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The Claws Are Out - Layman/Wildstorm Update!

By Rich Johnston
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Got Layman?

John Layman, Wildstorm editor of Authority, Planetary, Monarchy and the upcoming relaunched Stormwatch series has resigned from Wildstorm.

I understand that he told EIC Scott Dunbier than he was unhappy at Wildstorm, that he told Jim Lee that it was to spend time as a freelance writer ­ his recent comics adaptation of the Left Behind series has left books like New X-Men, Dark Knight Strikes Back, Origin, and Transformers in the shade saleswise. Yet another, more public version, is that he wants to spend more time at home taking care of his chronically ill cat.

As for a replacement, both ex-editors Aaron Watanabe and Neal Pozner were mentioned, but there were specific reasons why they were both made redundant before. So if you’ve got editorial experience and can keep surly Brits and ex-Army Americans happy, you know who to call.

Layman is also famous for his outburst on the DC message boards attacking company policy when a brief kiss between Midnighter and Apollo in the Jenny Sparks series was censored. He received the ire of Paul Levitz for this, which probably didn’t help stop the continued censorship of Authority by DC. It’s clear he’s had differences with management for a considerable time, although I was assured he was protected at Wildstorm.

Layman told me, "To tell you the truth, it wasn't like something suddenly made me storm out. It's been a slow, calculated decision." Layman continued, "It has its good aspects, and its bad, just like any job, but overall it's been a damn good time and a satifying experience. To be part of many of the groundbreaking books I've worked on has been incredible, and I've not only worked with some of the biggest names in comics, but become very good friends with them.

"I'm leaving WildStorm happy, having set out what I wanted to do. I will say I'm looking forward to getting off the treadmill for a bit, and switching personal gears. This has been a month of vast and sweeping life changes for me, and leaving WildStorm editorial is just a small part of that."

Layman also has no plans to move to any publishing company in New York. His last day at Wildstorm will be this Friday.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Paw Prints

To reiterate and add to last week’s mid-week rumour update that Black Panther is to be relaunched after #50, written by Priest and drawn by Dan Fraga (after Oscar Jiminez pulled out).

When asked, Priest told me, “There's a buncha stuff going on . . . things we're not ready to announce. Perhaps ULTIMATE things, but, wow, you're good. You're very, very good.

”I won't yank you around on this: we're just not ready to talk about the creative changes on PANTHER. I'd rather focus on the new arc and the fabulous Sal and fabulous Bob before we discuss our future (and, yes, we do have a future. The team is not breaking up).”

That new arc, as mentioned here and elsewhere is "The Death Of The Black Panther." Black Panther is currently All The Rage’s most favoured monthly title, and I instruct you all to go buy a copy. There are two trades and the current monthly comic is in the middle of a sequel arc to the second trade. Go spend money.

It’s worth remembering that though the Ultimate line (currently Spider-Man, Ultimates, X-Men and Team-Up, the latter being cancelled and replaced with Morrison’s Fantastic Four) is meant to stay on four titles a month, the rumours are that this will increase by two titles a year until there are eight titles a month.

As to the rumoured relaunch, Priest added “There will be no new #1. BLACK PANTHER, due in large part to the phenomenal efforts of artists Sal Velluto and Bob Almond, and the support of fans and, yes, even Marvel itself, is now one of the longest-running solo black super-hero series in history (not sure when HERO FOR HIRE became POWER/FIST).

“Merely reaching #50, against the odds, is a great achievement, one I would prefer not be swept away the very next month. We've discussed this with Marvel, and the company agrees. As Joe himself said a few days ago, he'd love to see PANTHER #100 someday. So would we.”

I’ll echo that...

This Has A Rumour Vale Of 8 Out of 10


Who’s The Daddy?

One rumour doing the rounds at Wondercon is that Jimmy Palmiotti is the secret editor-in-chief of Wizard’s Black Bull Comics line. That he keeps it secret and off-the-credits in order to avoid the wrath of comics fandom and, more importantly, so he can continue to get work from other companies, such as Marvel and DC.

When asked, Palmiotti went on the record saying, “I think that’s Fred or Maria Capella . . . I am hired on a freelance basis per project. They pay me to edit, but not EIC . . . no, I don’t go out and get projects . . . nor do I decide on them, that is totally off base.”

Hell of a plush office for a freelancer, Jimmy. . . .

This Has A Rumour Value Of 3 Out Of 10


Line Them Up

There was disappointment at Wondercon when certain DC editors, including Mike Carlin in no uncertain terms, refused to look at artist portfolios--including artists from Industrial Light & Magic, Electronic Arts, and other production design houses.

One artist, who was having his portfolio reviewed started a line behind him. Sadly, on finishing, the editor told the others in line that he only reviewed that guy's portfolio because he knew him already.

Considering a number in question only attended the con for this very reason, there were some disappointed faces.

DC tell me that they haven’t done portfolio reviews at the booth at WonderCon or other smaller conventions in quite a few years. Citing problems with handling lines that form with a small booth space and only an editor or two in attendance, they did address the topic of breaking in--in panels.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10


You Can’t Get Me, I’m Part Of The Union

With a number of high profile professionals at WonderCon lauding CrossGen's salaried employment and profit sharing system against the industry norm of a freelance page-rate and royalties. It looks like there may be a new push towards unionisation within Marvel and DC if more standard hiring practices aren’t explored. With the market showing signs of recovery, this may be one of the more advantageous times to strike--as it were.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Lee Lines

With memories of Divine Right fading, Batman looks very much like a ticket back to super-star prominence for Jim Lee. The size of the queue in Artists’ Alley at Wondercon only stretched out of the door when Lee was doing sketches.

Jim Lee also had a 'spotlight panel' attended by Jeph Loeb. Some of the fans were a little annoyed that Jim didn’t speak as much as they would have liked, as Jeph reportedly liked to answer questions directed at Jim first.

At one point a member of the audience asked Jim Lee about the art style that was going to be used on Batman. Jeph jumped in with, "It won't be that European style!" referring to Lee's work in Vertigo's Flinch, "It's going to be a kick ass style." After waiting for Jeph to finish, Jim answered the question himself that the style would be closer to a mix between his Punisher work and his X-Men work.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Shepherd’s Delight

When asked at Wondercon about the decision for Red Star to leave Image, Christian Gosset looked up from his notepad and replied, "Yeah, we dumped them" with a cheshire cat grin.

Now now, chaps. . . .

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Dedicated To His Art

Another Wondercon attendee reports that Arthur Adams remains dedicated to his work on America’s Best Comics’s Johnni Future strip. He’s throwing away cover commissions after cover commissions in order to keep on schedule. That’s the spirit, Art!

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Windy Millar

So why was Mark Millar unaware (last week’s ATR) that the new Authority trade paperback would split his remaining Authority work into two books, rather than the one trade he says he was previously promised when the decision to bring in a fill-in arc was made? I understand that at the time the trade paperback’s schedule was finally decided, Millar had yet to finish scripting Authority #29. The fear was that if Wildstorm told him, he wouldn’t finish the script, as payback.

Mind you, they could always have got Grant Morrison in. . . .

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10


Generating Confidence

At Wondercon, Ale Garza was asked how the new Gen 13 series is going. Ale replied that the fan reaction to his Gen 13 would make Campbell's debut a memory. Nothing like self-confidence! Ale Garza was also showing off artwork for upcoming issues of Gen 13, depicting popular character Grunge as Midnighter’s sex slave. We can’t wait. . . .

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10


Mek Antics?

Eric Canete off Warren Ellis’s MEK series? Sadly, instead of some big creative punchup that could fill this column for weeks, it’s seems it’s more of a schedule thing. Canete was offered an animation opportunity by a longtime friend, which would have pushed MEK outside of Wildstorm’s schedule. Thus, by mutual consent, he left the book, with creative rights to return to Warren (and maybe whoever his replacement will be).

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Source For The Gander

When I started his jolly gossipy comicy column a good ten years ago, I started by simply re-reporting the rumours from the back of UK trade mag Comics International since it was very sparsely distributed in the US, yet had access to all the British creator gossip they were interested in. And no one in the US had read them yet. It's quite possible I didn't attribute them to CI--not to begin with, anyway.

And I understand that fine tradition is being maintained. A small number of recent stories from our fine Squiddy Award winning friends at Newsarama were, according to reputable sources, lifted from “First Bound” Wizard magazines ­advance copies of Wizard sent to the movers and shakers in the comics biz a week in advance. And I understand that someone slipped Mike Doran a sneak look at a copy.

Specifically we’re talking the Lee/Loeb/Batman and the JMS/Kevin Smith exclusive stories. And while those stories had been reported to some degree (hell, Newsarama had the JMS and Batman ones down pat) in previous months, the revival, confirmation and clarification of those stories the other week came directly from that sneak peek at Wizard.

I understand from multiple sources that enquiries were made by Newsarama to participants in the stories, pointing out that the info is already in print and in front of them and would they mind clearing up a few points, maybe a quote or two and bingo, Newsarama beat Wizard to the comic shops by several days.

And as for not attributing where this newly found and confirmed information was originally seen? Well, that’s just one of those pedantic details that petty-minded people always obsess about, isn’t it?

This Has A Really, Richard, Haven’t You Got Better Things To Do With Your Time Value Of 4 Out Of 10


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