Goodbye To Comics #7:
“We Need A Rape”
My theoretical comic company, which, for the theoretical purposes of my theoretical memoir, I’ll call Gilgongo! Comix, was tired of being “pushed around” in the sales wars and in the court of fanboy opinion (such as it was). So with all the red-nosed gumption and determination of Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” Gilgongo! Comix decided to go badass.
They needed a rape. Because there’s nothing quite so badass as rape, lets face it. And the victim couldn’t been from the usual suspects: “The Black Raven” (done that already plus ovaries ripped out), “Bondage Queen” (wasn’t she raped like every issue--at least mentally?), “Demon-Girl” (she was already paralyzed from the last pseudo-raping and that provided all sorts of logistical nightmares for the artist).
No, they had to find the most innocent, virginal, good-natured “nice” character they could find and ravage her not once but twice.
Theoretically, this character’s name was Vicki Victim.
A whole groundbreaking limited series would be built around Vicki Victim’s rape and murder.
This made me nervous. In the office, I was known as being innocent, virginal, good-natured, and “nice”. I was kidded on it on a regular basis, as well as being told it was exactly those qualities that were “holding me back.”
Of course, it was silly to identify with a dumb old comic character.
Vicki Victim’s fate was sealed in a Gilgongo! Comics confab in which we explored how we could change our comics to be more “badass.” It was decided that the reason we were trailing in sales was because we were “too good-natured and nice.” This would have to stop. Our books needed a grittier edge. We needed a grittier edge.
So our books changed. There was rape, and murder, torture, death, and mutiliation. Superheroes did amoral or outright evil things and the line between good and bad was blurred.
And you know what?
Our sales improved. And this is a fact.
But it all started with Vicki Victim, and she has to be given credit.
To be fair to the ultimate writer that was assigned to the Vicki Victim Story, he was specifically told to include sensationalistic “adult” themes in the story. But when we got the scripts in I was still kind of shocked. Perhaps I was so affected not simply because of my fannish defense of Vicki Victim’s “purity” as a beloved character. Perhaps I was dealing with my own issues.
Let’s back up.
Do you know what a syzygy is?
That’s when all the planets align in such a manner that crazy shit happens.
In my time at Gilgongo! Comics I experienced several of what can only be described as “syzygies.”
One was an incident where one of my bosses set out to rid me of my “niceness” once and for all. It involved a freelancer who had a habit of delaying handing in his work because he was such a damned perfectionist. I was told to go into my office, close the door, and scream at this freelancer until he cried. I wasn’t told to simply “be firm.” I was told to scream at him until he cried and scare the living shit out of him. And believe me, he would have cried. And he did. I screeched like a maniac at the poor devil, threatening and berating. Right beyond my nearly closed door, I could see my boss listening with glee.
Tears rolled down my cheeks -- not out of pity for my prey, but because the sheer shock to my system turned me bright red and sent my blood pressure through the roof. I thought I was going to have a heart-attack. On the other end of the line, the freelancer was stuttering, crying, freaking out.
I couldn’t stop shaking, even minutes after I hung up. What had just happened was so unnatural to me, so vile. And it served no purpose anyway. Because soon after the lights flickered and my computer began to whine like a little baby, and soon all the power was out. Everywhere.
But this wasn’t the crucial syzygy that began the chain of events that ended my career. That particular incident had to do with your dead friend and mine, Vicki Victim.
It started with my associate editor running gleefully into our boss’s office, several boards of art in his hand.
“The rape pages are in!”