While the comic business is nursing a Wizard World sized hangover, I've been up to no good, nosing around the industry's dustbins and chatting up your girlfriends.
Welcome to the second weekly instalment of Lying In The Gutters, a gossip and rumour column serving the comic book industry - or at the least the bits that make good stories. 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 bucketful of salt - and if you do repost information here elsewhere, please include a warning to that effect.
And a URL obviously. What do you think I am, made of hits?
QUESADA'S POSITION UNDER THREAT?
The story that was going round the comic pros grapevine this week and seemed to spill over into the Wizard World: Chicago convention is that Joe Quesada is under real pressure at work from two fronts - first from his own bosses, and secondly from Avi Arad at their Hollywood branch. This is down to what they see as loose lips, unchecked company words and his public bickering with DC Comics and CrossGen, not to mention his overtime spent on the Web. And the Hollywood side seems a little ticked off that Quesada has been heard to be claiming credit for much of the "Spider-Man" success. And as a result of all this, Joe Quesada may be dropped. And if nothing else, Jemas and Quesada have been told to lay off DC Comics, CrossGen and the like. Newsarama reported that in the Marvel panel, Quesada denied these rumours.
But let's look a little deeper. Only a little mind. There have been versions of this story before now, but there are a few interesting points here.
Firstly, Marvel higher ups have previously been very happy with the higher press profile Marvel has been having - and it's not like the aggressive anti-competitor spiel is a new thing.
Secondly, doing the maths, it seems that Joe Quesada's two-year contract at Marvel will be up in September. Will Marvel use this as a way to jettison him?
Thirdly, has the higher public profile rumoured to have annoyed the Marvel suits, also provided him with some protection. One might speculate that if Joe was to walk the plank, would the share price, jittery as it is right now, plummet?
Fourthly, there's that pesky revenue stream that he seems to have brought back to Marvel. Marvel Knights alone profits million of dollars a year.
Fifthly, how much would Joe Quesada be worth in the open market? I've already heard rumours that he could find himself in on the west coast in Hollywood, representing Marvel, or working for a studio. And the other far more head-warping rumour places him just down the road, taking over Paul Levitz' position at DC Comics.
Maybe I should just put him on eBay to find out…
ULTIMATISING THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
When asked about last week's LITG story, that Marvel plan to Ultimatise all their line in the near future, Mark Millar posted on Millarworld "As for Marvel going Ultimate, I'm afraid you may THINK that, dear boy, but I couldn't possibly COMMENT. Let's just say the 'Ultimate' line was very far-sighted when it was created. More from me on this in an upcoming interview."
The first comment is a reference to the TV and book series, House Of Cards, featuring a character who would not speak on the record - but would always confirm a story with that phrase.
One of the reasons being given for the Ultimatisation of the Marvel Universe is sales. Now, while "New X-Men" and "Amazing Spider-Man" outsell their "Ultimate" counterparts in the traditional direct market, there's another direct market that has slowly started to emerge. The expansive chain store Wal-Mart has a deal with Marvel comics to order their "Ultimate" titles, non-returnable to the tune of a million a month between them. And while that weights towards "Ultimate Spider-Man" and "Ultimate X-Men," that still adds hundreds and thousand of guaranteed sales. And they seem to stock them by the action figures and toys rather than by the books and magazines - guaranteed to get them in front of kids.
Now, it's clear that Wal-Mart must have got a hell of a deal in order to make such a commitment, allegedly up into 2004. And anecdotal reports indicate that sell-through isn't great. But if both Marvel and Wal-Mart are making a profit, and pushing a certain product line to "civilian" customers, everybody wins. But they only want the "Ultimate" line, so...
GUTTERATI GATOZHIAN REPORTING FOR DUTY, SIR
One of our first gutterati, known only as Gatozhian, tells me "The "Ultimatisation" of the Marvel line is a done deal from what I hear, but not till late 2003. Something about fulfilling agreements. And New X-Men #150 is the end of it all."
He reports that the unmasking trend at Marvel may well continue, and to keep a close eye on the upcoming "Spider-Man 50." He also mentions that Ron Zimmerman and Darick Robertson are getting their own Spider-related book...
Thanks Gatozhian. Your traffic light is on red for now- but if those stories start to come true, that will change very quickly.
Do you want to join the gutterati? Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
TIBET PART TWO
Last week, Lying in the Gutters printed the rumour that certain DC books have had storylines featuring or mentioning Tibet curtailed or amended so as not to conflict with AOL Time Warner's expansion into China.
On the DC Universe panel at WizardWorld, writer Geoff Johns indicated his intention to write a Tibet story, probably in Flash. One to watch, folks.
DAREDEVIL/BULLSEYE FROM FABRY AND SMITH?
I understand that the new top secret Glenn Fabry project for Marvel mentioned in a previous column is also the new top secret Kevin Smith project for Marvel.
Daredevil/Bullseye. One to anticipate.
FRAY DELAYED - AND NOT BY THE HOLLYWOOD WRITER
I understand that Dark Horse is having real problems getting Joss Whedon's future slayer comic, "Fray," finished. But now it's not as many suspect, the writer's schedule that's at fault, it's the artist. Seems that when Karl Moline went off to CrossGen he thought he'd be able to finish it before he started "Route 666." He didn't. I understand that issue 7 is only half-completed so far
PREVIEWS REVEALS FUTURE PROJECTS
Previews doesn't seem to be the hard-and-fast online document it once was. Diamond seem to have been… well, changing a few bits and pieces soon after initial uploading. And if you catch it in time, you might see some future projects that weren't meant to have been listed that month. Not only was "Captain America: The Truth" first solicited for August, it was done so without mentioning the aspects that have caused so much discourse of late. But there's also this little nugget from this month's files - well it was there very recently, anyway.
EDEN'S TRAIL #1 (OF 6)
Cover by Steve Uy
Steve Uy (w & a)
A brand-new adventure of sci-fi action in the widescreen Marvel Scope format! On a faraway planet, a simple girl from a small corner of the galaxy finds herself in sole possession of the secrets of the universe! Journey along with this unlikely hero on her thrill-packed quest to discover the truth behind her world and the realms beyond in an all-new, six-issue series by future Marvel superstar, ICEMAN Cover artist Steve Uy! If you dig Final Fantasy and Star Wars, you'll love EDEN'S TRAIL!
32 PGS. with ads/FC/MARVEL PG 2.99
Good to see Marvel going after the CrossGen dollar there.
BRYAN HITCH BACK ON SCHEDULE
Poor Ultimates fans, getting all twitchy and fidgety and seeing spider babies climbing across the ceiling? Don't worry.
Bryan Hitch took time out to talk about his schedule on the book - how it slipped, and how he's putting it right.
"Mark and I should have started issue one in June of last year, but due to Mark's extended bout with illness and thankfully groundless cancer scare we didn't put pen to paper until the second week of September, which although giving me all the time I needed to watch Wimbledon and do the design work did set us behind since our launch date was already set for Jan."
"This meant we couldn't do the double sized first issue as planned, but it also yielded the unexpected benefit of giving us the chance to re-evaluate what we wanted to do and the whole concept became what we now know. It may interest readers to know that what was originally intended to be in that first double sized issue expanded to fill these first five issues when the characters took on unexpected extra life with more of their stories to tell. Sometimes you just have to let things breathe."
"Anyway, The first issue of anything always takes me longer to do, say six weeks instead of four, but in this case it was so period specific and reference heavy that time just got eaten up researching the costumes, uniforms, armaments, settings, aircraft and all the other necessary details. Worth it in the long run possibly, but very time consuming."
"Issues two, three and four all took four weeks or so, but the damage was already done and adding to the problem was the fact that over the course of those first five issues we wrote and drew about seventeen extra pages on top of the required 21 per issue and it comes as no surprise that we slipped behind. We could all see it happening, but keeping our fingers crossed wasn't really doing the job!
"Everyone has been trying to find ways of avoiding fill in issues as, after all, nobody wants to have somebody else write a chapter of their novel, and Marvel have been both generous and supportive in all their efforts to give Mark and I (mostly me) whatever help they can."
"So we found ourselves with about a week to draw issue five, which being the big budget spectacle we were waiting for, was just not remotely possible without channelling the spirit of Jack Kirby. Illness of my own and some other personal nonsense added to the already existing problems by pushing the time taken on the issue to seven weeks and, presto, you have the current situation."
"Issue six has indeed taken three weeks to pencil and will be at the printers next week. So the ongoing process of catching up continues. Issues will be out monthly from now, and if we manage to get where we want to be by the end of the year, the may be an extra surprise or two. Keeping shtum, lest you run rumours. The one about Mark Millar working in nothing but a Powerpuff Girls kitchen apron are true, however."
My eyes, Bryan, my eyes!
CALL AND BLACK CAT ON DOTCOMICS, ULTIMATE SPIDEY OFF
I understand that Marvel will be putting "The Call: Precinct" onto its Dot.Comics listings, as well as the new "Black Cat" series. But this might be at the cost of dropping dotComics leader, "Ultimate Spider-Man."
DREAMWAVE LOSE ROBOTECH, GAIN ZELDA
With reports that Wildstorm are pursuing "Robotech" comics, it's interesting that, like with "Thundercats," Dreamwave originally had the "Robotech" licence. Planning to announce a "Robotech" prequel, "Genesis," at San Diego, they found those negotiations with owners Harmony Gold stalled. Jay Faerber was originally meant to be the writer - and had written both the Robotech bible and the first story arc synopsis.
However, I've also heard that Dreamwave have secured the "Legend of Zelda" license. Oooh!
HOWARD CHAYKIN DRAWS ALAN MOORE
Howard Chaykin is back at the boards. Look for him to be drawing a "Tom Strong" story for Alan Moore shortly. Moore had wanted Chaykin to draw a story for him for quite a while but missed Chaykin's window last time on "Tom Strong." Not this time- eventually Moore always gets his man.
JOHNNY NEMO RETURNS
How about a collection of Milligan and Ewins' classic "Johnny Nemo" series including the first all-new Nemo story in almost a decade, courtesy of Cyberosia this autumn?
Unless of course DC steal that one under Cyberosia's noses like they did Skreemer...
DC UNIVERSE TITLES SHIP WITHOUT CODE
It appears that a number of DC's August 2002's books are missing the Comics Code Seal. And no, not the Vertigos, but the DC Universe line. Titles so far include "Action Comics #792," "Birds of Prey #44," "JSA #37," "Wonder Woman #182"... say, has Mike Carlin been rolling his eyes at the Comic Code Authority? IS DC following in Marvel's lead?
Or is it just a screw-up?
X-MEN EVOLUTION - ORDER HIGH!
Retailers - having difficulty beating Marvel's full line incentives for June orders? Not placed your order yet? Not to worry, just add a few more copies of "X-Men Evolution" 10 until you qualify. After all, it's been cancelled…
THUNDERBOLTS TO BE REVAMPED - THE STORY CONTINUES
Any more on "Thunderbolts" being revamped and restarted, written by John Arcudi after issue 75? From the AOL Kurt Busiek folder, when user FCFlink14 said "BTW, i believe thunderbolts is the 4th longest lasting non-rebooted series currently coming out from marvel (behind Wolverine, New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men). Who'da thunk it?", Kurt replied "Wait six months..."
KYLE BAKER'S PLANS
More from Kyle Baker. As well as the "Plastic Man" graphic novel, "Captain America: The Truth," his Looney Tunes animation work for Warner Bros, "Cowboy Wally 2" and a "Superman" novel, DC are also republishing the first "Cowboy Wally Show." Considered a masterpiece of a graphic novel, it's already been through Doubleday and Marlowe, and even a spinoff appearance in Marvel's Epic Lite. This time it looks like it'll get the production quality it's always deserved.
This is the age of Kyle Baker.
HULK, LIVE-ACTION TV SERIES?
I understand that Studios USA is supposedly developing a new live-action Hulk TV series, to play off the upcoming movie version - but they're keeping it a secret.
There have been rumours about a new cartoon, but these seem to be decoys, planted to keep fans off the scent, in case it doesn't pan out. Like Thor.
Still, if you're a pro-wrestler-turned-actor, maybe you should give them a call...
KEVIN SMITH CHANGES STRACZYNSKI'S PLANS
Joe Michael Straczynski writes on the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated.
"I have a three-pronged deal: stories with established characters in the Marvel Universe, reviving dormant characters in the MU as well as creating new characters there, and creating wholly new characters in a non-MU situation allowing me to do pretty much anything I want."
"Well, that's not absolutely accurate...when Kevin Smith came on board, he asked to be given dibs on bringing MJ and Peter together again, if and when that decision should be made. So in terms of that aspect, all I can do is kind of play around the edges a bit, the ball is well and truly in Kevin's court, he's the only one who can resolve and bring them together if that is the way Marvel wants to go."
"I was gonna bring 'em together again shortly, because it was my intent to get them apart only for a while, but at this point it'll be an if/when situation between Marvel and Kevin."
Straczynski clarified this further in email, saying "What a lot of people seem not to understand, or have chosen to understand, is that I said, from the git-go, that I only wanted to clear the decks of all the supporting characters *for a while* so that I could focus solely on who Peter was, with the goal of gradually working them all back in again once I'd tidied up the place a bit. Which is why all these "JMS hates MJ and wants her gone forever" posts always puzzled me, since I'd never said that, and had, in fact, in my public posts (searchable on any of a number of databases) said exactly what I said above, that it was meant to be a temporary situation."
So is this long-awaited get-together happening in "Black Cat?" Or Kevin Smith's other Spider-Man plans?
SCHEDULE AND COVERS FOR AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Frank Cho is drawing three covers for "Amazing Spider-Man," the first due out in October. I also understand that "Amazing Spider-Man" is planning to catch up the two issues it skipped last year, as well as a "thirteenth" issue to come.
ANOTHER STAB AT DC/WILDSTORM TITLES/CREATIVE TEAMS
Okay okay okay. Let's see if we can get a better take on this whole Wildstorm DC Universe titles? Each gets their own traffic light.
And more to come.
Let's see if we get any closer this time?
PREVIEW ART FROM SCARS
It's funny what kind of digital files whiz round the Internet when they're not supposed to and somehow end up in my inbox.
TOM SNEIGOSKI TO WRITE NEW AVATAR TITLE TOO
Chris Golden writes to tell me that the Avatar project he's writing mentioned last week will be co-written by Tom Sniegoski too.
NEW ANTHOLOGY REUNITES OLD GANG
There's a new British anthology comic starting in October called Bullet Proof, including the work of Mick McMahon, Andy Diggle, Nige Kitching, Rich Elson and Nigel Dobbyn. What common thread joins them together?
They all worked on the "Sonic The Hedgehog" comic which lasted for ten years and two hundred issues. And now they're back!
Not the only high profile chap who worked on that comic though - Mark Millar is reported to have written 100 pages of script in a day...
IMAGE UNIVERSE TO RELAUNCH
At San Diego, Image Comics are planning to announce their new reinvigorated Image Universe line. But as previously rumoured, it's not called Venture - although I understand that one of the new characters will be.
BOB GREENBERGER PREDICTS FUTURE
A story from Bob Greenberger's departure from Marvel. I hear that Mark Powers and Pete Franco walked down to Greenberger's office to give their condolences. Mark shakes Bob's hand saying, "I'm sorry. It was nice working with you." To which Bob replies by smiling and saying, "Yeah, well... you're next!"
LYING IN THE GUTTER GOLD
As a result of a few con reports from the Wizard ChicagoCon Panel, from Newsarama, CBR and the like, here's a few oldies but goldies All The Rage bits that might be worth a revisit.
"Rawhide Kid" - "Slap Leather, a new comedy Western from Ron Zimmerman and John Severin, featuring the return of Rawhide Kid. Pushed as having an "outrageous concept" and tight fitting leather, it looks like Marvel will be putting the Go West into the Wild West."
"1602" - "The title of Neil Gaiman's upcoming Marvel Universe comic is 1602. But what does it mean? Could it be a reference to the manuscript "The City Of The Sun" by Italian writer Tommaso Campanella, written in 1602. The story tells of a utopian city built and lived in by seemingly perfect beings. One might presume 1602 will tell a similar tale. But with The Thing, Daredevil and Mr Fantastic... okay, maybe not. But 1602 is a fundraiser for the legal battle over Marvelman/Miracleman - which, during Gaiman's run portrayed a utopian world built by wondrous beings… Read the manuscript in question here.
"Black Panther" - Relaunched but not renumbered after issue 50 and the end of the Death Of Black Panther comic, when Dan Fraga becomes "Black Panther" artist. Sal Velluto and Bob Almond will then work with Priest on another project - possibly an Ultimate book.
RECRUITING FROM THE GUTTER
This column is nothing without its readers and its sources. Find out how you can play a part.
Recruiting The Gutterati
What's the word on the street? Whether you're a pro in the know or a fan who just got lucky, pass it on. You've found loose lips on message boards, you work in a shop where a pro's been holding court about their latest success, or you're just feeling plain bitchy and want to get your view across without being fired, join the ever expanding crew of that exclusive clique known only as the Gutterati. Regular reporters can get their own nickname, so you can build a reputation - but unless you wish it, your identity will never be revealed.
Panning For Gold In The Gutter
Another thing - old stories. Just because it happened twenty years ago, doesn't mean I won't want to hear about it. Often the older the story, the more open people can be about it. So if you know a great story that never made it to the fans, welcome to Lying In The Gutters.
Recruiting The Gutter Snipes
Spreading the word. Repost sections from this column (with the rumour warning and the column's web address) to message boards across the internet, wherever relevant, and let me know about it. E-mail bits to friends, pass the word, and spread the cause. For example - excerpts from today's column might be posted around www.ComicBoards.com, AintItCool.com or any number of Buffy boards. Go to it. Fly my pretty ones, fly!
You can contact me at:
email@example.com (which often gets full, but it'll reach me during the day)
firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Oh yeah, and that Ian Ungstad story from All The Rage yesterday? No fucking comment.