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Ramblings – 29th May 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: 29 May 1998
Authority Figures

(Deleted at request of Bryan Hitch, who says the item is not true.)

Alan Davis' New Project

After the good reception given to Alan Davis' latest work, JLA: The Nail, we can report that Davis is currently working on a new project… plastering his walls. Never let it be said that Ramblings doesn't give you detailed information about the great and the good.

Dateline: 23 May 1998
What If…?

What if a book was cancelled by the publisher, with enough time given for the creative team to finish up a story? What if the cancellation got picked up by an web rumour column after someone had seen the artwork for the last issue, and then subsequently broadcast to the internet? What if the internet spread the rumour around and everyone was pissed off at the news? What if sales started to pick up a little? What if the publisher realised that this could be a good media story, enough to create interest and sales in the book and refused to officially confirm or deny the book's status? What if the best selling comic-fan publication started a campaign to save the book? What if the book's name was Stormwatch?

Since Ramblings first announced the cancellation of Stormwatch based on information from Stormwatch artist Brian Hitch, a number of interesting 'points' have emerged. Stormwatch writer, Warren Ellis' WildCATS/Aliens will set up the 'supposed' last issue. Wizard have started giving the book more attention, and these things are often done in conjunction with the publishers' wishes. Especially since Wizard are 'fighting' to save the book from cancellation. Discussion with the mighty Newsarama's Mike Doran has also raised some interesting issues about the book's future. But then Jim Lee goes and metions the book's cancellation in an e-mail interview with Joel Meadows, editor of Tripwire. But doesn't give details.

I reckon the cancellation of Stormwatch is no longer on the cards. Whether the series will continue, or start again with a new volume or become something else entirely (my bet), I don't know. Certainly the book WAS cancelled, but it's starting to look more and more like this is no longer the case. Perhaps a renaming to Wildcats B? I dunno.

More evidence… just picked up the latest issue. The letters page talks about lots of people dying, and in context with the letter, than means the team. And then they print a letter mentioning the cancellation of Stormwatch. For a start, no company ever prints anything like that unless they have a good motive. A letters page is used as a promotional and marketing tool for the book, and they then acknowledge the rumours and state that they have "BIG plans".

So something's up. The Wildstorm publicity people have a good relationship with Mike Doran so you'll probably read it on Newsarama first. Unless we can get another sneak peak at Hitch's drawing board.Now Wildstorm are using those cancellation stories on the internet for promotional effect. Since I posted the news in the first place, do you reckon I could charge royalties?

Incidentally I enjoyed the last issue of Stormwatch more than I enjoyed the last issue of Transmetropolitan, which is a first. Mind you I still prefer Lazarus Churchyard, one of Warren's first books, more than both of them.

What The.. ?!

I just found out the other day that Shi creator Bill Tucci is a member of the Conservative Party in Britain, the Finchley branch apparently. A comedy writer and comic book retailer delivered his membership whilst at the San Diego Comic Con.

Why is he a member of a foreign political party? Okay, we know he's a bit of a right wing nutter, but why the Tories? Isn't it weird that his good buddy Dez Skinn (who reckons this is a hoax) also lives in Finchley? Can't Bill join the Republicans? Why the Tories, especially the Finchley branch? I have absolutely no idea, but if anyone knows him or would like to ask him, I'd appreciate it.

Smithed Off

Kevin Smith is keeping tight lipped with people about the content of his upcoming books for Oni (after Jay And Silent Bob). Apparently he came across plot content on an internet news/rumour web page for the first issue and a bit and wasn't best pleased. Good to know we're read by such illustrious names. At least he didn't threaten to sue, like a certain Neil Gaiman.

Ball And Chain

Well, as posted on Usenet, I am now an officially engaged person. The lovely lady in question is Janice Hodgson, from Cape Town, now working and living in London. Gorgeous, witty, adorable, all the usual stuff. And for some reason she's blindly in love with me too. Wedding probably in Easter in Cape Town. We'll be living in London for the next five years probably, after that who knows?

Dateline: 5 May 1998
Follow that dream

With Dreamwalker Volume 2, number 6 bringing the Tapestry/Caliber run of the book to a close in July, all eyes are turned to see what creator Jenni Gregory is going to do next.

It's virtually certain that Jenni will not be renewing with Caliber — too many surprises, like delayed solicitations, sudden changes in paper, the cancellation of the Tapestry line, not to mention financial and business surprises.

Last I spoke to Jenni, she hadn't yet decided whether to resume self-publishing or to go with a publisher. The attention to detail which she and husband Barry put into the book was sorely lacking under another publisher, but now with Barry the Managing Editor of Avatar Press, she may well be able to get the best of both worlds. This assumes, of course, that there is a way to shoehorn the Deco-inspired artwork and realistic writing of Dreamwalker into the bad-girl and psychotic snowmen world of Avatar's lineup. Could there be a new Avatar imprint in the making?

Jenni's still weighing her options and will make an announcment when she's good and ready. We'll see — whichever way things go, she plans to start Dreamwalker volume 3 in the fall.

A little Adventure

Randy Reynaldo's Adventure Strip Digest narrowly escaped being published in the implosion of Jim Valentino's non-line, but Randy is not yet discouraged. In a lengthy statement, Randy says that he's determined to continue working on the series.

Though he continues to see publisher interest, Randy's experience with "two … prominent companies" leaves him skeptical about what a publisher can do for him in this market. You have to wonder what is going on when a Xeric grant-winning series with fans like Karl Kesel, Len Wein, Howard Chaykin, Roy Thomas, and Kurt Busiek can't inspire retailers to order his book, which is a delightful modern update of the classic adventure strips of the '30s and '40s.

For the time being, Randy plans to return to the photocopied fanzine format he started with in the first place. He has two issues ready to go of the material he planned to publish with Image, and is busy working on new stories. These limited-edition ashcans will be going to his subscribers, and hopefully to publishers with clues.

Dateline: 1 May 1998
Before I leave….

A Last Rumble

A little more detail on the new Dr Strange title from Marvel/Event.

The first story is entitled "The Flight Of Bones", as Doctor Strange fights a cult called The Rookery, designated by their Raven motif. The 'strange' aspect of the character will be emphasised, people will consider him an oddity. He'll no longer be able to rely just on sorcery and they'll also concentrate on his medical skills. Dr Strange is co-written by Dan Jolley and Tony Harris and drawn by Harris.

As for the Event books, the James Robinson series has been fully drawn, and only needs lettering. Marvel intend to publish it monthly. Over books will concentrate on Painkiller Jane, with a series of crossovers- expect Painkiller Jane/Hellboy and Painkiller Jane/Witchblade.

Quote of the day, regarding the new Marvel/Event titles, "It's not like Heroes Reborn because it doesn't suck."- Jimmie Palmiotti.

Oh yeah, and David Mack is involved with the Daredevil series after Kevin Smith's run. I don't know how, he just is. Look, I haven't got time for this stuff, I'm trying to pack. Now… where did I put my passport?

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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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