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Welcome to the eighty-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, 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.

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So there you go.

1603

[Green Light]Expect a number of "1602" spin-offs at Marvel, from different creators (not Neil Gaiman). After the success of the current mini-series, Marvel are trying to turn it into what DC turned the "Sandman" into, a series of forever replenishing series and mini-series.

NEVER LET THE RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR BRAIN KNOW WHAT YOUR LEFT SIDE IS UP TO

[Green Light]It was quite a while ago that I mentioned Mark Millar linking Eminem with his Top Cow Millarworld series "Wanted" with Eminem.

This week's snowballing mentions, from the Sunday Times to MTV, are a case study in how to launch successful spin based on very little, authored by Mark Millar and friends, where hype generates its own hype. And damned if I'm not jealous.

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The Sunday Times article that confirmed the story and frequently referred to this week, only appeared in Scottish editions of the newspaper, where it must compete with local Scottish papers and as a result does whatever it can to run major stories with Scottish interest. However, on the online site, the difference is not noticeable.

It was written by Sanay Bosko, with whom Millar has placed previous hyping stories for Superman and The Authority.

This follows on from stories placed in the Scottish Sunday Mirror, that again reported firm details (or erroneous tabloid puffery - take your pick) that Millar expressed bemusement about, yet was the original source for.

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So how did the "Wanted"/Eminem story come about?

Like Samuel Jackson appearing in "The Ultimates" as Nick Fury, Millar had JG Jones "cast" Eminem as the star in the visuals of the comic. He's not been shy of dropping hints to the right people, as to the cinematic future of the project starring the famed rapper, whether valid or not. Including journalists.

He then used printed reports of the project in the tabloid press as a self-fulfilling strategy when pitching the comic as a film option, while in public has brushed them off as mere frippery, as if he's the first to hear about them. This week he stated that the Scottish Sunday Times had simply broken an embargo on the story, yet it's believed Millar knew full well it was running last week.

And this week Universal announced they'd optioned "Wanted" as a movie. Eminem is nowhere to be seen, was never involved with the project, his people deny any connection, and indeed before all this fuss, announced he wasn't doing any more movie projects for quite a while.

"Wanted" is a best-selling comic, and has reached impressive sales figures without any previous iterations of the character. As a creator-owned comic, it has broken through barriers that haven't been smashed since the Cliffhanger line launched.

Like I said. I'm jealous. Nice one, Mark.

BLACK DAY

[Green Light]The Comics Journal is a magazine I regularly enjoy. From Michael Dean's Newswatch, to the extensive reviews that make even my Joe Quesada Waiting For Tommy look like a soundbite, it's a fearless magazine that takes on the comics industr, roughens it up and makes it act like an artform.

But then again, they can act like real shits, too. This does not appear to be their finest hour.

CCCINEMA

[Green Light]"Sin City" was one thing. I'm looking forward even more to Frank Miller's latest movie venture. "300," an adaptation of his and Lynn Varley's mini-series amongst the Spartans the battle of Thermopylae is a stunning war story that marks out Miller's finest work in comics to date.

Producers are Frank Miller, Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton. The screenplay by Michael Gordon, known as the writer of the upcoming movie version of… oh "G.I. Joe."

Ah, as you were then.

Miller was recently in Los Angeles, where he met with a prospective director for the project. And intriguingly, Gordon got the job on "G.I. Joe" on the strength of his "300" script.

INVADING IMAGE

[Green Light]"Anthem" is a five-issue mini-series, written by B. Clay Moore, with art by Jeremy Haun. Coming from Image later this year.

It's a dark take on superheroes in WWII. A kind of "Ultimate" JSA or Invaders.

Say… isn't that about the same time the Chuck Austen "Invaders" series is about to come out?

Talk about a spoiler…

[Green Light]I understand that Bill Sienkiewicz will no longer be working on the "Batman" arc planned for him. A conflict between Bill's and DC's schedules for the work.

CRISIS OF INFINITE SPECULATION

[Yellow Light]When Comic Book Resources ran a piece on the upcoming Identity Crisis, some people saw a lot in this accompanying image

Is it too much to see Wonder Woman looking at Green Arrow, and Green Arrow grieving? Could it be one of his close companions for the chop?

Ah. Probably not Elongated Man then. Unless it's a bloodbath.

FORTIES-SOMETHING

[Green Light]So Image has "Anthem," Marvel has "Invaders," what about DC?

I hear sci-fi writer Kevin J.Anderson ("Dune Prequel," "Jedi Academy," "Ground Zero," "Ignition") has a Justice Society superhero comic series, set in the 1940s on the blocks, with the young Jack Williamson, (Golden Age science-fiction writer) playing a major part.

Actually, back to that Marvel "Invaders" story. When Bill Jemas was president he ruled out an "Invaders" series, as not wanting to do stories about Marvel's past.

Things really are changing there.

YOU KNOW, THEY HAD HELICOPTERS IN HILLARY'S DAY

[Green Light]And if that's not enough, here's a nice piccy from "Everest" by Greg Rucka and Scott Morse from Oni Press. Again, read more, here.

NAIL BAR

[Green Light]"The Nail," by Steve Niles and Nat Jones. Let's have a look. In the flesh as it were.

HOLED UP HOLD

[Green Light]Do you go to a comic shop? Do you? Then I need you. From the Holed Up Army, a leaflet designed to promote the first issue. This week, it would be so, so useful if some of you (yes, that means you, don't look away when I'm talking to you) to print the "Holed Up" leaflet out, say, twenty times, chop it in half, then ask your local comic shop to stick them on the counter.

Find the leaflet… here or here.

Then, if you haven't ordered your copy, do so there and then!

HOLED UP HELD UP

[Green Light]Diamond Previews has refused to run an Avatar cover in the next catalogue. Hardly unusual, with their mix of good girl, bad girl and spikey nipple girl artwork, but this is the first time they've had a cover turned down because of the text. No swear words, sexual content or libel either.

Just a teenage girl on a bed with a gun, saying "Sometimes I think of suicide. Then I think I'd rather shoot everyone at school instead."

The girl, the gun and the bed are fine. The words aren't. Apparently, if I'd just had her shooting something it would have been fine, but talking about it, is a no no.

Thankfully a little bird has incorporated some of the mystery cover into the new "Holed Up" banner.

Web people, feel free to grab this, use it, and link to http://www.holedup.net

You know, I'm making Mike Sangiacomo look positively on the moral high ground here.

'AVE IT FOR NOWT!

[Green Light]An advance look at the cover to the Avatar Press Free Comics Book Day giveaway…

THE ONLY GOOD INJUN IS A ZOMBIE INJUN

[Green Light]William Harms and John McCrea are working on a zombie western, "Dead Or Alive."

Prospective publishers, look here.

WET AND WILD

[Green Light]Fancy a look at the new "Wetworks" series by Mike Carey and Whilce Portacio?

The Portacio fan site has a few character designs…

NO MORE

[Green Light]More on the previous story on the cancellation of the "Mister No" comic series.

The last issue will by the 360th issue and the 30th anniversary title. It will be written by series creator and owner of the publishing house, Sergio Bonelli. This will be his first piece of comics writing in many years.

VARIANT EDITION

[Green Light]Now here's the kind of thing that'll get Scott McCloud all hot and bothered. Variance Press are using CafePress as a graphic novel publisher and distributor.

That's quite clever isn't it?

"The Variance Anthology #1" will be a 60+ page collection of creator-owned science fiction, horror and fantasy short stories, scheduled to be released May 2004.

Creators include a few familiar names for anyone watching up-and-comers, Alex de Campi, Marc Deering, Kieron Gillen, Wesley Gunn, Wilson Hall, Sam Hart, Brian Laframboise, Charity Larrison, Daniel Maia, Craig McGill, Graeme McMillan, Pedro Potier, Paul Ridgon and DT Washington.

I get the feeling this could be one of those watershed moments in comics…

TOMMY TALES

[Green Light]Rich Johnston takes on Devil's Due publisher Josh Blaylock in a one-on-one over publishers, licensors, creators and what the hell is the appeal of GI Joe anyway, in the new Waiting for Tommy.

NOTE: There will likely be no Lying In The Gutters next week due to computer maintenance.

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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