For those of you who tuned in Sunday morning US time, April Fool! About a third of you twigged straight away, about a third of you got it and the rest didn’t know either way and sent pleading, begging letters.

Also the reason I’m not running any blind items this week is none of you would believe them. Also, in the spirit of April Fools’ Day, who knows about any of the following? While none are April Fools on my part, who knows who’s been telling me what?

A President By Any Other Name

The major contender for April Fool is the comics pro who e-mailed me to tell me that Marvel are planning to change “Stan Lee Presents…” on their mastheads to “Bill Jemas Presents…”


No comment from Joe Quesada. I didn’t even bother asking Bill.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 2 Out Of 10. Well, you never know…

Mark And Mac

A comics pro tells me

When Mark Gruenwald’s daughter got old enough, he brought her baby monitor to work at Marvel Comics and put the transmitter right out in plain sight in Ralph Macchio’s office, then put the receiver in his own office, a few doors down. All day long people would go into Ralph’s office and get chatted up by him, then run down to Mark’s to hear the nasty things he said about them when they left. A grand time was had by all. At a couple points the laughter from Mark’s office got so loud – people were crowding in there by that point – that Ralph came down to see what was going on. Everyone acted innocent. Ralph went back to his office and the games continued. I don’t know if he ever found out about it, and he never noticed the monitor…

Fairly convincing… but when were baby monitors popularised?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10

New Ninjas

DC Comics have had a big old update of their website, and so have Wildstorm. Specifically, we get to see some nice pages of the Ninja Boy project we talked about, like ages ago, not to mention under the creator profiles, the appearance of a certain Marv Wolfman, lined up for a number of 2001 projects.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 out of 10

Drew, Millie And Very Strange

With Marvel confirming the Startling Stories line reported here a couple of weeks ago, there’s more on Marvel’s edgier superhero line from regular correspondent, Lt Kali, with a few instant dismissals from those named. Kali can sometimes be spot on and has broken stories months before they’ve been confirmed. Other times, it’s complete madness without a grounding in reality. Gods, you don’t think he’s been Joe Quesada all along, do you? Lt Kali tells me

I’m told The Kiss Of The Spider Woman title is actually called Drew and Jessica is not a private eye but a Detective in the New York City Police Department who specialises in Superhuman crimes. Which is a lot closer to Powers possibly…

Either way, there is no response from Bendis. But based on the following, I wouldn’t be that confident…

Kali also tells me the superhero shagging isn’t in that title but in Millie, starring the former Millie The Model. Millie is now a highflying news anchor woman who reports on stories from around the world, shagging various superheroes including the US Agent and Puck from Alpha Flight. However Mille’s new reports start getting weirder as the story goes on, and soon she’s drawn into a full on conspiracy with the US Goverment and SHIELD. Apparently it’s being written by Devin Grayson, in a similar vein to the recently announced Codename: Knockabout from Vertigo.

Grayson however replied “You have GOT to be kidding me. Does that honestly sound like something I’d do in a million years? Anyway, there’s no truth to it whatsoever… I have not been approached about this by anyone, and if I were, I would say no so fast it would make Millie’s head spin.”

Kali then tells me the final title to the line is Dr Strange, a horror title featuring a rotating team of creators for each arc, much like Daredevil. Currently rumoured to be up for arcs are Paul Jenkins, Chris Golden, Steven Grant and Greg Rucka.

Steven Grant said “Ask Marvel”. Paul Jenkins said “No”. Greg Rucka did not respond to e-mails.

Joe Quesada replied “LOL, I wish some of these were from me! 30% accuracy at best here but 100% great reading.”

This Has A Rumour Value Of 3 Out Of 10

Mark And Andy

The Andy Mangels’s mailing list post from last week’s All The Rage kicked up quite a few e-mails. There’s a lot to say in the following pages, so take a deep breath and lets dive in. First off, Mark Waid wanted to set the record straight as far as he was concerned. Earlier this week he wrote to me saying:

    I didn’t “not hire” Andy Mangels back in the late ’80s because I was still mad at Fantagraphics. I didn’t buy any of his story proposals because–while I have no informed opinion of his current level of craft–at the time, I found him simply to be a poor writer. End of story.

After tracking Andy Mangels down, Andy replied:

      Actually, not quite the end of story. I had to do some digging in my old files of

Amazing Heroes

      , and lots of old computer disks, to find out some basic facts that Mark seems to mis-remember. Which worries me, because he was always so good with continuity. First and most importantly – Mark didn’t GET any story proposals from me. EVER. So, he couldn’t reject them or not buy them, because they didn’t exist. My one attempt to sell something to Mark is in a letter dated 9 December 1988, in which I listed some characters I would be interested in writing for

Secret Origins

    . No stories to reject there, however, and Mark never did me the courtesy of a return letter or phone call.

Secondly – if Mark considered me such a poor writer, why did he continually give me assignments for Amazing Heroes? I had multiple articles in six of the approximately ten issues he edited (Fantagraphics doesn’t remember the exact number and my collection is missing some issues, but #108’s editorial notes that he left after 10 issues). That’s ten total articles in six of ten issues. That’s a lot of work to give a 19-year-old writer whose work you find to be poor.

Finally, as it relates to whether or not he didn’t give assignments to Fantagraphics freelancers (including me) because he was mad at Fantagraphics after they fired him in late 1986. . . only he knows the truth. I do know that one DC editor told me that – perhaps they were lying and Mark wasn’t really that mad at being fired. I also know that he wouldn’t speak to me on the phone (or anyone from Fantagraphics) when I was covering Secret Origins for the Amazing Heroes Preview Special in late 1987; someone else at DC (I believe it was Bob Greenberger) facilitated getting me terse quotes from him.

Mark’s brief response addressed the reasons he had for hiring Andy at Amazing Heroes:

    Because (a) we were desperate, and (b) as I recall, a lot of those “assignments” were made by the previous editor.and I was stuck with them. And that’s all I really have to say about stuff that happened nearly fifteen years ago–just trying to shield myself from any absurd insinuations of homophobia.

Andy then replied:

      Umm, no. Mark misremembers again. I was hired by Kim Thompson to do my FIRST professional writing work on


    on George Perez. Mark guest-edited issue #91 (the Crisis issue) and specifically requested me to work on it for my SECOND professional job; he then made assignments for later issues, after forgiving me for being late on an article on issue #91.

On that note, I’d like to note that Andy specifically did not accuse Waid of homophobia but cronyism, and again making the general point that most people don’t know why they get certain work and not others. Also, during this time period, Andy wasn’t out to *anyone*. But onwards an upwards, there’s a lot to get through here…

Randy And Andy

Randy Stradley had one or two things to say about what he saw as allegations that Dark Horse were institutionally homophobic, specifically Andy saying “I KNOW that it has hurt me locally in the case of a homophobic crew at Dark Horse Comics…” Randy writes:

    Andy is, of course, entitled to his opinion — no matter how wrong he might be. As I told Andy to his face years ago when he accused me of not liking him (not “not hiring him,” but not _liking_ him) because he was gay: “I don’t dislike you because you’re gay. I dislike you because you’re an idiot.” But “dislike” is too strong a word. Indifference is more like it. The fact that Andy is gay is not, and never has been, a factor in him either getting — or not getting — work at Dark Horse. It’s not even a point of interest.

Andy Mangels responded:

    Golly, add an “R” to the start of this missive and you get: “Randy is, of course, entitled to his opinion — no matter how wrong he might be.” Amazing coincidence, huh? ;>

I won’t stoop to the level of name-calling, except to say to Randy that, now that he mentions it, I do remember him calling me an idiot. But I guess our degrees of “indifference” are different; whereas he remembers the conversation, I did not. I should be pleased that he marks such shared banter with an idiot so highly, even as he cries indifference.

As to my relationship with Dark Horse, it’s certainly unique. Generally, my statements and writings about Dark Horse have been good publicity for the company – gosh, I’ve even sold interviews with Randy to various magazines – and kept my personal feelings about several people in the company out of print.

However, that complex relationship doesn’t preclude the fact that many DH employees who are friendly to me have told me about negative things that have been said and done (about me, and other gay/lesbian/bisexual people) over the years, by other DH employees. There is a perceived climate of homophobia within the company; my hope is that this perception (and any problems) can be addressed in a positive and forward-moving way.

The next day Randy e-mailed me back saying:

    Just to let you know, Andy and I just finished a three-hour (!) phone conversation during which we cleared the air about our business and personal relationships — as well as discussed and considered past events at Dark Horse and their future consequences — and kissed and made up “(and don’t think we didn’t joke about the possible ramifications of that last part of the statement!)

Thanks for all your help in providing an impetus for Andy and I to have a long overdue conversation.

I also understand that people at Dark Horse may be about to openly look at this problem – whether perceived or actual. Watch this space.

But it doesn’t end here. A number of other people were starting to contact me.

This Has A Concilliation Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Out At Dark Horse
While Randy and Andy were playing e-mail tennis, I was also told that a certain ex-Dark Horse staffer felt he had to keep his bisexuality a secret at Dark Horse, because of the atmosphere he perceived while working there – including negative and/or homophobic comments made about Andy and others.

One Portland cartoonist recalls that at an early [company] party, [the ex-Dark Horse staffer] was publicly discussing his feelings that his sexual orientation would have been or was a problematic issue at Dark Horse. The cartoonist didn’t remember specifics, but was clear that [the ex-Dark Horse staffer] had felt enough discomfort with the situation to discuss it with other creators in this semi-public forum.

But another anonymous ex-Dark Horse staffer had a different take:

      To be honest, I almost replied to the column by myself on Sunday, as, frankly, I thought Andy was sort of stretching the truth. While it’s true there is definitely an old boy’s club atmosphere at Dark Horse and an undercurrent of homophobia, I think Andy was generally not hired because his work wasn’t very well liked. Despite the chest thumping, his


    comic didn’t sell on the basis of his name, and even if the Wagner & Kennedy issues sold less, they were also higher priced, being fully-painted, double-sized one-shots (if memory serves). And beyond not being popular at the Horse, I recall him not being very popular with Lucasfilm, if for nothing more than his gift for gab, as exhibited in the post you ran last week.

That said, it is true that for a time, [the ex-Dark Horse staffer] felt uncomfortable having his private life being public due to the old boy’s network (one bathroom and all). There were several very out employees at the time, but they were in behind-the-scenes jobs, where folks assumed it was okay because “no one could see.” But if you know [the ex-Dark Horse staffer], you know that it wouldn’t have taken long before he decided he just didn’t care and did as he pleased. Nothing changed towards him either. And even if some puny mortal had attempted to give [the ex-Dark Horse staffer] crap, you know they would have crumbled beneath the gale force that is [the ex-Dark Horse staffer]! Believe me, I’d be the first to cry foul were homophobia involved, but in this case, I don’t believe it to be true.

Andy did reply a little to this, purely on a point of order, saying:

      BTW, one more factoid to send your way (in response to the one DCer who noted my “chest-thumping” about the Boba Fett book: Topps did a poll of 20,000 Star Wars fans for their Best of Star Wars publication. MY Boba Fett story, “Twin Engines of Destruction” was voted the “Best Individual Comic Book” with 17% of the vote, whomping its closest competitor,

Dark Empire #1

      (which had 11%). It has also been called one of the best Star Wars stories in multiple articles in the official

Star Wars Insider

    magazine. Since the story by me is what most fans (and publications) cite as their reason for enjoying the book, perhaps my chest-thumping is earned?

A slight detour there, but an entertaining one.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Genetic Virus

After sending out his future plans to a variety of news sources, Gene Ha had to send a followup. A slight mishap had occurred, and a virus went out alongside it…

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10

Shaken And Stirred

I’ve been hearing rumours about Fandom all week and Comcion Splash printed them all on Friday. The James Bond Fandom Site seem to have made it official, saying “It brings me great sadness to report to you that will cease operations very soon.”

I’m sure a number of the sites and contributors we all rely on will find another home easily. Some however, who rely on it for income, may not be able to. I speak for the whole SBC team in wishing everyone at Fandom well, and hope things work out.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10

P.S. You think the earlier April Fool was bad? Look at the one I started in the Warren Ellis Delphi Forum!

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