Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodbye To Comics #4: Batman and Wonder Woman

Goodbye To Comics #4:
Batman and Wonder Woman

I began reading comics when I was three years old. My mom worked during the day and my dad at night, and consequently my dad was tasked with keeping me busy -- and enculturating me. This would explain why I didn’t have any conception of the fact I was a girl until I was eight and the other girls told me, “you dress funny.” (Of course, cords and big leathery shoes are a hell of a lot more practical than a buncha lacey satiny things. And I totally don’t regret missing the prom...even though Sue Snell bribed Tommy Ross to take me and all.)

At any rate, my father and comics were inextricably joined in my mind, Perez Teen Titans and Buscema Avengers forever linked with the interior of my dad’s broken-down old Dodge Dart, Claremont X-Men and cartoony images of Jim Shooter in Marvel Age blending with hot summer days in the early 80s and Dad taking me to Baskin Robbins for a blue daquiri “icey.”

There were a few comic stores we frequented. One was conveniently located only a couple of blocks away but carried mostly old crap and Mad Magazines. The middle-aged proprietor was a friend of my dad’s and would later offer sex to me when I was 16. Then there was the scary hole-in-the-wall near my grammar school. It was a poorly-lit “used book den” with stacks of molding paperbacks and periodicals everywhere; porn in the back, a box of crumpled comics and Mads in the front. It was rumored that the store owner, this old bespectacled man who never looked at anybody in the face, was a child molester. At some point my mother forbade me to go there anymore, though I did anyway because I didn’t quite understand what “child molestation” meant and anyway he had old Howard the Ducks for 15 cents a piece.

But the really good comic joint, one of the first “specialty shops” to open up in Brooklyn, was located in Bensonhurst. This was THE place for me to visit, the highlight of my week, the reason for my existence. My father faithfully took me there every Sunday after playing in the park. Then we’d get ice-cream. It was heaven, reading the latest Detective Comics or Superman Family next to him in the car. I used to read those comics until the covers fell off.

My dad even looked like a superhero. He was an amateur bodybuilder, and had, over the last few years, grown quite large, almost like Hulk Hogan. Those “tips” he was getting from his buds at the gym were certainly paying off!

One day my dad got me a special treat -- one poster each of Batman & Wonder Woman to put on my wall. I had seen those posters in the windows of the store for a while and had really wanted them. Most likely they were drawn by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, as he was doing a lot of licensed material for DC at that time. Classic Batman, classic Wonder Woman, both on a field of stars or motion lines. My little pinups of Scott Baio or Olivia Newton-John would pale in comparison, mere shells of personality next to such illustrious guardians of the universe.

Once back in the house, my dad got out his trusty heavy-duty staple gun and bolted those suckers onto the wall above my bed, divots of wall and plaster popping off. I was always scared to death of that stapler, to me it was quick and severe like a gun, merciless. But it kept those posters up.

Those posters stayed up for about a couple of weeks. Then my father had one of his violent, bipolar fits over me choosing to attend a birthday party down the hall of our floor rather than spend all day at his side in honor of Father’s Day. He started at the door, where colorful letters that spelled out my name, made out of clay by my mom, were torn off in a rage, leaving a spot of blood where one of his fingers got cut. Then he moved into the room and made a grab at my posters, at Wonder Woman & Batman, ripping them to shreds and then balling up the shreds and throwing them at me as he accused me of being an ingrateful piece of shit.

For a few years after that I never liked to look at posters or even think about those images, those Garcia Lopez Wonder Womans & Batmans. It reminded me of what I did, of how I made my dad tear them off the wall. At the time, I didn’t realize that wanting to go to the birthday party would offend him like that. If I would have known, if I had some clue, I would have not went and thus saved the posters, I could have had Batman & Wonder Woman looking down on me, keeping me safe from bad guys, for even years into the future.

But now I have a clue.

My mind is wandering from this to another scene. You will excuse me if I do this during the narrative, but as you remember from the last blog posting I had just had the knockout gas administered to me at the hospital after getting my vagina busted. So I’m like in this “Mulholland Drive” fugue state in the memoir, I’m seeing Miss Gulch cycling by, I’m seeing cows with televisions for eyes, I think even Mitch Hedberg is hiding out somewhere around here, looking for cookies. It’s rockin’ I tell you.

I am now seeing the painters cover up the “Metropolis Destruction” scene from the 7th floor of DC Comics reception area after 9/11. I always thought it was bad karma to have such a negative tableau be the first thing you see when you entered the “executive” floor anyway. But with the WTC gone, it was now beyond a bad artistic choice, it was fucking unbearable.

Maybe they shouldn’t have painted it over, however. Maybe they should have just torn it off.


  1. You seem to blame yourself for the posters. I hope you don't, really. I mean...I know your dad's pain at you wanting to go to that party on his day was real, but you were a kid. Kids don't know how or why some things become big deals to adults...and vice versa. Of course, I lost my dad 3 years back and probably have blamed myself for almost every negative interaction I can think of with him. :)

  2. I missed that era of creepy comic book dens. By the time I got into comics in any serious way (I guess, the early to mid 1990s - bad timing) they were still available at the corner 7-11, and the comic stores I went to were well-lit and "respectful" places. I can't imagine going to those dank hovels, especially if I were a woman.

  3. Anonymous10:29 AM

    He started at the door, where colorful letters that spelled out my name, made out of clay by my mom, were torn off in a rage, leaving a spot of blood where one of his fingers got cut.Good Lord, but this choked me up. It's always the little things.