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Ramblings – 15th February 1998

This is a reprint of the earliest web-version of the comics industry gossip, rumour, and reportage column by Rich Johnston. Complete with mistakes, incorrect assumptions and dead links.

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: 15 Feb 1998

Stormwatch is cancelled as of issue 11. The Wildstorm/Image book began as a spinoff of Jim Lee's WildCATS, telling the story of a UN-sanctioned international superhero action group, intervening in society when and where needed. The appointment of Warren Ellis as writer a few years ago saw the flagging book dramatically change focus as a darker, conspiracy heavy book. The cancellation of Stormwatch's first volume on issue 1 and its reintroduction as vol 2 was menat to form a break from the previous run and give readers a jumping on point. A trade paperback of Ellis' earlier titles was also cancelled due to low order.

Despite disappointing sales, due mostly to the falling comic book marketplace, Ellis' Stormwatch has received much critical acclaim. Its unique take on the concept of a world superhero agency has won much praise, especially the use of hard nosed characters, moral dilemma ane world politics realism.

The final issue will see all the cast being killed as Stormwatch goes out with a bang.

Chasing Kevin

We've all heard that Kevin Smith is writing the new Green Arrow film. However, it looks likely that the people at Warner behind the project won't be there when it is time for production decisions, so the future of the film is on rocky ground. However, Smith is writing a Green Arrow mini series for DC. He is also working on a Mage film with Matt Wagner, as well as the already CBI Newsarama-confirmed Daredevil for Event/Marvel. His Oni work continues with artist Duncan Fegredo, writing a Jay and Silent Bob mini series.

Morrison Moves

The CBI Newsarama-confirmed story about Grant Morrison's exclusive-to-DC contract takes another turn as it emerges that Morrison is moving to New York. This is not meant to be a permanent thing, but Mark Millar is not expected to join him.

The writing team on Vampirella will end with Morrison's new contract. 12 issues have been written and poltted by the team, and some writing assists will be brought in. Millar has a few other Harris projects on the go as well. And as for that issue 1 advert with Mark and Grant's beaming features. Mark says that they asked for a close up of a couple of tits for the ad… and that's exactly what they got! But Mark's new found joy is as the regular writer of Adventures Of Superman, the animation based series. He's also due to finish work on a baby, shipping this summer if all goes well. And can we hear the word "thwip" in the air?

Tightening Utility Belts

Diamond are issuing a number of "warnings" to publishers over the profitability of titles, and these seem aimed mostly at magazines. Could we be looking at a much greater adherance to Diamond's $1000 rule? Currently Diamond insist that every title or product they solicit must bring in a gross revenue of $1000. A reasonable demand, considering that Diamond keep between $100 and $200 of that, which has to cover shipping costs, phone calls, faxes, invoices, and the printing of Previews. However, with the state of the market, the majority of titles fall below this. Diamond ignore the $1000 rule for most titles, unless they have a reason not to. If Diamond wish not to carry a title, perhaps it may be libellous, pornographic or critical of Diamond, they can invoke the $1000 rule.

But if the $1000 rule is now being invoked for purely commercial reasons, then we can expect to lose the huge majority of the books in the Comics section of Previews, as well as the Magazine section. Previews will then consist of the big five, the 'mainstream' indie companies (Awesome, Sirius, etc), a few of the bigger alternative indie companies (Fantagraphics), the breast companies, a few high profile self publishers and that's about it.

All bad news? No, there will still be demand for those titles, so in steps Cold Cut, Syco, Red Route and others. Some shops have found profitability in ordering direct from publishers. With moves at Image and perhaps Awesome to move away from exclusive distribution deals (Entertainment Distributors anyone), expect to see some distributor changes this year.

Assorted stuff

Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer's Supergirl story will no longer appear in Supergirl Adventures, but in the 64 pager Superman Adventures 21.

Mark Buckingham will be expanding his role on Shadow Of The Bat. As well as staying on Shadow past his first promised year, his work will be appearing in other Bat titles and will be creating villians for the new Batquake arc.

No Amalgam titles for 98. Ahhh.

Just how has Stardust been selling? News appears that sales of issue 1 were well below the high amount printed. Issue 2 has been worse. Hmmmm. Perhaps the appeal of a non-comic to a comic audience has been severely understimated. A TPB for Flex Mentallo… interesting. The thing is, issues of Flex Mentallo the comic sold really badly. I mean REALLY badly. Gorgeous book, wonderfully written, beautifully drawn, these things happen. Apparently, even Morrison wasn't quite aware of how many issues were ordered of the later issues. We're talking below-Milestone levels here. Look's like Morrison's pull can turn one of his past flops into an expected success. When will Marvel reprint his Zoids strips??

And Darkness 11 sits on the shelf.

Gary Groth vs Don Thompson was one of the great eighties and nineties fights before Don's passing. But Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Journal) and Maggie Thompson (CBG) seem to get on famously.

Chris Bachalo seems restless with Uncanny X-Men. He's made his money, now what can he do? Look for a creator owned project from him in the near future.

You've got to feel sorry for Riot magazine. Issue 2 was sent up to Canada by the printers by mistake and retrieving it is proving impossible.

So just what was going on in a hotel room at the GlasCAC a few years ago? A four way orgy with the best of male writers, editors and a part time journalist who really doesn't want his girlfriend to find out? Poppers or no poppers…

The Second National Comics Awards

Netexclusively on Ramblings 98 and Twist And Shout Online, we present the Second National Comics Awards. To be presented at the UKCAC on the 21st March 1998 in the Weston Theatre, it promises to be a star studded evening with celebrities from stage, tv, film and radio on hand to present awards to the nation's favourite medium, comics!

And you can vote! Simply fill in the list below and send it to
National Comics Awards, PO Box 48, Clevbedon, Bristol BS21 7LQ.

Tickets for the night are £4.50 advance, make cheques payable to National Comics Awards. A special fifty pence vote for The Best Comic In The World… Ever! will raise money for Childline. Registered Charity No 1003758.

And now… the categories

  • Best Writer (sponsored by Comics Warehouse)
  • Best Artist (sponsored by Comics Warehouse)
  • Best Comic (British) (sponsored by Comic Book Postal Auctions)
  • Comics International Award for Best Comic (International)
  • SFX Award for Best Character (sponsored by SFX)
  • SFX Award for New Comic of 1997 (British) )
  • New Comic of 1997 (International) (sponsored by Comics International)
  • The Wiltshire (Bristol) Award for Best Self Published/Independent
  • Most Missed Character, Strip Or Comic
  • Diamond Star System Award for Best comic based Film/TV
  • The Avon Imaging Award for Best Supporting Character
  • Best Individual Story of 1997 (sponsored by Tripwire magazine)
  • The Dimaond Previews Award for Best Specialist Comics Publication
  • Best Newspaper Strip
  • The Cartoon Art Trust presentation of the Roll Of Honoue (for outstanding acheivement)
  • Special Category: The Best Comic In The World… Ever (50p)

You can also vote by e-mailing the Ramblings '98 at our regular address,

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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