Let’s take a trip, folks. A trip to when I did writing for sports, instead of art, comics, politics and writing analysis. I remember something similar to what’s happening with Heather Antos and Marvel Entertainment. It’s not a new thing, to be honest. Whenever someone believes that their medium is dying, they hop ship to the next big thing. It’s a tale as old as time. However, as Douglas Ernst has said, don’t get cocky, Comicsgate.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane in sports history. Once upon a time, there was a reporter named Jay Mariotti. If you’ve never watched ESPN, don’t worry. I’ll translate jock to nerd for you. Mariotti was that Loki like prick on the panel show, Around the Horn. He was always the dissenting opinion against the usual good guy in Woody Paige. Mariotti was the heel of every show. Sometimes, he would actually remember that he’s a sports reporter and not the next coming of Ted DiBiase. Most of the time, he would lose the points game.
Mariotti had an actual job, other than being an obstinate prick… He was the beat writer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Although, Jay was as much of a heel there, too. He even managed to be called an “unprofessional ass” by the late Roger Ebert. That’s criticism that Roger usually saved for hack directors that he roasted on his show, by the way. And when he lost his voice, he even said his same opinion in type. So, Jay was disliked by most rational and irrational people.
However, Jay believed that print media was (at the time) dying a painful, slow death. He decided that he needed to carry his talents to AOL and it’s new venture, Fanhouse. The idea was to gather up the best sportswriters from the various blogs from around the Internet to compete against my former employer and various online sports sites like Awful Announcing, Kissing Suzy Kolber, etc. Jay was grabbed from the Chicago Sun-Times as their ace in the hole. Except, something happened that AOL didn’t expect… Nobody followed Jay.
Needless to say, Mariotti hailed the Fanhouse as the next big thing. He claimed at the time that it would revolutionize the field of sports journalism. To be fair, they did hire talented writers. The issue was, AOL had no idea how the heck a journalism site was supposed to work. The editorial oversight was horrendous. The quality control was quite haphazard. Fair reader, there is a reason you probably don’t know what the AOL Fanhouse is. If you look it up on your search of choice, you’ll see that it’s quite dead. But then, so is AOL.
Heather Antos is now hailing Unikrn as her new home of choice, because of the fact that it’s going to be new and revolutionary. Of course, she also has the power over the editorial and the message at Unikrn. Her tweet is something that will have you puzzled, too…
It’s been a long-time goal of mine to branch out into the video game & competitive esports world. To do so under the guidance & leadership of @rahulsood & @theWonderCow is something I never would've thought possible. I absolutely cannot wait to dig my heels in & get running!
— Heather Antos @ NYCC (@HeatherAntos) March 9, 2018
The thing that you should pick up from the above, Heather is manipulating the narrative like Mariotti did when he left the Chicago Sun-Times. She’s not given the entire notice that she’s leaving comics, as a whole.
But Star Wars & Comics fans never fear!
I promise this isn’t the last you’ve seen of me — with every door that closes a window pops open for some very cool announcements 😉
— Heather Antos @ NYCC (@HeatherAntos) March 9, 2018
This brings up something that I was bouncing off of Douglas Ernst before I started this article. And something that he brought up was this. Heather is using Unikrn for her means. This much is true. But when Unikrn fails like Fanhouse did, Heather will try the same methods that Jay Mariotti tried. Jay tried to land on his feet back in sportswriting. However, he made himself so toxic that no publication would carry his columns again.
After his time at Fanhouse, he was arrested in 2010 for domestic violence against a former girlfriend. He lost his spot at ESPN until 2013, when he had amended his past transgressions. To this day, Mariotti is considered a freelance reporter. Which is essentially this, if ESPN has a story they can’t pass on to staff… He gets it. It’s a scraps job. These days, he’s putzing around with his former nemesis, Woody Paige, on a podcast.
Heather is seemingly smarter. She will use the EiC job at Unikrn to boost her status and signal. This could also prompt Marvel to give her a luxury to the degree they gave Sana Amanat. Sana is the current director of content and character development at Marvel, at the moment. She was the prominent driving force behind Ms. Marvel with G. Willow Wilson. If you pay attention, Ms. Marvel is a bit of a self insert. (Read the link, you’ll get it.)
If Cebulski and Quesada believe they could sneak her back after Unikrn, this would be the route. Heather would not a be a true editor. However, she would still have some power and authority in a bit of a made up role to satisfy her ambition. This would also keep the blame from being placed onto her lap, as this happened with Sana when Kelly Sue DeConnick ruined the Carol Danvers version of Captain Marvel. We still live with the derisive Carl Manvers to this day. However, nobody can pinpoint it to Sana officially.
Kelly Sue took the heat for the bad sales, and it tanked her and her husband’s, Matt Fraction, entire equity with Marvel. If you think, reader, that Heather is done with us? She’s far from it. Unikrn is going to be a means to an end. It’s going to give her a power boost in her eyes. Then, she can sneak back into Marvel or DC as a consultant with authority.
Nothing’s been won, yet. Stay the course, or watch as they sneak her back in. I know what I’m going to do.