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I Wonder Where I’d Be If I Weren’t Here

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Welcome to the eleventh hour. If you got something to say, drop me a line. E-mail me with the name link above or post on SBC’s very own message board. Now for something COMPLETELY different…

Put a piece of gum in my mouth and it flared my nostrils (made my mouth ever so lovely though). My mouth, my breath, whatever. Went looking for a stapler. Found one. Nothing inside. Started hunting for staples. Asked three people. Found none. Kept searching. Realized I was speaking in fragment. Found pronouncing fewer words appealing. Pull a Rorschach.

SNAP!

Too many thoughts. No time to write them all down. Found staples. Many staples. In a desk drawer. Desk drawer…locked? Indeed. Borrowed key and unlocked drawer. Drawer screeched on ill kept hinges like a whimpering dog. Inserted staples ever so gently.

HAH!

One story down. The next one follows. Enjoy.

I wonder when I become a famous writer (when sounds a lot better than if), if the journal that I originally wrote this column in would have any collectible value. Richard Frankel’s Journal circa 2003. I’d have to sell it because I would be strapped for cash. Being ever so rich and famous (and making sure to sell out as soon as I possibly could) I’d spend my massive royalty checks on drugs, booze and relatively pretty women. HAH!
My editor would phone me up:
“Where’s my fucking column?” He would ask.
“It’s coming, it’s coming. Just coming late is all.”
“Very funny. You’re very funny, you know that?”
“Well people pay good money to laugh.”
“You look just lovely.” He would say and I would think he was coming onto me. “Been taking those drugs again I see.”
Angered, I would reply: “Since when have you ever been able to see clearly?”
“Well, I can hear it in your voice.”
“Can’t go far without them, you see. Tried new ones today. Quite the experience.”
“I’m sure.” He said.
Anyways, the conversation would stray in that general direction until one of us couldn’t stand the other’s voice and would hastily hang up. Let’s hope it never comes to that point. Life’s too short to make a conscious decision to fuck it up. And if you’re wondering or maybe even worried, I am not taking drugs. And no, this previous line isn’t a conspiracy to hide the fact that I am indeed a drug user. Many have called me a liar. Sometimes a good one, oftentimes a bad one. I was extremely bored one Monday morning so I left my first period class, fond a quiet corner, plumped myself down and began absorbing all the noises echoing from my school’s atrium. And as usual, my mind started wandering and my imagination was let loose, free to roam where it pleased. That is how things like these (concocted stories) are given the right to life. All in all, good. At least I’m writing. At least I still got things to say and choose to say them as subjectively as possible. Make your own judgments. By all means, listen to mine, take my advice, but when it comes to it, make your own judgments. I’m tired of people making them for me. Where was I? Oh, yes, I was going to give a response to that article that I found a staple for so I could put it into the column. Where to begin…

Well, at the beginning of course! When I first started writing this little response I was sitting on the balcony on the second floor skipping first period (part of first period) for reasons stated in the above paragraph. Now I’m sitting in my room, on my bed and it’s a couple days later. Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal is blaring from my computer speakers. Why tell you where I’m writing? I just find it interesting to see the adventure inanimate objects involuntarily partake in and the changes they go through (no, I have not lost my sanity). This notebook that I’m writing in for instance has gone through a fair amount of change in its day. At the start and leading up to the middle, I had no motivation to write due to personal reasons which do not have any relevance as of this writing. Never the less, I remember when I first got this book. I’d developed a fascination with permanent markers and had thus wanted to use them at every conceivable opportunity. So I did. I’d just come back from the local mall that day with a new prescription for my glasses, and the lenses would give me agonizing headaches, so I took the glasses off, got down on my hands and knees and with the permanent marker I started labelling the front cover of my book. The title came to: The Super Fantastic Book Of Stuff with an arrow leading to a picture of a carpet with the words “Magic Carpet To The Stars” written with imperfection. I don’t remember why. Maybe, I was fed up with writing carefully? We’ll never know. Speaking of which, wasn’t I supposed to write a response to that article? Tired now. Been a long day. Actual response to follow. I promise…

There’s a comic book store downtown (downtown being downtown Toronto) called The Beguiling, which I have yet to visit but have heard many great things about. It’s a store as equally devoted to the super heroics as it is to independent works from publishers such as Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly. Just the thought excites me. There are too many great comics outside the mainstream that don’t make it to any considerable readership. What comes to mind is Greg Rucka’s “Queen And Country” and Art Spiegelman’s highly acclaimed and ill read “Maus”. The comic book industry is like any other medium of communication, as it too has its own historical roots. “The Industry”, as I affectionately refer to it as, is rooted in escape. Like the most acclaimed, most profitable escapes (television, movies, novels and the like), the industry began and developed in profitable resolution. The big companies supported their writers and artists wholeheartedly, knowing that at the end of the road it would be profitable. I find that there is little to no support if you’re just going into something for its creative aspects. Creativity however, did flourish. Some great, memorable stories were told and some of the best artwork to grace paper was all told in the 20th century through comics. Just look at the artwork of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. The industry focused their escape on spandex clad superheroes and directed the majority of their market towards kids and teens. Superheroes were popular. They were figures that revolutionized one’s imagination. They were profitable, and more importantly gave fans an escape from the dreary, repetition of reality. It gave people what they desired. Some great stories. So, what’s changed?

The stories are still great. The artwork is better than ever. The problem lies within the industry itself. First mistake was moving the comics from street corner shops to the creation of speciality stores. If there were a balance of both, then there’d be no problem. Second mistake was the early to mid nineties craze of variant covers and more importantly placing the artwork before the story itself. That’s why as the 1990s drew to a close, Image Comics lost more and more of their market. Artwork (however fantastic) didn’t stick with the fans, stories did. An Uncanny X-Men issue in the 1980s that would sell several million copies now sell fifty thousand at best. But, what are you going to do? The industry shrunk and the big companies were on the brink of bankruptcies, but people came through and judging by things now, the companies are indeed still around. Realistically, all this bullshit is self-inflicted. It reminds me of a Radiohead song from their 1995 album The Bends, called Just. “You do it to yourself you do. And that’s why it really hurts. You do it to yourself, just you…” Now the industry is levelled out once more. I find it’s our responsibility to bring old readers back. Lend them your current comics. Show them what they’re missing because they’re missing a lot. That’s the only way to bring the industry back to its former popularity. It is also why I find a store like The Beguiling great. Sure, there’s little money in independent comics, but the stories that I’ve read have always been high quality. Same with the mature comics I’ve sampled.

To end off, I was supposed to talk about the failure of Free Comic Book Day 2 and the atrocious Authority relaunch. It’ll have to wait for next time. Summer’s upon us and school is finally over and done with. Four years soon in the past. I’ll try and have the best week and a half left. After that, who knows where life’s winding road will take me? Only time will tell, I suppose.

Have a great week and I’ll see you in two.

R.F.




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