Hanging With My Dealers

Last weekend, I was at Bristol for the Comics 2002 show. Sneaking my way into the Retailers Meeting (or rather asking Diamond UK demi-god, Pat Sullivan, if I could attend and then walking in, in broad daylight), I joined retailers for a series of publisher presentations.

As Diamond UK asked for retailer feedback, it was a refreshing change to hear that almost all of the retailers were perfectly happy with service. Things have clearly improved on previous years and they were happy to sing Diamond’s praises.

There were a couple of niggles, however. It appears that there is a jinx on issue 40s from Dark Horse through Diamond UK – a number of titles have seen their issue 40 vanish, orders go missing, or develop problems with licence holders. The advice from Diamond? Dark Horse should never do an issue 40. But, seriously, they are looking into this problem.

Amongst the many Diamond Select Toys featured, one stand-out was Replica Web-Shooters in November. Not from the film then.

With 4500 customers worldwide, 370 of those in the UK, Diamond’s sales as a whole are up 5% on last year, with comics sales falling in the first half of 2001, rising in the second half and continuing to rise through 2002, already up 10% on last year. Graphic novels have risen in sales by 25% and seem to be the real success story. UK retailers put increased sales in their shops as down to increased availability and saleability of graphic novels, and the increased desire for Marvel Comics.

We also heard that Hellboy trade paperbacks are to be licensed by Titan for distribution in the UK through bookstores and comic shops.

Com.X gave the most dramatic show – a mixture of multimedia, images, logos, breakdowns, pencils, all with quotes from the likes of Wizard, the Financial Times, Silver Bullet Comics and Erik Larsen and an energetic dance track exaggerating the beats and ticks in the video.

Announcing their audience as “anyone who goes to the cinema”, new books on the way include Josh Middleton’s stunning Sky Between Branches, Mike McMahon’s upcoming Heavy Plant, a mixture of Victoriana and giant fighting robots, Monkeyboy and Boosh and Babe Tool, as well as a Silent Hill graphic novel for Christmas.

Com.X have clearly impressed the British retailers and those who dismissed them a couple of years ago have eaten their words. Now, if only they could get that schedule sorted. They’ve stated that Puncture will be collected as soon as it’s been published, hopefully later this year.

Rebellion, owners of 2000AD appealed directly to the retailers, asking what they could do to improve sales in the stores. Since last year, they have improved retailer’s biggest concerns, the margins on the titles, but have failed to see a commensurate increase in sales.

There seems to be a dichotomy over who to aim 2000AD at – old readers who demand the return of the likes of Moore, Milligan, Morrison and Millar, Fabry, Talbot and the like, or brand new readers. Rebellion announced they were extending their promotional activity towards the skateboard crowd.

Rebellion confirmed that the first Zenith trade paperback had indeed been printed but was held up by legal issues. The rest of the convention clarified that this was over a misunderstanding between Rebellion and Grant Morrison over who owned the work – it transpires that Morrison never signed work for hire documents for Zenith and didn’t receive contracts that Rebellion were meant to send him.

So currently, Zenith Book One sits in a distribution warehouse rotting. Sort it out, guys!

With Patty Jeres on slides, DC VP of Marketing, Bob Wayne gave an entertaining presentation of DC’s upcoming product, that was fairly Marvel-dig-free. Is the old man mellowing?

League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen II got a lot of attention. We like it here. As for its schedule – artist Kev O’Neill gave up a free trip to San Diego Comicon 2002 so he could keep drawing the book. They want this on time, folks! DC Comics are also, against their normal policy, considering keeping the original LOEG series available in hardback as well as paperback.

The regular answer to whether Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Flex Mentallo will be collected received a new twist this year. Usually, it’s a simple “no” – but this year there was a fuller explanation, that DC could not comment, as part of the settlement.

It’s previously been reported that DC Comics *won* the court case against the estate of Charles Atlas – but this reply indicates that’s not exactly true, and that DC settled – presumably agreeing not to republish the book. Patty Jeres told the throng that she had her copies of the magical muscular mini-series caught in the rain and proceeded to dry them out, page by page, as she didn’t anticipate a collection…

DC reported that JLA/Avengers was not finished yet, but that every character is doing what the fans will want them to be doing – the series is full of in jokes as well as the classic debated clashed between characters.

Dark Knight Strikes Again #3… Bob Wayne asked how well that did for UK retailers. After getting the expected response he countered, “Really? Pat mustn’t have shipped it – ah well, you guys got the Elseworlds 80 Page Giant.” Pat’s response? He must have forgotten to order it for Diamond. Bob followed, saying that no one would have wanted a fill in – although Mike Carlin said he would have stepped up if he were called.

Bob showed off the upcoming Sophie and Promethea toys – “So you can live out your most perverse dreams.”

As for Wildstorm heavyweight Scott Dunbier’s absence this year, it was down to a knee operation. Bob said he’s thought about sending Dunbier by boat, but couldn’t get clearance through the Panama canal.

On Stormwatch #1, “This has had a very strong reaction at DC, it’s a very strong book, so I will underprint it – oh no, that’s the next guys’ speech.” And Catwoman Year One, was announced as being written “Before Chuck Dixon went into exile…” those were the only digs of DC’s show, folks!

When Marvel were ready (eventually), they were very quote heavy as they ran through their upcoming work – when they could remember which artists were working on which books, that is. Joe Quesada blamed Bill Rosemann for everything he couldn’t find in his notes. But there were a few otherwise unreported surprises.

“Darco Macan on Soldier X – All Croatian, All The Time” – Stuart Moore

“In order to research The Call, the creators went out on the streets with the services … they started fires, committed crimes, and watched what happened” – Joe Quesada

Black Cat – an old flame of Spider-Man. We’ve brought her back and given her bigger boobs” – Axel Alonso

Hood – it’s a light hearted book with incredible profanity” – Joe Quesada

Axel also confirmed that Marvel were in talks with Peter Bagge to create a themed-sequel to his Megalomaniacal Spider-Man, “something along the lines of Incorrigible Hulk.”

They also talked about Slap Leather, which is 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.

Joe Quesada told the retailers that Ash was still in consideration for a movie, but that his agent called him recently to tell him that Nicolas Cage was interested. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me…” he replied – Cage is currently seen as the death knell for all comic book movies.

And… well, I don’t know if this has been reported elsewhere, but Quesada named the title that he’s personally editing in competition with Bill Jemas’ The Marvel and Peter David’s Captain Marvel, as The Adventures Of Hank Kibble. Hmmm.

Appreciation of what Marvel have been doing was high among retailers, and Stephen Holland of Page 45 said that he was, “No longer embarrassed to sell Marvel comics to the over 12s” – and the presence of Marvel at a British convention for the first time in ten years went over really well. By not spending money at San Diego, they were able to do more here. Yay!

This Has A Rumour Value Of Anywhere From 5 To 9 Out Of 10. Your Mileage May Vary.

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Anyway, more titbits from the weekend.


Lowest Common Distributor

I understand that beleaguered distribution company, LPC, will close in July, owing a lot of money to a lot of people.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out of 10


A Man With Vision

The rights to Jamie Delano’s 2020 Visions, a creator-owned Vertigo miniseries, featuring the art of Frank Quitely, David Lloyd and Steve Pugh has reverted back to Delano. He has signed a deal to publish the book as a black-and-white trade paperback with a yet-unnamed publisher.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


The Origin Of Harry Knowles

Lookalike gags aside, Bob Wayne told us all about his first meeting with Harry Knowles. It involved a comic convention a while back and some severe weather. In fact a tornado was on its way, clearly visible outside the convention windows and heading in their direction. Everyone got indoors except for one small red haired child who ran out towards the tornado, hands waving and shouting “I want to go to Oz! I want to go to Oz!”

Beautiful, isn’t it?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Uneasy Lies The Head

Grant Morrison’s stage play Red King Rising is to be adapted as a comic for Vertigo. A possible artist is his collaborator on upcoming LeSexy, Cameron Stewart.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10


Think Of A Number

Michael Uslan and Peter Snejberg are behind a new Elseworlds series, Detective 27. Starring Bruce Wayne as the twenty-seventh detective in an elite organisation, look out for it next year.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Branching Out

Ashley Woods has signed up as designer and art director for comics magazine, Tripwire.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Cover Thumbnail

The cover to Dicks 2, the sequel to the current mini-series Bigger Dicks from Avatar, will feature a very familiar visual. Against a blue background, a dark silhouetted fist is raised… and gives the finger. The logo reads ‘DicKs 2’. Bob Wayne’s reaction? “The background colour is wrong…”

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Avatar Baby

Jacen Burroughs and Mike Wolfer of Strange Kiss, Dark Blue and more, have signed exclusively to Avatar.

William Christiansen, publisher of Avatar and their crop of comics featuring naked demonesses having sex with crucifixes, is a thoroughly nice chap, all round good egg, and whose comment on being taken by John McCrea to Bristol’s only strip bar was to comment that it was a bit “seedy.”

He also does a mean Spitfire impression when running down the hill.

This Has A Dakka Dakka Dakka Value Of 8 Of 10


Established Story

Establishment is officially cancelled from #13, as rumoured in All The Rage a while back. The last issue will tie in with the end-of-the-universe story that Alan Moore wrote a wee while back.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


On Board

Negotiations with Phil Hall’s benefactor, mentioned last week, seemed to go well. Hopefully we’ll see a revived Borderline soon.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10


Pizza Squashed

There was a vile rumour going round that Joe Quesada ordered two large pizzas at the Pizza on The Hill restaurant on the Friday and ate them both, gaining himself the nickname Joe “Two Pizzas” Quesada. I’d like to stop that vile rumour in its tracks. It seems it may have been started when Axel Alonso dared to order some garlic bread with his meal, but Quesada assures me he ordered and ate only one pizza for himself. So there.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 2 Pizzas Out Of 10


Four Moments To Treasure

Grant Morrison sheepishly realising that the hotel breakfast is a buffet, and no matter how long he sits at one of the tables, no-one is going to bring it to him.

Phil Hall’s face when his Borderline voting crew pushed him up to Number Six on the Lifetime Achievement vote at the Awards.

Dave ‘Watchmen‘ Gibbons being voted off his own team during The Weakest Link, thanks to a deft voting move by Antony Johnston.

Dez Skinn, when giving the award for Best Comic Ever, stating that the best comic ever was yet to be published. Some wag shouted out, “Dark Knight Strikes Again #3!”

This Has A Giggle Factor Of 8 Out Of 10


Hypothetically Speaking

A favourite of all the Bristol Comics Conventions so far has been Lee ‘Budgie’ Barnett and Dave ‘Watchmen‘ Gibbons’ Hypothetical panel, where comic celebs are taken from their present reality to Earth Dave where they have to play out hypothetical situations in the comic book industry there – made up of creators, editors, accountants, journalists and retailers. But time is always a constraint in shows like this, so here is a section of script there just wasn’t time for. You can imagine the responses?

      OK, turning away from crossovers, everyone’s sitting in their respective offices and studios one day when the television news breaks in with a newsflash: there’s been an earthquake in San Francisco. Initial reports put the injured in the tens of thousands with worse to come.

 

      Joe Quesada – A terrible event. Awful.

 

      As the initial shock is settling in, there’s an “Oh hell” as you realise that the crossover we spoke about a few minutes ago, which at this moment has been written, drawn with some of the books printed, but not yet distributed was an earthquake, hitting Battle Lord’s home city. This isn’t a couple of books with some minor damage. This is a massive crossover with huge repercussions for the Wonder Comics universe.

 

      Would you pull the entire line or even individual books? Will you be calling for the scripts to review them?

 

      John – you’re in the middle of drawing the final issue of the crossover. Would the real world events in America affect your work, if the order came down from Joe that the story is going ahead?

 

      Mike – you’ve written the crossover. Would you be worried about your work seeing print with this happening?

 

      Joe – would you be concerned about an accusation of “cashing in?”

 

      Budgie – would there be concern from the financial side of the business? If Joe pulled the storyline, would there be an increased cost to the company?

 

      Joe, back to you. After the initial shock, would Wonder Comics be thinking of doing a book together with fellow publishers to raise funds for the victims? What would *stop* you?

 

      Dez – someone suggests that comic book companies should give away stock to the thousands of children left homeless or injured. Would you expect companies to do this? How well or badly do comic book companies react to real world disasters, given how often fictional disasters happen every month in the books?

 

      Antony – if Wonder Comics came to you and asked you to participate in an emergency relief book at the same time that a book for Independent creators asked you, is there a reason you’d choose one over the other?

 

      Chris – would you expect to order heavily for an emergency relief book? Would you expect some types of books to sell better than others? Does quality actually matter with these books in the shop or will people buy them anyway?

 

    Budgie – as CFO, would you be telling Joe “no, that’s not in the budget, we can’t do that?”

The All The Rage panel also seemed to go very well. A few slightly strained gaps throughout were nicely filled by Dez Skinn and well timed audience contributions. As to what was said? Ah, well you had to be there really? but thanks to DC for the complimentary bullet beer mats we were able to hand out.

This Has A Panel Beating Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Corrections And Clarifications

From a couple of weeks ago, a story involving CrossGen, writers and people standing in corners. I understand that it’s a fan fabrication… disregard it as you would a worthless badger.

And from last weekend’s column, on SuperHeroNews, Peter David comments over the Shazam! revival rumour that he might be writing two Captain Marvels at once.

“I’ve no idea if the series is to be relaunched, but if it is, I have not been approached about it.”


Cereal Killer

Don’t make Hulk #41 lawyers angry. You wouldn’t like it when Hulk #41 lawyers are angry. They turn this…

Into this…

And a certain cereal manufacturer is satisfied.

This Has A Snap! Crackle! Pop! Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Those Damn Foreigners

Cable #105, set in Rio de Janeiro is said to have one of the more accurate portrayals of that area in US comics. Indeed, I understand that writer, Darco Macan, has been consulting with Brazilian writer/editor Ricardo Giassetti on the book. And that’s about all I understand – can anyone help me with a translation of this?

This Has A Panel Beating Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Grab Quotes And Fill

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/05/nyregion/05PROF.html


Shrink From The Masses

The recently announced Hollywood purchase of the Shrink concept from Rob Liefeld, starring Jennifer Lopez as a psychiatrist for superheroes, caused quite a bit of mainstream media hype through news services and the Howard Stern show. When the Hollywood Reporter printed URL to Spinnerrack who have hosted the Shrink trip, hits went ballistic and the site crashed. They’re not too happy?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10


Fairly Believable Breasts

Les Humanoides seem to be having a lot of fun with their Metal Hurlant Presents: Pin-Up Girls From Around The World by Fred Beltran. Something to do with his Megalex story in Metal Hurlant, All The Rage would like to deny it’s running this story and the pictures below in an attempt to get more hits. Don’t be stupid, you must be mad. Anyway, this comes out in July, 64 pages, painted, sixteen dollars. And I want a copy. I mean, if you are going to buy pictures of women in their underwear, at least buy intelligent pictures of women in their underwear.

This Has A Chest Size Of 36DD


May You Live In Chaotic Times

Earlier this week, Brian Denham, artist for Chaos Comics (and All The Rage Irregular) posted to the Chaos Message Board that he was leaving the company because he wasn’t getting paid and he had commitments to keep.

At least that’s what he appears to have said as the original post, and the thread it started, were deleted by board moderators.

Spinoff threads however remain, as some fans call for boycotts, others claim “My Chaos, Right Or Wrong” and it all turns into a freeforall. Other Chaos creators were soon brought in to give their point of view:

David Michael Beck, a Chaos creator stated, “I can honestly state that Chaos! has been upfront with me in regards to delay of payment on work I’ve produced for the company. I understand the situation and will work with them on this matter.”

Dan Jolley wrote, “I’m sticking around. Late payments or otherwise.”

John Ostrander added, “EVERY company in the biz goes through cash flow problems. Mighty Marvel went through some severe ones not so long ago. Other companies that I’ve worked with in the past and that I work with now have those problems. I continue to work with them if I believe they’ll work those problems out and that they’re dealing honestly with me.”

And Jesse McCann wrote, “Chaos! has always paid me, and if they happen to be a little late, with sincere apologies. When you go freelance, you have to save up for a rainy day. Otherwise, you’d be better off at a 9-5 job where you know when the check is coming.”

“Boycotting will not only hurt Chaos!, it will hurt the freelancers hired by Chaos!, too.”

All The Rage heard rumours about payment problems a few months ago, but were assured this was a very temporary thing. It appears it’s not quite as temporary as some thought.

No one at Chaos as of yet chose to respond to enquiries.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10


Cross Congratulations

Sources tell me that the CrossGen finally has a winner, with correct answers to all 20 questions that appeared in a copy of Wizard a fair while ago. With an original prize of $10,000, that was doubled when no one got all the questions right.

Well, they’ve got one now and I understand the winner will be announced at the San Diego Comicon.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out of 10


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