Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve 2006 --

New Year's Eve 2006 --

I have to stay in and write!

I've been writing for the last two days straight about pretty much the most painful stuff stuffed deep within my secret utility closet. Perhaps some readers of "Goodbye To Comics" may think that I blew my wad with that bloggy memoir in terms of writing about pain. But, as I delve deep into the uncharted territory of my earlier adolescent years, more gems are popping out of the dirt.

And it's all good, it's good that I'm writing this. I feel it is my duty to write this.

Helping me along this literary journey, at least for tonight, is something called "Korbel."

There is a superstition that whatever you do when the clock strikes 12 on New Year's defines the rest of the upcoming year.

I was writing, which I guess was good. I was writing about a time in my life when I felt a great deal of fulfillment, when I was in college. I hung out with a group of women then -- intellectuals, radicals, rebels. I had come from a background almost completely devoid of female influence, my heroes being Howard Stern, the wrestlers of the WCW, and the titans that graced the comic books I read. These women I met at the college, including professors, introduced me to a whole new way of looking at things.

Through these women, I could conceive of the female as being powerful. Not powerful in some cheesy, pseudo-Wonder Woman way, but truly empowered and knowledgeable of themselves.

And now I am thinking of this woman I met in Union Square yesterday. She was selling T-shirts and art featuring a character she created, Pupella. Pupella was this really cool Goth/Wicca type girl with a really big female empowerment message. And talking to this woman, I remembered the idealism I felt so many years ago.


So if you ask me what I was thinking about on New Year's Eve, I would say the preceeding was a pretty accurate rendition. Of course, I'm leaving some things out. You always do with blogs, even a wild-card like mine. I mean hell, I've just drank a fair amount of Korbel. I should be setting the Net on fire. But this will do.


I've been periodically playing a YouTube clip as I work. It has a fair amount of meaning to me, but, as a close friend has offered, I don't need to blog every damn thing that happens to me. So I will leave it a mystery for another day.

Maybe you'll read my story one day and understand.

God bless you, and have a wonderful New Year.

And that Dick Clark guy you saw on "Rockin' New Years Eve"? That was a Gerry Anderson puppet. I'm tellin' you.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Archie Conspiracy!

The "Archie" Conspiracy!

Continuing my ground-breaking journalistic investigation amd critical reading concerning the beloved teen comic book series, I want to focus on what I feel is an underlying web of conspiracy and deceit -- specifically against one Betty Cooper.

My thesis is that ultimately, the publishers of Archie Comics had no intention of Betty hooking up with Archie on any sort of steady basis.

Yes -- Betty Cooper has been STRUNG ALONG for the last 65+ years!

Let me explain.

Why can't Archie Andrews, after more than half-a-century of lighthearted adventures, decide between Betty or Veronica?

My point is -- he HAS decided!

Veronica -- pure unadulterated sexuality and millionairess to boot -- will always be Archie's first choice. If for no other reason that Archie realizes he doesn't have a lot going for him after he graduates high-school and if he marries Veronica he'll be set.

Cynical, you say? What if you were facing night shifts at the Riverdale Dairy Queen when you reached adulthood?

However, Archie, insecure as he is, needs a "fallback plan" -- Betty Cooper.

Sweet, innocent, middle-class Betty -- babysitter, ace student, wholesome, boring as hell.

Archie realizes that, because of their disparate financial backgrounds, there is the chance him and Veronica cannot get married -- Big Papa Lodge having something to do with it, perhaps. So in case his plan for Veronica falls through, he keeps Betty on the side.

But I think there is a good chance that Veronica will end up with Archie, despite what objections her father may have -- because she, like Archie is insecure and needs to be around a man who she can boss around and feel superior to.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Goodbye To Comics" Linkarama

"Goodbye To Comics" Linkarama

the original Goodbye To Comics blog (start with the bottom link and work up)

please note that this list is in-progress

Publishers Weekly "The Beat"
Newsarama Blog
Lying In the Gutters
More Lying In The Gutters
The Sideshow
The Second Verse
The Comics Reporter
Barbelith Underground
When Fangirls Attack
Comics Worth Reading
Pen-Elayne On The Web
Lord Shazam's Blog
She's Such A Geek
Tales From The Longbox
Creative Destruction
Sequential Study
Digital Femme
Girls Read Comics (and they're pissed)
Angry Zen Master
Insert Babbling Here
Ink Destroyed My Brush
Nashville Art & Artists
Uncle Bear: Roleplay Like You Give A Damn
Urban Misanthrope
Neil Alien
Tired Fairy
Long Story Short Pier
Postmodern Angst
Paperback Reader
Mountain of Judgement
The Short Stack
The Nerdly Arts
Ed Mathews
The Comic Glutton
I Am A Tree
Laughing At The Pieces
A Distant Soil
Legion Of Doom
Whereof One Can Speak

Fluorescent Dreams Wax Cylinders
The Ziggurat Of Doom
100 Little Dolls
Comics Fairplay
Ariella Drake
May Contain Nuts
Howling Curmudgeons
The Rook's Not To Blame
Chris Piers
Evil Storyteller
Alan Pursell
James Nicoll
The Captain's Blog
Edward Champion's Return Of The Reluctant
Robert's Blog On MySpace
Return To Comics
A Blog Of Mirrors
Lainie: Artword Addict

Mortlake on the Schuylkill
Headpiece of the Staff of Ra
Loud Poet
This Book Is For You
House Of Zorn
The Appearance of the Repeated Meme
JLA News Link Blog
Memoirs de Mamoulian
Chaosmonkey's Blog on MySpace
Access and Egress
The Four-Color Media Monitor

Threads (in progress)
Gail Simone on Comic Book Resources
DC Message Boards
The Comics Journal

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2006

There is an eerie "28 Days Later" vibe to Myrtle Avenue Christmas morning. The streets are empty, the stores are closed, and the detritus of another year's holiday has already worked its way to the curbs.

A crazy old drunk of the toothless Dogpatch variety leans against a pole near the bus stop. He looks similar to another old crazy drunk I saw 15 blocks away by another bus stop last night. But I refuse to accept that it's the same one. He couldn't have moved that fast, or that far.

I'm traveling from my folks' house to a brunch in Williamsburg. Christmas with the family was pleasant. I tried to fink out of it at the last minute and stay home, but they weren't letting me off the hook. Nobody really accepts complete and total exhaustion as an excuse. I love my family but I was and am exhausted, and I still want to stay under the cozy coverlet. Under the cozy coverlet, one talon-like hand sticking out and hammering on the keys of my MacBook.

I gave my mom & stepdad a set of Kahlua and two glasses -- the gift that keeps on giving. A week earlier I gave them the first part of their Christmas present -- a set of Jagermeister & two glasses. I don't fuck around with Christmas presents.

My mom anxiously showed me the present she got my sister in Florida, which she was going to mail out. It was a black tote bag with an image of a half-naked Japanese whore about to pleasure herself. Mom bought it from a street vendor. It came with a personalized note from the artist wishing my sister a merry Christmas.

Mom didn't quite realize the sexual content of the bag when she purchased it. She just thought it would be a nice tote with which to carry sneakers to the gym. She expressed concern about the bag; if my sister would like it, and if it looked like the woman in the image was masturbating. I said that the masturbation question was up in the air, but that the big exposed tit might be more of an immediate issue at the local "Costco."

Late that night, when everybody else had gone to bed, I got on the Internet and did free tarot readings for insomniacs. I fielded the usual questions concerning love and money. I sprinkled God in there, "God bless you, God bless you." I mean it when I say "God bless you." I think it's a good thing to say to people who are trolling Craigslist at 2:00 in the morning on Christmas, something a tiny bit shiny amongst the ads for "friends with benefits" and men impersonating lesbians.

But back to the present. To avoid the crazy old drunk, I walk down several blocks to take another bus stop. But when I'm seated, I can smell the drunk two seats behind me. When I reach the train station, another drunk man that looks like Mark Wahlberg had he been horribly unsuccessful and paunchy leans against a wall, staring at me. I take out my iPod and plug into Sinatra.

At the brunch I'm asked about the blog. I say: "brokenvaginablogcomicsblogsexualharassmentblogblogblogwhowouldhavethunkit?"

I'm a big hit. They also like my new highlights.

I'm asked if I'd vote for Hillary Clinton. I say I'm not gung-ho about her, but that I'd walk through the fire for either Al Gore or Barack Obama.

I think need sex. At some point. In my life.

One man tells a story concerning a poker-playing trained bear, and insists that it's true. I refill my glass of Pennsylvania Dutch.

I think I need sex, but don't we all? It is on one hand so very easy to get, as plentiful as newspapers, but on the other so very complicated, and for me so very very complicated.

We all discuss the issue of monogamy. Is it passe? Is marriage passe?

I need marriage? I need children? I need sex?

I think back to a recent first date I had where the guy said, right off the bat: "if you got pregnant, you wouldn't want to keep the baby, would you?

We discuss "Sex in the City" episodes. As the sun goes down, we eat Godiva chocolates and drink coffee.

It's Christmas.

James Brown is dead.

God bless you.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dude! It's "Vicki Victim and the Incredible Un-Raping Machine!"

Dude! It's "Vicki Victim and the Incredible Un-Raping Machine!"

(A tale of the Gilgongo!verse. For Mature Readers. I really wanted to give "Vicki Victim" a happy ending for the holidays -- within the parameters of her circumstances. I also realize I might have "Lebowski on the Brain.")

The scene? Hourville City, home to the planet's greatest defenders:
The man of might known to civilians as "The Thickness"
And the quickest Dude on at least three continents, "The Shnell"

The aftermath of the highly-popular "Rape Agenda" miniseries left Hourville's sweetheart Vicki Victim raped and killed by the grim reaper of laughter, "Pagliacci Jr."

But sheer sorrow over their fallen friend's demise -- as well as, frankly, a media shitstorm started by some uppity bloggers -- drove The Thickness and The Shnell to do what any heroes would do in their position, specifically pay Chango Mama roughly 40 Gs to bring Vicki back to life.

In their charming naivete, which even 4 issues of "The Rape Agenda" and the subsequent "Giant-Size Impalement Summer Special" could not burn out of their system, The Thickness and The Shnell thought that by returning Vicki to life things would all be back to normal.

"But guys...I was still raped."

Vicki's subsequent moodiness, depression, and absence at their local bowling tournaments perplexed these Titans of Triumph. Finally, one day while sitting at the diner...

Thickness: "We gotta do something about Vicki, Shnell."

Shnell: "I totally hear you, man."

Thickness: "I mean, Ubergirl's been taking her place at the bowling tournaments, but...frankly, she's sort of creeping me out."

Cut to Ubergirl and her faithful dog Reichy in a throwback "Hitler Youth" poster pose.
Reichy: "Voofen! Voofen!"

Shnell: "So like...what do we do, man? I mean...rape is pretty serious and stuff. And I'll be honest with you...I don't think I really, like, comprehend exactly what Vicki's going through."

Thickness: "Well, I do. I saw that 'All in the Family' episode with Edith getting sexually assaulted. And Edith...she reminds me of my Mom, Dude!" The Thickness slams his meaty fist into the counter, taking a chunk out of the formica. "My f**king Mom, Dude! God-dammit! If my Mom ever got raped, I don't know what I'd f**king do!" The Thickness calms down a bit and nods. "Actually, I know what'd I do. I'd kill a lot of f**king people."

Shnell: "But remember the Heroes Club motto, man..."

Thickness: "I know -- no killing, just maiming."

The two heroes wink knowingly at each other and continue.

Shnell: "Speaking of which, did Vicki ever get back in touch with you about the videotape you sent her of us beating up Pagliacci Jr. and sodomizing him with Solarman's Staff de Soleil?"

Thickness: "You know, I was waiting and waiting for an e-mail, something...but, nada."

Shnell: "Man, she must really be down and stuff, the poor kid. If only there was some way to fix things..."

Thickness: "I've got it! It's the perfect plan! We...find an Un-Raping machine!"

Shnell: "A what, man?"

Thickness: "An Un-Raping Machine, Shnell. Vicki goes into the machine and comes out un-raped. As if nothing happened."

Shnell: "But man, where are we gonna bag an un-raping machine?"

Thickness: "Oh, there are ways, my speedy friend...I can't tell you how, but there are ways."

The next day, Thickness and Shnell show up at Vicki Victim's doorstep with a large Kirby-esque device on rolling casters. Vicki answers the door.

Vicki: "Hi guys."

Thickness: "Vicki, I know you're feeling pretty upset over getting raped by Pagliacci Jr....but we've got just the thing to make it right."

Shnell: "It's an un-raping machine, man!"

Thickness: "One step into this baby and you will magically be un-raped -- as if nothing really happened at all!"

Shnell: "And then things will be back to the way they were and stuff!"

Vicki: "Guys...I don't know how to thank you...but....there is no way to un-rape me."

Thickness: "No, no, listen -- this was built by aliens!"

Shnell: "Yeah, aliens, man."

Vicki: "I understand, but I'm telling you: there is no way to wave a magic wand and make things all better. It takes time."

Thickness: "But...but...did you at least watch the videotape?"

Vicki: "Of you guys torturing Pagliacci Jr.? Is he...dead?"

Shnell: "No, man, we've got, like, a code."

Thickness: "Didn't the tape make you feel all better again?"

Vicki: "Nothing is going to magically make me feel all better again,'s a process. I'm seeing a therapist...doing a lot of journaling...and I might even write a book about my experiences one day. But it's all going to take time. I'm sorry."

The Thickness pulls The Shnell aside.

Thickness: "Plan B, bro."
Shnell: "Yeah, man, Plan B."

The Thickness pulls out a superheroine costume.

Thickness: "Okay, how about this: We give you super-powers, and you become the Vixen of Vengeance, using your negative experiences to fuel your need for justice!"

Shnell: "It's, like, a great origin story, man."

Vicki: "I don't think so, fellas...right now, I just want to have some time for me. I know it doesn't make for exciting comics, but...this is reality. Though I am in the process of legally changing my last name."

And so Vicki took time to deal with her tragedy. Ubergirl was kicked out of the bowling tournament after a drunk-driving incident where she blamed the Jews for everything. The un-raping machine is still sitting in The Thickness's tool-shed. And as for The Shnell, he came home one day to find Reichy the Dog pissing on his rug.

Reichy: "Voofen! Voofen!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Phone Call With A Legend and Other Stories

Phone Call With A Legend and Other Stories

Me: "Hello?"
Him (in fake Italian accent): "Yessa, may I-ah havah pizza-pie?"
Me: "Excuse me?"
Him: "Bonjourno! I would-ah like-ah pizza pie."
Me: "Who is this?"
Him: "I am-ah Italiano, just like you-ah!"

He wasn't Italiano, just like me-ah. Just an eccentric genre mega-legend who thought it was funny I had an Italian last name. When ever I hear that this guy has stepped into another pile of poo-poo I just roll my eyes and go, "yep!"

Not talking about John Byrne, by the way. Met Byrne once, had lunch with him. A gentleman. Though the editors I was with were a bit unfair, they would go, "Hey John, who was more responsible for the X-Men, you or Claremont?" This is what's known in the nomenclature as "a leading question."

Chris Claremont himself was a pretty cool guy. I had to rewrite a few balloons of a story he did for "Batman Black & White" and I was scared to death of his reaction, because I totally idolized him. And he was so zen about it, so cool. Which was great, because he's God.

Actually, there are many comic book gods. When you're a total geek like me and you finally have the chance to work in the industry you have to learn how to greet these gods. Slavish adoration will put most of them off -- though there are a few of such intense ego that such devotion is not only appreciated, it's required. Your boss will probably brief you beforehand who those bombastic few are and how to deal with them. But chances are, if you are a total geek like me, you won't mind. Unless they start talking to you like some bad Super Mario character because you are Italian.

Someone like Howard Chaykin is such a larger-than-life, impressive figure that you will look out the window when he arrives at the office to see the replica WWII bomber he heroically flew in on. On the flip-side, a guy like Frank Miller just sort of gets ushered in to see his editor and ushered out and you didn't even know he was there, you just hear about it after the fact. And an artist like Walt Simonson will hang out around the office, as down-to-earth as you can get, happy to discuss comics or sign a book.

Out of all the comic creators I have met or talked to on the phone, only one stands out as a total prick. He started out very friendly, then overly-friendly, then I had to avoid his phone calls, then he left a message that he "psychically sensed I was in trouble" and needed to speak to me immediately, then he did something like call the president of the company and try to have me fired. After something like this happens, you try to go back and enjoy some classic comic he worked on and it's really hard. But then you explain it away to yourself by figuring he was so damn talented that the sheer talent drove him completely insane -- and apparently gave him psychic abilities to boot.

However, most male comic creators have been pretty respectful to me, a good number with that chivalrous sort of "Ye fair maiden! Are those gorillas bothering you? I shall bean them on the head with this here Mjolnir!" attitude.

And yeah, I guess I'm sort of feminist but that sort of talk just turns me into a Wally Wood heroine with a Valkyrie helmet, a Smurfette smile, and a freshly-picked daisy pressed up against my nose.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How To Dress For Harassment

I hate posting this so soon after my last post, but I'm feeling kinda strongly about it.

Sometimes I feel like, after everything I lived through that I wrote about in "Goodbye To Comics," that I should somehow be the martyr sitting chastely by the window. You know, the Victim -- or, as you might have it, the Survivor -- who now is so damaged and jaded by her past that she collects cats and writes volumes of sexually-repressed prose like Emily Dickenson.

But I guess what I am trying to say is --

Just because I had elements of abuse in my past does not mean I cannot be a vivacious, sexually confident woman now.

Just because I had one or two big incidences of harassment does not mean that now I somehow "learned my lesson" and walk around in a burka.

Sexual harassment or abuse has much less to do with how sexy you dress and how open you are about sexuality than you might think.

I was harassed more when I was 60 pounds heavier and wore big formless sweaters every day than now when I wear a t-shirt & ; skinny jeans & ; sport a cute blond hair style. Because now I have confidence -- and confidence weeds out more of the real bad guys than anything else. It's exactly when yo

That's What They Always Say...

That's What They Always Say...
Though I think it's rather charming that she got one last cheesecake shot before she went out. Found today while Googling "Phantom Lady" images for a different post, and the first time I've seen this.

I have to say that this middle panel is the single most vile, hateful illustration I've ever seen in a comic book in my entire life. Didn't Frank Miller do a similar scene concerning Elektra and Bullseye with a bit more class?

I'm all for artistic freedom -- and I know that life sometimes is ugly, nasty, and smells like an ass, okay? But let's put stuff like this in books marked for "Mature Readers." That way, we all win. Well, all of us except for Phantom Lady.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Introducing...Vicki Victim

Introducing...Vicki Victim
Me and a good pal Sid Lonesome are working on some art depicting the denizens of the Gilgongo! Universe, and figured Vicki was a good place to start.

As you can see, Vicki is a valuable and innovative contribution to the pantheon of female comic characters. Virginal and accomodating, Vicki is the civilian liaison to the Heroes Club and has even been known to decorate their banquet hall with paper cutouts for Thanksgiving. While it is tough work being the official victim of the Gilgongo! universe, the dental plan is good.

Soon we'll have the whole gang:
"The Shnell" -- the fastest hippie in the universe
"The Thickness" -- nigh invulnerable but has rickets
"Cryin' Jack" -- manic-depressive World War II ace
"Uber Girl" -- it's tough being a teenager, genetically superior, and sort of a fascist

Not sure what we're going to do with these babies yet,'s comics, dude! Yeah!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Comic Where Mary Marvel Got Sexually Harassed

The Comic Where Mary Marvel Got Sexually Harassed

A recent commenter on this blog asks, to paraphrase: "what exactly consititutes sexual harassment? If I tell my co-worker she is wearing a nice blouse, will that be interpreted as sexual harassment?"

I turn now to "Perceptions," a story written by Peter David that was published in "Supergirl Plus #1." In it, Mary Marvel gets sexually harassed by middle-aged divorcee cop Lenny O'Hara. However, the way David presents the story, things are open for interpretation, like the old optical illusion that could be seen as either an old lady or a baby.

Of course, during the course of the story Mary (this is before her "stupidification" by my otherwise fave writer Keith Giffen in "Formerly Known As the JLA") has a jones to kick this guy in the nuts, with Supergirl having to talk her out of it. The story ends with everybody deciding to take the case through the proper channels, and O'Hara pleading innocence right up to the very last scene, where he kind of gets shaky and says something like "I couldn't have done that...c-could I?"

Unlike robbery or murder or other crimes, it's very hard, unless you have witnesses, to present a clear-cut case for sexual harassment. It all boils down to the situation in "Perceptions," with Mary saying he did it, and O'Hara saying he didn't do it. The ultimate answer may lie with either party or (as presented in the story) somewhere between the panels. Only God and the two parties know for sure -- the rest of us can only choose a side or make inferences based on indirect data.

I feel the person who has gone through this or other traumas definitely has the right to tell her (or his) story -- that it's part of the healing process and provides people going through similar situations with perspective & hope. Further, I think the topic of sexual harassment itself should be debated and examined thoroughly on message boards and forums everywhere.

But one thing that gets lost in the internet debate and gossip is just how goddamn sad sexual harassment situations are for everybody involved. They're fucking sad. There are no winners and losers. Everybody is a loser. Feelings on both sides are filled with agony and resentment and hurt. You have one side saying "nothing happened and you're liar" and the other side saying "I'm really really hurt" and it's like Iraq, there's no immediate clean way to resolve it. And then you have people caught in the middle who are pressured to take sides and it's shitty for them too.

But what are the solutions? How do we define "sexual harassment"? What precautions need to be in place in order to nip it in the bud before it festers into a civic Hiroshima?

I always thought I had a pretty thick skin about these matters. I gave my co-workers a "get out of jail free" card to say something stupid. It was my observation that about 30% of these men, even the nicest ones, even married ones, would say once and only once some really inappropriate thing. They would just blurt it out something like "I'll bet you'd look good in those Black Canary fishnets." Then I would just blink a couple of times like I didn't know what they were talking about, they never brought it up again, and a harmonious working relationship followed. I'm serious, this worked like 90% of the time.

I'm not here to "sell" the "get out of jail free card" approach to all of this. Some women would laugh off the Black Canary comment, and some would sue -- there's a spectrum.

On the other hand, clear guidelines set by management might have even precluded the need for the "get out of jail free card" scenario. Such guidelines protect not only the target but the aggressor, providing boundaries.

But then other people would say such strict guidelines would take all the "spontenaiety" out of the workplace, that it creates an antiseptic PC "fantasy world."

And then what about the guy who wonders if complimenting a blouse is sexual harassment? Is "nice hair" okay and "nice legs" forbidden?

What about a situation where co-workers are having sex with each other and things go south? Or a boss and an employee? Or an artist and an editor? How are those cases judged differently?

How about women who sexually harass men? Or men who sexually harass men, or women who sexually harass women?

What about a Britney Spears photo-manip on a work screensaver?

What about the drunk co-worker who humps your leg at a company function? Is this a case for the courts? Or should one simply get "Mary Marvel" on his ass?

Hey, if everybody would just respect everybody else and follow the rules we learned in Star Trek:

Spock: "Sexual harassment is not logical."
Kirk: "Uh..."
Sulu: "Do my actions while under the influence of alien viral LSD or conducted by my mirror persona count?"
Data: "I am not programmed to sexually harass."
Riker: "Baby, there's no need for me to sexually harass anyone -- I'm HOT."
Worf: "In our mating rituals the males stalk the females on horses and try to subdue them with long, clublike instruments...I believe you humans have a similar ritual, called 'polo.'"
O'Brien: "Well...why do you think I was really transferred to 'Deep Space Nine?'"

Anyhow, I'm not here to give any hard-and-fast answers -- I'm just throwing questions out on the table. I heartily encourage debate and dialogue on the subject, on the "comments" section of ths blog and anyplace else.

And I was kidding about O'Brien. I don't really know why he was transferred to Deep Space Nine.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why Doesn't Jughead Like Girls?

Why Doesn't Jughead Like Girls?

This was the question put to "Ask The Archivist" on the official Archie Comics website.

The short answer:
"How could he even have time? There's too much food to eat and too many naps to take!

His Wikipedia entry clarifies things further:
"Jughead usually doesn't like any long-term relationships, largely due to the observation that dating complicates a guy's life and deprives him of cash that could be used to buy burgers."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Most Powerful Email I Have Ever Received

The Most Powerful Email I Have Ever Received

Since writing "Goodbye To Comics," I have received hundreds of emails. The most powerful one was short and sort along the lines of this:

"I have gotten sexual enjoyment out of viewing rape and other such scenes in comics and entertainment. Your blog made me stop and think why this is so. And I realized that it is because I hate myself."

I don't hate this person or think less of him. I think it was very brave of him to write. It made me emotional reading it. Sometimes life bends you in different ways and this is how you cope. And I deeply wish this man finds peace and a place in his life where he doesn't hate himself anymore.

But as my blog made him think, his email made me think.

This world -- so many people coping and such a tapestry of lives and stories.

Should this man be my "enemy" -- or do we build bridges? How do we build these bridges? How can we understand the Other's viewpoint and move on?

When does forgiveness happen?

My father's grave -- I've never visited it. When do I forgive him for the past?

You know, it's funny. There is a recent blockbuster movie that I have never watched. Everybody and their mother has seen it but me. I refuse to see it. In essence, there is nothing wrong with the movie and I would probably like it. But its very subject matter brings up too much drama for me.

At what age do I move on and see this film? At what age do I visit my father's grave?

And is it a decision that I make on my own, or does time work its own magic, dulling my memory, mellowing my soul?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Two Weeks Later...

Two Weeks Later...

How does a normally shy, self-effacing person who has just had her most guarded emotions and painful life experiences read by several thousands of people feel, exactly?

Part of me feels really liberated. When people ask me what most motivated me to write all this, I say that I was sick and tired of carrying "shame" around with me. For example, my broken vagina (it always comes back to broken vagina). After I had the accident I was caught between an intense need to talk to people about it -- or at least admit to what had happened -- and the "shame" over the intimate nature of the incident and the need to cover it up. So I would use coy phrases like "sudden unexplained internal hemmorage" or "tonsilitis" to explain away the last week where I was down several liters of blood and wasn't seeing any visitors.

But you can't call "broken vagina" tonsilitis. If the reader carries nothing else away with them from this blog, it is this.

*** *** ***

On the first date I have with this new guy, I tell him about broken vagina. I think that's reasonable. It's like a litmus test. You have the grace period where you are first chatting on the phone, getting to know someone, and then you meet up and at some point you say "broken vagina" and if they stay, you have a keeper.

One of the first questions I ask him over dinner is if he is familiar with comics at all. People who aren't familiar with comics will usually answer something like "Well, I've seen Spiderman 2." Which is what he said. Then he asked me if anything interesting happened in the intervening two weeks since we last saw each other.

By the time we are downing the tiramisu he asks,

"Will this be in your blog?"

"Well I don't know. Do you want this to be in the blog?"

"I don't know...I mean, what part will I play?"

Having dinner with him, I feel like a princess. It's a classy joint. My date is very animated and dramatic and holds court with the maitre'd and waitresses. Plus, he's ok with broken vagina. And I am just so tickled and flattered and I do this Drew Barrymore move where I sort of look demure and giggle and bend my mouth in a way that is both sweet and looks like a stroke victim.

The check turns out to be like $150. Which, I suppose is what you get for dining in a place that provides you not only with mouthwash in the restrooms but a selection of tampons in a crystal decanter. I feel awkward, like I should really chip in. By this point, we have somehow downed two bottles of shiraz and when I get up to put on my coat I realize I am bombed.

I try dialing my mom so maybe I can crash at her place in Manhattan. But she doesn't answer the phone. In about 15 minutes I'm on a train with my date to someplace.


*** *** ***

The critics of my memoir fall into several different camps. There is the "there is no correlation between sexually violent and exploitative female images in entertainment and the ill treatment of women" contingent. Though I do not propose any sort of "comics code" or censorship and have a degree of respect & admiration for artists such as Wally Wood, Adam Hughes, and Frank Cho, I think such a blanket viewpoint is a bit naive. Certainly there is at least the faintest, tiniest relationship between the Image and the Attitude; the image influencing the attitude, or the attitude reflected in the produced image.

Then there is the "this is a flawed feminist treatise" crowd, who points out, among other things, my ambivalence over cheesecake art and my occasionally crude speech pattern as undermining my Cause. I suppose that my answer would be, I had no specific Cause in writing the memoir, no set list of talking points I wished to win the debate club with. This was, in the end, the story of a Life. Here are the elements, here are my emotions, and here is a No. 2 pencil -- draw what conclusions or connections you would like.

Of course, there is the small but wizened crew who feel that the narrative, as one Metafilter "tag" described it, is "batshitinsane." Well, surely it is a fucked up tale of vaginal bleeding, rape pages, lesbian Ice Maidens, and bipolar body-building patriarchs. Also, I realize that something like this blog, in terms of the comic industry, is somewhat of a mutant shitstorm. And, to many of those who knew me personally, the act of writing the material and having the stones to post it is pretty damn near jawdropping. Well. Batshitinsane, huh? I guess it makes life at least more interesting, if nothing else. Beats being a mild-mannered ad-copy writer for a major metropolitan blah-blah-blah my whole life. Life is short -- let's say what we have to say, live the way we have to live, and grab existence by the cojones, batshit or not.

As for those who consider the memoir nothing more than just another "disgruntled employee rant"...gosh, I don't know what to say to that. Other than that we must remember that Peter Parker was the original disgruntled employee. Wasn't that issue where J. Jonah told him "I really like brunettes with spit-curls" the one where they had to take the Code off the cover?

But the critique of "Goodbye to Comics" that I do have to sit up and take notice of is the one about participating in the prolonging of the cycle of exploitation. Because as much as reading that critique makes me cringe, it is ultimately true. Having seen it from the inside, however, I have to say it is not so easy as a positive-thinking guru or several sessions with a Scientologist would have you believe. But in the end, our Will and self-respect is all we have.

*** *** ***

So now I'm drunk, drowsy, and in another man's bedroom on the first date. The crucial mistake was obviously somewhere back at the restaurant, doing the Drew Barrymore thing, having a good time, and losing track of how many glasses of shiraz I was consuming. Classic, classic fuck-up -- I mean, high-school level shit. Great.

Not that the guy is hard on the eyes or anything. But after my adventures with broken vagina and just contemplating issues of self-respect and whatnot -- I just don't want to jump in with having sex on the first date. But somewhere between him lending me his contact lens case and us falling to sleep an hour or so later, there is a lot of foreplay. And a degree of fiveplay. The dude is fit and lean and really into yoga; at one point I am standing on my head.

But I really don't want to have full-on sex right now. But here I already put myself in an extremely compromising situation. Now I'm feeling pressure to have sex with him on many fronts, most of them solely residing in my mind. A) He just spent $150 on the meal. B) I'm tired and drowsy and maybe this would just be easier. C) I feel if I don't have sex with him now he'll resent and hate me. D) By all intents and purposes I've kind of really placed myself in this position, and have only myself to blame anyway so why not?

Eventually, I say "no." No, we are not having sex now; yes, I know I put myself in this compromising position but no I am not having sex with you now because I don't feel ready.

I've never really took a stand like that before. I mean, ever.

And he understood and it was ok.

And one thing he said right before we went to sleep really stuck with me.

He said,

"You have a beautiful vagina."

*** *** ***

So what have we learned today, boys and girls?

1) I can stand on my head

2) Peter Parker was the original disgruntled employee

3) The classiest joints have mouthwash and tampons in a crystal decanter

But keep track of the shiraz.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Call At 3:00 In The Morning

A Call At 3:00 In The Morning

I wake up to the sound of my cellphone. The big flat numbers on my alarm clock display "3:05" as that Valkyries song from "Apocalypse Now" chirps digitally from the phone. I look at the number.



Donovan: Oh good Lord...
Me: B-but you were the one who told me to write about the accident...
Donovan: I meant a short fictional story about the quirkiness of modern love for the New Yorker or something!
Me: B-but...


But we talk. We talk about a lot of things. And when it is over, he says he's going to sell off some of his comics and collectibles and help me pay my medical bill.


Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I live by this saying

I live by this saying: what else good is abuse, harassment, bankruptcy, and a broken vagina if not to write about it in front of thousands of people? I learned that in my "Women's Lit" course in college.

But seriously.

I want to thank the men and women who contacted me to show their support. I am currently helping a sick friend and working from home at the same time so I can't answer everything right now, but I have been reading and I deeply appreciate it.

And I think that silence in the face of any sort of abuse, past or present, is unacceptable. It is only through sharing our experiences that we can heal and stop the cycle. We can hold it in, garnish it up, explain it away, pretend it never existed -- but it will always be there, begging to be released.

I wrote what I wrote because I had a story inside of me that was begging to be released. Through meditating on and tying together these various comic-related strands of my life I came to a personal breakthrough at the end of that blog. Though in a way I had already found a sense of peace and a new life, writing "Goodbye To Comics" brought me to a new level of self-understanding. I'm proud of what I wrote and I'm not ashamed of my experiences.

I also wanted to say that though the character of "Donovan Paul" may sound at points in the blog like a little bit of a cad, he also remained very calm and responsible during a freak accident that, quite frankly, was freaky for him as well. He calmed me down, did the appropriate things to get help quickly, and never left my side. The nurses told me that when he finally left the room after my initial intake, he was shaking and almost fainted. Had he abandoned me during or after that crisis I would have felt devastated. He did more than a lot of men I've known would have done. He's basically a good person and a great comic talent -- with a few fanboy blindspots.

As for the comic industry, there are a lot of good people, men and women, in it. I've grown up with comics people my entire life, and I'm taking care of one who recently fell ill now. I just want the industry to move in the right direction, get rid of the lingering sexism & racism, stop the sexual violence towards female characters, get more diversity (gender, racial, sexual orientation) into the characters, and make some of what I wrote in my blog things that no longer have relevance.

There is a big crop of talented young women and people of color out there who want to break into comics. Open the doors, give them an even and respectful playing field, and say a warm "hello" to the next gen of this industry.

Goodbye To Comics: Postscript

Goodbye To Comics:

Less than 12 hours after I finish my blog-memoir, my best friend -- a lifelong hardcore comic fan -- collapses in his hallway. I try to prop him up. His eyes are rolling to the back of his head and his face is spasming. He floats in and out of consciousness as I dial 911.

An older man, has had health problems for a while now. I knew this was coming. He is one of the old-school comics fans, starting in the early 1960s. His dream was always to be a professional penciller. He held out for that dream for a long time, finally altering his plans during the last two years and producing his own comic projects. He is a very talented artist.

EMS has a hard time finding him in his room, because of the sheer volume of comics & collectables. I point to the crumpled person on the couch under the blanket. I'm trying to hold it together but start to lose it as the techs approach him with their equipment:

Him: I'm okay, I don't need any tests.

It might be complications from his diabetes. It might be related to the high blood-pressure. His cholesterol is also very high. The EMS techs don't know, but they would like him to go to the hospital. He won't go.

So now he's sleeping, and I'm sneaking into his room every half-an-hour or so to see if he's okay. The techs said to check on him periodically and if his lips look bluish to call 911 again.

I've been told to abandon my friend's case for a long time now. He's just another "comic book guy." He would rather spend his last dime on the latest Marvel Essentials or art supplies than his diabetes medication. Do you know how many people I've known like that in my life?

It's not my responsibility. I have to move on with my life.

But I write to my boss asking if I can work from home tomorrow so I can take care of my friend. First thing in the morning I will make an appointment with my friend's doctor to drag him there for a diagnostic. I also want to know what medications he needs to be on and when he is supposed to take them. I leave messages with his with family members.

I start "digging" through the comic piles in my friend's room so there is enough surface area to place his medicine bottles where they will always be found. Looking at the titles, I recognize a lot of them as comps from my different comic jobs, a 14-year time spread.

Lives built around comics.

I call another long-term friend, who I met at a comics company ten years ago. He has also been of the "Goodbye To Comics" mindset as of late. I let out a good cry as I tell him the events of the last several hours. I also mention that I broke up with Donovan Paul. My friend says "good for you" but expresses some skepticism as to how long that will last.

Our conversation turns to comics, about the usual things -- what's wrong with the industry, how it can be fixed, and how we're both too old for this shit. Of course we're both in our mid-thirties and are full of shit for saying we're too old for this shit. But it's fun to say that phrase:

"I'm too old for this shit."

It's like we're two old hitmen from "Reservoir Dogs," about to go on another ill-advised mission. "I'm too old for this shit." It's like we're starring in "Lethal Weapon V" and we've got grey hair and about to jump from a flaming helicopter to the 61st floor of a burning hi-rise and somewhere in the background Chris Rock is saying something typically hilarious. "They're too olddddddddd for this shit!,"Rock screetches into the camera, pointing at our hapless selves.

By the time we're done talking the sun goes down. We've been on the phone for more than four hours. The mostly uneaten meal me and my best friend had began before the collapse is still sitting where we left it. I bite into a clammy egg-and-cheese sandwich and take a swig of cold coffee.

I pick up his keys and wallet off the floor. I check on him again. A fly lands on his cheek and he waves it away in his sleep.

I'm saying goodbye to comics. Be skeptical all you want, but I am.

But first I'm going to take care of my friend.

Goodbye To Comics: Epilogue

Goodbye To Comics:

Donovan Paul is sorry, but he cannot help me out with the $15,000 medical bill in the wake of the torn cervix I received when having sex with him.

He has no money, except for the money he uses to buy the high-ticket fanboy items that he brags about recently purchasing only minutes after telling me he has no money.

Implicit in all this is the insinuation that though two people tangoed, since I was the "catcher" it's solely my responsibility.

It's kind of like having an unexpected pregnancy, only there is no baby, just a scar I will never be able to see.

When I first left the hospital, I looked like a Kabuki performer. My face was bloated from all the solution they pumped into my system, and I was literally white as a ghost.

I went home with Donovan. I stayed over his apartment for two weeks. He had washed every last bit of blood from my jeans and I was very impressed. He said my blood was unusually "watery" and that even though it was dried and soaked-in, it came right out.

We had a lovely two weeks. We pretended like the accident wasn't a really big deal, and that it had hardly happened at all.

After the prescribed amount of healing time we tried to have sex. I found that I was completely traumatized regarding sex. But I knew that if I didn't try, I might never do it again. Still, the sensation of being penetrated made me want to be shot in the head. It was that bad. I was just so afraid of going through all that again. And I didn't even have insurance. What if it happened again?

Donovan was very patient. But truthfully, I could never picture a day where I would be able to have wild, unfettered sex with him. He said he didn't care about that, that he just wanted to be with me. But come on.

The second-to-last time I was intimate with Donovan, I tried his suggestion that I use a lambskin condom instead of latex. Both him & my gyno theorized that perhaps I was allergic to the latex, producing pain and discomfort.

For the first time in my life, I experienced what it was like to have sex and not have a sensation like burning acid.

Think about it -- all the other times I had sex in my life, it felt like burning acid, ripping flesh.

But I never complained. I thought it was normal. I thought I had to just "buck up" and take it.

Right before the accident, while having the sex w/Donovan, I was in intense burning pain. But I didn't complain. I didn't say a word. I could have spoke up and prevented an event that almost took my life but I didn't.

Why didn't I speak up?

My lawyer asking me regarding Gilgongo! Comics:
"Why didn't you speak up earlier?"

The therapist I had in my early twenties, regarding my father's abuse:
"Did you tell anyone?"

When asked about what I thought of the "Vicki Victim" rape pages:
"They look great! Great use of drapery!"

It's all because I don't want to "ruin" things, I don't want to assert myself and possibly make one man or another angry. Because look what happened with Dad. And so it continues. And I become "Vicki Victim" herself long after there are any true super-villains to be scared of.

And the problem with being silent and with being compliant and being like "Vicki Victim" is that there is a long, long, long line of predators out there who will target you and will shamelessly exploit you, thinking they can get away with it.

And no, it's not your fault that you're caught up in this cycle of abuse. There is no "fault" here. But there is a need to take responsibility, to take control of your life.

Ok, let's try this again.

No, it's not my fault that I'm caught up in this cycle of abuse. But there is a need to take responsibility for my life -- to take control of my life.

And I wish I could come up with some sort of sentimental, inspirational comic book metaphor to end with.

Suffice it to say that I'm alive, I'm healthy, I'm working and I'm writing.

I've been writing for three days straight, I'm tired and my hair stinks.

I'm going to go now and wash my hair.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Bloggy Memoir "Goodbye To Comics" is now completed.

The Bloggy Memoir "Goodbye To Comics" is now completed.

If you have just reached this blog and have some hours you don't mind never getting back, please start with the first post and work your way up.

If you have finished the whole blog and are reading this, you get a kitten.

And if you came here accidently after doing the keyword search "Sexy Superheroine Rape," please go fuck yourself.

Assorted Thoughts & Reactions

Assorted Thoughts & Reactions

I haven't really sat down and read the comments & the emails & the reactions until the last couple of days. When I first wrote the memoir, I was scared to death of the reaction I would receive. Now, after reading nearly a hundred emails and general reactions to the piece, I have come to this conclusion --

--that I sorely underestimated the support male comic book fans have for women in comics.

Every single message I received from men was positive and reaffirming not only of my blog but on the need to have respect for women both in the industry and in the comics themselves.

I wrote a couple of blog postings a while back basically saying "it's a lost cause why fight it" regarding comics feminism. "Give the market what it wants," I wrote, lying passive on the ground and prepared to let whatever rebellious spark I had left in me twinkle away into nothingness. It's very easy to do this, to retreat into the cave of what has always been familiar to you, to parrot the same talking points and fantasize that one day you'll be let back into the "club" because all you know is that goddamned club.

Oh, yes, give the market what it wants. The Market. The answer to everything.

But what exactly does this market -- male comic fans -- want?

I read a hell of a lot more voices in favor of women's rights in comics and against the depiction of sexualized violence against female characters than I ever dreamed of. Voices from across the comic-collecting spectrum -- bloggers, Comicon/Newsarama/CBR crowd, alternative comix fans, mainstream comic fans. Surely they are all part of this Market.

I also received emails from many professionals in the industry, including one that just about made me sail out of my chair at work. Imagine looking at a flashing button on your phone and having the receptionist say: "Hi, you have God on line 4, would you like to take it?" This particular person's email just about made my millennium; the mere fact of receiving it and the kind words within gave me a tremendously renewed hope about comics, and about the people within in the industry.

But actually, getting the words of support from every person that dropped a line my way made my millennium; touched me deeper than I know how to express. It has made all that happened before...if not "worth" it, at least something I can process.


While I still feel that a degree of "cheesecake" in comics is ok, I am also no longer naive enough to believe that it has no effect on the way men see women, or that it doesn't objectify them. It is a very complicated subject and I don't feel I am the best objective judge to make these "calls" or to suggest concrete solutions. I have inhabited a mostly male social circle for my entire life. So as a "feminist" blogger all I can really do at the moment for the cause is tell my personal story. Since my name has entered Google Eternity twinned with "vaginal mishap" and other such topics I feel I've paid my dues in this respect.


My friend's health is doing much better, thanks to all who've asked.


I was going to post this when Robert Altman died a couple of days ago, but after just reading a comment by Elayne referencing it now I've just got to do it. It's from one of my all-time favorite movies, Popeye. Enjoy.

Goodbye To Comics #12: How Comics Almost Busted A Cap In My Ass

Goodbye To Comics #12:
How Comics Almost Busted A Cap In My Ass

Okay, so here is the story how the comics industry almost drove me to jump out my 6th-floor window. It is theoretically fucking hilarious. It's like Frank Capra by way of Dante. I mean, I hear they're going to do a "30 Seconds With Bunnies" version of this one.

We start with a conversation between me and my doctor:
"I have heart palpitations, stomach cramps, and migraines. And insomnia."
"Gee gosh why?"
"I'm in a very stressful situation right now at my job."
"You should find another job."
"But then how will I pay you?"
"Good point."
"Besides, I just need to stick it out just a little bit longer, and then I'm sure things will be okay. I have to keep this job. I've wanted this job ever since I was a little kid."
"No problem. You should do what most people in our society do -- ignore the problem and take these blue pills instead. These blue pills make you all numb so you can go through all sorts of indignities and not care. It's what everybody does -- even some people in elected office!"
"Cool beans. Only thing is, I have a history of being sensitive to drugs and medication. Might these blue pills negatively impact my life, potentially?"
"Oh not at all. They are totally safe. Here, take these samples."
"Wow, thanks. I can't wait to feel numb to my pain."

"Oh, God," I say, clutching my chest, "I'm having a...a...heart-attack!"

"Hello, Doc?"
"Yes? How's those blue pills coming along?"
"Well, I fell down at work and thought I was having a heart-attack."
"Yeah, but the paramedics came and said it was just a panic-attack."
"Yeah, and then the guy I was having problems with at my job told people that it just went to show that my job was too stressful for me and I couldn't handle it. And I felt very angry and humiliated."
"Gee willikers."
"Yeah, and I think it was the blue pill because I never had a panic attack before in my life."
"NOW WAIT JUST A GODDAMMN MINUTE!!! Don't diss my pills, yo!"
"No, I'm serious, I really think I shouldn't take this blue pill any more."
"You're just over-reacting. Try it for another week or so. Just until you get a nice, healthy concentration of the stuff into your system. And then everything will be fine."
"Uh, ok."

"Uh, Doc? Sorry to call you at such an odd hour."
"Not a problem. What's up?"
"I can't feel the left side of my body. Am I having a stroke?"
"No, it's probably just nerves. (It's certainly not my blue pill). Let's try to get you another type of drug to cover up the effects of the first drug."

Within a month I am suffering from extreme nerve pain, migraines, and fatigue. While it becomes more and more clear to me that I am allergic to these drugs and I need to stop them, they are already concentrated into my system and trying to quit cold turkey gives me a series of seizures. Besides, I don't have time to take off work from Gilgongo! Comics, because it's the holiday rush and half the staff are on vacation or maternity leave. Besides, apparently I "don't have paid medical leave."

Here is a theoretical conversation between me and a high-ranking supervisor:
"Well, we know you're going through a lot right now, and, while we can't give you paid medical leave, we talked it over and have decided to grant you ONE WEEK OF UNPAID LEAVE! Isn't that generous of us?"
"Wow, that's great. But I'm a person of low self-esteem who only feels worthwhile if I'm working like a dog and producing income. So I'll choose to work in sheer agony because I'm fucking martyr."
"That's why we love you here."

In the meantime, I had privately discussed with "Willy Wonka," one my bosses, that a situation with a certain employee was reaching the breaking point and had to stop -- but that I didn't want to make a big stink about it. Willy offers to step in and talk to this person privately. And while the initial harassment stops, this individual now hates my guts and is hostile towards me, creating vitrol and tension in the environment.

My physical condition continues to deteriorate because of my body's sensitivity to the prescribed drugs. But to stop causes seizures. The only solution is to slowly taper off of them.

"You might feel a little sick with the tapering," my doctor cautions.

"A little sick" does not begin to cover it.

My nerve endings become so damaged that touching my cat's fur registers on my fingertips as touching a smooth glass surface. Limbs go "dead" and completely numb without warning. I have tiny red spots all over my body, a sign of a poisoned system. My skin suffers constant nerve pain that makes me want to scream; unfortunately, since my body is so sensitive to medications, my doctor doesn't want to give me a pain-reliever.

And the intense that at some point I sincerely wished I was dead to make the pain stop.

I mentioned this to a moderately high-ranking Gilgongoite and confidant:
"Sometimes these migraines are so painful that I just....I just want to put a bullet in my head."
"Oh, don't do will make the Company look bad."(<----not a "joke" quote) Eventually, I call an administrative person in another building to go on what I think is an unpaid medical leave of absence. To my shock, I find out that I was qualified to have paid leave -- multiple weeks of it in fact -- all along. "But I was told that they couldn't give me paid leave." "Well I don't know what they said, but this is what I'm telling you." And so began months of excruciating tapering and recovery. All the time I wondered about my job, my reputation, and what would become of me now. When the paid leave ran out, I came back. I was still sick and in pain. But I was back. Of course, in the meantime between the leave & my return I made an official complaint regarding the problematic Gilgongo! employee. Which meant that when I returned, everything ran the gamut from surreal to fucked-up. I didn't feel welcome anymore. And I was ill. Who needed this shit? When you're healthy you can put up with a lot of shit. When you're sick, your threshold for bullshit, intimidation, and general fucked-upness goes out the window. After a few weeks, I went to my supervisor's office, closed the door, and announced my resignation. To my surprise, he insisted I stay. I insisted that I knew my own body and that I was going to need many weeks if not months of recovery to get the rest of the medication out of my system and to heal. He insisted that he knew if I stayed I could forge ahead and everything would be fine. I insisted that I wanted to resign now, with dignity. He said it would break his heart if I left. So I stayed. I only lasted another two weeks. By then, most of the medication was out of my system but my body was so damaged that everyday living was a nightmare of nerve pain and migraines. One day I stoically went into Willy Wonka's office and had a long talk with him. The last thing I asked him was, "What do you think the chances of my ever getting promoted in this place are, after I recover?" "Pretty bad. Even with the recovery they'll just use your illness as an excuse." "So I'm fucked, basically." And so I went to my office, cleaned it out, typed a resignation letter, and split. I knew that was the End. That whatever dreams I had of Big Comics, at least at Gilgongo!, were over. In the period of time between first offering to resign and my eventual departure, I was given a whole slate of new assignments that I had to now suddenly abandon. I felt so humilated. Why in the hell did my supervisior insist on me staying when I made it so very clear that my health couldn't hack it? Why couldn't he just take my resignation? Why did he insist? Now I am sitting across the room from my therapist, a year later, and I offer her a "crackpot" theory: "Because if I stayed...I wouldn't tell." And now I'm back at my apartment after just quitting the job I wanted my entire life. My nerve pain is still there in full force, one more fucking day of dealing with it. I put down the bags of belongings from my office in the kitchen and head for my bedroom. I get out my laptop and write in great detail everything that happened to me. I save in on my desktop in a folder marked "read this first." Then I get out some pieces of looseleaf paper and write out my will. I mean, according to my research, the bodily effects of this sort of catastrophic drug reaction can last YEARS. Who needs it? I was fucked up. My career was over. I really didn't feel like I had any allies or defenders. Soon the medical insurance was going to run out. I was going to have to live on my savings. And if I was too sick to get a job after that? What, welfare? Disability insurance? No. I had it. I was through. But how would I do it? I pictured sailing over the edge of the one window in my room without a child-guard. But then the following line ran through my head: "Oh, don't do will make the Company look bad."

Oh gosh, no. Don't make the Company look bad.

I looked at the four pages of of my will that I just wrote out in pencil. Typical fucking fan-geek will.

"I hereby bequeath my set of Buffy DVDs to..."

I was going to end my life for what?

For Comics?

For motherfucking comics, I was going to be street-pizza?

For what?

For Phantom Girl, Herbie the The Fat Fury, Angle Man, Cottonmouth, and the Woodgod? For Paste-Pot-Pete, the Inferior Five, the 3-D Man, and Squirrel Girl? I was going to lay down my life for the industry that introduced glow-in-the-dark multiple cover gimmicks? That elevated Rob Liefeld to the level of DaVinci? That still, on average, produced the same adolescent male power fantasies as they did 50 years ago -- men in pajamas, women in bondage? For being cast out of the realm where power is signified by how many action figures you have on your desk, this was why I was going to end my life?

Well, there was also the matter of the continual pain.

But I threw the will away and slogged through it. I wrote a book. I went on a strict diet free of MSG, preservatives, and sugar to bring my pain down to managable levels and eventually lost 60 pounds. I managed to recover enough to get a part-time job, and when that was successful I upgraded to a full-time one where I made more money than I ever did at Gilgongo! Comics. And I thought I had processed everything, that I learned my lessons.

Yeah, I said to myself that I would write this all down one day in some sort of memoir, or I would become active in Friends Of Lulu and protect women everywhere, or I would do a half-billion other noble things so I could see the "silver lining" in my struggle.

But deep down I could still see my dad ripping that Wonder Woman poster off my wall:
"You ungrateful bitch! You fucked it all up! You touched the fizzy-lifting drink! Now you win nothing--NOTHING!"

And I just wanted to make him happy.

Goodbye To Comics #11: Willy Wonka And The Comics Factory

Goodbye To Comics #11:
Willy Wonka And The Comics Factory

There was always this parody/homage of "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory" that I wanted to write. Instead of candy the factory produced video games, and the story focused on this impoverished Asian chick with unrecognized bisexual tendencies who beats all the other kids at the video game contest and gets to visit the factory.

Now, what this girl and the other contest winners don't realize is that in addition to games the factory also conducts bio-terror experiments with various plagues, zombie dogs and reanimated dead soldiers.

What follows is more John Carpenter than Roald Dahl. But eventually the Asian girl, the last survivor, claws her way, barely alive herself, to the control room where Wonka is. Wonka informs her coldly that because she fucked with the fizzy-lifting drinks, she is disqualified from the contest and gets nothing.

But eventually she inherits the factory, fires the Oompa-Loompas, and hires Sailor-Moon lookalikes instead.

Whether she maintains the covert black-op research and development contracts with the Shadow Government is another story entirely.

One of my favorite sci-fi authors is Kilgore Trout, and I can only hope that, while unpublished, such stories as the aforementioned might live up to his standard.

But now I want to say a few words about somebody I always associated with Willy Wonka, somebody who brought me into Big Comics -- the theoretical Gilgongo! Comics to be exact. Certainly he had the the personality of a comics Willy Wonka -- smart, talented, whimsical, if but a little phlegmatic on certain days.

He was an artist who wouldn't draw, and I was a writer who wouldn't write. So we had a lot to talk about, both of us bemoaning our blocked creative drives.

And why wouldn't -- why couldn't -- we express ourselves?

Because of the act of Creation actually depressed us, made us feel lonely and like we were standing on the precipice of something Greater than we knew what to do with.

Because we were told repeatedly growing up that we'd make no money with our art.

Because we were afraid of rejection, failure.

Because it was so much easier to to just eat donuts, do our job, laugh with our friends, and feel some degree of security.

Because we had Responsibilities.

But the truth is that, even with all of the above taken into consideration, there is no way to suppress the creative urge for too long without having it assert itself in our lives like some angry, living thing bursting forth from the world of abstract concepts into our material realm.

Willy Wonka's big enemy was his big metal art flat files. They were always "biting" him on the leg.

"Goddammit! Why am I always getting banged in the shins by this @#^%#$ flat file?!"

We would have long philosophical talks about art, the mechanics of office politics, and just what the hell was the meaning of it all. My ostensible job for the first two years of my tenure, before I began to inisist on editing, was to occasionally place a package in the mail rack, make a few Xeroxes, pencil in a visitor here and there, and, mostly, to just continually convince him not to quit.

I mean -- that was it. That's all I did.

After an earlier editing tenure at another, smaller, comics house & stints in advertising, the snail's pace of my new position was quite a shock. But I was convinced I was Going Places, that I , like so many of the other (male) editors at Gilgongo! Comics would work myself up from obscurity to higher and higher up the ranks, provided I kept pushing for more and more responsibility and kept proving myself.

And I remember the first day I showed up for the interview --
It was like Charlie visiting the Chocolate Factory.
It was awesome!
As a lifelong comic fan, it was truly what dreams were made of.

And I remember on that first day, as I showed up over-dressed in a suit and heels, how, in the midst of all the orientations and "hellos" and tours of the office, how I was told, by two different people, on the fly, quiet-like:

"Watch your back."

Now, I never had a problem with Willy Wonka. We had a good run. The day I resigned, he told me that he was jealous because now I would at least have a good block of time to write.

"Take me with you," he said in half-jest.

But I don't think he truly meant it. I mean, where I was going was half-way between hell and the unknown -- destroyed reputation, broke, physically ill, and standing on that old familiar precipice (on the verge of something Greater?).

Though I did write that book.

Willy Wonka never did check in with me after that last day in his office, never asked how I was doing, never inquired how the medical & financial & legal nightmare I was in the middle of was coming along. The situation I had with another employee at Gilgongo! was no doubt some small part of this. Because, you see, I had "fucked with the fizzy-lifting drinks," and now I was disqualified and would get nothing.

About two years later, Willy answered an email regarding a letter of recommendation for a job with a very formal recitation of company policy, footnoted with a "well, maybe I'll try to write you a little something, if you can keep it quiet." I made a note to myself to contact an editor I hadn't seen in eight years and get a letter of rec from him instead. Which I did.

Goodbye To Comics #10: "Lost Girl's First Comics Job"

Goodbye To Comics #10:
"Lost Girl's First Comics Job"

So if you've been following the blog so far, here is the scorecard:
1. Crazy bodybuilding comic-reading possibly steroid-fueled dad.
2. Being called a lesbian throughout grade-school and teased because I read superhero comics.
3. Successful run at the theoretically-named Gilgongo! comics ends in harassment, character assassination, illness, and personal disaster.
4. Comic guy accidently rips vagina open during intercourse, effectively leaving me $15,000 in debt.

But there is so much more. There is a whole narrative about the comic collectors I used to hang out with when I was a teenager, a rogue's gallery that would make Dick Tracy weep. Most of those men are now nearing their 40s and 50s and are almost completely destroyed, living alone in dimly-lit apartments filled to the ceiling with comics & collectables. My entrance in their lives was unnatural, unnatural because I was a young teenage girl and I was not supposed to a)be reading comics and b)hanging out with sexually-frustrated comic fans.

Now you may say: you were a free woman! this is America! you have the right to read anything you want and hang out with whomever you choose!

But what is right and what is reality are two different things.

I started working at the comic store after running away from home when I was 16. I ran away from home because I was tired of getting beaten up by my mom's boyfriends. Misogyny and me, we go waaaaaay back.

The owner of the comic store was a friend of my late father. He was a middle-aged man, a bit on the grotesque side but always quick with a joke and generous with his customers. I was so thrilled to get this job. As a comic fan, working behind the counter was like winning a trip to Disneyland. I had finally made it.

Here is a quick picture of what the fan culture was like in the early 90s. Speculation was in full swing, and everybody was as greedy as fuck. There were a lot of collectors that weren't fans at all but were simply buying up "hot comics." Which was great for my boss. Unfortunately, what was not so great was that comic thievery and shoplifting was at an all-time high. It was not uncommon to hear of one big store in the city or another being heisted in the middle of the night, cleaned out. My boss felt he hadn't a lot to worry about, however, because he was the first one to admit that the place was a scummy little hole in the wall.

Into this scummy little hole in the wall trotted the most bizarre cast of characters ever to grace the fandom. There was the old-time cartoon animator who spent his declining years buying high-ticket Golden Age items, taking care of his mother, and smelling of pee. There was the fast-talking heroin-addict who constantly came in looking to trade choice pop-culture memorabilia for quick cash. There was the short, mild-mannered big-time comic collector in the rumpled two-piece velvet suit who thought that putting peanut butter on his dick for his cat to lick off did not qualify as animal abuse. There was the fat, mentally-challenged older lady who would pull her top up and shake her boobies for a quarter; it should be noted that she was not a comic collector, but rather just a piece of the "local color."

In essence, I was working on the "Howard Stern Show."

One of my co-workers was a soft-spoken Latino man who I was never quite sure was mentally-challenged or just really really innocent. We're talking like Forrest Gump. My boss always made jokes about "spic this" and "Wetback that" and I marvelled at how my co-worker never got angry, never got angry for being called a "dumb spic." He would just smile shyly and act like he didn't really understand what was being said. He will become a footnote to this entire story, so just tuck him in the back of your mind.

I felt a certain degree of "protection" from my boss, that kept unwanted "admirers," mostly adults and a few who were middle-aged, at bay.

So when he told me in private that I sexually aroused him, that I made him "hard," I was completely devastated. I cried.

My boss acted like he didn't understand why I was crying. He said he assumed that as a "single girl living by herself" that I was "open to this sort of thing." Mind you, he was a friend of my dad. But really, considering the caliber of person that frequented his store, was this scumbaggery such a big surprise? As a naive teen with no parental supervision and no security, the answer is -- yes, it was a complete surprise. This guy was like my uncle.

What followed was a textbook case of how a patriarchal society deals with troublemaking females.

1. Tell the victim good-naturedly, "now you just keep this between you and me, okay?"

2. To cover your own ass, tell other people that your victim is a)crazy, b)a nympho, c)a liar, or c)a crazy nympho liar. In my case, this jerk went around telling others, including his own wife, that I sexually came on to him.

3. Punish your victim in some way so you can feel better about her rejecting you.

When I came into work the next day following the incident, my boss told me gravely, in front of the rest of the store, that a set of trading cards were missing by my work station and that he suspected I did it. Since he couldn't trust me anymore, I had to leave.

Of course, what type of trading cards were they?

The theoretically-named Gilgongo! Comics Superheroes series.

I kept waiting for somebody to defend me, but the rest of the men in the store just looked sheepish and away. Most had been recipients of my boss's generous nature for more years than I was alive. Though I considered some of these men as my friends, I simply couldn't tip the scales away from a guy that, in their scummy little hole-in-the-wall universe, was like a king.

So I left. Passively, stunned, not quite sure of what had just happened. Later that day, as I was walking home from grocery shopping, one big heavy bag in each fist, I had a delayed-reaction to the event and suddenly became filled with fury. I marched back to the store and slammed the door open.

"You...sonofabitch! You fucking told me that I sexually excited you! That I made your dick hard! I fucking trusted you! You fucking did this to punish me, you fucking scumbag motherfucker!"

He acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. Of course. Though at one point he reinterated his theory that since I was "a young single woman" I was "open" to that sort of thing.

I was 16.

I screamed at him for about 20 minutes, never once putting down my bags of groceries, my hands red and creased white by the bag handles. When it was over I stalked out of the store, turned around, and punched my fist into the plexiglas door, leaving a giant crack that extended from the "Yes we are open" sign to the faded Charlie's Angels Topps stickers near the bottom.

Soon after that I got what is known in the parlance as "a real job" and entered college. I was so burned by the experience in the store that I refused to read or buy any comics ever again.

Some time later, I ran into my quiet Forrest Gumpian ex co-worker. He said he was real sorry about what happened, but that he made sure to "take a lot this time" to punish my boss. I asked him what exactly he meant.

He invited me to the apartment he shared with his religious, working-class mom and dad. In his room were thousands upon thousands of expensive comics. My old boss's comics. Stacks of mylared Silver and Golden Age books. All the "speculator" titles, Marvels and Images and Valiants bagged and boarded and stacked to the ceiling. In the second bunk of the bed set he shared with his late brother were row after row of choice books, some in multiples of twos and threes, all lovingly sheathed in plastic.

"You see," he began to explain, "whenever he call me things like 'dumb spic,' 'retard,' things like that -- I take a book! Every time. So he say, 'you dumb retard,' and then I go, when he not looking, I take a book. Every time. Not so dumb a retard, am I?"

After years of not being able to turn a profit, the old comic store closed. It is now a 99 Cents store, though tomorrow it might be a cell-phone store, or a discount clothing outlet. All I know is that every once in a while, even if I don't need anything, I buy a dishrag or something from the place. Just to walk inside of it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Goodbye To Comics: Well Yeah, Sometimes Abuse DOES Create The Superheroine

Goodbye To Comics:
Well Yeah, Sometimes Abuse DOES Create The Superheroine

There is a lot of debate in the comics blogosphere regarding the depiction/retconning of an abusive interlude in the lives of one superpowered female character or another. The objection is usually about how an abusive past shouldn't be used as the "reason" why a woman became a superhero.

Well then what the fuck else is that abusive past good for?

Sometimes it comes down to:
1) Go down the path of self-loathing and self-destruction
2) Become the Black Cat, or Catwoman, or Black Canary, or whomever

If you've been following the posts, you'll remember the scene where I'm in the ambulance, theoretically bleeding to death from the most sensitive part of my body, the hapless Donovan Paul in tow.

Donovan tries to "cheer me up" by offering suggestions as to how this accident, which will eventually bankrupt me and leave me deathly afraid of sex, has a "silver lining."

Was Donovan trying too hard?


But without the belief and motivation that this shitty event, like a number of shitty events sprinkled throughout my life, could be used as an impetus to create positive and, dare I say, "superheroic" things, I fucking would have went batty. And I don't mean "batty" like Batman.

So these narratives regarding the female superheroine with abuse and trauma in her past actually INSPIRE me.

So you mean Catwoman became strong and a fighter and took control of her life?



Does that mean that there isn't a section of the male reading audience that gets off sexually by viewing the rape and torture of superheroines in these very comics?

Ah, there's the rub.

Goodbye To Comics: Why I Write

Goodbye To Comics:
Why I Write

There are only two times in my life that I have actually written this much in such a relatively short period of time.

The first was right after I resigned from my job and had, for almost two years, absolutely nothing. Everything that I had used to give myself a sense of identity was gone. I always related it to that scene in The Jerk where his pants are around his ankles and he's cradling his thermos. Kind of a flip metaphor considering my situation, but...

Anyway, one day I just started writing. Out of nowhere. And I didn't stop for like four months. And I wrote a book! A big-ass Stephen King-sized book! And I was like -- where the hell did that come from?

Several days ago, I broke up with Donovan Paul. I think it had something to do with the fact that I couldn't accept that Britney and Bush were smarter than I was. Or maybe it was the culmination of a dozen of little things. Or simply because he reminded me of Comics.

And I didn't feel bad or sad -- I felt all that in the weeks leading up to it. But I did feel empty.

And then I just started writing.

It all feels rather indulgent. But like Donovan told me that day in the ambulance when my vagina got "broked," maybe the "silver lining" is the writing. Of course, at some point Donovan stopped mentioning the thing about writing about my broken vagina -- probably just around the time he realized that in the movie adaptation of the story, he wasn't going to be played by George Clooney.

Remember Shelley Duvall in her prime? That's who I'd like to play me. She's fucking awesome.

Goodbye To Comics #9: The "Jonah"

Goodbye To Comics #9:
The "Jonah"

So my boyfriend of a handful of weeks, Donovan Paul, expresses concern that he will get blacklisted from comic work if certain people know he is connected to me.

Looking back on it now, I would have just dumped him then and there. At that very moment.

Oh, you don't want to be seen with me because it will "hurt your career?!" Well fuck you!

But at the time I was in love with Donovan, and so I took what he said very very hard.

I couldn't believe that after three years since I stood up for my rights in the comic industry, I was still "the Jonah" -- persona non grata.

It was like I was OJ...only instead of killing two people with a really big knife I had the temerity to be harassed and react to it like a human being who possessed at least an ounce of self-respect.

And I thought: "here is the man of my dreams" -- you know, the one who broke my vagina -- "and I ruined it by not playing along with the system!"

All the self-hatred flooded back.

I remembered a conversation I had with an old boss of mine about my situation. A long-time veteran of the comics field, he said that unfortunately I was "ruined" in the industry.

"Do you know what a 'Jonah' is," he asked. "Ever read 'Billy Budd?'"

He went on to say that a Jonah was the person who was blamed for everything, the untouchable, who everybody shunned and sacrificed so they would not get "bad luck by association."

He also said I strongly reminded him of "Rose Kelly" from the movie "From Hell," and suggested that it might make me feel better if I viewed the movie. Which I never did, afraid that I would see a scene of Kelly lying in her own blood with her ovaries ripped out.

But it was only until Donovan expressed concern that I might kill his career merely by association that it really hit home to me what being a Jonah meant.

In the Bible, Jonah is sent on a mission by God. But Jonah doesn't want to carry it out. So he flees on a ship in the opposite direction from where God wants him to go. So God plagues the ship with storms until the passengers get so upset that they throw him overboard. Then Jonah gets swallowed by a fish and spit up on the shore of where God really wanted him to go.

I'm on that shore, and I'm covered in ambergris.

Ambergris smells like shit, by the way, but ironically is one of the most important ingredients in making perfume.

Out of the 60 or 70 people I worked with at the theoretically-named Gilgongo! Comics, I have contact with none of them that are still working there -- only former employees. During the worst years of my life, when I was basically struggling for my life and livlihood, only the freelancers that I worked with ever checked in to see how I was doing. Inkers that I worked with maybe once or twice emailed me out of the blue to say "hey" and to express their appreciation for my work with them.

I was also put in the uncomfortable position of having big-name artists and writers contact me, and express confusion over why I had suddenly "disappeared" from Gilgongo! Comics. Especially with the female creators, it would have been soooo tempting to spill everything to them, to tell them my real story. But then they would be in an uncomfortable position. And it was hard enough as it was to be a successful woman in the industry.

And then there were half-truths and all-out lies spread about why I left. I wondered how they started. I wonder who told them to save their own ass.

"Oh, the stress of working at Gilgongo! was just too much for her. She was very fragile."

And WHY exactly was it so stressful? When I have had positive reviews for every other job I had since I was eighteen years old, never unable to complete any assignment? When I had so very recently received an award from Gilgongo! Comics itself for a job well-done?

My whole point is, if you're going to say "she was stressed out, she couldn't handle it," why not say EVERYTHING, including the "why"? Why destroy my reputation? It may have just been "politics" for some people, or even misguided loyalty for a friend, but it was my LIFE!

But as noted in an earlier posting about my conversation with a boss about the theoretical "Melia Bratton," most female accusers, if you believe the gossip, are either "sexually confused" or have some sort of other mental difficulty.

Here is a related theoretical scene (theoretical as in "OJ Simpson is theoretically a multiple murderer"):

I'm having lunch with an comics industry legend. Five minutes into the conversation, he finds it important to say the following, out of nowhere:
"You know, (BLEEEP!!) had accused me of sexually harassing her. She made a really big stink about it. But she's a very, very troubled woman. Vindictive and bitter. It's very sad. So if she tells you anything...well, just take it with a grain of salt, that's all."
Weeks later, I run into (BLEEEP!!!) in the washroom. I look at her carefully, like a specimen, as if I might be able to detect simply by sight what an alleged whackadoodle she is. But she's just a woman, calm and collected in a simple but elegant brown shirt, skirt, and patterned stockings. She nods and smiles at me and leaves the room, a folder full of writing tucked under her arm.

But there was something about that particular woman, Ms. BLEEEP!!!, that struck me, that very silently creeped me out. Seeing her face again in my mind, I now know what that was.

She looked like a middle-aged version of me. I can only hope that at her age I can look so tranquil, a sheaf of paper with one story or another that I wrote myself in my hands.