The Panel

Next weekend it’s the British comic convention, Comics 2002 in sunny Bristol. On Sunday at 12.30 is the long anticipated All The Rage Live! Panel, featuring a host of never-revealed gossip and rumour, blind items unveiled, an all-weekend question box, rumour generators and, Bob willing, The Patty Jeres Stare-O-Meter (patent pending). Marcia Allas, editor-in-chief will be heading up the bouncer team in case any comic pros get unruly. Or refuse to share gossip.

The absence of Cool Beans World will no doubt be a talking point, but I hear that organiser Kev Sutherland is rustling up some solid replacements, especially for the portfolio reviews. I even hear Marvel Comics will have a booth. Which, you know, is more than they’ll have at San Diego.

I’ll be around all weekend and contactable on 0780 1350982. Write that number down now in case you forget.

Another unmissable panel is Hypotheticals III, run be Lee Barnett and Dave Gibbons, where illuminati form the world of comics discuss events that might take place in an alternate world of comics publishing on Earth Dave.

Read more about Comics 2002 here.

This Has A Rabble Value Of 9 Out Of 10

Eh, Readers?

Last year’s National Comics Awards at Comics 2001 were noted for being a tad 2000AD friendly. Hardly a surprise since it stills sells 30,000 a week in the UK, and happened to be the only comic carrying the award ballot?

This year, it should be a very interesting spread, as a number of company websites have carried the form. 2000AD, of course, DC Comics and? The Dandy and Beanotown, websites of The Dandy And The Beano – two of Britain’s most popular and longest running comics. This could be fun – imagine the faces of hundreds of superhero comic fans and publishers when a couple of kids’ weeklies wipe the board.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Dour Devil

Found this in my inbox this week. Thought I’d share.

This Has A Shame Value Of 6 Out Of 10

Two Tier Treatment

Regarding the new Marvel contract I reported on last week, giving clarified rights over ownership, lifetime payments and other issues that had caused creators to postpone signing, or even not to work for Marvel at all – I’m now told that this is a “Harris Miller” contract. That only creators represented by Miller will get to sign this contract and they must request it specifically. Other creators choosing to represent themselves get a bog-standard less-attractive contract.

Looks like those recently-reported talks about unionising in the comic industry may be stepping up a notch?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10

Kruger Versus Cockrum

Over on the X-Fan Message Boards, Dave Cockrum (co-creator and protector of Nightcrawler) wrote in response to a question about the retconning of Nightcrawler in the Earth X series as becoming the X-Men villain Belasco, and then travelling back in time to relive that role. Dave Cockrum wasn’t too keen on this.

He writes:

    “Bulls**t. Kurt is *NOT*, I repeat *NOT* Belasco, despite what some moronic nincompoop has written in the latter day crap.”

Jim Kruger’s response was a tad more diplomatic.

    “This is a message to Dave, an artist whose work I have admired for a very long time.

“First of all, don’t be so formal. Just call me ‘poop.’

“Second of all, the idea of having Kurt become Belasco was not one with the desire to screw up a perfectly good character. I love Nightcrawler. He’s a favorite. My first story was a solo Kurt story in Excalibur #75, a back-up drawn by Tim Sale.

“The idea to make him Belasco was not one designed to discredit him, but to take the idea of him and what defines him further.

“Kurt, more than most X-Men, is a character more affected by the prejuudice of mutant bigotry than others. He does look like a Demon. The idea of this is no more evident than in his first appearance (and scariest as far as bigotry is concerned) when an entire town was set on killing him (maybe even burning him).

“Now, the idea of having Kurt become Belasco came out of looking hard at continuity and asking if it works. In Limbo, we saw Storm become old, a demonic Kurt, a slain Colossus, a demon Kitty Pryde and etc.

“But, more than just continuity, the idea of this transformation came out of looking at bigotry and accepting that those we treat with prejudice and cruelty often become the very things we label them to be.

“For me, Nightcrawler is an X-Man. And him becoming a demon is a cold reminder to the rest of us that fear and hatred produce characters to be feared and hated. That is the cost of bigotry. That is the way it bites us back.

“We must be careful that we do not take good men and make them evil out of our ignorance. Or so the story I am telling goes.

“Kurt’s story is not over. But the problem of his becoming Belasco will not have a simple quick solution. I hope this does not cause you reason to be alarmed. I understand this is a character you designed and you had the original intention for what and who he should be.

“And for that, I’m sorry I haven’t followed the original intent.

“But I’m not sorry for seeing so much richness and depth in the character you created.

“With respect.”

But Dave wasn’t moved. He replied:

    “If you’ve ever read any in-depth interview with me, you’ll have seen that I originally created Nightcrawler to be a demon, but dropped the idea when Jack Kirby introduced his demon, Etrigan. When we took Kurt in the direction of swashbucking gallant–against Len Wein’s wishes, who wanted him to be a bitter monster–Kurt came to life for me, and I totally rejected the demonic notion. Nightcrawler will never, never, NEVER be a demon. The thing I hate the most is that you’re saying Kurt has been lying to the X-Men and to us, the readers, about who he is all these years. I refuse to accept your concept, and as far as I’m concerned your stories belong in ‘What If’.”

This Has A Bamf Value Of 8 Out Of 10

Ink Capability

A question being passed round a number of comics process bods of late goes, “Is The Ultimates being digitally inked?”

Digital inking takes tight pencil art and converts it into “inked” art using a computer, rather than the laborious work of a dedicated inker, and has been an industry topic of discussion for a while – especially how if affects working inkers and quality control. This has brought some negative publicity, but Marvel have expressed an interest in experimenting with it further. Could The Ultimates be that experiment – without telling anyone and avoiding the bad press it could generate?

One source passed on what they saw as hallmark inconsistencies with the digital inking process in The Ultimates – thin lines break up towards the end as they come to a point. Long curved lines that would be smooth when traditionally inked have little bumps and balls in them. Clumped up lines where there should be detail. Random specks where the computer has mistaken dust marks for pencil dots. And a lack of ink splatter or white out lines – traditional inker “tricks”.

However, Bryan Hitch’s website shows fully inked pages for sale for the books in question. Hitch confirmed it’s not digitally inked, citing problems mentioned as mostly down to fine inking being pixellated and Hitch inking small parts of his own work in a different style.

He writes, “What some people fail to realise is that comics are all produced digitally. Whether you ink or draw directly onto the computer screen or on artboard, the finished result is always a digital file, either scanned in or created in that format directly. The colouring and lettering are produced digitally. The finished magazine is printed from a digital file. Some inconsistencies arise because the original scan may be 800dpi, but the print is 350dpi (or 400 at a push) meaning some degradation occurs. Sometimes fine lines drop out, sometimes they pixilate. Bad reproduction has been a problem since the old letterpress days, this is just the digital variation on a traditional theme.”

This Has A Rumour Value Of 2 Out of 10

Wet Ware

I hear that Aquaman is to be revived by DC Comics. At the E3 games convention, TDK were showing off the Aquaman console game and told attendees that the comic would be back soon, to coincide with the game’s release.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10

Wall Crawlers?

I hear that both Ian Edginton and D’Israeli are planning a trip to the Cool Beans offices (what’s left of them) to try and reclaim their artwork before the receiver sells it at car boot sale prices.

In days of old, Wally Wood abseiled up a building to break into an office to get his originals from an uncooperative publisher. Will history repeat itself? Come on Ian, get that grappling hook out.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Happiest Days Of Your Life

Here’s a story I heard:

    A writer is visiting the CrossGen compound. He’s sitting in big bossman Mark Alessi’s office with Ian Feller, CrossGen’s Director Of Corporate Communications. They’re waiting for Alessi to show up. A fax comes over the line. The writer asks Ian if he can see it… it’s a list detailing retailers orders for the CrossGen books that month. Ian says sure. The writer looks at it. Alessi walks in and yells, “How the fuck did you get that?!” The writer points to Ian. Alessi points to the corner, saying “Ian, the corner. Now!” And Ian goes and stands in the corner… like he’s in grade school. And then Alessi and the writer leave the office… and Ian has to stay there, looking at the corner.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 3 Out Of 10

As Much As Meets The Eye

There has been a prevalent rumour over the last few weeks that Diamond and Dreamwave have some kind of deal – that Diamond helped Dreamwave set up shop away from Image, and in return for hype and over-buying Transformers to give the book higher profile in the marketplace, get an extra percentage of the profits. Evidence cited includes certain retailers reporting that they order less Transformers than seems to be reflected in the overall figures.

Employees from both Diamond and Dreamwave deny this rumour wholeheartedly. That Dreamwave is treated just like any another publisher, albeit it one with a very high selling book and that any rumours to the contrary are being used to discredit this new publisher who is suddenly beating the others month after month – indeed, Transformers #3 is due to take the top place on the Diamond lists, above the new Kevin Smith Black Cat series.

As for certain retailers finding their orders out of whack with the industry as a whole, this may also be due to certain pop culture stores ordering very heavily on Transformers for their fan customer base, differing to the traditional comic store demographic.

This Has A Rumour Vale Of 2 Out Of 10

Paper Trail

Following the reported collapse of Sheffield-based Cool Beans World last week, it appears that there has been no petition for bankruptcy in the high court yet and Companies House Registry lists Cool-Beans Productions as still being active, which might give people cause not to be concerned.

But Cool Beans Productions Ltd used to be known as Wakeco [105] Ltd until it changed its name in 1996. Funnily enough, there’s another company named Wakeco (this time Wakeco 180) Ltd based in Sheffield which in 1994 changed its name to Cool Beans Trustees Ltd, also in Sheffield. I understand that Cool Beans Trustees are currently in the process of being thrown off the companies list, which means they will have to cease trading.

I understand Cool Beans Productions owe creditors ?1.8 million.

Anyone able to translate any of this? Me, I just need an aspirin.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10

Borderline Treatment

As to the future of CoolBeans-sponsored international on-line magazine Borderline, I understand that Phil Hall is indeed talking to new funders – one of whom has paid for his hotel bills at Comics 2002.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10

Stray Creator

Schwarzer Turm, the German publisher of David Lapham’s Stray Bullets is in a bit of a pickle. Dark Horse does the foreign licensing for Lapham but (so the story goes) will stop doing that because they can’t get in contact with Lapham with no responses from him to e-mail, fax, calls – and the German publisher can’t contact him either…

Can anyone help out?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10

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