WHAT DO YOU DO?
"The future smells of Russian leather, of blood, of Godlessness, and of much whipping." ? Heinrich Heine, 1842
I've been on sort of a quote kick, lately, when I've needed to fire up the ol' writing engine. You know what I mean; sometimes reading a little short something by someone else, some pithy turn of phrase or a laser-like observation, well-described… it kick-starts the thinking meat and then we're all off to the races.
I think I first heard of this little exercise in my first job out of college; if you've been reading these columns for a while, you'll remember that my first honest job after receiving the sheepskin was as production coordinator for Worcester Magazine, a tabloid independent of the Village Voice stripe, in central Massachusetts. I was like a line producer on a movie; I made sure all the different departments all knew what the others were doing, who they were doing it with and when, and what they were wearing as they did it. If we got to Tuesday morning and hit up against the deadline crunch (as the WoMag came out Wednesday morning), I was conscripted to do all sorts of stuff: waxing and paste-up, run the stat camera, proof-read, help the strippers with the film, whatever was needed. Because on Tuesday morning, I was already well into the next Monday in my responsibilities…
…but that week's paper needed to hit the streets.
Man, I loved that job. Anyway.
One Tuesday I was proofreading the Hunter S. Thompson column that was syndicated at the time, and for which WoMag had purchased the reprint rights. Thompson had gone off about stealing Bibles from hotels to open up at random intervals to juice his brain in a direction to write, when he was stuck for inspiration. There was just something so… irreverent… about that. "Thou shall not steal," and such… and yet stealing the thing that told you not to. Sort of post-modern, if you will.
And I had always loved that. Randomly open a Bible, point at a spot on the page, and write, thematically, about the passage you've selected. It's so odd, it's gone all the way around the world to become genius, again.
So whenever I have need to jump start the grey-matter, I do the same thing. Grab a book and randomly stab a page and see what happens. Hence the lead-off quote this time. A little exercise to lube us up. In honor of Uncle Duke, though, I selected his book, "Generation of Swine; Gonzo Papers, Volume Two" instead of The Bible for my quote. And sure enough, it wasn't anything Thompson had written that I'd selected, but something that he had quoted.
Still. The whole thing works for me.
This time, though, and oddly, I wasn't put in mind of The Future, as one might expect. And by "The Future," I don't mean flying cars and teleportation and see-through PVC skirts for both men and women, because you know that's what we'll all be wearing a hundred years from now.
No, I meant "the future" in that what we all do when we're doing that which we're not supposed to be doing.
"The Future" is what happens when we're waiting for the bus, as the missus says.
So it amuses me to tell you what comics guys do when they're not making comics.
Since you're reading this on the Internet, chances are you know that the genius Brian Wood was in San Francisco this past week. We made no secret of it. In fact, I was sort of surprised that no one went to his apartment in Brooklyn and ripped off his stereo while he was out here, since we had done such a good job of letting the peeps know that he was here and not there. So. If you were thinking about stealing Brian Wood's stereo and didn't, I thank you.
There came a point in the Brian Wood signing at James Sime's store, Comics and Da Kind, in-between Bri taking pictures of himself and Jason Cornett quaffing other people's ale, that my good pal Lisa Floznick (who the astute amongst you may recognize as the model for "Professor Floznick" in Mike Brennan's Electric Girl) asked me what, exactly, it was that comics folk did when they weren't making comics.
I had to admit that the answer was different for everyone.
When Bri was out here, for example, we had a very good time walking around the city and just coming up with stuff. We walked by a martial arts club house and training dojo improbably called "Kung Fu USA" and instantly came up with a Bad News Bears - esque storyline featuring the plucky adventures of a team of kids improbably thrust into greatness by way of chop-socky shenanigans.
Watching the latest episode of Enterprise while hopped-up on Dr. Pepper and chocolate bon-bons yielded the immortal sexual innuendo "Do it to me round-ear style."
And that's not even mentioning the operatic reconstruction of what it must be like over at Batman writer Ed Brubaker's goat farm up in Northern California… "Say my name, she-goat!" "E-e-e-e-eddddd! E-e-e-e-eddddd!" or the sheer fanboy infrastructure that needs to be in place to have "Larry Young" be the Commander of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Air Cavalry in Cable or the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who swaps bodies and minds with an unstoppable robot engine of destruction in Deathlok or who takes Nick Fury's dictation in the latest issue of Fury.
Honestly, S.H.I.E.L.D. rank-and-file must be made up of Larry Young clones, or something.
But what do comics folk do for fun, when they're not talking about comics?
I swear to God, the serious ones are talking about comics all the damn time. Because we love comics so.
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