Around this time last year, Jude Terror wrote about one of his favourite X-Men titles, Iceman, written by Sina Grace. And on Sina Grace's Tumblr post about his time at Marvel writing the book and a lack of support from Marvel while he dealt with online harassment as well as a lack of support and promotion for Iceman itself.
All of the weird drama I put up with crystallized when I created a drag queen mutant, first called Shade, now called Darkveil. I told my editor that Shade would be a big deal for X-Fans, and asked how we should promote her. He said: "leave it up to the reader's interpretation." Everyone at Marvel shrugged off two years of goodwill and acted like I'd coordinated behind their backs on an announcement that made headlines. Beyond mentioning on Instagram the queens who inspired the character, I didn't coordinate sh-t. Of course, their head publicist can't admit that my quotes were pre-approved from an unreleased interview. At this point, I stopped believing that there'd be any more work for me. There were so many shady moves on their end that I'm still having trouble putting into language, but it all aligned with an experience I had in retail where a corrupt manager kept lying and moving the goal posts in order to keep me selling in a department I didn't want to work in. I offered to give Darkveil a proper character bio, and I walked away.
Today he has followed up and it may explain more of his anger and frustration at Marvel.
Towards the end of my time there, I'd been getting a sense that marvel editors were lying about keeping me in mind for projects after iceman, and the following incident sealed the deal in terms of being told (not in any legally binding way) that I had overstayed my welcome at the house of ideas.
Sometime in 2018, an editor at a different publishing house asked if I'd pitch for an all-ages Spider-Man book they were licensed to produce.
That would be IDW, who publish a licensed line of Marvel all-ages superhero comics, including the Avengers, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Miles Morales: Spider-Man. Sorry, Sina, I didn't mean to interrupt.
Considering I saw CB Cebulski have a conniption at a comic con party when another Marvel Comics writer told him he'd been courted to do the same for avengers, I asked that editorial to make absolutely sure marvel was cool with me pitching for this project. The editor got approval, and I wrote a damn good idea that was on the fast track to being the next arc in the series. For those who aren't familiar, when you're not a household name, pitching for a legacy character is quite a bit of work. Given my lifelong love of Spider-Man, it wasn't exactly grueling to come up with a handful of ideas and then properly outline the one my editor liked the most… but it's still work. All that being said, I felt great about the final document, and that I'd bought myself a few more months of being Marvel-adjacent so I could continue growing my reputation for being known for my writing chops, and rinse off the notion that I was ever anyone's diversity hire.
Cut to a few weeks later, and my editor tells me that I can't be used for the series. The exact words he relayed from Marvel were: "they'd like to keep the focus on iceman for now." That e-mail came in the day I turned in my last script for Iceman. I reached out to Marvel's talent relations guy, and he got me on the phone to explain a completely different reason why I was taken off the book: he said that Marvel only wanted people with experience in all-ages because there were different formatting rules than what goes into a standard comic script (a half truth that doesn't matter when you read the next sentence). I mentioned that I did an all-ages book for Simon and Schuster, a middle grade series for Image Comics, short stories for Boom Studios, and edited an all-ages title for Robert Kirkman. The talent relations guy was like, "Oh, I didn't know all that." He then went on to say that Marvel had a list of people they wanted this editor to approach and as a result some wires got crossed and thus I was out of several months' work. He didn't offer to fix the problem, he didn't offer to throw me on any number of space-filler mini-series that were just basically keeping Jonathan Hickman's seat warm… nothing.
In response, I said to the talent relations guy: "Do you believe what you're telling me?"
He didn't have a particularly good answer.
Oh if you're wondering: like NONE of the writers who did end up getting hired for these all-ages titles had legitimate experience with all-ages material. They're all great writers and some of them are my homies, but it's not like they came from scholastic or random house.
You can read the rest here – Sina is telling this now as he says the editor he worked with didn't want the story shared, but they have now left the company and says it's fine. We presume that would be Marvel Action editor Denton Tipton, who Bleeding Cool reported being made redundant at IDW back in May.
Sina Grace is the author of Ghosted In LA, creator of Self-Obsessed, and Not My Bag, and artist on The Li'l Depressed Boy. He is the former Editorial Director of Skybound.