Monday, November 20, 2006

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.