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The Return Of Rich

By Rich Johnston
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Right chaps, remember, the following articles contain rumours. Not news, rumours. Allegations. Back stabbing. Gossip. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental. By reading this column, you agree not to report rumour within as fact to anyone. Okay? Okay.

Every rumour is graded from 0 to 10, 10 being the honest truth. Anything below 10 should be treated with scepticism. The grade is down to my belief as to how likely the rumour is. A gut feeling, no more.

This is the first part of a two part column. Apparently the powers that be at Silver Bullet Comics reckon that you're suffering from some attention deficiency syndrome and cannot cope with 2400 words of rumour, gossip, innuendo and cheap self promotion. So, we've split this week's column into two digestible portions


To Start, A Lecture

Right, DC Comics. As the No. 1 comic book publisher in North America at the moment, they're going to be in for some stick. They're an obvious target, they publish more books than anyone and they generate more news than anyone. And, consequently, more rumours than anyone else too.

I'd like to make it clear that I have no personal agenda against either DC Comics or Paul Levitz in particular. Not only is DC a fine company, producing not only a number of pieces of high art in comics, but a line of comics that keep the concept of comics in the public eye. Paul Levitz is a strong publisher and his ability to place DC in a cosy position within the AOL-Time-Warner monster is superb - thanks to him, we've had a greater variety and a higher quality of comics published at DC overall. And without him, I doubt I'd have been able to read many of my current favourite comics at all.

However, there have been some executive policy decisions that a number of people, both inside and outside of DC disagree with. And the internet has given a quick and easy way for those dissatisfactions to leak out. There's no obligation for DC to act or even respond to any of these comments, but I reserve the right to report such gossip and rumour as may come out from these hallowed halls.

I also warn my readers that it is likely these stories are biased in some way due to the sources and many are emotionally charged. I ask that you read with an open mind, consider the bias involved and reach a conclusion of your own.

Now, back to the dirt where I belong. Strap yourself in!


Bad Mood Rising

As previous Ramblings and Gutter Press columns have indicated, there have been suggestions that morale at DC just isn't what it used to be.

Now a company the size of DC is bound to see considerable staff turnover over any period of time. But there's been a bit of a run of it of late.

Count them off. I've been told that Elizabeth Vincentelli, an associate editor in Licensed Publishing recently resigned. And while the kryptonite ceiling for women in the DCU has been commented on, there are also murmurs of other employee problems. DC has no black full time editors - hardly alone in this industry. But after the Impulse incident previously reported in past columns, L.A. Williams was demoted and his books taken away. Here the rumours conflict... in one he was told he'd never edit again, in another he was offered all of Maureen McTigue's (who also resigned after being demoted in similar circumstances) work on top of his usual duties for no increase in position or pay. Either way, he resigned. Joe Illidge was reassigned from the Batbooks to Multi-Media. I've heard vague talk about why but I was told he wrote a letter threatening to sue DC if he was fired. However, the demotion two of DC's most prominent black employees from the DCU within a very short time set tongues wagging in my direction.

I heard that one consequence of the demotion and subsequent resignation of Williams from Impulse is the extra paperwork DC legal is now going through.

What seems to be the agreed version of events is that Williams forgot to clear the final approval from the Governor of Alabama for his appearance in Impulse through DC legal. So, even though Williams had senior editorial and political approval of the script, because it didn't go through the correct procedures, he was dumped on - like Maureen McTigue, an example was made of him.

The result? I hear that DC legal suddenly gets acres of paperwork on every little possibly thing in DC books as everyone in editorial scrambles to cover their back from the Levitz That Walks Amongst Us, as he has been called. I hear there's heavy dissent about all of this - and I've heard reports of a number of proposed exits in the upcoming months as staff find jobs outside of DC and comics. Some say that the current DC situation reminds them of the Marvel offices during their Marvelexecutions at Bob Harras' hands. They tell me to ook for a number of dissatisfied creators as a result of increased legal interference in their work too.

Attempts to get a response from DC failed. If anyone has comment on the story, whether on or off the record, e-mail me. If anyone at DC would like to address these rumours, that would be great too.

This has a Rage Value of 4 out of 10.


Wild Storm Rising

This Bad Mood Rising has also been felt a little at Wildstorm. I hear Eric deSantis, Wildstorm editor, has quit. And since Wildstorm reportedly aren't actively hiring a replacement as of yet, the editorial staff have been taking the full brunt.

And what's there to stay for? I hear the word amongst some of the staff at Wildstorm is that they will be gradually merged with the DCU, editorially, and will lose any sense of identity. And I've been told one casualty of deSantis’ departure is the new manga-style "pacific rim" comics line that he’d been championing.

There’s clearly been editorial disquiet over having to replace a scene in Jenny Sparks: The Secret History Of The Authority #2 that featured a kiss between the two celebrated gay characters, Apollo and Midnighter, as reported on Silver Bulletins. Now, Authority has had problems with editorial censorship fairly recently. Indeed, Wizard reported that Marvel and DC relations are very frosty after the Captain America-substitute character in The Authority being involved in an act of anal rape - more on that in the next part of this column. Either way, the DC-Wildstorm relationship seems to have a few teething troubles

Attempts to get a response from Wildstorm failed.

This has a Rage Value of 5 out of 10.


Slips Of The Pen

It's been an odd year for DC. We've been told about banned stories about superbabies and mock-Silver Age covers, guns and school children, covers about guns and children, reprinted adverts about douches, the Holocaust, men kissing and heads exploding... all at some point signed off, all pulled back in, sometimes after being printed, and then pulped, neutered or cancelled. And it's pretty sure that we only see some of it, I'm sure most stuff doesn't get out of the offices. And one of the problems is not so much the act itself, but the inconsistency. What's fine one month is not the next. Extreme violence is sometimes allowed and sometimes not, sexuality is sometimes allowed and sometimes not, issues can sometimes be addressed and sometimes not, people and countries can be named and sometimes not...

On the Warren Ellis Delphi Message Board, Warren shared his own observations. In a thread about the 'Kiss Of Authority', he wrote "DC is a place of constantly changing mores." When asked if this was to do with DC having different imprints and different standards for each imprint, he replied "No. When I say "constantly changing", I mean it. The goalposts are moved almost daily, in all imprints."

This has a Rage Value of 8 out of 10.


Pointing The Finger

As a number of these stories coming my way, I've been told that my rumour columns have been the source of some discussion at DC. I hear that they're convinced major leaks to me came from inside their ranks from the recently-departed Jim Higgins. I'd like to state that I've never, to my knowledge, spoken, received e-mailed, letters or had any contact with the fellow. Hell, I didn't even know he'd gone. Shows how in touch I am, eh?

Mind you, if Higgins is reading this and has some good stories, get in touch!

This has a Rage Value of 6 out of 10.


Pay The Piper

Okay, I'm skint. Down to my last two pennies. So I'm selling a batch of comics on Ebay. See what I've got here at Rich's Books For Sale On E-Bay.

This has a Rage Value of 10 out of 10.


Have You Had Your Hole?

Oh and while I'm self serving, have you checked out my new online comic strip at Twist And Shout Comics? It's called Holed Up! And it's about a family... well, you'll see exactly what morbid and sick twist I'm giving it as the weeks go by.

This has a Rage Value of 10 out of 10.


Right, according to Silver Bullets scientific studies, that is all your mind can cope with. See you on Wednesday for part two which is slightly less DC obsessed. And return next week for Marvel's turn to receive the heavy treatment. Remember all scoops, rumours, gossip and basic back-stabbing to the usual address at [email protected]. Ta ta! Yes, I'd like to pay in a couple of cheques if you'd be so kind...

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