Whatever Happened To Miracleman?

It’s one for the FAQs… and its an issue that Dez Skinn, original publisher of the Alan Moore revamped version in Warrior Magazine, is going to address. Skinn publishes Comics International, a long running trade magazine for the comics industry. Its rumour column inspired me to be the rumour monger I now am, and I originated the Networks column that still runs in Comics International today.

So what does Dez have to say about the next issue? “Here’s the rundown on our year-ending extravaganza… with double the usual interior colour pages (36 out of 76 total):

“Mark Buckingham has given us the OK to publish pages of his (and Neil Gaiman’s) unpublished Miracleman – completely finished when Eclipse pulled the plug.” (See examples of these in a recent Silver Bullet Interview).

“We’ll also be featuring Marvelman art by Steve Dillon, Alan Davis and Paul Neary (never reprinted, thus never seen since 1982’s Warrior Summer Special!) with its fascinating glimpse into MM’s future, back when we had a different path planned (with the Warpsmiths et al), scripted by Alan Moore.”

“Plus an MM fact file with interesting (and previously unrevealed) stories about why the strip ceased in Warrior (no, it had nothing to do with Marvel), why neither DC nor Marvel wanted the story for the US, what happened with Eclipse, who owns it (!) plus lots more — and why we all compare it to the Superman TV series when talking about “The curse of Marvelman”.”

Good timing as well… with Todd MacFarlane issuing a Spawn/Miracleman poster by Ashley Wood and himself and used for the cover of this very special issue of Comics International, it’s time when everyone with an interest in the character should start staking their claim.

I hear that Todd McFarlane Productions claim they own 85 percent of the rights, with Neil Gaiman on 15 percent. As it stands, this means TMP believe they own the rights to publish Miracleman as a comic – including past issues, which directly contradicts received wisdom from other involved parties. The rumour continues, stating that the film of the original stories was bought at the same auction where Todd bought the rights to Eclipse by a small Canadian publisher. This publisher is insisting that Todd must buy the film from them, and there’s a standstill in the negotiation.

This is particularly interesting to me, because previously, this is where I believe the ownership of the character to lie…

Writing copyright and artistic copyright of published issues jointly owned by the writer, artists and original publisher. Alan Davis sold his 1/3 interest in the character to Eclipse. Skinn sold his 1/3 to Eclipse. Eclipse bought by Todd McFarlane. Alan Moore gave his 1/3 to Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman split this between himself and Mark Buckingham. Later, Mark sold this back to Neil.

The questions are… what did Eclipse own? Did any rights revert back to Skinn? How did Skinn acquire the rights to Marvelman originally? What claim does the estate of Marvelman creator Mick Anglo have?

I’m looking forward to these and more questions being resolved.

To get your copy of this very special issue of Comics International, it’s issue 128 and the Diamond order code is: 20001244429-00 with #128 shipping in December. Your retailer will be able to make an Advance Reorder on the issue. Supplies are, naturally, limited but UK shops are seeing an overship for this issue, up to 50% of initial orders.

Those of you with incompetent retailers or distributors can also order single copies:
UK: ?1.75 (1st class) ?1.50 (2nd class)
Europe & Eire: ?2.00 (airmail only)
USA & Canada: $5.00 US (air); $3.50 (sea)
Australasia/Asia: ?3.50 (air); ?2 (sea)

Send the correct amount to:
Comics International
8 Trinity Road
N2 8JJ

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Man Of Words

A source tells me “A little bird tells me that Mark Millar’s new job at Marvel, which Warren Ellis has said is ‘not what people are expecting’, might be something to do with novelisations. Possibly as editor of a Marvel novel line.”

This could be a confusion due to a more solid rumour that the Ultimate line is being novelized and Millar may an involvement with that. But then again, he could be the chap in charge.

If it’s true, you read it here first. If not, you saw it on Newsarama.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 4 Out Of 10

Homeless: Will Work For Visas

Mark Millar sent a note to the pro-community telling everyone that he and Frank Quitely were off to the USA, house hunting. They’re looking round California, popping in to the Wildstorm offices, then nipping off to New York to meet the Marvel guys before coming home later next week.

Both are moving to the USA full-time, so if any unscrupulous real estate dealers in California are reading, there’s a couple of green Scots fellows just waiting for you to take their money off them…

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10

Round Robin

At Dixonverse, the fans there voted that there should be more stories with the Jason Todd version of Robin, and less of the emphasis on Dick Grayson.

Chuck Dixon replied “I concur. There is a deep “inside” reason why we don’t see more Jason Todd stories. But that will probably change in coming months.”

Speculation arose that this could be due to Denny O’Neill leaving the Batbooks, since Denny was responsible for Jason’s death in the first place.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10

Pulped Friction

After the Mad Marvel Pulpers story and subsequent firing of Al Milgrom, first reported by this column, was reprinted on P. Craig Russell’s Message Board (without a decent rumour warning first… I’m a little peeved about that), Russell had his own comment to make. This has already been posted on a number of message boards, but it could do with a good airing here…

He says “Well, I talked to Al Milgrom today. Called him this afternoon and he confirmed pretty much of what has been reported on this board with one VERY interesting addition. His little bit of Graphitti was caught BEFORE publication of the book and after profuse Mea Culpas was sent to production to be corrected according to Al. Call it the perversities of the computer age where once something is put on disc it seems to take on a life of its own but due to an unnamed person in the creative hierarchy who preferred the original coloring (apparently some coloring changes were made in addition to the corrections) the first disc was sent out instead. It’s all about communication, as I recently found out when I had a Valkyrie cover recolored but the original got printed instead due to a screwup I gave up on figuring out (many fingers were pointed). Anyway, once the book was printed it gave a perfect excuse to those in power to terminate Al’s contract without having to give him his severance pay which would have been in the tens of thousands. This at a time when he’s got a kid going off to college and as he said ‘I have more expenses than I’ve ever had in my life and I’m making less money than ever before’.”

“The capper is he says Marvel has told him he can freelance for them with a percentage taken out to pay for the cost of pulping the book. I guess this means if I do a book for them and print giant profanities all over it and they’re foolish and incompetent enough to print it, knowing its undistributable, I’m responsible for their expenses. Oy! As Al kept repeating, it was a stupid thing to do and the regrets are constant but it seems so typical of corporate power to want to really stick it to someone who is not entirely responsible for the screw up. Al says he has known for some time that he was on the way out and this was the perfect out for Marvel. The added irony is that for 30 years he has filled the function of the ‘good soldier’, a man who could be called on to ink a book in a weekend or eight pages overnight when someone else missed their deadlines.”

“The reputation for being a hack that has resulted (you try inking 8 pages overnight and see how good you look) belies his ability to do really sensitive inking when given quality pencils and the same time frame as anyone else. I remember several pages he inked of Mike Kaluta’s pencils and how excellent they were. I told him so at the time and he said “Hey, thanks, people have been coming up to me at Marvel all week and saying the same thing…I just wish they wouldn’t sound so surprised”.

Glenn Barbis who posted Russell’s response on a number of boards, also reposted a response from Marvel EIC Joe Quesada, who replied “Hey, folks, although I really don’t want to get into the sordid ridiculous details of this thing, let me make one thing clear, Al can still work at Marvel. That was the compromise that I, along with Bill J’s help, came to with the guys upstairs. He was a contract employee, what he did violated that contract so he was terminated. Now just because Al no longer has a contract with Marvel does not mean he cannot freelance. I went down editors row and informed all of my editors of this and all are aware that Al is still welcomed to ink for Marvel. What happened really sucked on a multitude of different levels so I guess that’s why I would rather put it behind us.”

Not letting people put it behind them quite yet are the merchants on Ebay. Follow the sale of this ever-rarer comic here and here.

Otto Chelmen on the Comicon message board also offered up a bit of insight “I’ll point out that Milgrom (or his backgrounder) has done this sort of thing before. I remember a DC job 20+ years ago where the books in the background spelled out, “boy, this story sucks.””

And congratulations to all of you who gave the correct spelling for the bookshelf graffiti in Universe X Special: Spidey – it read “Harras, ha ha, he’s gone! Good riddance to bad rubbish, he was a nasty S.O.B.””

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Joe? No.

I hear that a certain someone at Dark Horse has been alleging that the source for certain recent stories about Dark Horse was Oni publisher, Joe Nozemack.

Wrong, wrong and thrice wrong. Joe hasn’t been a source for this, or any stories. Shame really, I bet he’s got some great tales to tell too.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 10 Out Of 10. You Think I’d Know, After All…

Coveting Coven

Awesome’s licensing of Coven to Avatar, shortly after Avengelyne had also made the jump caught some people by surprise. Some had presumed it was a creator owned title, some had heard there was bad feeling toward Liefeld from Churchill and some didn’t appreciate the new publisher.

The following message was posted to the AAO2 private egroups forum, which describes itself as “The Awesome meeting place. A forum to discuss the fanzine Supreme, Awesome Army Outpost, and all other Awesome comics. I have had no luck in contacting Ian Churchill and I request that you remember the Rumour Barrier that every reader passes through before reading the column. Do not repeat the following as fact, use your own judgement and bear in mind the politics of spin.

Despite the header, this message was passed on to me by a number of individuals and seems to be going around. Originally posted on the egroup by jimawesome@aol.com on Friday 8th December, it purports to be from Rob Liefeld:


AAO Group,

Let me address some concerns and opinions you might have. First off, The Coven was by no means the Awesome’s flagship title, that would be Supreme and Youngblood. Coven sales were always challenging despite the excellent efforts by Loeb and Churchill. As for loyalty to the comic, its creator, Ian Churchill has not been loyal to the title so I see absolutely no reason to give it special attention. After paying him over $10,000.00 per issue for 4 years, Ian has gone awol and has made no attempt to complete his contract with Awesome/Ripley Inc. Keep in mind he made around $4000.00 per issue at Marvel pre-Awesome and despite the sagging Coven sales and his reluctance to listen to any input from our staff, we continued to pay him the top rate in the industry totalling payment over $250,000.00 for the past 4 years. Do you know how many artists would kill for that paycheck? He has chosen to turn his back on the company that made him rich and has broken his contract with Awesome, a situation that will resolve itself in the very near future.

In regards to Avatar, they have approached a property that I have no immediate plans for with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm. I have seen the entire Al Rio issue and am very impressed. Rio elevated his already exciting pencils to a new level with his first issue, Coven fans should be very pleased. As to your rush to judgement with Avatar, they are attempting to broaden their audience and are being very aggressive in their efforts to aquire existing licences and should be applauded for their vigor in an otherwise depressed marketplace. William is very enthusiastic and is doing a great job assembling talent on these projects. The Dave Finch cover is stunning and just the tip of the iceberg according to Avatar. I have enjoyed the Avengelyne issues so far and look forward to more great efforts from Avatar.

Awesome has a vast library of over 500 characters, we cannot and would not choose to publish all of our titles in the current tumultuous marketplace. Do not kid yourself, the industry is suffering terribly! The honest members of the big 2 companies will concede that this is a trying time for publishers. The numbers continue to sink. Avatar is a good home for Avengelyne and Coven, if you don’t care for their other books, don’t by them. I certainly don’t support the vast majority of Dark Horse, Image and Marvel comics, that doesn’t affect my enthusiasm for the titles I favor, don’t let it affect yours.

There have been recent rumours that I’ve received over the weeks that tie in with the above, although I have had no luck verifying them.

One states that “Ian Churchill has not been getting any of his original art back, and is majorly pissed at Rob. The only reason he still works with Rob is a hope that he can get back the rights to Coven.” If true, that didn’t work out, obviously. Another rumour states that Ian Churchill has returned back to the UK and is involved in legal action over Coven and Coven artwork.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10

Spanish Ears

I hear from a Spanish source that in a radio interview with Chris Claremont, he stated that his new non-continuity series would star Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Bishop, Beast and Thunderbird and that artist Larroca is making new designs for them. The radio interview is said to have continued, saying that Claremont doesn’t know when is his new FF special, penciled by Ferry, going to be ready, because Ferry’s very busy with Superboy and has the project on the back burner.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10

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