April Fools Day Round-Up: Were You Fooled?
When it comes to April Fools Day on the ‘Net, I’m not sure where I stand. On one hand, I’m endlessly entertained by the creativity various companies show in their efforts to pull the digital wool over readers’ eyes. It’s also an amazing promotional opportunity, providing websites that normally wouldn’t be players in the viral marketing scene a chance to flex their creative muscles and attract new readers.
On the other hand, however, it’s an editor’s worst nightmare. Every story is likely to be a hoax, and it’s damn near impossible to break any authentic news due to the inherent skepticism of online readers for a 24-hour period.
It’s a bit of a personal hell for me, too. Every year, I wake up on April 1 and remind myself that anything I read that day is probably an April Fools Day prank. And every year, I end up getting excited about a story anyways, only to realize that it was just another joke — more often than not, this happens after I go public with my excitement, adding to the embarassment. In the end, I’m reminded of Charlie Brown trying to kick that football time and time again, even though he ends up on his back in the dirt every time he makes the attempt. I feel his pain.
So this year, I’ve put together a list of some of the highlights from this year’s April Fools Day on the Interwebs. It’s nowhere near a complete list, just some of my personal favorites from the world of comics and comics culture, as well as a few notable non-comics pranks. Feel free to add your own to the ‘Mix (pun totally intended) by adding a link in the comment section at the end of this article.
The recent ruling involving the rights of Jerry Siegel’s Estate to the Superman character prompted a number of Superman-related pranks, including our own announcement that Superman’s adventures would soon be published here at ComicMix, with our own John Ostrander and Mike Grell handling the writing and art duties, respectively.
Oni Press got in on the fun with an announcement that they had acquired the domestic publishing rights to Superman, too. Their first issue of Superman was scheduled for an April 1, 2009, release. (We’re suing, by the way.)
Here at ComicMix, we couldn’t resist providing a few more April Fools Day moments, though, and posted a big scoop involving a merger between DC Direct and My Little Pony — with accompanying images our "secret source" came across during Toy Fair.
Our ComicMix creators contributed their artistic talents to the day’s events, with a chibi-inspired GrimJack cover (drawn by Holly Kindzierski, daughter of ace colorist Lovern) and a cover for the day’s issue of Jon Sable, Freelance that evoked fond memories of Archie and the Riverdale bunch.
Elsewhere, Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin ruined their Google ranking for months with their all-All Star Batman stunt.
The marketing team for The Dark Knight has already been doing an amazing job in the world of viral marketing and alternate-reality promotional campaigns, but they went big once again yesterday. We reported on the initial launch of the campaign yesterday, and then again on today’s reveal of the prizes from yesterday’s big treasure hunt. Our friends over at Cinematical also have a great write-up of the entire campaign and how it went down.
That wasn’t the only Batman movie-related prank this year, though, as Butterboom announced that Edison Chen had been cast in the role of Robin for a Batman sequel to follow The Dark Knight.
Casting announcements were all the rage this April Fools Day, with JoBlo announcing that Brokeback Mountain actor Jake Gyllenhaal would be donning the Spider-Man suit for the next film in that franchise, while Moviehole announced that American Pie star Jason Biggs would become the webslinger.
Captain America writer Ed Brubaker announced that he was leaving the series due to creative differences with Brian Bendis, and fans reacted in the expected way, with loads of expletives, snark and ol’ fashioned fanboy fun. Good times.
Smallville fansite KryptonSite released loads of fake episode previews and cast announcements for the series, then told readers it was shutting down the site entirely. Harsh!
Transformers fans had a lot to be fooled by, with IDW announcing its new line of "Wheelie Wear" apparel, inspired by the slingshot-wielding, fast-talking character from the animated classic, Transformers: The Movie.
In a far more elaborate (and, dare I say, cruel) hoax, The Transformers Collectors Club announced that a three-page preview of a new Transformers comic series would debut on the website for BotCon, the Transformers collector convention, on April 1. Indeed, three pages popped up on the site, and fans went ABSOLUTELY INSANE. Various fan sites quickly filled up with praise for the new series, and… you can probably see where this one’s headed. Later that day, it was announced that the series was indeed a hoax, and that only the three pages had been commissioned — with the pranksters going as far as to get Hasbro’s approval for the joke. To quote Anchorman‘a Ron Burgundy, "I’m not even mad… that’s amazing."
Heck, even financial advisement website The Motley Fool joined the fun, announcing to readers that it would cease covering stock investment for six months and instead devote its coverage to topics such as Guitar Hero and spatula shopping.
Finally, one of my personal favorites was a "leaked" video from Ubisoft, the makers of the Assassins Creed videogame, in which they announce a sequel to the game that combines the Crusades-era main character with the modern wartime setting and skills of the lead character from the Metal Gear franchise. If that made no sense at all to you, don’t worry. You simply haven’t wasted valuable hours of your life playing Assassin’s Creed — and that’s probably a good thing.
So, what did I miss? Let me know in the comment section of this article!