Multiversity Says Goodbye: “In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night”

By | May 31st, 2024
Posted in Columns | % Comments

Featured image from “Green Lantern” #198, art by Joe Staton

It always amazes me how small seeds grow into mighty oaks. A random search on the iTunes Podcast Store in 2010 (yes, it was actually called that) led me to a podcast called Spoiler Alert with Matt and Mocle. That was my first introduction to Multiversity Comics. A year later, I’d be writing for the site. Two years later, I’d be an associate editor. Three years after that, I’d be running the show. Eight years after that, I’m shutting it down. Insert the Dr. Manhattan on Mars meme here.

There’s no way to sum up my feelings about the last almost 13 years of my life, an inordinate amount of which was spent thinking about, working on, or stressing about Multiversity Comics. The site has been with me, to quote the greatest characters in all of comics, in brightest day and blackest night. I’m not going to even try. I’m just going to share some vignettes from that time that illustrate why it was all entirely worth it.

This high five will make sense in a few paragraphs

I never realized why I loved comics for the first 29 years of my life.

I mean, I knew part of it, but writing about comics, getting to look at the process through interviews and art features, reading more comics than any human should have to, all of that contributed to helping me understand why I love them like I do.

On the surface, comics aren’t for me. Most of the art that I like connects with me because of the blank spaces in it (not a Taylor Swift reference). I like reading novels because I can create the images that work for me and not need to rely on a casting director’s image of who the character is. I like music that allows me to bring my own interpretation to it. I like films where characters don’t just state their feelings openly.

But in comics, every aspect of the story is laid out in front of you. Someone decides how Jack Knight is going to look, and someone else decides what he’s going to say, and a third person decides what color his shoes are. Comics don’t leave much room for your own experience.

Except for one thing: that’s bullshit.

Comics are sequential art. I could (poorly) draw a picture of my arm and your arm three feet apart, both going up for a high five. The next panel would be our hands slapping. Your brain sees those two things and does a magic trick where it connects them together. Our imagination supplies the motion between panels. Comics don’t work unless our brains recognize what is happening and do the work. It is a collaborative medium between the reader and the creators, and that allows us each to bring something absolutely unique to the experience.

Younger Matt and Brian at the 2013 NYCC party

For a few years, we became party planners.

For three years at New York Comic Con, and one at Emerald City Comic Con, Multiversity threw parties with the Hero Initiative. I honestly don’t remember who came up with this idea, but because I was the most local to New York member of the crew, I sort of got the party planning job thrust upon me. I won’t suggest that I didn’t get help because that’s not true, but I had to scout venues and do some negotiating and whatnot. First at the Houndstooth Pub and then at Stitch, Multiversity and Image Comics did three NYCC parties, and they were varying degrees of glorious.

That first party (2012) was such a special night for a few reasons. First of all, it worked. We raised thousands for the Hero Initiative, the venue made a ton of money in drink sales, and we all had a blast. There are photo booth photos that I’ll cherish forever (including, perhaps, the last time I was ever hit on in public, when a party goer slipped her phone number into my pocket as I was taking a picture with a friend. I am, and was, married, but talk about an ego boost!), and it was the first time that some of my ‘IRL’ friends saw just how committed to this comics thing I was (eternal thanks Ken, Vinny, and Steve for coming to support us!).

Continued below

At the 2013 party, Matthew Meylikhov (of Spoiler Alert and the founder of the site) called me over and said, “Brian, meet Ron Marz.” Ron Marz wrote some of my favorite comics of all time and co-created Kyle Rayner, the greatest of all Green Lanterns. Ron and I have met and emailed many times since, but if you had told 14 year old Brian that one day he’d be on a first name basis with Ron fucking Marz, he wouldn’t have believed you. Hell, 41 year old Brian can barely believe it.

When we took the party on the road to ECCC, the nicest writer in comics, Joshua Williamson, surprised me by not only recognizing me, but making a beeline to come over and say hi. I was so shocked that I briefly blanked on his name because I was so surprised that he would care enough about some schmuck on the internet who he had briefly met a few times. We wound up hanging out a lot of that convention, and his kindness still blows me away.

Those parties and convention were, perhaps, the most tangible pieces of the Multiversity experience. I shook hands with people I respected, hugged friends I only knew through a screen and an email account, and clinked glasses with folks who told me that they liked my writing and podcasts. And we did it all for a great cause. The parties and the art months, those are what I’ll take with me.

When people work together, you see the good and the bad.

I’m afraid that for most of the Multiversity writers, they’ve seen more of my bad than my good over the past 13 years. I’m from New Jersey, I’m direct and wear my feelings on my sleeve. Despite being the most sensitive person I know (you can make me cry by not reading a text I sent you. Seriously), I’ve never quite managed to figure out the “say things nicer than you think you need to because people can’t read tone from text and say ‘fuck’ less” thing. And so, to anyone who I ever offended by saying something like “I wish you let me know you weren’t doing a review, that fucks up the schedule big time,” what I really meant was “Please communicate better, but I understand.”

I need to say that because of the absolutely stellar bumper crop of talent I’ve had the privilege to work with since I started here. Leaving out their friendships for a second, I’m, on talent alone, stunned by the work that people contributed here. Amazing analysis and hard work would appear in my inbox or the backend of WordPress multiple times a week. My job as editor was always easy because once folks hit the stride they (mostly) needed very little editing. We attracted good people, and they did good work.

But at the end of the day, who cares about the work? It’s about the people.

I know that is a funny thing to say on a website where all you know is the work, but if all the work vanished tomorrow, that would matter very little in the context of my life. But if any of these people went away, I’d be devastated. Even the people I didn’t know that well or never quite personally meshed with mean a great deal to me. They are the legacy of Multiversity, not the words on the internet.

Those people include folks who I’ve opened my home to, or have opened their homes to me. I’ve been to two Multiversity weddings. I know the names of Multiversity babies, and I hope to meet them one day. The most active group chat on my phone is a Multiversity one. My Multiversity friends are quick to tell each other that we love each other, and just as quickly to bust their balls about the dumbest little things. A real community formed from a silly site about comics.

Tomorrow, on my first day without Multiversity, I’m seeing a Multiversity friend. I can’t detangle myself from this site, nor would I ever want to.

The Multiversity staff, NYCC 2018
Continued below

The past 13 years have seen my life change incredibly. When I started here, my wife was pregnant for the first time. We now have an 8 year old and a 12 year old. I’ve changed careers, I’ve moved twice, I lost my dad to cancer, I’ve buried friends, made new ones, cried a lot and laughed more. Multiversity has been there for a lot of the good and the bad in my life. But all good things must come to an end, and it was important to me to go out before we lost the thread and turned into a clickbait factory or de facto celebrity gossip site.

And the thing I’m most proud of after all this time is that, despite having stories that you wouldn’t believe about the creators that make them, we are still a site that loves comics. We never got cynical; our reviews never turned into pissing contests or ploys to get free shit. We were fair and passionate about something that we love.

Even though the site is closing shop, we still love comics, you guys. We likely always will. And even when the books aren’t great, the culture feels toxic, or the thread feels totally lost, that truth – we love comics – doesn’t change. Even if this is the blackest night, the brightest day is right around the corner.

Comics are great. Beware their power.

Comics forever. Friendship forever. Community forever. Multiversity Forever.

//TAGS | Multiversity Says Goodbye

Brian Salvatore

Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).


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