Ramblings 98:

The original comic-book industry rumour and news column,
by Rich Johnston.

What is Ramblings 98?

Elmo Health Warning:

This column is RUMOUR. Do not take anything here seriously. These RUMOURS are presented here as GOSSIP for their ENTERTAINMENT value.

Dateline: 31 August 1998

Lee Spotting

We have a confirmed sighting of Jim Lee in London. Various sources tell us that he's in London with Scott Dunbier to meet with Alan Moore to woo him to stay with Wildstorm, despite it now being owned by DC. A number of tactics may be used and a central one has even been mentioned in passing on the Usenet newsgroups...

More as we have it.

As of Monday night, it looks like they have returned to the States, if our e-mail is any indication.

 Dateline: 29 August 1998

Wild Storms

Kudos to top rumour monger Mike Doran at Newsarama, he's just got a hell of a rumour correct about DC buying Wildstorm. Check his Newsarama column or Daily Buzz for the full info!

We've got confirmation from Warner Bros, DC's owner, that this deal is going ahead and we can expect a full confirmation next week. Wildstorm will become a DC imprint, with Jim Lee and his people working exclusively for DC and Wildstorm.

As to the big Alan Moore question?

Well, Alan has in the past stated that he won't work for DC again. He has five current projects with Wildstorm. Looks like there's some transatlantic shenannigans going on as a result... full details when we can print them.

At the moment, we don't know if or where Alan will be going. Hell, at the moment, we don't even know where he is. But a number of publishers will no doubt be interested. But can he be persuaded one way or the other?

It seems certain Californians may be taking their holidays in Europe shortly. Very brief holidays... business or pleasure?

...and a word from Rick Veitch

(Our apologies to Rick for the somewhat misleading headline we were running here. Rick assures us that he has made no decisions yet about his future in the wake of current events. )

Rick Veitch didn't know anything about DC buying Wildstorm. So he went and found out. He says "As briefly explained to me by Wildstorm, with promises of more info after Tuesday, Wildstorm will remain autonomous and in California. The comics will not have the DC bullet but DC will be in charge. I don't think Alan even knows yet, since he's off on holiday. My bad blood with DC is well documented, but I'm holding off judgement until I get the full story of the deal, but I can't say I like what I've heard so far!"

"This situation doesn't really surprise me, since it just reflects another death rattle of the old Direct Sales Market. If anything, its hardened my belief in the need for its immediate replacement here on the net (the Connect Sales Market?)."

"One has to wonder what this all means for Image and Image central? Is this the end for that particular comics crusade?"ateline: 24 August 1998

Dateline: 24 August 1998

DC Universe Revamp

More information on Grant Morrison and Mark Waid's revamp is starting to leak out. It looks like the return of DC's multiverse! That means the return of Earth 2, Earth 3 and a whole host of other universes in a planned and structured manner. This sounds like a great writing team for this kind of project, Mark Waid and his comicbook continuity obsession linked with Morrison's blatantly mad and original takes on characters. Looking forward to it...

Watch for this happening next year. Mark Waid isn't confirming anything save that he was scheming with Grant Morrison in San Diego about lots of things but he did call me a "scalliwag" which I thought was nice...

Flying Fatass

Kevin Smith has confirmed a new Clerks comic to come out at Christmas, by Clerks artist, Jim Mahfood. Also keep your eyes out for a Mallrats comic, due to come out some time next year.

While David Mack is to take over Kevin Smith on the new Daredevil series from issue 7, Kevin Smith has expressed a desire to return to the title in the future. As for now he's looking at a long term stint on Green Arrow. Daredevil is the only Marvel character that interests him, but DC holds a whole host of opportunity for him.

Starmania

Tony Harris is setting up a studio to rival Gaijin called Jolly Roger Studio. Set up in his home town Atlanta, he's bringing in Matt Smith (Sandman Mystery Theatre, Timeslip), Dusty Abel (Superman, Wonder Woman, Starman), Drew Gracy and Ray Snyder.

Harris and Robinson also have a painted 3 part prestige Starman series planned, but it isn't scheduled yet and they're waiting for DC to give the go ahead.

And that's your lot today!

 Dateline: 22 August 1998

Group Sessions

I rarely use newsgroups on Usenet and Compuserve to collect news and rumours for this column... hell, you're all internet users, you can get that news yourself and Mike Doran usually scoops up all the best bits for Newsarama, but occasionally there's a few bits that slip through the net, and after the San Diego stuff, there's always lots to get hold of. Anyway...

Still San Diego after all these Years

Jackie Estrada assures us that the San Diego ComicCon aka Comic-Con International is booked for the San Diego convention center for the next "five or six years." Good news for the hotels and restaurant owners in town, no doubt...

Dog Bites Loony

Firstly an update on Ramblings '98's favourite rabidly rightwing comics creator, Bill Tucci at San Diego. Comics Journal editor Tom Spurgeon (tom@tcj.com) asked, "The only rumor I'm interested in having confirmed or denied is that Bill Tucci was attacked by a vagrant outside the Westin, who, in the ensuing struggle, actually bit Tucci in the arm!"

Elayne Weschler (firehead@panix.com) replied "Consider it confirmed (except that it was not a vagrant, it was one or more drunken con-goers). As it occurred on hotel grounds, and help failed to arrive when called for, some believe Billy has the makings of a nice lawsuit on his hands."

That's if the drunk doesn't catch rabies of course...

Marvel Mayhem

Over at Compuserve, John Ostrander has been kicking up a stink about the cancellation of Heroes For Hire, throwing light on why so many titles have just been cancelled.

"Heroes For Hire is being cancelled and for what I regard as a stupid reason. We were in the black; we were making money -- a profit. But some bean counter decided that any book that wasn't making ten grand profit per month was to be cancelled. Rather than make just a few grand a month, they'd rather make nothing. Must be why they are finacial geniuses. Personally, I think it's because new owners are coming in in about 30-90 days and the suits want to prove what hard, tough nosed execs they can be in order to keep their own jobs and the one way business seems to know how to do this is downsize and have fewer people working for you. Besides, having each book make ten grand profit a month is so tidy. Is this a done deal? Looks that way. Will it do any good to complain? I don't know; a show of support is always useful. Marvel wants to keep me and Pascual together and we're already talking about other potential titles (none of which I can discuss the moment). I would like to emphasize is that this is not editorial's idea and they don't want to do it; it's those suits. Maybe them same suits that took Marvel from having 60% of a healthy market to bankruptcy proceedings in a shattered market. The smart guys. Do I sound a little testy? I suppose I am. I've been cancelled before; that's okay. It's just the apparent stupidity of it all that ticks me off."

Deadpool Reprieve

Looks like we were hastly to dismiss Deadpool's chances so easily, Mike Doran reports that Deadpool isn't yet cancelled but that it's hanging on a knife edge. Come on people, buy this book! I don't ask you to do much, do I? Buddy, can you spare $1.95?

Panic Attack

And on his own message boards, Warren Ellis announced the parting of ways between Panic Nation and Top Cow.

Ellis was also on hand to confirm a change in his publishing schedule. "Panic Nation will now not be published by Top Cow Productions. At the last minute, they would not agree to publish the book as a creator-owned project or as an ongoing title. In their defense, they had very good reasons (stemming from business decisions they made in matters unrelated to Panic Nation last year and the resultant bad experiences and difficulties) for not offering a creator-owned agreement. But, the original verbal agreement was that PN would remain owned by myself. Only in the conclusive stage of the deal did this problem arise."

"Dave Wohl's still a friend of mine, Aaron Michiel worked as hard as he could to get the deal to stand up, and Top Cow has communicated to me the hope that this does not preclude us from working together again in the future. But Panic Nation will not be going there."

The bad experiences that Ellis mentions are probably the whole Ascension thing that Top Cow found themselves wrapped around.

And Finally A Rumour.

Some nice scallywag e-mailed us about news he'd heard that the DC universe is undergoing a revamp under the hands of two Top Ten Wizard Writers, one because it's a childhood dream and the other because he gets a chance to turn the tables over.

Well, that says Mark Waid and Grant Morrison to me. And is that the reason there were so many reports of them always being together at San Diego looking like a rather odd couple? Looks like a couple of e-mails to these chaps is necessary...

 Dateline: 19 August 1998

Deadpool Dead.

Okay, many of you know that I have little love for Marvel, the Beast that they are, pandering to infants, no respect for creators, all that.

Deadpool has been the Marvel comic I've bought because it was brilliant. I mean that, up there with Hate and Acme Novelty Library as far as I'm concerned. Hell, it sits easily with Cerebus and would enjoy a brew with Beanworld. Sleaze Castle would find space for it and Preacher would just get on fine.

And it's sales are okay too, compared to the rest of the industry and I also know it makes money for Marvel. Not too much, but enough to show up on the profits.

And now I hear it's being cancelled at issue 25. Look, people, this book is too good to be cancelled and it would be a shame for Marvel to lose their one good book.

Order it. Get back issues. Get the TPB out soon. Try it. Please.

Oh yeah, Alpha Flight #20, Excalibur #125, Heroes for Hire #20, Ka-Zar #20, Marvel Adventures #20, Marvel Universe #7, Quicksilver #13, Rampaging Hulk #7, Spect.Spider-Man #263, Spider-Man Unlimited #22, Strange Tales #4, What If #114 are gone too. Some are relaunched, some are renumbered, etc. Most of those we knew already, some cancellations are a kindness.

But Deadpool....

Shit.

Just buy a copy. Even the stupidest comic shop will probably stock at least one issue.

 Dateline: 16 August 1998

Correcting Comics Retailer

Check out the World Wide Web article in the September issue of Comics Retailer, on page 62. Twist and Shout's Mike Meyer is prominently featured, and he discusses two business ideas with big potential to change the comics landscape.

Only one minor quibble -- they listed our obsolete Web address, which strangely still seems to be linked to our page from last December. You all know, though that our address is really http://www.twistandshoutcomics.com/ .

 

Times They Are A Changing.

Steve Bissette's been a busy boy... we all know he's been workjing up lots of Tyrant work to start putting them out as irregular graphic novels and targeting the book trade, but he may need a little funding along the way. That 1963 money can only last for so long...

Steve Bissette left DC in a stream of vitriol, going on to describe DC as a pimp that had raped him after his work on Swamp Thing. Well, a lot has changed. Bissette has got older and DC's creator policy has improved in terms of rights and royalties (although lower sales have taken much of the financial compensation away.)

So, when we hear that DC are touting Steve Bissette to revive Swamp Thing, and that he's seriously considering the idea, Ramblings '98 sits up and goes "Hmmmm...."

Looking forward to seeing how this one pans out.

Liefeld For Sale.

So what did happen to the Extreme and Maximum backstock? Someone's been shipping it around looking for buyers. It mostly consists of Glory, Avengelyne, a few Youngblood Strikefiles, Asylum and stuff like Sisters Of Mercy and Battlestar Galactica. 100,000 copies of them. The price? $5000, which works out at 5 cents each.

If anyone ever fancied setting up a Liefeld speciality store, this could be their perfect chance!

Earth-Late

Jim Krueger is starting to write the first script to Alex Ross' Earth X mini series, this weekend. Cutting it a bit fine aren't they? Unless of course, artist John Paul Leon has already started on the art without a story....

More on the Indy 4

The Indy 4 made their big debut at San Diego. This is a co-op between Crucial Comics (Rat Bastard), Dreamsmith (Book, Tranquility), Dark Angel (Blackjack, Race Against Time), and Hurricane(Chassis, Violent Messiahs). The co-op has put out a nice promo comic highlighting their books, which they have been distributing like mad at San Diego and Chicago.

When we talked to two of the principal publishers, they were quick to point out that they are not trying to be "the next Image," but simply taking advantage of the economies of scale possible from negotiating group rates, and helping each other out by covering conventions on both coasts. They will continue to operate independently in most areas, and do not plan to solicit under the umbrella name.

They have quite a lot to offer one another -- Dark Angel is up to its wings in interest from Hollywood, Dreamsmith has been advertising like crazy in the trade press to retailers, Rat Bastard is a very funny book gathering steam, and Hurricane has proven itself very savvy in the promotional realm in such a short lifespan, with a Wizard Contest, Adam Hughes cover, and a very gung-ho push to show their books at cons all over.

Let's see what happens when these folks combine forces -- should be very interesting. All four companies have at least one book with breakout potential, all are well-regarded among their small press peers, and the indy market needs to flex some promotional muscle in general.

Yep, this is the future for self-publishing, at least until the storm passes. Twist and Shout is similarly amenable to alliances with like-minded humor publishers -- give us a buzz.

 Dateline: 08 August 1998

Con job

San Diego is right around the corner, and there's plenty of buzz about what will be announced there this year.

We've got it on good authority that at least one group of up-and-coming indy publishers will be announcing a new co-op arrangement. Good news, as each publisher has several strengths of its own, and the formation of an East Coast/West Cost axis will definitely improve their convention presence.

It's been more than two years since Twist and Shout, Dreamwalker Press, Alternative Press, and close to a dozen other publishers proved the value of small publisher cooperation with the Gathering of Tribes project. While that coalition came off of the con with great momentum, the large size of the group made a sustained effort difficult to pull off. This strategy of aligning a much smaller number of like-minded publishers is much more viable. We'll have more info on this soon as we get it, hopefully in time for the Con.

We expect to hear more than our share of rumours while there, and hope to bring you some, but we can't be everywhere, so feel free to pass on the best industry gossip or news you hear at San Diego, and we'll research and publish the best ones later this month as our first annual San Diego Rumour Roundup.

And, please seek out some of our friends: Randy Reynaldo, Mike Vosberg, Janet Hetherington, Steven Blue, Nat Gertler, the great folks at Cold Cut Distribution (for you Expo attendees), Steve Conley, Carlos Saldana, and whatever other names we should be dropping.

And, we hope to soon have the answer about the Big Question: Will ComicCon International be moving to Los Angeles (Anaheim) for 1999? We've got mixed feelings about a con in our back yard, but plan to throw a big party if it happens....

 Dateline: 01 August 1998

The gossip Factor

Here's a sneak peek at the cover to the upcoming book from Nat Gertler's About Comics, The Factor #1. Blame this one on a leak from the Coloring department...

The advance buzz has been pretty good on this book, and we're not just saying this because we know the cover colorist. Cover is by Mike Vosberg, onetime head animator for the Spawn animated series.

Future issues of this series will include stories from Carla "Speed" McNeil, and our own Richard Johnston (he'll be in issue #2, order heavy on this one so that there is an issue #2) . This issue has work from Joe Staton, Alex Grecian, and Schmaker and Walton.

Overall flavor of the series is similar to Astro City; with short stories about the effect a superhero has on the people around him. Some stories are humorous, some dramatic.

You can order this book from Previews right now, look under About Comics on page 188 of the August issue.

Nat, we just have to ask: is the gentleman in the purple cap Diamond's Bill Schanes?

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