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Ramblings – 22nd September 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: 22 September 1998

The DC deal with Wildstorm has had some repercussions… the America's Best Comics line written by Alan Moore has been postponed until April 1999.

Already confirmed by Mania, JH Williams' appointment as artist on Promethea, Moore's Wonder Woman/Glory twistaround series has resolved his imminent schedule. Previously he was due to work on a Wolverine one shot for Marvel but during discussions, his page rate was repeatedly dropped by Marvel, backing down on an agreed price.

Previous to Promethea being on the table, Williams had been offered both Swamp Thing and Flash by DC Comics. But the lure of Alan Moore is understandable.

Dateline: 21 September 1998

Who's writing comics these days?

When defending Alan Davis' recent output on Usenet, Robin Riggs added to the list "the uncredited writing he had to do to pull the FF issues into shape."

In Chris Bachalo's recent rant on AOL, (as well as suggesting Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell and Joe Casey as upcoming X-writers, and declaring that Marvel have only been giving him a week to draw each issue of Uncanny X-Men), when asked "Is Mark Powers (X-Men editor) going to be the permanent writer for X-Men? LOL" Bachalo replied "Don't LOL, it could happen – as I heard Mark already writes half the book – just ask Steve (Seagal)"

So don't worry when your favourite creator is removed from a book… they probably haven't even touched it for months!

2000 AM

Before Alan Moore was the superstar of American comics he is today, he was the superstar of British comics. While you may be familiar with Marvelman, V For Vendetta and possibly Bojeffries Saga, for Warrior, Moore also worked on a slew of short stories (Time Twisters and Future Schocks) for British sci-fi comics weekly, 2000AD as well as series such as DR and Quinch, The Ballad of Halo Jones, Skizz and more.

Over on the 2000AD website, editor David Bishop has been talking about the possibility of more Moore. "Actually, 2000 AD has approached Alan Moore in the last week. When asked why it would take to persuade him to write new stories featuring Halo Jones, DR and the rest, he said he wanted the copyrights back in all the material he co-created. Sadly, our company's corporate policy precludes this ever happening."

"Short answer: don't hold your breath awaiting the return of Alan Moore to the pages of 2000 AD."

Of course, official policy could change if enough people wrote to Egmont Fleetway (publishers) to request such a transferal of rights… even lawyers can be persuaded by public opinion.

Dateline: 16 September 1998

What The Hell Are Marvel Up To?

It staggers sense, it really does.

Okay, we previously reported the possibility of the X-books going under radical changes and rebooting from issue 1. This was denied by Joe Kelly, but now Joe Kelly and Steven Seagal have left the X-books over 'creative differences'. the usual reason anyone decent leaves the X-books. Hell, with the money they bring in, it can be the only reason.

So who will be the new creative team? Well, Claremont's return is well documented, his ties with Marvel and Bob Harass are strengthening. But now we hear, after Todd McFarlane's declaration that he wants to move back to doing 'mainstream' comics, that he might join the books.

Okay, this is an odd one, but most everything the Image founders have been getting up to is odd. More as we have it.

Dateline: 12 September 1998

Marvel Misery

The hand of fate tears through Marvel again and more books look like they may be for thc chopping block. The current underperformers are X-Man, Thunderbolts, A-Next, J2 and Cable.

The word is still that market share is being sacrificed for profitability-per-title. as this is what the new owner/organisers look at. Remember- these books, and the already-cancelled books are/were making money for Marvel. Just not enough. And in the case of X-Man and Cable, they aren't making enough for X-books.

So back to Deadpool… thankfully it's not linked to the X-books so it only has to compete with Marvel Universe books. Still, it looks like it's about to be the lowest selling Marvel superhero book, which is bad news.

It's still not too late. If you've never bought Deadpool, order it now. It is quite simply the best book Marvel are publishing and guaranteed to be loved by people who enjoy Hitman, Quantum And Woody, that kind of thing. Mind you, we all know what kind of sales they get…

Dateline: 9 September 1998

Mania not dead

We've heard from two Mania columnists that Mania is going to continue. It is not dead. Writers have been asked to resume work.

We'll let you know more about this soon as we can, but definitely wanted to make it clear that Mania lives.

(And, just to make things clear amongst some folks accusing us of gloating — though we don't like some of Another Universe's policies, we'd hardly like to see AU go away. We need as many retailers out there as we can get, even if they don't carry many indies–they keep people interested enough in comics that they might pick up an X-Flies somewhere along the way. Same thing about Mania — if it went away, we'd hardly be happy about it — we like Newsarama and would be very sorry to see it go.)

Dateline: 8 September 1998


Daredevil 1 has had over 100,000 advance orders. That puts it in the top Marvel echelons and is a great 'mainstream' debut for Kevin Smith.

Bumped into David Bishop, 2000AD editor and all round top Kiwi, on Sunday night on the train. I was heading home after doing some household shopping, he'd been working all weekend on the 2000 AD American On-Line site, going online this week. Check it out if you can.

Mania is existing in drips and drabs. Mike Doran has said he's going to keep writing Mania, though it looks like he isn't getting paid. It looks like he'll come to a more permanent decision soon.

Alan Moore will spill his guts on the DC/Wildstorm buyout in Tripwire Special A, listed in this month's Previews in the magazine section, along with two other top issues. Ramblings has been offered extracts closer to shipping date, so pop back here shortly. For the full picture, bug your retailer to put aside a Tripwire sharpish!

A Mania Moment

Mania, the on-line comics magazine/sales tool for Another Universe is no longer being updated and all writers have been asked to stop work. While Another Universe have said that they are looking to revive Mania, this story may tie into the rumoured financial problems of Another Universe, previously reported on this column.

Ramblings makes the offer to any stranded Mania writers that we'd like to publish anything they'd already written until Mania is up and running again. We won't be able to pay you in cash, but we'll certainly slip some Dirtbags and X-Flies your way. It's the least we can do.

Dateline: 6 September 1998

Ramblings – 22nd September 1998Dreaming again

Jenni Gregory's acclaimed series Dreamwalker has moved to Avatar Press, and Volume 3 is about to kick off in November with a zero-numbered issue. This issue is intended to serve as a jumping-on point for the series, recapping the events of the previous 11 issues from the viewpoint of the Mrs. Tobias character.

While it may seem strange that Dreamwalker has landed at Avatar, home of Snowman, Pandora, and various and sundry books with nude variant covers, there's a pretty reasonable explanation: Barry Gregory, Avatar's managing editor, is Jenni's husband, and an indispensible part of the book's success, with his gorgeous coloring, editorial help and design input. Dreamwalker is the first of several additions planned to diversify the Avatar line.

Hopefully Dreamwalker will get the attention it deserves in this new go-round, after 5 self-published issues and 6 issues at Caliber. Dreamwalker was part of the ill-fated Tapestry experiment, but survived the demise of that line. It's a testament to this book's quality that it has survived through so many bumps in the road — all the folks who have started swooning over Carla Speed McNeil's Finder would do well to check this one out. Both books serve up their artwork with a flair and deliver stories of the extraordinary with realistic well-grounded characters and dialogue.

Dreamwalker 0 is listed on page 208 of the September Previews. Item number is SEP981074.

Dateline: 5 September 1998

Minor Storm

Scott Dunbier of Wildstorm has a little problem with something we posted earlier on Ramblings '98, claiming that Wildstorm creators were asked to keep quiet about ongoing discussions. He posted a one word e-mail to us, saying "False".

We appreciate Scott's clarification, but add this message from Grayshirt artist, Rick Veitch.

"Bradley mentioned that a story about some sort of accomodations for folks like me and Alan who won't touch DC with a ten foot pole had made it onto the usenet and I can confirm that something along those lines is in the works. I am in the bizarro position of having to swear to secrecy to find out about my own future, so even though I'm unhappy about how this whole mess is progressing, I can't be as open as I'd love to be about it."

We leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Dateline: 4 September 1998

End Of The Universe?

Away from all the rumours about publishers, and distributors, here's a retailer rumour.

A post on Usenet by said "This is a rumor, but based upon facts which I believe are true. Today, two retailer friends fo mine who pick up comics from Diamond stated that they saw comics there which were labeled as going to Another Universe (retail stores I suppose) but marked that the books were being held and not to be provided to AU. Reason??? The rumor is that AU mught be in financial trouble? Confirmation? Denial??

Shortly afterwards, Joshua Duffin ( posted "Is this referring to the Another Universe comic store chain that has stores in the Washington DC area? I've recently moved here (DC) and have been buying my comics at their Georgetown store, since it's substantially the easiest comic store for me to get to. Is there some reason that people seem to hate them so much?

(and by the way, they didn't have new comics yesterday; the manager said something went wrong with their shipment and they were hoping to get everything next week.)

Another Universe is one of the larger American comic book chains and has spinoffs in mail order and on the internet, most famously the Mania website. Another Universe under different guises has come in for heavy criticism and is blamed for much of the comics speculation boom and bust of the early nineties, hyping hot comics above market value and proliferating the popularity and supposed scarcity of variant and special edition comics alongside companies like Dynamic Forces.

It has also had many complaints about its mail order system, with items running out of stock and only giving vouchers to customers who didn't receive their books. Such complaints have rapidly diminished in recent years however.

The Another Universe businesses have also been accused on playing up the superhero and tits 'n' ass comics while paying lip service to the broader comics market, and so halting the spread of more mainstream genres in the comic market.

There are many who would cheer the fall of Another Universe, but there are also many companies whose books would fall without Another Universe's support. Certainly, the indie book Pakkins Land has relied alm,ost solely on patronage from Another Universe, along with Joe Psycho And Moo Frog and much of the Awesome universe.

The loss of Another Universe would be a blow to much of the industry, but would affect the indie titles to a lesser extent, only feeling the secondary effects of the loss of available customers.

Twist And Shout extends its good wishes to Another Universe and hope that if the rumour proves correct, it can sort things out.

We'd also like to say that maybe it should stock more copies of Wahoo Morris, The Waiting Place, Mister Blank, The Factor, etc and promote them in the same way it promotes Crimson, Battlechasers etc.

We don't know if any information is forthcoming. Matt Brady, Mania/Newsarama comtributor, stated that AU's hold on information was like Fort Knox…

Dateline: 2 September 1998

That Will Do Nicely…

Alan Moore (and others) have been talking about the DC/Wildstorm buyout over on Mania, and Alan has confirmed that his books will come out from Wildstorm, or a Jim Lee imprint outside of Wildstorm so as to honour his contract with Lee. After that, he doesn't know.

Lee's doing a lot to try and persuade Moore that working for him isn't the same as working for DC, Moore will never come into contact with DC, won't be solicited by DC, etc, etc, and the killer is that we've heard that Alan Moore will be paid directly from Jim Lee's personal bank account. Cheques will come to Moore from Jim Lee directly…

I'm looking forward to seeing the comics and am impressed by Jim Lee's equivocating abilities.

Rumours about Lee's involvement abound. A Hong Kong publisher with links to Wildstorm has rumoured that Lee will take over the Superman titles, although current DC Superman creator, Dan Jurgens vehemently denies it. We've also heard tell of Lee working on the Bat titles.

Might it not be a good idea, DC, to put Lee on a less-than-successful title to boost THOSE sales? A Jim Lee 'Young Heroes In Love' may find a very interesting audience indeed. So what does Jim Lee have to say about it?

Well, as expected, especially since the official announcement hasn't been sent out, Jim Lee can't confirm anything. However Lee did comment on his recent trip here, wooing the British creators. "You know I can't comment on the circus but, yes, England was simply grand. The weather, English breakfast, the Guinness on tap, and company. A lovely trip."

So there we have it, officially. Amidst all the rumours and gossip and innuenndo, Jim Lee likes England. A man with good taste, what?

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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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