An Emerald Crusade
by Will Allred (11/26/1997)
Long ago and far away...all right, it was only about a mile away, but it was over 18 years ago...I remember buying a comic off the stands at Coger's Drugstore. Green Lantern #121 was that book. It's a pretty good story about a Spanish conquistador (El Espectro) with a nasty temperament who has been magically kept alive after drinking from the Fountain of Youth. A hurricane frees him and super-hero fun then ensues with Green Lantern. Well...OK, but it was high literature to a 7-year-old me. Now you're probably wondering what this has to do with anything. Actually, that issue marks my introduction to Green Lantern. And when I say Green Lantern, I mean Hal Jordan. I later found out about Alan Scott, but since that day back in 1979, Hal has been one of my favorite characters. Unfortunately, others (DC Editorial) weren't as fond of Hal as I and rather pointlessly turned him into a raving psychotic mass murderer in the process of destroying the Green Lantern Corps. This didn't sit well with me or several other long-time fans. But instead of just continually griping about it like I did, some of these other fans have done something about it. They've taken out an ad.
Described as a "legion of Hal fans," members of an online "group" jokingly referred to as "H.E.A.T." (Hal's Emerald Attack Team) have been working behind the scenes since the group's "formation" almost immediately after the "Emerald Twilight" storyline which culminated in Hal Jordan going insane, the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps, his killing of the Guardians of the Universe, and the establishment of new Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. For the last three years they have been applying some H.E.A.T. to DC in the hopes of having DC bring Hal and the Corps back. Obviously, the group hasn't made much progress with DC Editorial during this time, so they've switched to a new tactic, publicity. They've essentially put their money where their collective mouth was. The December issue of Wizard will have an ad, a full-page ad, calling for the return of the Corps and Hal.
Spearheaded by H.E.A.T. member Jack Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org), the ad effort grew out of the collaboration with fellow Green Lantern fan Michael Bond (email@example.com) on The Unofficial Green Lantern Corps Web Page (http://www.glcorps.org). The two created the impressive collection of web pages devoted to all things Green Lantern in the hopes of
"...keeping the memory of this grand, cosmic legacy alive, not only for the nostalgic benefit of older Green Lantern fans, but for our 'Kyle Generation' friends, too. We hope the fans of the 'Kyle Generation' can learn to appreciate the rich history of the Green Lantern Corps. Without which, Kyle Rayner couldn't be the Green Lantern he is today."
They even started an e-mail petition with the intent of bringing the Corps and Hal back to soar among the stars again. As of the end of November, it had 546 signatures with more fans signing every month. H.E.A.T., however, is still something of a small group. Since the group couldn't put together enough money for the ad, they started asking for pledges from other disgruntled Green Lantern fans. Together, they were able to raise the necessary funds, and the result will be seen November 26th as Wizard #77 hits the stands.
Jack took a few moments to talk to me about H.E.A.T., the ad, Green Lantern, how everything got started, and his role in it.
Allred: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. First, the most important question, what Green Lantern story or storyline is your favorite?
Grimes: Good question! :) For favorite storyline, I'd have to say "The Road Back" (Green Lantern (Volume 3) #'s 1-8), Gerard Jones' best Green Lantern work. Perfect blend of human characterization and epic space opera. Close runners-up would be Emerald Dawn and the "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps" miniseries. There's no way I could tie down a favorite singles issue, though. There've been so many...Ganthet's Tale, several Tales of the Green Lantern Corps back-up stories, and Mark Waid's story in Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #2, if you want to twist my arm about it. :)
Allred: Yes! That ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite stories bar none. We got to see Hal at his best but were also shown why Guy Garner and John Stewart were more than worthy to be Green Lanterns each in their own unique way.
OK. Now that we know I'm a fanboy, could you give us a little background on how this project got started?
Grimes: Well, I had had the idea for a Hal/Green Lantern Corps advertisement swirling around in my head since the Green Lantern Corps page's "Green Lantern Corps Petition" really started taking off, racking up something like 50 signatures a month. I just didn't have the initiative (nor the time) to investigate. That is, until late August, when friend and fellow Green Lantern fan Harry Philipo (ToyMaster@aol.com) publicly suggested taking out an ad to the "regulars" on AOL's DC Online GL message board. When almost a dozen people immediately pledged at least $20, I figured we might actually have a shot at it, and I e-mailed them with my interest in organizing the ad. We did some investigating and found the ad rates for a few industry magazines. Despite the vastly greater cost in Wizard, we decided to make the biggest impact possible and go with the industry's most widely distributed magazine. Kevin Huxford (KHuxford@aol.com) opened communication lines with Wizard, which I then followed. Joe Sturgeon and Harry lent their computer graphics talents in constructing the ad itself, which I chose the image and wrote copy for, while I drummed up support on the Internet from the most publicly adamant fans.
Allred: What made you and H.E.A.T. take this step and decide to go with an ad?
Grimes: We feel that we've done just about all we could on-line, in the last four or so years. We wanted to expand this "movement" to all comics fandom. And an ad is really our only avenue to the majority of comics readership, as we've been shut out of all the letter columns.
Allred: Drumming up support, talks with Wizard...how long did it take you to put this thing together and just how much is an ad in Wizard?
Grimes: About two months of hard work and shameless pledge-begging. :) Wizard's Ken Scrudato was kind and generous enough to practically give us the ad at about 50% off, for $3505. Luckily, with over 40 contributors, we were able to reach that amount before the deadline.
Allred: You've got the ad. What do you hope to accomplish with it?
Grimes: Obviously, we want to see Hal Jordan in a prominent, heroic position again in the DC Universe, and the Green Lantern concept enriched once more with the mythology of the Corps. But at the core of it, it's to send a united message to DC, and all comic companies. A message that says long-time fans are tired of taking a back seat to hot trends and disposable incomes. And a message to fans of Hal and the Corps letting them know that they are not alone.
Allred: Do you think it will work and bring Hal and the Corps back?
Grimes: I don't see why not. We certainly aren't calling for the end of the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern. There's no way we'd wish "Emerald Twilight" on any comic fan, no matter the character. What we would like to see is in everyone's best interest: a bigger, brighter, more successful GREEN LANTERN.
Allred: How do you think those at DC will react.
Grimes: The optimist in me says, "Immediately hire Kurt Busiek." :) The pessimist in me echoes one comic professional I contacted for contributions (I contacted several, and most sent their best wishes of support, but declined to donate due to conflict of interest), who said that DC might treat the ad as a joke. But I really don't know how DC will respond...if past experience is any indicator, they'll probably shrug it off as the "cries of the loud minority," but this is a unique situation. I truly hope and expect them to take us seriously and at least consider where we are coming from.
Allred: Anything else to add?
Grimes: I'd just like to make it clear to all Kyle Rayner fans that we are not calling for replacement. We're calling for expansion and restoration. And, I'd like to once again thank all those that helped make this ad possible!
After speaking with Jack, I contacted both Mike Carlin and Kevin Dooley of DC Editorial for comments on the Wizard ad, and they had this to say.
Carlin: It's gratifying to see folks interested and concerned. Frankly, I wish they would spend the $3500 raised on new comics they liked (any publisher, the business could use the business) mostly because, knowing our plans for the next year of Green Lantern, this isn't really needed. Check out Green Lantern #100 and beyond...
Again, it really is astounding to see just how much folks care, and it makes our work that much more meaningful and important to us!
Dooley: I think it's wonderful that fans are so devoted to DC's characters. As I myself have been a Green Lantern fan for over three decades now (hey, I grew up loving Hal Jordan--still do!), I almost would've contributed to the fund if I didn't think there were so many worthier causes, wasn't so proud of the work we've been doing on Green Lantern, and didn't know what was going to happen in future issues. I don't want to give away anything, but it's gonna be great, original and fun!
Fans have always had an impact on the direction of books from voting who would be the team leader in the Legion of Super-Heroes to voting to kill the Jason Todd Robin, but rarely have fans so disliked the outcome of a story that they were willing to put up $3500 in the hopes of getting their point across. Me, I'm looking forward to Green Lantern after the rather cryptic hints thrown out by Messrs. Carlin and Dooley almost as much as I looked forward to Green Lantern #122. That darn El Espectro story was continued into #122, and the month I spent waiting on it to arrive was one of the longest months I can remember.