series later this year. Possibly.


[Yellow Light]I understand Simon Bisley is fronting and playing drums for a new "virtual" death metal band, animated Gorillaz style, called "Gods Of The Pillars Of Blood" (or similar).


[Yellow Light]Georges Jeanty is drawing a "Gambit" solo series for Marvel. One name mentioned as a writer is John Layman.

Layman would only tell me "It's true I've been pitching Marvel on a few projects, and have a book or two that will be solicited in a couple of months, but I can't really comment on this."


[Yellow Light]Mike Deodato's drawn-for-ages comic book, "Witches" is solicited this month (just as DC's remarkably similar "The Witching"). Originally planned for publication a couple of years ago, it looks the same except for one tiny difference. The writer, Bronwyn Taggart seems to have had a sex and name change, to Brian Walsh.

While creator credits do change on previously solicited work (for example, I understand Jimmy Palmiotti is not inking "Identity Disc" over work commitments, despite Marvel continuing to promote the book with his name on it) it's odd to see them change so, after the work had been purportedly finished. I understand Walsh was hired for rewrites, dialogue changes and a juggle about of the work, and that Will Conrad may finish the art on the series. Hopefully, Bronwyn's name will appear on the actual published title, as the series was both conceived by her, and Mike Deodato drew from her scripts.


[Green Light]Talking of "Identity Disc," only recently the project was known as "Sinister Six." A noted similarity with DC's "Identity Crisis" was seen, and the name changed to wind them up and act as a spoiler.


[Yellow Light]I understand that The Comics Journal is still planning to use Colleen Doran's decades-old-and-spiked-at-the-time comments in an upcoming obituary. And that they are seeking other similar stories from industry professionals.

Reaction has been mixed. While no one seems to wish that such stories never be reported, there is a feeling that the Comics Journal should have reported them at the time, when it was relevant, and if not, wait a while now.

Of course, it's also brought to light a number of other stories that haven't been reported, involving other high profile comics professionals....

The editor who sent scores of women to the human resources departmentt to complain - including at one point, his male assistant.

The individual who had a complaint against him, received psychiatric leave, and then on his return was put in the same department as the woman who made the original complaint.

The editor who gave his female assistant a pink VCR for Christmas, who was not amused. Mind you, he initially got the job at the company after selling unusual pantyhose to the boss.

But aside from this, the Comics Journal could look into the many reports of sexual harassment from independent comics creators at comic conventions about someone a little closer to home.


[Yellow Light]In Chris Claremont's Newsarama interview, he said "It establishes the status quo and mission statement of the series, introduces the characters and some potential conflicts and sends them up against a number of adversaries, all of whom will have significance down the road, culminating in an encounter with a significantly major villain who in the past has proved to be well-nigh unstoppable - but only because he was written back in the day by Alan Moore"

That's The Fury or Sir James Jaspers. Jaspers appeared in "Uncanny X-Men" 200, and Claremont planned to use him merging with the Fury as the major villain in "Mutant Massacre," alongside the Special Executive but it was not to be - Alan Moore owned partial copyright in the characters from his time on "Captain Britain," and he did not okay their use.

Similarly, Alan Davis used The Fury in "Excalibur," but he was not named. And Alan used a character called The Fury in his "1963" series, though it was a very different character indeed.

Marvel's reconciliation with Alan Moore, reprinting the work as "X-Men Classics," then more recently in a "Captain Britain" trade paperback clarified Moore's copyright interest in the characters (eventually). It will be interesting to note what deal has been done for Claremont to use those characters in a Marvel title, as he originally planned.


[Green Light]I am told, by Image Comics, that last week's mentioned possibility of Image Central Production Manager Brett Evans taking up some of the slack at Top Cow after much of their production department left, caused him to laugh his ass off.

If anyone has seen Brett Evans' ass, please contact Eric Stephenson, Managing Editor at Image Comics.


[Green Light]I understand "Iron Giant" screenwriter Tim McCanlies is working on a Dark Horse comic, but would also be quite interested in talking to DC Comics too.

His Dark Horse graphic novel was created with Mike Richardson out of a concept originally planned for a movie, with an aim to adapting it to the screen at a later date.

Currently given the working title "Young Dracula," it's set in Shanghai around the 1900's and star's the son of Van Helsing.

With DC, he is planning to work on a Bruce Wayne comic, looking at the young life of a playboy, thrown out of every private school in Europe with Alfred having to bail him out of a London jail after a bar fight. It looks at Bruce's reluctance to return to Gotham City in order to inherit Wayne Industries.


[Green Light]The decision by movie director Christopher Nolan to shoot scenes from the new Batman movie at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Mill Hill have caused some ructions.

Apparently the Mill Hill Anti-Vivisection Alliance is planning to disrupt filming at the location, which is known for using animals for research.

Flying pickets are thought to be be brought in to bump up the demonstration. But whether they will be dressed in red, blue and yellow is not known.


[Green Light]Wizard's reporting of Marvel's relaunches have been a bit spotty of late.

First there was their promise of a Claremont "X-Men" 1, in Previews solicitations, which proved not to be.

And now their Web site scooped everyone with the relaunch of "Avengers" by Brian Bendis and David Finch.

(Although, Bendis admits that happened due to the increased rumours about the project… my e-mailing him and Quesada about it the previous week may have been part of that…)

Here's what Wizard said, that caused all the news sites to report the story verbatim.

"Beginning with July's Avengers #500, Bendis, along with Ultimate X-Men artist David Finch, takes over the title for a four-issue arc titled 'Avengers Disassemble.' The new arc, which will end the current series and launch a New Avengers title with the same creators later this year, pays homage to the team's epic past while also totally tearing the team apart. "

However, after much ruckus on the message boards over yet another Marvel relaunch, by the middle of the week, the report had changed to:

"Beginning with July's Avengers #500, Bendis, along with Ultimate X-Men artist David Finch, takes over the title for a four-issue arc titled 'Avengers Disassemble.' The new arc, pays homage to the team's epic past while also totally tearing the team apart."

So why did Wizard change their story? A relaunch in November was confirmed at WizardWorld LA, so who ordered them to change the story?

Certain annoyance at the Warren Ellis/"Fantastic Four" news being spilled by their previous Previews solicitations may still reverberate. And it wasn't that long ago that Marvel demonstrated they had the power to fire Wizard employees if they so wished…


[Green Light]"King of The Hill's" Allan Jacobson has been answering questions about the upcoming "Invaders" series. He also mentions a horror series he was three issues into for Marvel before it was internally cancelled.


[Green Light]There's been a bit of back and forth between Oni Press' lawyers Martin Goodman and Hollywood, but I understand there is now a film deal for "Jason And The Argobots."

An Oni representative declined to comment.


[Green Light]Because geeks cannot live on comics alone.

For those of you with inquiring minds about Christopher Eccleston starring in Russell T Davies' relaunch of "Doctor Who," see this critically acclaimed TV show they did together, "Second Coming."

And to see the fine standards of british tabloid journalism, here's the early edition of the Daily Mail, and the later edition. If those direct links don't work, go here

"Doctor Who" will return to UK television, next year, Saturday evening on BBC1.

Marvel UK/Panini still have the "Doctor Who" comics licence and still publishing ongoing comics stories featuring the character. Must be cheap as chips now. Someone's going to make a killing.


[Green Light]This week's Waiting For Tommy features Jay Faeber, talking about his Marvel, Top Cow and Image Central work. He also announces a new series with some sneaky peek artwork...


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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