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.