The comic book industry got its first taste of Hannibal Tabu's writing nineteen years ago when he was asked to write reviews by the editor of ecommerce website NextPlanetOver, a gentleman named Eric Stephenson.
Tabu had written reviews for MTV, AOL, Vibe, The Source, Sci Fi Universe and numerous other publications since the early 1990s. When NextPlanetOver perished in the Twilight of the Dot Coms, Stephenson and Tabu continued collaborating at the short lived SpinnerRack.com, until pressures caused the end of that outlet as well. Tabu had gotten a taste of the Wednesday warrior bug and continued on his own, creating the column The Buy Pile. UGO.com soon syndicated The Buy Pile for two years until Jonah Weiland saw fit to bring it to Comic Book Resources in 2006. For thirteen and a half years, Hannibal Tabu brought his iconoclastic reviews to audiences until conditions changed … and something new had to happen.
Today, Hannibal Tabu joins the staff of Bleeding Cool as Head Comics Reviewer. The Buy Pile continues as syndicated audio reviews on the iHeartRadio podcast Nerd-O-Rama and on Ham Radio on KQBH-LP. Who is the only voice credible enough to interview him for Bleeding Cool? Hannibal Tabu himself!
BC: Thank you for joining us, Hannibal. Wow, this is quite a shift for you, isn't it?
HT: Yeah … uh … are the walls here always moving like that? That's weird.
BC: Never mind that. Anyway, dude … what the heck?
HT: Yeah, I know. Well, here's the thing: let me clear up any rumors, I don't have any beef with CBR. CBR and I both had business requirements that diverged from each other and we came to an agreement to end our relationship.
BC: … that's just corporate speak blah blah. That's not an answer!
HT: It's not some big salacious story …
BC: This is Bleeding Cool! It has to be a big salacious story? Why are we even bothering with this?
HT: I dunno what to tell you, man … well, except for the fact that you look great for your age!
BC: Why, thanks, I've been … hang on, don't try to distract me! Okay, well, of all the places you could have ended up, why Bleeding Cool?
HT: Here's a little secret that a lot of people don't know: Rich Johnston is actually super, super nice. I may be ruining his rep, but it's true. When my family traveled to London, he went out of his way to be the "man in the chair" for me, helping with logistics when he could have told me to Google it. When we worked together at CBR, he was always super cordial and helpful.
As well, despite winning the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt and being named the 2019 Cultural Trailblazer by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, much of the comics press has been reluctant to cover my efforts, even alongside Ringo Award-winning artist Quinn McGowan or when I got a cover from Marvel artist Ray-Anthony Height for a 64 page original graphic novel costing just five bucks. You know who's covered my work? Bleeding Cool. You know who's interested in indie stuff that some other outlets pass as not getting them enough clicks? Bleeding Cool.
I've spent much of my time railing against lacks of representation and discriminatory hiring practices (intentional or not), so coming to a site that is at least willing to evidence an attempt at evening the playing field … that sounds like a place I should be. That's most of the story. CBR and I developed different business needs and made a mature decision without vitriol or drama, and I found myself in the company of people who wanted me exactly as I am. The end.
BC: You're forgetting the muckraking, rumor mongering reputation. Jude Terror. Rich Johnston. Lots of pretty sharp words have been pointed at two of Bleeding Cool's biggest names. Remember when you covered that panel and Mark Waid said nothing on Bleeding Cool should be believed?
HT: If I made Mark Waid money from my writing, maybe I'd have the privilege of saying "this site good, this site bad." My comics career isn't that big, and honestly, I've got more than enough enemies already to go crossing anybody off because somebody else doesn't like them. For whatever bad Bleeding Cool is alleged to have done — none of it actionable enough to hold up in court, as near as I can tell — I could point to the careers that never got started due to not being covered by outlets chasing the big two, like the dearly departed Zack Dolan. Lots of people say I make it about race, but Zack was amazingly talented and white, yet he couldn't get any notice. The system, as they say, may be broken, and I tend to dance with the ones who brought me. If Terror and Johnston are writers who have infuriated fans and professionals alike, then it seems that the trilogy is complete, wouldn't you say?
BC: Bold words, but you've never been a shy wallflower. All right, Hannibal, well, what can we expect from you at Bleeding Cool?
HT: My reviews will now be individual articles instead of an aggregate column. The format will be somewhat similar to what people have come to know for the last … spirit, has it been sixteen years of doing this? I think so. I'll list the creative team with each review, instead of just on reviews for the books I thought were "buy" candidates. I'll be maybe fifteen percent more sober. It should be fun.
As well, with the launch of Project Wildfire: Smoke on the Water in January, you'll start to see more information about indie books and companies you might not know, like One Nation and Kamikaze and Super! and Horsemen and Redjack and other stuff that rarely gets seen by larger audiences. If I'm here, I'm bringing a lot of true talents with me.
BC: Well, thanks for your time and we're really happy to have you here. Also, you forgot to take out the recycling this morning and it's gonna be a hot mess in the morning.
Hannibal Tabu is an award-winning journalist and comic book writer, a published poet and novelist, a husband and father, aligned lawful evil and is
a professional awful person. His professional efforts can be found on The Operative Network.