The Parody Account That Dare Not Speak Its Name

image_400x400Parody Twitter accounts. The internet is full of them. Carrying on a long tradition of parody columns, taking a persona of a famous individual to both mock them and also provide wider social commentary. The "Dear Bill" column in Private Eye, purporting to be the fortnightly letters of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's husband to a newspaper editor and golfing partner. London's Evening Standard ran the Alan Clark Secret Diaries, until enough people were convinced that it was the real thing and legal action saw them add a "Not" to the title. But the authorship was never really in question.

And on Twitter parody accounts are all the rage. Mark Zuckerberg has one. Rebecca Black had one. And The Queen has a parody account followed by over a million of you.

And they exist in comics as well of course. The Hulk has one with 181,000 followers. I used to have one, with fewer. And then there's Stan Lee.

Yes, about that last one. Bizarro Stan Lee began as a simply bombastic parody of The Man. Contrasting his squeaky clean image with the moral dubiousness of a supposed debauched jetset lifestyle, so at odds with the man himself, it was hilarious. It is believed to have been set up by the same person behind another parody account, Hollywood Ross Richie which sees that comic book exec portrayed as a controlling svengali of the comics industry, to which my reaction has usually been "he wishes". Certainly both accounts have exhibited insider knowledge, sometimes referring to incidents known by only a handful of industry people.

Which is where the Bizarro Stan Lee account suddenly spun off the brief and started attacking certain industry figures. No longer a parody account, it is controlled anonymously, and believed to have been passed from one person to another. The audiences gained from earlier parody are now used as a way to anonymously attack, forgetting the Stan Lee parody persona altogether.

Sometimes the account jumps on popular attack subjects, such as Yale Stewart or Arthur Suydam, although sometimes the operator seems to forget which account they are using, and they parody Ross Richie again.

One target seems to be Janelle Asselin, current Senior Editor of Comics Alliance, who has worked for a number of publishers in her time. And, through a number of tweets, Bizarro Stan Lee used information known to very few to make digs. Well, this week, it got worse. Janelle had previously tweeted,

Recently, there had been much tweeted online about two comic pros who got a bit drunkenly belligerent towards each other outside the Hyatt during San Diego Comic-Con, in Janelle's close presence. This caused Bizarro Stan Lee to tweet,

After considerable condemnation from folks online, he retorted,

There have been no more tweets on the account since.

Here's the thing. It's one thing to run an parody account. But most authors cop to it, in one way or another. In this case, evidence suggests  that it seems to be being used by one, or a number of comic book industry insiders as a way to make personal digs against people in comics that, for one reason or another, they dislike intensely. And cause hurt and pain in the process.

Those suspected deny it and evidence is purely circumstantial. But I'm going to take the widely controversial position to say that if you want to blatantly and personally attack someone on the Internet, then sign it. I get plenty, it seems to be what the Internet is for. And if you are fighting the Chinese government, then fair enough. But if it's just us comic book folk, and your own peers, it is time to use your real name somewhere.

Or at least try to sound a bit more like Stan Lee while you are doing it…

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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