"Everybody laugh at the funny joke!" adds Dan Didio
In an unprecedented joint statement, Joe Quesada, Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics, and Dan Didio, who does pretty much the same job but with a longer, dumber title at DC, admitted that their last three years of publishing were one elaborate practical joke on the comics reading public.
"It started out harmlessly, as these things usually do," Quesada said in the statement, referring to the innocent game of Connect Four between Jack Kirby and Jim Shooter at the San Diego Comic Con at 1984 that eventually led to the Kirby original art controversy.
"Dan and I were hanging out in the bar of the hotel we were staying at during San Diego, and as the comp drinks piled up, the germ of the idea for this whole thing started to come to fruition," Quesada said.
"Over the course of the weekend, and way too many comp drinks from freelancers desperate for work, we concocted some crazy ideas," Didio added. "At first, we were just screwing around, but as the weekend wore on, we came to the realization that we might be able to pull this thing off. Mind you, we were really, really drunk."
"Like two Dean Martins locked in a whiskey factory," Quesada added.
Didio said that things really got moving when Geoff Johns and Mark Millar joined them in the bar.
"Geoff dared Mark that he could come up with the dumber company wide crossover. Once again, it seemed like harmless posturing, until he had one too many, and he double dog dared him," Didio said.
"As everyone with any knowledge of their culture knows, nothing is more serious to a Scottsman than the double dog dare," Quesada said. "You can ask Graeme McMillan, who was totally in on this joke, too."
"I was," McMillan said in his own press release. "I mean, really, did you all think that all of that great material for Fanboy Rampage just fell in to my lap?"
"Every time we announced a new project, we were planning on that being the last part of the joke," Didio said in the other press release. The first one. "But it just kept getting funnier. And selling better. That helped keep the suits happy."
"Unlike other comic publishing practical jokes, like the New Universe and Helix, this one just refused to be an utter financial failure, allowing it to keep going," Quesada said.
"We wanted to stop it many, many times, but it just kept selling, and all of the fans reactions (especially on my good friend Graeme's site) were just too priceless," Quesada said.
"At one point, we based our entire editorial policy, at both companies, on how angry we could make Jesse Baker," Didio said, referencing the infamous message board poster.
The talent involved were suprised by the gullibility of the comics reading public.
"I'm amazed that no one got that putting me on the Avengers was a gag," Brian Michael Bendis said. "I mean, me, Brian Michael Benids, who I am, the writer who is Brian Michael Bendis... Bendis? Yeah, Bendis. Really? Yes, Bendis. Who writes like that. Reptitively. And wordy. Very wordy and repetitive. On the Avengers. Come on! How could you all buy that?"
Greg Rucka had a similar reaction.
"It cracks me up that you guys all seem to think that I have an obsession with Renee Montoya, because really, I have to be reminded daily who she is. I had to tattoo it on my chest, like in Memento."
As many belly laughs as the two editorial directors and their creative accomplices got out of the joke, they both had epiphanies that made them realize they had gone too far.
"I was doing an interview with Wizard via confrence call, and when they asked me a question about the new Helmet of Dr. Fate ongoing, I just lost it," Didio said. "I broke down laughing and hung up on them. That gave them very little material to work with for their cover story on the DCU, but being Wizard, I'm sure they filled all that extra space with fart jokes and pictures of Jessica Alba."
Quesada's epiphany was a little different.
"I wanted to keep it going. I mean, this was the kind of thing Bill and I were going for during our entire tenure together! It was great. But then a freelancer who wasn't in on the joke seriously pitched me a "The Many Painful Deaths of Mary Jane Parker" 12 issue maxi series, and then I knew that we had gone too far."
That freelancer, Warren Ellis, said "It was worth a try. I wanted to build a gazeebo in my back yard," on his message board at his website the Engine. And in his Bad Signal newsletter. And, through his new, shockingly low tech medium, sky writing.
Industry analysts were shocked by the news for about fifteen minutes, before they could really think about it, and then they weren't.
"It makes a lot of sense, really," Brian Hibbs, of San Fransico's Comics Experience, said.
Message board posters were their usual subdued, thoughtful selves. Even one of the men whom the joke was chiefly played on, Jesse Baker, took it in stride. With a profane rant that can not be reprinted here.
Seriously. It can peel paint off walls.