By Park Cooper
Started composing this column in my head the other day and realized that as far as I’m concerned this column has only three primary readers (outside of Barbara)—two in Glasgow and one in Northern England (somewhere near Leeds as best as I can work out). There are two people in the 48 states that I kind-of sort-of have in mind as reading this column but that’s it.
I realized the former fact the other day when I was thinking about the Jon Stuart show, a cable show on the Comedy Network that basically gets away with wonderfully tearing all conservative political figures including and especially George II a new one under the same principles as those under which Barbara can’t attack Codename: Knockout—because it wraps itself in the flag of Comedy, of satire. Say that the President is stupid and you could lose your job in Canada or England, but say that something isn’t funny and it’s “Oh yeah well you just say that because you have no sense of humor.” The trick here is that Jon Stuart IS funny, really really funny, when he’s got a good guest on (half the time—after 9/11 he started getting serious newscasters and war analysts on and getting them to confide in him how ridiculous American foreign policy is now) and when he’s not doing poop jokes after his opening look at the day’s headlines (the important part of Stuart’s show is the opening 8 mins or so but we all know that comedy is about scatalogical humor, so he’s got to have such segments on to protect himself). So basically Jon is able to survive under a small branch of the same power that embraces Get Your War On. If you don’t know yet about Get Your War on, just do a search for that phrase online… we sent it to Mark last week, don’t know if he looked at it yet or not. Warren is like “You can all bite me and I hate all comics and everything to do with all comics currently out there except the Get Your War On strip.”
But then I thought hmm, Jon Stuart’ll need some explanation because they probably won’t have that over there just yet.
Me: Won’t have Jon Stuart over where?
Brain: Glasgow and Northern England, of course, stupid.
That’s how I realized it’s all for you and himself and SBC’s Regie K. Rigby, outside of Barb and a couple of Yanks. So I thought I might as well just start writing it to you directly.
After all, we wanted to talk to you about how much we dig the Riot At Xavier’s storyline. Barb says these two most recent issues are the best yet. I for one have been anticipating this since San Diego Con. I’ve been going around for yes, about 5 months now, saying, “Can you give me a haircut like this?” but with the accent I first heard it in. As always, keeping such secrets to my damn self until well after time. Obviously, the only person I can say this to is Barb, who else do I talk to? Walking into the room, pointing to a non-existent picture in my hand… “Ken ye’ giive meh a haiircut like this? (rising inflection on last syllable)”
And of course seeing ‘Frank’ again makes a big difference, particularly to Barb, though I’d rather he ink himself (though I bet it speeds things up).
Dig the whole mutant culture thing. FINALLY someone’s making that like it should be. Are we going to see a revival now of Dazzler? God knows we aren’t going to have a revival of her less-talented Blondie disco on the radio, (or will there be a pirate mutant station in the NY area? WXNY?) but I figured all mutant hip-hop and electronica will have requisite sampling of Dazzler tracks—after all, she’s the world’s first openly mutant artist. The Dazzler box set, DVD of Dazzler: the movie with director’s commentary from that sleazy little man who directed the movie that ruined Dazzler’s career and made her wear a black wig and do the keyboards for Lila Cheney—I think he was meant to be a Polanski manque.
I want bumper stickers in the kids’ rooms at Xavier’s like Visualize Global Mutation. Please crank it up. Please make it happen, Santa.
Wanted to tell you about my two new plans to save comics.
Plan one: “Got Comics?” The idea here is that appealing to the 12-to-29 crowd clearly isn’t going to save comics by itself. No one in America wants to read comics in public like Mark Millar is comfortable doing. MM’s comfortable talking about Bueno Excellente in public, MM is probably comfortable doing all sorts of things in public, and while that probably says more about MM (yes, MarvelMan/MiracleMan, says Barb, wandering through the room and seeing my paragraph) than it does about Glasgow or anywhere else, it’s not going to work. No one’s comfortable doing that over here, and who cares about the half-of-one-percent of the time that reading comics in a public place will get you mocked or beaten up? What matters is the 95 percent of the time it keeps one from comfortably enjoying a good read.
So my new plan is that instead of trying to impress the straights where they travel, we’ll dazzle them with selection in the stores. The Got Comics plan involves attacking the marketers, and it can be done en masse. You, or preferably one or better yet two friends, go down to the local bookstore. Dress alike, either in Invisibles-future-fashion or in MIB black suits, or perhaps just in Kid Omega’s Carnation-designed stripes. Ask the retailer or manager, “Got Comics? We want to buy some comic books and/or graphic novels.” If the answer is yes, make him or her TAKE you to where they are. Demand an escort. Once there, engage in a discussion. Ask about a comic you want to buy. Keep doing this until you get to one they don’t carry (try Antarctic’s Courageous Princess, Galaxion, Amy Unbounded, until you finally get to Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist. [If they have that, you’re in a comic book store in Boston and they are already on Team: Got Comics. Try somewhere else]). The point is to leave disappointed. If they seem receptive, leave them with a copy of Previews, complete with ordering book (or whatever’s left besides Previews, if you can find such a thing).
Plan to Save Comics #2: Big Print Comics.
I realized, looking at a large-print Reader’s Digest the other day, the reason why comics are in trouble. It’s NOT the fault of Wizard, as we all believe—it’s that the print got too small! Think about it! Who, more than anyone else in history, read comics the most? That’s right, America’s Greatest Generation! Old People! Comics didn’t get crappy, it’s the lettering that got too small! Large-print comics can even be read by yuppies and health freaks on the consoles of their treadmills! You’ll read ANYTHING when you’re walking a treadmill, especially if there’s no TV or George II is on TV! So this is why I think we’ve got to get the age group back into comics that made them great: the Golden Age! They don’t call them the Golden Girls for nothing! Sure! Why d’yer think they CALL ‘em the “Golden Years?” Because they remember Superman, Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, the JSA, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, the Invaders. Grant, we (AFTER Riot at Xavier’s) need some really really OLD mutants and altered humans. I’m talking superhumans made in secret military experiments during WWI if not the Spanish Civil War Vigilantes, keeping both halves of Spain from being looted while its citizens, its sons and daughters and mothers and sisters, were out learning to use a sniper rifle. Byrne did the Lost Generation thing at Marvel, but isn’t there a happy medium between the antics of gay Marvel Cowboys and Captain America and Bucky? Were there no mutants charging up San Juan Hill with the old Rough Rider himself? No E-Men operating under the wisdom of the Wizard of Menlo Park himself? “Come to me, my E-Men, I need you. Mary had a little lamb…” (Barb: Yes it’s Children of the Electron: Generation E. Heroes for the TWENTIETH Century!)
Think about it and get back to us.
P.S. WXNY, the concepts of The Dazzler box set, the DVD of Dazzler: the movie with director’s commentary, the phrases and/or concepts of “Visualize Global Mutation,” “Got Comics?”, Team: Got Comics, Spanish Civil War Vigilantes, Mutant Rough Riders, E-Men, Children of the Electron: Generation E, the phrase “Heroes for the TWENTIETH Century!” and “Regie K Rigby” are all copyrighted 2002 by Park Cooper and Barbara Lien.
Just in case anyone besides the people I expect is reading this column after all…
P.P.S. While visiting rels for hols, my mother, arbiter of all that is acceptable to non-fanboys, is like, on Christmas, “Hey, Bobby Darin’s singing on TV.”
I freeze. Waaaaaiiiiiiit… I go and look. “Moth-ER… that’s Brian Setzer.”
“He was big in the 80’s, then again at the turn of the century when that Swing craze brought him back into the spotlight.”
She did a double-take at my use of turn of the century, then laughed. “Turn of the Century, heh.” First I thought she was nuts for thinking I was nuts for using it, then I thought about it and thought I was nuts for using it like that. Now I think I’m nuts for thinking I was nuts.
Wow, this newsletter has taken longer than I thought. More in two weeks…
P.P.P.S. Ultimate Birthday MM!
--Park and Barb
Your New Mantra: CAN YOU GIVE ME A HAIRCUT LIKE THIS?