The Rumour Awards 2002

By Rich Johnston
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Well, what a hootenany and a half that was! The Rumour Awards Second Annual Luncheon took place in the cells at Robben Island, famous for holding South African political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela for decades, this now-tourist resort was the perfect place to getaway to sit back, eat trifle and look back at a year of comic book industry rumours, gossip and dodgy dealings.

As usual, guests were freight shipped in ComfyCrates TM, designed to offer the international traveller cheap, affordable travel without all the expensive frills. Like seats or a safety record.

Sadly, Warren Ellis was wrongly sent to the Shetland Islands, where he is still trying to teach sheep how to smoke. So Chuck Dixon was forced to burn all the cigars and pour all the whisky I'd lined up for Ellis down the drain.

Joining Chuck, manacled to the table, were the rest of the mighty men of rumour judgment, Mike Carlin, Bob Wayne, Marc Alessi, Rob Liefeld, Bill Rosemann, Jimmy Palmiotti, Mark Millar, Steve Geppi and Mike Doran. Again, we decided not to let any women in for our own very special reasons.

Mike Doran instantly said that he had no business here, that these rumours were nothing more than an insult to himself and the industry and, anyway, this island was exclusive to him. But he settled down once the salmon fishcakes arrived. Not many people know this, but Mike Doran has a slight addiction to salmon. Nothing that would interfere with his day to day life, as long as there's a selection of fishy breadcrumbs in the freezer.

Twattish Decision Of The Year Award
Rob Liefeld stood up (after stumbling over his manacles a couple of times) and pointed what seemed to be a square gun with a screw in the middle at everyone shouting, "If anyone mentions my internet comics plans..."

Steve Geppi stared long and hard at Rob. Geppi called him over. "Son," Geppi mumbled, his voice made heavy by the burning cigar pile. Somewhere, far away, a bearded Essex boy was weeping. "Son, there's a matter of an unpaid bill. Now," Geppi kissed Liefeld on the forehead, "you are, to me, like family. But why do you want to hurt me like this? Your unpaid bills... why do you insult me?"

At this point a team of crack-lawyers paraglided onto the scene holding up a variety of writs and lawsuits. They stated that Steve Geppi is a respected businessman in the waste-dispos... sorry, the comic distribution business and any spurious allegation would be met with severe legal and financial penalties. And a horse's head on the pillow.

At this point another team of crack lawyers tunnelled up from the centre of the earth and placed a writ on the first team of lawyers for that comment. The first team countersued. Rob Liefeld asked if he could sue anyone too, and it all ended up in a free for all. I'd tell you more, but Doran signed up the exclusive rights.

One of last year's Twattish Decisions of The Year nominations, that of Mark Waid joining CrossGen, was brought up for general mockery. Marc Alessi reminded everyone, "Mark Waid was simply not right for the office mentality of CrossGen."

"Ye mean he's allergic, like, te the Kool Aid?" asked Mark Millar. Marc Alessi started to turn red.

Mike Carlin jumped up and shouted, "That's the same colour Paul Levitz goes when someone mentions Authority! You're stealing from DC again!" he raged, eyes spinning like wheels on a one-armed-bandit.

"Talking of Authority..." began Millar, but Bob Wayne intervened saying, "One more word and I set Patty on you." Millar's cheeky wee face paled, his eye twitched and he started muttering about the horrors of having to give Art Adams a blow job.

Bill Rosemann tried to snap Millar out of it. "It's okay, Mark, you're at Marvel, we like you here. You can tell the same story over and over again and we won't mind" but Millar was trapped in a dark room of his very own making.

Turning-Down-The-Beatles Award
The decision by DC/Vertigo to yet again not publish the previously announced Flex Mentallo trade paperpack by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, despite winning a court case brought by the estate of Charles Atlas, and despite Morrison and Quitely wowing them on New X-Men. Or maybe it was because of it? Bob Wayne refused to comment further. He was also uncomfortable with mention of the gradual desecration and eventual cancellation of Authority. But Wayne cheered up no end when the discussion turned to the Brian Wood and David Cho version of New York X-Men being rejected, not to mention the comment about Joe Quesada's decision not to revive Ash, a firefighter superhero in a year when that comic might well have gone down a storm?

But no, in the end it had to be Marvel's decision, after much flip-flopping that X-Men: The Hidden Years would be cancelled, causing John Byrne to blow his top and vow not to work with Marvel under the current regime, giving DC carte blanche to exploit the man.

Certainly a variety of justifications that have never really stood up didn't help Marvel's case. And they lost a large chunk of old time readers while starting a number of new titles that didn't really cater for anyone.

Mike Carlin stood up, proud as a pin, and turned to Bill Rosemann saying, "That's what happens when you write an internet column on the Marvel website slamming John Byrne's past work for Marvel." Bill Rosemann rolled himself up into a ball while the golden light of Mike Carlin shone all around, lighting the world and providing inspiration for the poor and sick. "John Byrne is my bitch, now."

Two Faces Forward Award
For not letting your right hand know what your left is doing, the oft-opposed personalities of Joe Quesada and trifle-loving Bill Jemas at Marvel, creating storms of publicity in their wake gave Bill Rosemann an excuse to stop writhing on the floor and instead present a sincere and pensive address to the assembled throng. Jimmy Palmiotti took this opportunity to punch it, wailing, "Does nobody remember my name on the Marvel Knights books?"

Indeed, the panel were agreed that Marvel seemed a sure bet for this award - but there was fierce argument for which activity.

Rob Liefeld was most amused when Joe Quesada, when asked in a press call about any changes on Cable, told the assembled crowd that there were no talent changes being made. Sadly, a few hours later Bob Weinberg stated that he'd been fired off the book five days previously. However Rob's insistent cries that, "I'm the only one who should be allowed to work on Cable. Look, here's the envelope where I created him," and his waving about of an old missive from his cable company, a copy of Teen Titans, and a lightbox receipt, caused Bill Rosemann to start hiccuping and Steve Geppi to put cotton wool in his cheeks.

As Rosemann's hiccuping increased, he was unable to stop Bob Wayne and Mike Carlin snickering about the time when the Marvel staff computers were searched by security while staff were being taken out for a Christmas lunch. Nothing was found, but employees were asked to account for every file and every website visited. And a few of the hard drives were accidentally wiped by security…

And although Mark Millar was still in a state of shock, his constant shuddering reminded everyone of DC's inconsistent editing of their line. And more specifically, Authority. But more to be said about that later.

In the end, the group declared that Marvel should get the award for special achievement in the field for their bare-faced spinning in the face of documented facts. This was despite Bill Rosemann's accusations that Marc Alessi and Chuck Dixon had communicated telepathically in an attempt to fix the nominations.

Firing Line Award
Steve Geppi, as a man who had presided over pretty much more firings than anyone else on the table, stood up and began to point the finger. Indeed he was displeased - prominent firings this year were few and far between, and those that had, for the most part, disappeared quietly.

Few heard Ian Edginton's cries of frustration as he left X-Force. Little was said as Anthony Bozzi was canned as Marketing Manager from Image. Not much was heard when Larry Marder was used as a heavy to pressurise Todd McFarlane's Toy employees to leave the company when it moved cross country. There were a few murmurs from Chris Oarr, fired from DC and Bob Weinberg from Cable. But, as a rule, the companies managed to keep a pretty tight light on the proceedings. In the end, it came down to one unnamed soul. And while David Cho's bleatings against Joe Quesada about NYX were amusingly violent, he was really only showing off.

No, the prize goes to the firing early in the year of a Wizard employee who made a crack about Chris Claremont and found his dismissal ordered by Joe Quesada - and was summarily dismissed, showing the industry just how independent that powerhouse of journalistic integrity is. And that was before they featured Shadow Reavers on every other page.

Bill Rosemann refused to go along with the decision of the judges however, as he said he might need a job with Wizard when Marvel went tits up. On hearing this possibility, Millar pulled himself together enough made a quick trans-atlantic call to Wildstorm to see if that Head Writer position was still available. However, he seemed to have dialled Patty Jeres' number by mistake and went into an epileptic fit. Bill Rosemann tried to revive Millar by pouring an emergency pack of trifle he keeps round his person down Millar's throat. It didn't help, but it was rather funny.

Outstanding Coup Award
Stealing Frank Quitely from Authority on Marvel's part was a bold move and its mention caused Mark Millar to start twitching again. Rob Liefeld started to remind everyone about his bold new projects before he realised he hadn't got any.

Marc Alessi would have been a sure bet, especially with his recent prize catch, Chuck Dixon, rubbing Marvel and DC's nose in it. But CrossGen fell for their attempt to steal the whole JLA team. After signing up Mark Waid, Laura DePuy, and Bryan Hitch, they then let Hitch slip from their clammy grasp to Marvel, and for Waid to go non-exclusive.

So, in the end, the winner went to Karen Berger who, despite giving the world further dilutions of Sandman, cancelling Outlaw Nation, and seeing the British sales on Hellblazer plummet, managed to wrest Grant Morrison and Chris Weston's The Filth series for Vertigo from the grasping claws of a number of other publishers.

Maddest Moment Award
Despite write-in nominations for Mike Doran from pretty much everyone else who writes for a comics website, the panel dismissed them all as twaddle. Especially Mike Carlin, who took this opportunity to develop his "special relationship" with Doran. "You know, we held the news about John Byrne's Lab Rats especially for you…" he whispered. Doran started to twitch. Everyone else backed away.

The mention of John Byrne caused Marc Alessi to recall the moment when Byrne implied that the IRA could have been defeated if Britain had used the Royal Air Force to bomb Dublin. "That's just the kind of mind we need at CrossGen," Marc concluded. He began to work on a proposal to move John's mansion brick by brick to Tampa while Byrne was sleeping. So Mike Carlin sat on him. "I said John Byrne's my bitch now. You're not having him." Bill Rosemann started to sing a drinking song about Byrne, managing to rhyme "Chapter One" with "Crapped a nun" but no one seemed to care anymore.

Consideration was given to the WTC tribute issue of Amazing Spider-Man #36 which started by saying there were no words to describe the events. And then proceeded to use hundreds of badly chosen ones. The "war on terrorism" also brought back memories of Jim Steranko's declaration of war on Garth Ennis, Amanda Conner, and Jimmy Palmiotti. Jimmy revealed that he'd been stockpiling Brooklyn Bizarro with tins of beans and bottles of water in case Steranko ever launched an aerial assault against him.

Bob Wayne was also nominated for the moment when, in the middle of the Marvel vs DC rivalry infecting the Newsarama press releases, Wayne stated that Marvel were putting out better comics than they ever had before - a charge that many found difficult to apply to DC.

But in the end Mike Carlin was unable to fix the award from going to someone other than himself for declaring that in an inter-company meeting about the Comics Code, that Senator McCarthy, of the infamous comics witchhunt trials, may be dead - but he had children! The image of McCarthy's kin gathering en masse and marching on Washington to complain about Brian Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man made the panel giggle so much, it took the top title.

The Workers Are Revolting Award
All the men sat back and grinned in a certain special and slimy way thinking about the "catfight" that Marvel editorial staff Jenny Lee and Mira Lew got into over Brian Wood and David Cho's NYX project, to the extent that it was cancelled internally. Jenny was on the creators' side, while Mira was on Bill Jemas' side. Guess who won. Bill Jemas is to write the NYX series in the coming year.

This was also the year that the printing process got it in the neck. Static Shock: The Rebirth Of Cool #2 had been dreadfully coloured and printed by the creative team was one instance.

There was the Dave Sim spats with Jeff Smith, Diana Schitz and Coleen Doran. Mike Doran piped up to say, "She's no relation, you know. And that's an exclusive to Newsarama." Mike Carlin sat on him.

But the winner was the report in The Comics Journal, where it was revealed that Wally Wood abseiled up a company building to retrieve his original artwork back after publication. Mike Carlin jumped up and down exclaiming that he would never put an artist through such obstacles. Apart from ChrisCross, anyway.

Rumour Of The Year Award
There were plenty to choose from and the panel decided they needed extra time, more pudding and wine, and even discussed roasting Jimmy Palmiotti on a spit. So what caused the delay?

Well, it was hard to choose between Howard Mackie as X, writer on The Brotherhood; the Uncle Ben rumour that never was, courtesy of Joe Quesada; Mark Millar creating a JLA character called Ares Bandet; the Magik-Magique-Jezebelle name confusion that was far more interesting than either of the final comics; the USAgent as Judge Dredd ads; Marvel backing down over Transformers TPBs; allegations of homophobia across publishers; the distribution dealings between Marvel and CDSBooks, and the thumbscrews that it gave Jemas to get a deal out of Diamond; the Miracleman fights; the Comics Code meeting; the fight over Comic Shop News CrossGen ads; Bryan Hitch's decision not to move to CrossGen after all; Millar moving to Ireland and setting up an enclave of comics writers and artists; and the whole Wizard/Shadow Reavers excess uberplugging all made for a long night's drinking of absinthe to come to a conclusion. And to make Mark Millar twitch even more.

In the end, everyone unanimously voted on the rumour involving DC's decision to use the events of September 11th as a reason to cancel one of their best selling, critically acclaimed and attention getting books, Authority, because it wasn't to executive tastes. It was the continued use of Midnighter and Apollo as gay analogues to Batman and Superman, the general anarchic and non-respectful tone of the book, or its tendency to push the boundaries of taste that lead to rampant revision followed by cancellation. The revelation that the changes made to Authority after the events of 9-11 were nothing to do with terrorism, fundamentalism, or exploding and falling buildings, but instead matters of taste, that other projects such as Dark Knight Strikes Again were free to explore, pretty much sealed the cap on this one. DC had a prime exploitable franchise in Authority. And they were embarrassed by it.

Their decisions made, the luncheon began to finish. People started to get into their ComfyCrates TM. Mike Carlin tried to get Mike Doran to join him in his special two-seater crate, but Doran evaded Carlin's slippery grasp. Chuck Dixon and Marc Alessi merged into one person, like in that film Society. Then Dixon-Alessi decided to start burning all the ComfyCrates TM.

In the fires that lit up the night sky, with the screams of wild animals in the air and Mike Carlin's decision to use start running around shouting, "I've got the conch shell," it took Bill Rosemann, Mike Doran and Mark Millar gathered, their twitchings joining, reverberating together until they began to warp the very fabric of space and time. After the whole island was sucked into a temporary black hole, everything went into a bit of a decline…

Rumour Awards 2002 is a satire published by Silver Bullet Comics, and is not intended maliciously. Silver Bullet Comics has invented all names and situations in its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody (permitted under Hustler Magazine v. Fallwell, 485 US 46, 108 S.Ct 876, 99 L.Ed.2d 41 (1988)). Silver Bullet Comics makes no representation as to the truth or accuracy of the preceeding information. Although we have just nicked this legal disclaimer from Comic Book Resources' You'll All Be Sorry, which was a great column. Go buy copies of Deadpool.

Party Time
Joe Quesada is geting old. On the 12th of January, he'll be having a large industry-wide bash, as well as launching See you there...

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