Those of you with Eagle Eyesight and Photographic Memory may have noticed that Peter Parker's neighbour, Hope, attends the Lothridge School for the Deaf. Well, Josh Lothridge is one of the reviewers at Peter Parker's Pad. Coincidence? Well, nope! Here's the story...
As some of you might or might not know, I'm deaf. So when I first saw the character of Hope Hibbert, I was ecastic. Finally, a deaf character in the Marvel Universe (yes, I know Hawkeye's "hearing impaired" but that part of the Hawkeye character is so minor it's not even mentioned at all). And better yet, this deaf character did NOT fall into any of the tired cliche's (ie; stupid). The portrayal of Hope's experiences were so accurate that for the first time since Ben Reilly died, I actually enjoyed something that Todd Dezago was writing.
Jump a few months later. It's Christmas Break, and I'm fooling around on AOL as usual when I spot a message on one of the AOL message boards that mentions a post by Todd Dezago on another board. I decided to go to the other board, and get Dezago's screen name. Just as I entered it in my "Buddy List" I saw that Dezago was online. "Why the heck not?" I thought, so I IM'ed (Instant Message) him, even though I wasn't that big a fan of his writing (this was shortly after the "Grew-wings-and-flew-away" ending of the Living Monolith storyline, an ending that I absolutely hated). To my surprise, he replied back. We discussed the then-upcoming Identity Crisis story, Marvel, editors, why Wizard sucks, and comics in general. When the chat was over, he struck me as a nice guy.
A few days later, I realized that I had forgot to ask him about the Hope Hibbert character, so I e-mailed him about it and asked him where his inspiration for Hope came from. I told him that I was deaf, and complimented his portrayal of Hope. He replied that he used to work at a hospital, and he once worked with a deaf patient, so that's where he got some of his information. The rest was research. We chatted on AOL some more after that, and we started to develop a "cyberfriendship."
A few weeks later, I was at the "Official Marvel Chat with Todd Dezago & Mike Wieringo" chat. Todd said that he had something to ask me after the chat was over. After the chat, he said, "In an upcoming storyline, I'm going to have Norman Osborn give Hornet some money. Hornet is going to donate this money to charity. I wanted this charity to be Hope's school for the deaf, and I was wondering if I could name it after you, like 'Loughridge School for the Deaf'?" (misspelling left in). It took me all of .5 nanosecond to decide. "Yeah, sure, that'd be cool! Oh by the way it's Lothridge." I replied.
So the first time that the "Lothridge School for the Deaf" made an apperance, I knew about it in advance. It was still cool when "Sensational Spider-Man #28" came out. I was like a giddy schoolkid who had encountered his first sandbox. However, the second time, in SEN 31, was a surprise to me.
And that's the story of "Lothridge School for the Deaf."