This is seventy-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 professional and reader 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.

The traffic lights are there for your own protection. The Red light indicates that the content of the piece is most likely a mixture of agenda and confusion. Amber means at least the agenda is tempered by facts. Possibly. And Green means it's true. Probably. Ah, you never know. Could always be a first.

If reprinting from this column, please only reprint a relevant portion of an article and include a link so people can get the rest. That way, glory lies.

Spent the weekend in Paris on a bit of a jaunt. Hence the late column.

France is always great for comics. Totally mainstream medium, integrated with the culture of pornography. Hurrah! Picked up a few copies of the comics news/original material anthology magazine, "BD," the new upstart mag "Calliope," a hardback edition of a massive "Milo Minara" graphic novel translated into French, and the first volume of a new steampunk series, "Le Meridien Des Brumes" by Antonio Paras and Erik Juzzezak that seems to meld Jack The Ripper with Alan Quatermain. For content, for hardback graphic novels, prices were half to a third of what I would expect to pay for US or UK equivalents. I'll tell you what I think of it after I've been though it with an English/French dictionary. Nice art though.

For an actual bookshop style look at the French comic market, pop into the basement of the Virgin Megastore on the Champs d'Elysses. Here are a few piccies:

People reading comic books.

Actual people, not a majority of geeks.

Woman in her fifties browsing hardback porn comics. Hurrah.

Spotted in a French restaurant - hey, what's George Bush doing there? I thought he hated the country!

Me. Feeling rather Gallic.

The UK and US market should really be this. Build it and they will come. Gorgeous. And hey, they even had brand new translated editions of "Stuck Rubber Baby" and "Kings In Disguise." And you can see why Wildstorm decided to copy their versions of "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen"…

Now. Rumours and gossip.


[Green Light]I understand that Mark Waid and Barry Kitson are to take over "Legion" some time next year.

I'm told that the current team of Andy Lanning, Dan Abnett and Chris Batisita have around a year's worth of material to be published, and are looking for other projects. One of Dan and Andy's collaborators on one of their final "Legion" issues will be Keith Giffen, and they may look to pursue further projects with him.


[Green Light]"Snake Plissken," last seen escaping from CrossGen, has been resuscitated in a new form. The two disc DVD edition of "Escape From New York" is coming out this month. Included in the DVD is an exclusive DVD-box-sized copy of the first issue of the Snake Plissken series, with new vellum artwork inserted from Snake artist Tone Rodriguez.

The back of the comic has an ad for more Snake Plissken comics, comics in general and comic shops, alongside the Diamond Comic Book Store Locator number - to get the remaining issues in the series, and more besides.

Which, you know, is a pretty fine thing for Hurricane to have pursued and for MGM to have allowed.

The DVD also features a "Making Of" documentary on the comic book. A release such as this could reach half a million sales in total…


[Green Light]So woe and despondency after last week's look at studios leaving Image? Not a bit of it!

Jason Henderson tells me, before I plug his book raucously, "I'm staying with Image, by the way, even though there have been growing pains. All told they've done okay by me and provided a brand I couldn't have created out of thin air, while I'm more than happy to pick up the promotional slack. I can't see switching from Image in an effort to slice a thousand dollars off expenses-- an effort, by the way, that I'm not certain would succeed. But anyway, we're at the beginning of this. So on to the announcement!"

"For those of you who enjoyed Issue 1 of our vampires-versus-commandoes series, the time has come for Sword of Dracula #2-- and a 5-page preview is now online at Image.


[Green Light]Following the competition of the abandoned "Warrior" strip "Nightjar," by Alan Moore and Bryan Talbot, and serialised by Avatar in "Yuggoth Cultures," Antony Johnston is writing the spinoff. Based on Moore's notes, and continuing the story of Mirrigan, the first issue of a four issue series comes out in March from Avatar and a sequel is already planned.

The artist is Max Fiumara, who worked on the now-abandoned Thunder Agents series at DC.

The solicitation text says "Eighteen years ago, Mirrigan watched her father's heart explode in their back yard. That was fair, because Mirrigans father was Emperor Of All The Birds the most powerful sorcerer in Britain and that was how they arrange their successions. But on her deathbed, Mirrigan's grandmother reveals a secret her father wasn't killed by one sorcerer, but SEVEN and charges Mirrigan with an oath to make them pay for their treachery. If you're the latest in a line of powerful British sorcerers, avenging your father's death should be a walk in the park. Except when his murderers are even more powerful than you. Now the seven Birds have a new target... Mirrigan."

I cornered Antony Johnston at the pub and forced him to confess all.

"Guilty as charged. I'm basically picking up where Alan left off all those years ago, and running with it in my own direction. Frankly, I was shitting myself when I got offered the gig, but as I've got into it it's just become more and more enjoyable.

"A lot of that has to do with being given carte blanche by Alan - I'm still starting with his original plot, and of course he'll have approval over everything. But essentially I'm being left to my own devices, and anyone who thinks they know what'll happen 'cos they read Alan's notes in YUGGOTH #1 is in for a big surprise. (Blimey, this is starting to sound like one of those Bold New Direction speeches...)

"Anyway, I think it's some of the strongest writing I've done. And Max is one kick-ass artist, just nailing everything left right and centre. Now go tell everyone to buy it, there's a good chap."

Certainly sir! Intriguingly Antony Johnston is moving with his partner Marcia Allas, of Sequential Tart fame, to Pendle, where "Nightjar" is set. Uncanny…


[Green Light]Last week, I reported a rumour I'd heard from a number of industry sources that Christopher Priest was involved with a spoof rap Web site. I also mentioned the upcoming "Captain America/Falcon" series (which it now seems will be drawn by ex-CrossGen artist Bart Sears…)

Christopher Priest did not respond to initial inquiries about the story, but when the suggestion saw print, he wrote an open letter to me on his blog, said he was offended, claiming the allegation was a racist one and demanding an apology.

The article was removed when he e-mailed me, but remains on his blog.

I counter that if the rumour was about Geoff Johns being behind the site, and I'd heard about his Green Lantern the previous day, the article would have run identically. Any racist inference was without intent, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Nevertheless, I do apologise for causing Priest offence and will attempt to avoid doing so in future.

On my part, I was offended for being called a racist. I look forward to my apology by return of post.


[Yellow Light]I'm told John Byrne has been posting hints about his upcoming DC series for a while now. He's even indicated that some of his hints may be deceitful in order to muddy the waters. He's having fun playing and teasing and his audience love it.

Recently he posted the following graphic, with strategic areas whited out, on the John Byrne Forum. However the filename of the page was GLC.02.01.jpg. As in, Green Lantern Corps perhaps? And is this Hal Jordan pictured here? Or is this just another distraction? I'm told that an individual who made the GLC observation had their messages on the board instantly deleted and the name of the file replaced with SamplePage.jpg.

Nice pencils though, eh?


[Green Light]After last week's piece on the great removal of DC and Marvel trade paperbacks from bookstores across their country, and their great replacement by Viz and TokyoPop manga titles, Ron Stallcup writes;

"Here's what happened last Saturday. I haven't been to the local Books-a-Million for a few weeks. Interesting things have happened. The Marvel/DC/Crossgen Graphic Novels are GONE. Replaced by about 18 feet of Manga!!! I don't like Manga. Only a small selection for about twenty DC/Marvel. Lot of Tim Sale stuff, recent Superman, Batman, JSA trades. No Crossgen, what so ever.

"Books-a-Million used to have a great selection of Marvel/DC/Crossgen/others. I'm glad I bought the Marvel Visionaries: Gil Kane last time I was there.

"About thirty yards across the store, I found a Prince Valiant graphic novel in the Humor section. I guess it escaped the purge.

"Pensacola, Florida is always the last place for a trend to peak. So this means the Manga fad should be losing steam."

He wishes…

From what I could see this weekend, the French market seems to have been more successful with this Manga upstart. With a longer co-existence in the Anime market, French and Japanese cartooning have been culturally mixed far more than in the UK or US. And while Manga has its separate section within bookstores, it hasn't overwhelmed the European market.

The UK market is also equally untouched. However, this is more down to companies like TokyoPop and Viz not having licences to sell to the UK. Expect Titan Books in the Uk to wrap up their own deals - then we could well see a repetition of US trends.


[Green Light]Now, here's a wonderful press release that seems to have passed everyone by…

"How would you like your own action figure? Gentle Giant Studios, the guys that did the 3-D scanning for the McFarlane MATRIX and TERMINATOR 3 toy lines can make you into an action figure. For a measly $5,000 they will scan you, create a miniature model from the 3-D scan and then hand sculpt your own figure. You end up with a personalized figure of yourself mint in personalized Blister Pack and one figure loose for you to play with. You can get any accessories your heart desires"

Right. Now Mike Doran and I can really go at it… on every child's bedroom floor!


[Yellow Light]Last week's LITG linked to Amazon reports on the new Warren Ellis trades, and Cully Hamner rather narked about not being consulted on the new format for work that he co-creator owns.

He writes "Just spoke with mis compadres at Wildstorm, and everything's cool. Turns out official announcements and decisions have not been made yet, so they felt that they still had time to consult with me about it, which they had every intention of doing. Tempest in a teapot.

"I wonder if Rich'll bother to put this part in his column...?"

Cully wrote that on the Monday LITG came out. On the Tuesday, it was part of an official press release. I understand Amazon got the information from catalogue sent to mass-market booksellers. And that DC actually believed they'd officially released this information days previously, before discovering that they hadn't.

Either way, it makes the "official announcements and decisions have not been made yet" explanation incredibly convincing, and poor spin on what was clearly an unfortunate situation.


[Green Light]On the Pulse messageboards, user SimplyJD posted a critique of Brian Pulido. He was surprised to receive an e-mail from Pulido's wife, Francisca, chastising him for his temerity.

Which of course, he then published.


[Yellow Light]Comic book awards are famed for being fixed. Hell, I somehow managed to win Best Comics Journalist in the Squiddies three years in a row after promised to plug Comics Worth Reading for Johanna Carlson. I remember one enterprising young chap who fixed the UK Comic Awards so that his publication would win. Doing so, he also managed to get his favourite comic book to win at the same time - the creator of which proudly proclaimed the award for the next few years, unaware it was a fix.

And now, the Corries, the CBR Messageboard Awards, which have no standing in the industry whatsoever, are alleged to have been stuffed by Digital Webbing people. Seems some people are upset that there was "blatant ballot-box stuffing" from the folks over on the Digital Webbing boards. Maybe because Best Short Story went to "Dungeon Bears" instead of Neil Gaiman's story from "Endless Nights?"

Dear me…


[Green Light]Newsarama's piece on Image Central was interestingly timed to see print days after many of the issues involved were explored and exposed in last week's Lying In The Gutters. What this Jim Valentino interview had that LITG lacked, of course, was a talkback thread. With some Image and ex-Image creators sounding off… and a few guest stars as well.

B Claymoore: "If guys in a 'studio' are so uptight that they won't simply remove the 'studio' brand from their books to publish them through Image, then that's their choice. I personally think it's pretty silly."

Jim Valentino: "I am aware that 2004 is norm's 20th Anniversary. If all goes according to plan you should be very happy...of course, everyone else in the biz will be really pissed off at me...but, then, that's not unusual."

On the "We attempted to address every one of Roaring's issues while we were being attacked publicly by an employee of theirs. We thought we had arrived at an equitable solution and an agreement, and then read online they were leaving" line, Mike "Pinklisted" Miller added "I'm not an employee, I'm a partner. Employees get paid. Lol"

Another Roaring member responded "Mike get back to work and stop playing around in chat rooms … you don't like getting paid peanuts? lol just kidding." and Mike replied "I'll take what I can get, I suppose. I know it must be difficult to run a WHOLE STUDIO on the peanuts you've been getting from ... well, you know. But this too shall pass."

Scott Kurtz of "PvP" on the interview: "Way to set the record straight.

"I guess I'll never get the 'co-branding' issue, since my 'brand' is the name of comic book. My brand (the PvP logo) gets a lot more cover inventory than any of Image's branding.

"Seems more than fair to me.

"Nothing makes me more proud than seeing that Image 'I' up the top left corner of my book. I can't imagine ever complaining about it. Most people would die for that opportunity. How could anyone come to resent it?

"Oh well.

"I'm just totally flattered to be listed with 'The guys who are far more important.'

"BACK TO WORK! 'PvP' #6 is due in THIS MONTH!"

And to Mike Miller, "Don't you have something really scary-important to work on like a comic adaption of the Xanth novels or something?

Mike retorted "As far as I can tell, you don't have first hand knowledge of any of the stuff that transpired between the various studios and Image that were discussed in the article. Thus, to say that Jim is 'setting the record straight' is simply unfounded. What Jim did was give his version of events. Fair enough. But that hardly means it's the gospel truth."

Then "Lol. Silly, no. I'm adapting 'The Hedge Knight,' by New York Times Best Selling Author George R. R. Martin.

"Also, I'm doing breakdowns on 'The Dragonlance Saga: The Legend of Huma', out in January (get your orders in now!), also a New York Times best selling book by New York Times best selling author Richard Knaack.

"Both titles coming out from Devil's Due, and under a far better deal than we had with the aforementioned publisher, I might add.

"But hey, thanks for asking, Scott!"

Scott hit back with, "I forgot. It's nice of you guys to give that comic book a second go around. I'm sure you'll be able to accomplish what DC couldn't. Be sure to overprint on that one."

Newsarama head boy Matt Brady, killjoy tried to break it up with "Mike, Scott, Les, B. Clay, et. al

"I appreciate the work y'all do, and as entertaining as it is for fans to watch 'pros' go at it, knock it the hell off."

Thankfully they all seemed to ignore him.

Frank Cho - "Great interview!

"Jim Valentino is a great guy and one of the true visionaries in this comic market. I can't say enough good things about Image Central and it's staff. 'Liberty Meadows' benefited tremendously under their banner.

"Keep up the great work Jim and thank you."

Matt Miller - "With apologies to Matt, I do have to set the historical record straight on this.

"In the 80's DC licensed the D'n'D 'multiverse' from TSR. 'Dragonlance' was one of those titles. It wasn't the greatest run of comic books the world has ever seen, but they didn't suck. Indeed, they did quite well by today's standards. So well that when the contract was up, TSR thought, 'why don't we just produce these books ourselves?' So they pulled the license from DC.

"Problem was, they knew a lot about role playing games, but nothing about producing comic books. So the plan died, as did the continuing series.

"Also, DC was producing all new stories based in the 'Dragonlance' universe. Something different from what we're doing at DBPro. We're adapting one of the best and most beloved novels in the 'Dragonlance' line, 'The Legend of Huma.' It's simply a fantastic story, ripe for comic adaptation. And the art, thanks to Rael, who is doing my finishes, is superb. It's certainly better than my own finished work, and I think people will absolutely love what he does.

"Based on initial orders, retailers think this book will do pretty well too.

"At any rate, we will overprint, because if the demand for re-orders is as strong on 'Dragonlance Saga' as it has been on 'The Hedge Knight,' we'll definitely need them!

Les Dabel of Roaring Studios joined in.

"I apologize on my end. I'll also add what I think about Image Comics. First off the folks at Image are really cool and easy to get along with. Maybe we had some differences at first but we got over that. Jim is a great guy once you get to know him, I got to spend time with him at San Diego and Chicago this year and I look forward to meeting him and the other Image folks again.

"It is true Image offers an excellent deal for people breaking in. But the same great deal doesn't workout for everyone the same. If you are writing and drawing your book through Image and you have no staff to pay chances are you might do very well for yourself.

"But if you have a staff to pay or a company you want to push. Image may not be the place for it to happen. I personally thank the folks at Image for everything they did or tried doing for us. But we have to do what is best for our employees and ourselves first. We got several deals from some of the bigger publishers that were very impressive. But we chose to do all of our licensed properties through Devil's Due because I believe in what it is they are trying to do and it works best not just for me but my employees as well.

"I don't discourage anyone from sending their submissions to Image, heck I sent my submissions to Image. We have nothing against Image. We are doing with our fantasy line what is best for us and Image will continue doing what is best Image. But one thing will remain the same and that is our friendship and love for the folks at Image.

Mike Miller wasn't put off. "Isn't there a company doing Top Cow's toys, based on 'Witchblade' and 'Darkness' that isn't TMP? I could be wrong.

"Nope, just checked, I'm not wrong. Palisades is doing some Top Cow toys. I don't pick up any of the Cow's books, do they advertise Palisades toys in their books?

"And if so, does that just mean that you're not allowed to advertise toys if you're not a founder/owner of Image?

"I tell you, the mentality sure has changed over there in the past 7 years. When I was doing 'Immortal 2' at Image, I asked one of the founders something about him being a partner, and he said, 'You are a partner too, Mike.' Which to me felt very ... familial. Like I was equal to him in the eyes of Image because I ditched the Marvel page rate and took the plunge into the Image pool... That was cool.

"Now it seems like, 'Oh, you're not an owner? Get me a double latte, extra whipped cream.'

"Okay, it's not that bad. But the vibe isn't there like it used to be, that's my take anyway. But maybe that's just me. It seems like there are plenty of people there that are happy as clams. More power to 'em! If you can squeek by on your monthlys, and build an audience for your trades, Image definitely has the best deal (besides Devil's Due) around. Most companies take 50% of your trade profit, Image only takes 25%. That's a hell of a difference.

"If say, Usagi Yojimbo had been at Image for the last 10 years, Stan Sakai would be making half again what he makes now in trade revenue. And that's nothing to sneeze at.

"Ah, if I knew then what I know now...

"Anyway, back to you lovely folks."

Josh Blaylock of Devil's Due joined in. "Mike Miller and company aren't actually members of Devil's Due, but rather partners/artists working for a studio publishing under us. And Mike's done drawing Joe Vs. TF, so I've had to let him out of the DDue art dungeons to roam free on the internet.

"Still, that aside, let's settle down a bit guys. I know there are things you'd like to say, but let's just make some kick ass books and save the competition for the comic racks.

"We're all doing what's best for each other. The fact of the matter is most of these policies mentioned above were never laid out for us, but rather sprung on us later, not always in the best way. Even then, those aren't the only reasons for leaving, and a lot of the reasons will remain out of the public eye out of respect for our previous relationship with Image and vice versa.

"We've gone our separate ways. Image helped us make some great money for a while, and know very well that we made them a heck of a lot of money too, and now we're headed in a new direction. This industry isn't easy for anyone to succeed in, and I'd rather concentrate on making good books than squabbling.

"See you on the racks in January."

Then Nat Gertler came in to defend the TSR comics. "As one of the writers on the TSR line of comic books, I wouldn't say that TSR knew nothing about producing comics. While they did make a core marketing/packaging mistake (the 'comics modules' aspect, including small and generally crappy games in with the comics and building some of the covers around a hex paper design), the content was generally smooth commercial comics material. I got to work with such artists as Joe Staton and Darick Robertson, with Steve Gerber as a consultant, writing backup stories that went behind tales by Steven Grant and Doug Moench."

Again from Scott. "pros: Full creator rights, no creative input or control, keep all profits after costs, determine your own schedule, open to many different genres and concepts, premiere placement in previews, always pay on time.

"cons: Can't promote Todd's large toy competitors, can't put non-Image logos on cover.

"The pros far outweigh the cons.

"Nothing in the industry currently compares to the Image Central deal. Nothing. Do you think Marvel is going to pay to publish your book and let you keep all the rights? Think Dark Horse is going to publish you and not even ask for 1% of your profits after costs? Think DC is going to publish a book of nerdy comic strips?

"Image isn't perfect. It isn't for everyone. But for creator owned properties, it's the best deal in town."

So if you're a comic creator with something to say about Image, TSR, fly fishing or just want to boost your profile, join in this thread. It's the hippest comics place in town!


[Green Light]Chris Weston has also been talking about his and pitches for a "Bizarro" book.

"I really want to work with Tom Peyer next, and together we pitched a 'Bizarro Vs. Brainiac' mini-series to DC, but it got rejected. Think about it, the DCU's dumbest character fights the cleverest... it would have been great! Here's my character design for Bizarro, whose skin I saw as being chrystalline and transparent."

"The plan was to follow that up with "World's Freakiest: Bizarro-Superman teams up with Man-Bat" which Grant Morrison wanted to write. Grant and I even got Bizarro's personal blessing when we summoned him up in a shamanic moment during last summer's San Diego convention. But it's not to be! Apparently, DC have 'other plans' for the character... whatever they are. They won't be as good as ours. All together now: aaaaah..... By the way, if anyone wants to buy that Bizarro sketch, it's yours for £40. Email me if you're interested."

"Tom Peyer and I are also working on two other pitches: a super-hero one for Wildstorm, which they seem interested in... and one for 2000ad, believe it or not! I'm dying to do some full-colour work again, and the Galaxy's Greatest Comic seems to be the only publication that is open to that. Neither projects have been officially submitted yet, so it is early days....I've also been trying to get John Smith to write me a Steam-Punk flavoured story involving Frankenstein, but I'm wondering if all the inevitable complaints we'll receive that we're ripping off 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' will make it worth the trouble. So what have I been working on? Well, guess what:

The front cover to the "Ministry Of Space" 1+2 Compendium


A young woman, a near victim of a slasher attack, who travels the world hunting down other slashers. Written by Tim Seeley, drawn by Stallion Stefaona Casselli for Devil's Due, here's a sneak peek…


[Red Light]So, X-Men? No, no I'm not at liberty to mention the new "New X-Men" writer. I can however reiterate what I said on the 27th October, that I hear Salvador Larocca will move from "Uncanny X-Men" to the "New X-Men" title when Davis and Claremont take over.

As for "X-Treme X-Men," I hear two versions from a lot of people.

One version is that last week's Two From The Bottom lead, Tony Lee, and writer for the first issue of the "X-Men Unlimited" anthology relaunch, is to be the new writer. He didn't tell me this himself, and was most non-committal when I put this to him. Tony said, "You have to stop drinking the paint thinner, Rich... Which editor in their right mind would hire an unknown on such a title? I have every faith in Chris Claremont's ongoing run :)

"No comment."

On his blog, however, Tony Lee added, "Well, as fun as the emails have been, I have not been approached by Marvel to take over XXM. Period. And Chris himself has stated on the comixfan board for XXM "Just to set the record straight, 'X-treme' is my book. Marvel owns it, I write it."

However, the second version of this rumour I have also been told that Marvel don't feel they'd see the benefit of two Claremont X-titles, and that "X-Treme X-Men" will face cancellation…

As for Chuck Austen, he'll still probably be with the X-Universe after his fill-in on "New X-Men," and whatever he's working on will probably feature Nightcrawler pretty centrally. Expect new titles as part of this X-Men Reload Relaunch and a greater range of titles to appear to different groups. Maybe even John Byrne back on Hidden Years?

Okay, maybe even New New Marvel won't do that one...


[Yellow Light]With the film on the way, you can expect something special from "Hellblazer" 200. The book will be split into three for three different artists, Tim Bradstreet, Steve Dillon and current artist Marcelo Frusin.

And expect a full issue of "Hellblazer" by Mike Carey and Tim Bradstreet later next year.


[Green Light]Better clarification on the "Formerly Known As"… sequel mentioned last week.

I hear that first off, Blue Beetle gets a new costume - the reverse of his current costume, black and blue swapping positions. Power Girl shows up, but doesn't join the team, and the team does indeed go to hell - the cover to #3 is the team surrounded by demons drawn in the infamous Kevin Maguire demon style - though not to rescue Guy. Gardner will be featured, however, wearing the ring that used to belong to Sinestro.


Looks like Grafik Sismik just nabbed the license…


Have you caught the revealing Waiting For Tommy interview with Stormwatch writer Micah Wright, that went live last Wednesday? Click here

And check back this Wednesday for a new comics advertising campaign…


[Green Light]Two more comic book profiles of people I go drinking with…


Natalie Sandells is a comic artist from London and has been busy drawing comics (plus the odd bit of illustration) for the past three years. She's most well known for the art on the award-nominated graphic novel "Devilchild," the tale of a reluctant antichrist, which received critical acclaim when it was published in the spring of 2002 as well as garnering a few pro fans such as Mike Carey!

Not one to sit on her laurels she's been hard at work since then on a variety of projects including the five issue mini-series, "Carson City-a punk crime comedy thriller," a dystopian future sci-fi series and the second volume of the "Devilchild" trilogy - "Heaven Up Here."

So what types of stories does she like drawing? "Well, I'll draw anything that I consider to be a good story, one of the benefits I have at the moment is being able to pick and choose what I work on, but I have a soft spot for horror, sci-fi and clever comedy. You can blame it on reading 2000AD since I was a nipper."

And are there any comic characters that she harbours a secret desire to draw? "Morbius the Living Vampire. I'd love to draw a mature readers series of Morbius, I absolutely loved Ron Wagner's work on the 90's series from the Midnight Sons imprint but I think the likelihood of Marvel giving the character his own book again is slim to say the least."


If Lee Barnett is known for anything in the comics industry, it's both for his nickname and for the Hypotheticals panel, described by Mike Carlin as "more fun than you should be allowed to have at a convention." The panel, presented by Dave Gibbons, but written by Budgie, has been at the UK Comics Festival since 2000 and the list of panellists reads like a who's who of comics.

He wrote comedy for three years for BBC radio. His first professional comics work saw print in Trailer Park Of Terror, with well received stories in issues #1 and #2, and another forthcoming in issue #4. Barnett was one of those with a project "in development" with EPIC, entitled "Last of the Midnight Screamers," a horror-comedy about the creatures of the supernatural teaming up... as a dating agency. "Yeah, I got caught by the 'no creator-owned series' edict," Budgie told me. "So I showed it to Mike Collins who also loved it and offered to draw it, but it hasn't found the right home yet."

Despite the collapse of EPIC, Budgie's been pitching to Marvel on other projects as well.

He's also just completed a super-hero novel that he's polishing up. "A newspaper prints an interview with a brand new super-hero called The Public Defender, but makes a typo that utterly and completely destroys any credibility he has. They forget that 'public' has an 'L' in it... It's been described as 'Siegel and Shuster via Douglas Adams.' I can live with that."

Other than that? "Well, I've got another couple of stories for 'Trailer Park of Terror' to complete, and, hopefully, someone's going to be interested in 'Last of the Midnight Screamers.' And then, of course, next year's the fifth anniversary Hypotheticals panel."


If any creator or studio would like to share their recent experiences with Image Central, please do. If anyone has stories to share about Hank Kalanz, now's the time. And if any C-list creator or above (you know who you are) has any Epic pitches to share, write in.

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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