Welcome to the fifth weekly installment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry by putting a whoopee cushion on its seat. The traffic lights on each story are my takes on their reliability. Green lets you know I believe it, Amber let's you know I reckon there's something in it somewhere, Red lets you know I think it's quite possibly bullshit. But then you never know. The lights are just an indication - doesn't mean a red can't be true and a green can't be false. Take everything you read with a squeeze of vinegar in the eye - and if you do repost information here elsewhere, please include a warning to that effect, and a link right Back to where you are now. Ta.


[Red Light]Bless those gossip-mongering, chattering classes that make up comic book pros - especially those who work for Marvel Comics. A number are still in a twitter that Joe Quesada's days are numbered at Marvel, and that it's all down to a power play between Marvel Hollywood and Marvel New York. And, yes, that whole "George Clooney agreement to play Nick Fury, until his agents saw the recent Garth Ennis/Derick Robertson 'Fury' comic book and pulled out" issue is one that is constantly pulled out. A number also seem convinced that Axel Alonso is being groomed as Quesada's successor, and those with ties to Joe are seeking to transfer them before he receives the boot.

I understand however while there are powerplays at Marvel between New York and Hollywood, the people above are quite happy with that. Divide and rule as it were. And while they may encourage the Hollywood view that Joe is out, it might bear little relation to the reality.

And of course, while Joe Quesada was Editor-In-Chief of "Fury," Axel Alonso was its editor.


[Green Light]"Stormwatch" writer Micah Wright gave retailers an intriguing peek into the title's future on the Comicbook Industry Alliance board after talking about cover shots, saying "I'll see if WS won't go for some 'The Menace of the Hun'-type images for #4-6 where we have a crossover with The Authority. Ooopsie, did I just say that out loud? I could have sworn that was a secret, that #4 starts a NEW STORY ARC with a really easy jumping-on-point for NEW READERS and it also just happens to feature THE AUTHORITY. Damn! I'm no good at keeping the company's secrets!"

Thank goodness for that, Micah.


[Yellow Light]A new Gutterati member known only as Government Conspiracy writes to tell me a likely line-up for the new "Shonen Jump" manga anthology series.

Yuyu Hakusho (1991, Yoshihiro Togashi)

Yu-Gi-Oh! (1996, Kazuki Takahashi)

One Piece (1997, Eiichiro Oda)

Dragon Ball (1984, Bird Studio)

Naruto (2000, Masashi Kishimoto)

Shaman King (1998, Hiroyuki Takei)

Sandland (2000, Bird Studio)

The credits details the year of copyright and the co-copyright holder, but all the titles mentioned are co-copyright by Shueisha Inc. as well.


[Green Light]So why was the "Essential Tomb Of Dracula" cancelled by Marvel? A critically acclaimed and fondly remembered series, it's best known to modern fans for introducing the character Blade.

Landing in sixth place on Diamond's graphic novels list, ahead of both New X-Men Imperial TPB and GI Joe, it seemed quite a mystery. Could it be over writer and ex-Editor-In-Chief Marv Wolfman who recently revealed he was blacklisted at Marvel because he sued them for ownership of Blade?

Joe Quesada gave what seemed an honest answer;

"When we looked at the overwhelming number of TPBs that we were working on we needed to pick a few projects to take off the list to relieve a much exhausted staff. We looked it over and TOD was one of those to go because of the amazing amount of man hours it was going to take to put together, clean up pages and find missing material. Honestly, I had no idea it would have done so well, we just thought it was one of those that no one would miss. Well, never underestimate the power of the 'Essentials,' and never let it be said that I can't admit a mistake!"

Lying In The Gutters looks forward to a resolicitation, Joe…


[Yellow Light]Last week's story about an old GI Joe/X-Men project flushed out information about the new Marvel/Image crossover in the works.

It's to be drawn by the Fantastic Four Marvel Mangaverse team of Keron Grant, Rob Stull and Chris Walker. Writer and schedule are still unknown…


[Green Light]So which established Ultimate book is David Finch going to be working on? From the X-Fan message boards, Chuck Austen wrote about his "Call" work,

"I'm just blown away. And while I'm damn happy you're finally getting to do the X-men you love so much, I'm gonna miss you, man. This has been an amazing run."

Minutes later, the original post had been changed to obscure the X-men reference. But "Ultimate X-Men" it appears to be.

I had it later confirmed that Andy Kubert wouldn't be replaced on "Ultimate X-Men" but since it was one of the books that was stepping up to eighteen issues a year, Finch would draw an arc at the same time as Kubert was working on the title.


[Yellow Light]I understand that DC are likely to announce two of their new exclusives at San Diego, Mike McKone and Tom Raney.


[Red Light]We all know that Neil Gaiman is returning to Vertigo for their tenth anniversary with an Endless project. But the gossipy creators are also talking about a man who's never written for Vertigo yet inspired the whole line, Alan Moore. Moore's often derided the existence of Vertigo as a publishing line based upon a bad mood he was once in twenty years ago, but this sounds like a possibility. And may have been the reason for Karen Berger and Richard Bruning's recent visit to Northampton after the Bristol convention. An introduction, a mini-essay, maybe even a short story?

Alan Moore is in Wales at the moment and out of contact. DC did not choose to respond. To anything. Even a request for some doughnuts.


[Yellow Light]I hear DC are looking to poach some of Marvel's talent back to their Vertigo and Wildstorm imprints with promises of creator-participation and creative control. However, this won't affect the DC Universe as those in charge want to keep risky projects away from their iconic characters - they are not looking for another Kevin Smith/Green Arrow incident, despite its sales success.

Hence their recent attempt to get Bendis onto "Challengers of The Unknown."


[Yellow Light]San Diego may give use some announcements about new Superman creators. I understand DC feel that each title doesn't have an 'individual' feeling and they want concrete, reliable writer / artist teams on each title. Steven Seagle/Scott McDaniel being an obvious starting point.


[Red Light]Looks like Avi Arad and Bill Jemas have been in serious discussions about this possibility. This has been reflected in Marvel's licensing departments who recently insisted that all characters used be the Ultimate versions. A number of creators have been asked for their input on the possibility and new Ultimate projects are expected to waver further from their Marvel counterparts - especially in terms of racial and sexual identity as well as their attitude to the world around them. And the much rumoured Christopher Priest/Sal Velleto Ultimate project may be the vanguard for this new wave.


[Yellow Light]Enjoy that Black Panther first page by Oscar Jiminez last week? Wasn't it pretty?

It should have been. I'm told it's the only page Oscar completed in the two months he was allocated to draw the entire book.



[Green Light]Seen the solicitations for Detective Comics, talking about a back-up story by John Francis Moore that's going to lead to November's "Batman: Family" weekly event?

Sounded familiar to me. Checking through my notes, it seems that it bears a heavy resemblance to the "Batman: Family" event that Joseph Illidge tried to push through with Moore years ago and were knocked back. Joseph complained of bad treatment at the company in a classic All the Rage that can be read here.

Old ideas never die, they just run around the approval circuit.


[Green Light]UK retailers were slightly surprised to receive "Madman Picture Exhibition 3" last week - after all they hadn't received issue 2 yet. While not a common scenario, it has happened before with the likes of "Elektra/Wolverine," "Cerebus" and "Star Wars," where one book gets delayed somehow and the books ship out of sequence.

However this was not to be. Pat Sullivan of Diamond UK, wrote to retailers "Due to a clerical error 'Madman Picture Exhibition #2' (MAR021888) was allocated, however Diamond UK's numbers were not included in the final allocation so we shall not be receiving any copies of this issue."

Madman 3 has been made fully returnable and Madman 4 has had its orders made adjustable, but currently the UK is in a "Madman Picture Exhibition 2" drought.

This is a rare scenario - only an issue of "Bacchus" that never shipped to the UK springs to mind. Oh, and then there was that fuss with the "Elseworld Eighty Page Giant"….


[Yellow Light]"X-Men Evolution" was cancelled at issue 9, yet its tenth issue had still been solicited in Previews. My first Lying In The Gutters pointed out that retailers could order extra copies of this poor-selling title in order to meet certain requirements at Marvel that would get them extra discounts - yet not have to pay for or receive the extra comics in question.

North American pre-order figures came in this week at ICV2. They show a steady decline, issue after issue, except... well, see for yourself.

Nov X-Men Evolution #1 - 32,619

Dec X-Men Evolution #2 - 25,035 (-23.3%)

Jan X-Men Evolution #3 - 23,841 ( -4.8%)

Feb X-Men Evolution #4 - 19,858 (-16.7%)

Mar X-Men Evolution #5 - 18,499 ( -6.7%)

Apr X-Men Evolution #6 - 17,407 ( -5.9%)

May X-Men Evolution #7 - 16,747 ( -3.8%)

Jun X-Men Evolution #8 - 15,927 ( -4.9%)

Jul X-Men Evolution #9 - 15,243 ( -4.3%)

Aug X-Men Evolution #10 - 24,647 (+61.7%)


[Green Light]Friend and comics fan Adrian Brown (publisher of the "Just One Page" and "Heroes" charity books) posted to the DC Message Boards about his history with John Constantine/Hellblazer. He writes:

It's the memoirs of a pub regular.

Of course there are memory lapses and inaccuracies.

The comic life of John Constantine is like your relationship with a pub.

You find a new pub, and you have a vague idea of it, and start to go there occasionally. This was what Alan Moore and Rick Veitch brought us.

In the Eighties, many old pubs were tarted up, usually with a bit of old and a bit of new stuff (blow lamps, tennis rackets, old photos). Occasionally the Fruit Machine got a bit too garish.This was Jamie Delano's consolidation of JC.

And then, some fool came up with the idea of turning every other pub into an Irish bar. It's corny and intrusive, but often the pub remains a good place to be, and the old regulars stay. That's Garth Ennis for yez.

Although Eddie Campbell is an expert of the booze, and I'd trust him to run a good pub, he had other ideas. And the pub was briefly converted to an Aussie Bar.

The Wetherspoons chain moves in. Cheap reasonable beer, no loud music, nice places to meet, often crowded with alcohol abusers. Paul Jenkins did some of that.

And then we were returned briefly to the old familiar surroundings of the local, by one of the old regulars, Warren Ellis, but this was not enough for the brewery. They didn't like some of the old crowd turning up with their shooters. So they closed it.

Actually, the temp Eastern European landlord was quite good, but he was on a short term deal.

The brewery took the stripped down decor and converted it to a Cheers Bar with a room at the back for cool and trendy S&M folk. It wasn't a place I liked to hang out any more, the music was too loud, and some of the new regulars were too brash.

I hear there's a new landlord coming in, and he plans to turn the pub back to it's traditional. I'll be there for a stayback on the opening night.


[Green Light]On the X-Statics Message Boards, Mike Allred has been talking about the "death" decision for "X-Force." If you're waiting for the trades, better skip this bit.

Mike writes "It's crazy how it happened. We went back and forth. Actually Tike's number was up--decided as long ago as last summer. Then we stated rethinking it at the last minute and her fate created its own inertia. In the end everyone (Axel, Peter and I) agreed that Edie's story had been told--her death would move Guy to a new place--and her presence would continue to echo on in a powerful way unlike those who went before her. I miss her terribly, but it made for the most powerful and tragically sad end to the X-Force series we could muster. Now, how do we replace her? We can't. And that's a good thing.

"And hey, "X-Force"/"X-Statics" fans, did you know that Coach was originally meant to be a woman? In the first preview of the title, Coach was described 'she's this old hag who gives the team their missions'"


[Yellow Light]On The X-Fan Message Boards, Scott Lobdell has been writing about how Marvel are no longer interested in seeing his X-men ideas. He writes

"Alas, it is pretty obvious to all parties that I am not invited around the X-Men Universe any more. (People don't know this, but a few months ago, I did a series of 'X-Men Unlimited' stories when Mark Powers had control over the book. But once it was moved on to another editor, the scripting of all those stories was taken out of my hands. Now with Mark given the boot...I think the likelihood of me working on anything X-related/or Marvel related...is slim to none.)

"I am totally okay with it though -- I had a great run and it was a lot of fun. I realize that the people currently in charge at Marvel feel appropriately threatened by the ever decreasing sales and the need to convince people that their uniformed deconstruction of the Marvel Universe is brilliant. A Lobdell scripted X-Book that out sold all the other books in the line...gosh, how would that look?!)"

Hmmm. Slightly tongue in cheek, possibly?


[Yellow Light]So, if officially denied reports about DC's reticence to cover china-related issues in their titles is true, how are the competition managing?

Currently , Marvel's "Thor" title recently featured a scene where Asgard appears above New York City and the UN discuss the situation. It's the Chinese and only the Chinese representative who says "We should shoot them down now" and then orders nuclear missiles to be directed towards Asgard (which would wipe out New York at the same time), for the sake of Beijing's safety.

No Chinese sales for Marvel, then…


[Yellow Light]Again on the X-Fan Message Boards, Sal Larocca was quoted about how he and Chris Claremont intended to bring back Colossus and Psylocke. He writes:

"Chris and I killed Psylocke with the idea of revive her without the Crimson Dawn powers and with her english body, that was our idea. But when we talk with Joe (Quesada) and tell him the story he told us that it isn't possible, he told us that the X-Books made always the same with the dead people, so revive Psylocke is a unacceptable plot.

"Yes, the guilty of the permanent dead of Betsy is Joe Quesada, not Chris Claremont. But the surprises (and the hope) don't finish here...

"We (Chris and Salvador) have eight possibles plots with the revival of Colossus and two more with the revival of Psylocke, although Joe don't give us the green card to plot that stories, we are everyday asking him about this question, I'm sure he'll finally let us do"


[Yellow Light]I hear that that both Solar and Magnus, Robot Fighter are getting a new revamp, whether by Acclaim or someone else. Sean Claurette has been posting to his site work for an upcoming mystery project that seems to feature a certain Magnus Robot Fighter…


[Red Light]We're entering the world of Mark Millar. Don't believe a thing.

Did Millarworld on Friday. Simultaneous drink ups around the globe to celebrate the launch of Mark Millar's Web site. Except, as far as I can tell, no one actually mentioned it at all the entire evening.

Coincidentally met Johanna Constantine writer Andy Diggle in Comics Showcase. We tubed to Russell Square and were the first there. Sad gits we.

Fraser Irving turned up shortly, as did a couple of stragglers. Then the Monarchy board landed, Millar pitched in with apprentice, lackey and general all round gimp, Mark Peyton. We went to get Chinese.

Returned to find the V Forum, Pete Hogan and a bunch of others in the pub, drank, got taxis, found Millar's hotel room, woke up the family next door banging on it (the taxi driver had taken them the scenic route at twice the price. Never get into a London cab without a local accent) and tried to put one of the promotional "Dicks" condoms over the smoke detector in Millar's room. It split. Don't use them guys and gals, otherwise you'll have lots of little Avatar-fuelled babies.

Some terribly entertaining stories were told.

That James Hudnall borrowed a hundred dollars off Garth Ennis at a con in 1996, paid him back in 1997, only for Garth to discover James had borrowed the money from Steve Dillon to pay Garth back.

That Nick Locking, Transformers geek, all-round good egg, and originator of the V Forum is to write a story for Avatar's Night Radio issue 2. Nick Locking denied the rumour. But he looked at me funny when he said it.

That Nanci Quesada kept threatening Jae Lee that if he didn't produce work she would drive down to Virginia and sit there until he got it done. The threats went on for weeks and months. Finally one day Jae was so far behind that she got in her car and drove all the way to Virginia unannounced. Jae was so freaked and impressed that she would do that that he got on the stick and began producing again.

That Joe Quesada paid Frank Quitely twice on "New X-men" what he was making on "The Authority." So Frank did half as much work. Indeed, four pages in three months at one point, but now his wife is cracking down on him and Frank's schedule should be shooting up as a result.

And then there's the sexual stuff… which will just have to wait till Lying In The Gutters Live.

I fucked off around 2-ish. On the bus back, I discovered that the "BadGirls And FanBoys" I bought at Showcase to get signed by Millar has a chapter about me in it and, ahem, the Uncle Ben Child Abuser story. Oh great. Not quite accurate, but hey. And they could have given me a fucking link.

Anyway, have some low-quality Handspring photos.


Last week's speculation that 1602 may concern the birthdate of a certain saint, also know as the Flying Friar, has been proved erroneous by the simple fact that he was born in 1603. Bugger.

Right then. It sounded a good enough idea for a superhero story when I thought Gaiman might be doing it, so I'm going to do it myself. A medieval superhero story, The Name Of The Rose meets Superman, Cadfael meets Batman, and me having some very silly ideas meeting some blank sheets of paper.

I might draw it myself, but if anyone else fancies the idea, email me.

1603, probably from Twist And Shout Comics, sometime early next year. Unless any other publishers are interested…


If you've got a story, talk to me. Your identity will remain anonymous unless you wish otherwise. You can choose a pseudinym 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. I mean come on, I mean look at all these Marvel Universe threads that have been started. Start some more!

You can contact me at:

  • twisting@hotmail.com (which often gets full, but it'll reach me during the day)
  • rich@twistandshout.freeserve.co.uk (which I read every morning - best for graphic files!)
  • AOL Instant Message me at TwistRich
  • 0780 1350982 (01144780 1350982 from N America)
  • Letter bombs can be sent to 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU, ENGLAND

Be seeing you.

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