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out-of-breath men rush in and make their way

immediately to the checkout counter.

KIM THOMPSON: We got here as soon as we could, Bob. Is this the guy?

GARY GROTH: This is the guy who was buying superhero comics? Let's kick the CRAP out of him!

KIM THOMPSON: Gary! Hold on a minute…maybe he made a MISTAKE.

COMIC STORE GUY: No mistake, guys. He bought at least ten Marvel books.

GARY GROTH: …Ten Marvel…! Oh, my GOD! I…I just can't stop this RAGE!!!

KIM THOMPSON: Gary…let's give him a chance to

explain…please…

GARY GROTH: (Crying…) But I HATE him! I HATE HIM SO MUCH!!!

KIM THOMPSON: I know, Gary. I know. And you're RIGHT

to hate him. But ­ we're here to help people

like him, right? Isn't that right? Hasn't The Comics

Journal always been about helping?

GARY GROTH: (Biting through his upper lip, spotting

his t-shirt with blood…) Eyyeyeyyyyyuuuughh!

Goddamn ****ing ****s and their grraarr snort HATE

HATE HATE them!

KIM THOMPSON: That's better, Gary. Get it all out.

Okay…calming down?

CUSTOMER: Hey, what IS this? Who ARE you guys?

KIM THOMPSON: You just SHUT UP, kid. This is for your

OWN SAFETY! All right, Gary. Calming down? Can we

do what we came here to do?

GARY GROTH: (Snapping at invisible insects…)

Hate them. Yes. Calming down. Yes. Hate superheroes

and the idiots who read them, but still…calming down.

Quite calm now. I'm reminded of something Isaac

Bashevis Singer, the only Yiddish author to win the

Nobel Prize for literature, said when they made a

horrible film of one of his stories…

CUSTOMER: (Pointing at Groth…) Wow! Is he

gonna Hulk out again?

GARY GROTH: (Rushes at CUSTOMER, is restrained by

a well-prepared KIM THOMPSON) I'll KILL him!

I'll KILL him! I just want to GRRRRAARRR snap bite

CHEW REND!!!

KIM THOMPSON: Stop it, Gary! We're here to HELP this

young man! Now, listen…what's your name?

CUSTOMER: Timmy…

KIM THOMPSON: And how OLD are you, Timmy? Nineteen?

Twenty?

TIMMY: I'm TWELVE!

KIM THOMPSON: TWELVE! Well, the devil you say!

You're a big boy. Isn't he a big boy, Gary?

GARY GROTH: (Dragging his fingernails against his

cheeks…) Big. Yes. He's big. Big piece of CRAP!

I'll KILL HIM!!!

and administers three rapid blows to Gary's

kidneys…Gary vomits noisily as Kim puts on his

reasonable face for the customer…

KIM THOMPSON: Listen, son. We're not here to judge

you. Gary and I publish The Comics Journal, and we

also head up Fantagraphics. We're here because we

CARE. We just want to help! It's obvious you have a

problem: Superhero Comics. It's nothing to be ashamed

of…we just want you to get well. We're your

FRIENDS!

TIMMY: I don't even KNOW you guys!

GARY GROTH: Ow. Jesus. Ow. Hate. Ow. Hate Superheroes. Urgh.

KIM THOMPSON: Timmy-- Denial isn't just a river in

Spain or an assertion that an allegation is false.

It's also a noun meaning that you read Superhero

Comics. Too MANY Superhero Comics! And we're CONCERNED for you. You're twelve, right? Wouldn't you much

rather be reading the endless and baffling stories of two girls who used to be solar mechanics and their

band and some Mexican wrestling and people eating snails?

TIMMY: Huh? Look, just let me take my Wolverine and go home! You're SCARING me!

KIM THOMPSON: I can see you're reading Pokemon - well,

did you know that Fantagraphics ALSO publishes a book

about an annoying loser from Seattle and his horrid

family and awful girlfriend? How's THAT for crazy

characters? Bet you wish you could catch them all in

those Pokey Ball Sacks you kids love so much!

TIMMY: Does it have mutants?

GARY GROTH: Oh, that's IT. He's DEAD. Hold him 'til I can stand up. I'll slice his throat and drink his blood!

KIM THOMPSON: No, Gary. He needs understanding, not blood-drinking. Let ME handle this.

GARY GROTH: Goddamn it! Now my face is imprinted

with COMIC STORE CARPET! Oh, CURSE THIS WRETCHED

EXISTENCE that doesn't allow me to vent my FURY! My

only true pleasure lies in viciousvituperation! Why,

oh why must the WORLD be so BOUNTIFUL in TARGETS and

yet so unyielding in its ASSAULT LAWS? I'm surrounded

by BANAL HACKERY!

TIMMY: And you have a Jujube on your forehead!

COMICS STORE GUY: Dibs!

GARY GROTH: (To Timmy…) You sniveling,

snot-nosed little PUKE! Oh, if only my hands weren't

bound by society…

KIM THOMPSON: Timmy, never mind him. How about this

book? It's an out-of-sequence autobiographical comic

featuring a completely unpleasant little Canadian

fellow! CANADIAN, like WOLVERINE! It's called Yummy

Fur! FUR, like WOLVERINE! Or, how about this? It's

called Acme Novelty Library, and…well, I haven't a

CLUE what it is, but it's VASTLY superior to

Spider-Man, of that I'm CERTAIN. Aren't you the least

bit interested?

GARY GROTH: Tell about the porn!

KIM THOMPSON: Yes! The PORN! You're too young to

read these, Timmy -- but in the interest of expanding

the field and uplifting the industry, we publish

dozens and dozens of shoddy porno comics! I mean,

it's virtually an endless parade of graphic hardcore

porn, ranging from elegant erotica to the

ass-crappiest trash you'll EVER see, by people who

are busy pushing the envelope of erotic fiction, if by

"pushing the envelope" they mean girls with big ones!

This is all part of how we maintain our position as

THE guiding moral force of the industry, and of course

THAT is how we can say mean things about people who

recently passed away, and Timmy, THAT is a PERK!

GARY GROTH: (Excited now…) Tell him about

1983!

KIM THOMPSON: That's right…Timmy, did you know that

Fantagraphics hasn't published a story anyone could

understand since 1983? It's our proud heritage to

publish some of the head-scratchingest crypto-comics

EVER! Now, Timmy…why don't you just put down the

Spider-Man comics, and we'll go over and just scoop up

a big armful of Chester Brown, whaddya say, huh, pal?

It's easy…! First you admit that you're powerless

over your addiction, and then you acknowledge a higher

power, and that'd be Gary and me, and then you just

ditch these comics and you're on the Road to Recovery!

GARY GROTH: Forget X-Men! Look! Here's the latest

EIGHTBALL!

TIMMY: But…but…I LIKE Marvel Comics! I don't WANT any other comics!

GARY GROTH: (Banging head on wooden countertop…) Oh unjust WORLD that would put ME in

jail for KILLING the likes of HIM! Up is down, black

is white, killing MARVEL fans is WRONG! Despair grips

me like one of those double-strap latex ball gags--The

kind that make it sort of hard to breathe, but in a

GOOD way…

COMIC STORE GUY: Okay, guys. That's enough. I don't

know why I agreed to call you two in the first place.

He doesn't WANT any of your books. Sure, you guys

have published some of the finest comics ever, with

Hate, Love & Rockets, and many many others, and your

archive editions of classic comic strips are a

national treasure. It'd be a poorer industry by far

without you. But leave the kid alone! Didn't you

guys even reprint a bunch of old John Byrne stuff?

Didn't you used to LIKE superhero comics? And who are

YOU to tell people that what they like is nothing but

trash? What gives you the right to sneer at anyone whose tastes are dissimilar to yours? You should be ASHAMED.

KIM THOMPSON: …

GARY GROTH: …

KIM THOMPSON: Bob…I…

GARY GROTH: Oh, my God. He's RIGHT, and we've been so

WRONG! This little kid wants to read Spider-Man…Let

him READ it! What harm could it do? Oh, it's like a

great WEIGHT has been lifted! It's like the clouds

have parted, and a ray of sunshine has beamed its

merry way down to me!

KIM THOMPSON: (Sobbing with relevatory joy)

GARY GROTH: …I…I no longer feel the need to MOCK and

DENIGRATE and INSULT! I feel this sense of JOY and

inner calm! I feel REBORN, Kim! I feel a sense of

well-being and LOVE for my fellow man! SUPERMAN!

SUPERMAN MAKES SENSE TO ME, NOW!

KIM THOMPSON: Oh…it's all too beautiful! It's like a wonderful DREAM!

GARY GROTH: That's it, Kim! When we get back to the office, EVERYTHING is going to change! No more angry attacks on people for not producing work we enjoy! No more insulting people's morals for not buying the Journal!

KIM THOMPSON: I LOVE LIFE!

GARY GROTH: And to think it's all thanks to this obese comics store owner and this remarkable young man…!

dropping Groth back to his knees with a loud surprised

groan…, flashing a Satanic hand-gesture before running

out the door…

GARY GROTH: AAAAH! ****! ****ing ****!!! I am

discomforted!

TIMMY: WOLVERINE RULES, OLD DUDES!!! Hahhahahahaha!

GARY GROTH: Urk. Ack!

KIM THOMPSON: Gary! That little BASTARD! Are you all right?

GARY GROTH: (Rolling on the floor…) Ugh……this…this would be a good time to review some comics or write an editorial. Get me some paper and a pen…has anyone beloved by the industry died recently? Quickly, while I'm still in great pain!

KIM THOMPSON: By GOD, we're two noble individuals!

GARY GROTH: The MUSE IS UPON ME! Is Stan Lee still alive, by the way?

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