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The Friday We Messed Around With Jim

by  in Comic News Comment
The Friday We Messed Around With Jim

This was a real conversation. It’s been about ten years since it happened, so my memory might not be accurate in every detail, but I will vouch for most of it.

It took place at the San Diego Comic-Con, sitting around an evening campfire at Mission Beach. Though I’ve omitted the names — you’ll see why — I can tell you that it included several professional writers, some remarkably talented artists, a couple of engineers, and one or two others that are normally very erudite. And me.

Also? No one was drunk. Honest.


“That is the dumbest song I ever heard.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Seriously? ‘You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim.’ That doesn’t even make sense.”

“So? What’s the big deal?”

“Of course you can tug on Superman’s cape. What’s he going to do?”


“Well, he’s Superman, he could do all kinds of things. He’s got super-speed, heat vision, he could–”

“No no no! Think! He’s SUPERMAN! He’s not going to hurt you! He’s just going to say, ‘Excuse me, did you need help?’ And that’s all that would happen. It’s a bullshit lyric.”

“Wait, though–”

“No, he’s right. Superman would be all ‘Greetings, citizen.’ You don’t tug on Batman’s cape. Then you’re in trouble.”

“Or the Spectre. The Spectre would really fuck you up, dude.”

“What about Dr. Strange’s cape? Isn’t it, like, sentient or something?”

“No, it just levitates. The Cloak of Levitation.”

“But Dr. Strange controls it telepathically, it’s not like it floats away like a balloon.”

“So what? That means you can’t still tug on it?”

“It’ll bitch-slap you into the Dark Dimension, dude.”

“No, dark dimension was the other guy, the blackness guy….”

“Brother Voodoo?”

“That was blaxploitation, not blackness.”

“You are an asshole. No, the guy… he was dark and she was light…”



“Obsidian was a blackness guy–”

“No, I mean that Mantlo thing.”

“Cloak and Dagger!”

“Yeah! Yeah, that was it! Cloak!”

“What about him?”

“He had a cape that was, you know, it was like a dimensional gate. Like a cloth TARDIS.”

“A what?”

“It’s a Dr. Who thing.”

“So can you tug it?”


“No, the cape. Cloak’s cape.”

“Cloak’s cloak.”

“Whatever. Can you tug it?”


“Uh…. I think so…?”

“Didn’t Hannigan sometimes draw it where he was kind of hanging on to it?”

“Does it count if it’s Cloak himself or does someone else have to be tugging on it?”

“Somebody else, I think.”

“Yeah, gotta be somebody else, man.”


“I can’t remember.”

“Me either.”


“What happens if you tug on it? Do you, like, fall in, or what?”

“How the hell do I know? I didn’t read that book. It was a dog.”

“It was okay.”

“It was Bill Mantlo trying to do Frank Miller and failing utterly! It was every dumbass vigilante cliché in comics! It was crap!”

“The art was good though.”

“Hannigan’s always good.”

“Who cares anyway? Are you really trying to tell me that it’s a better song if it says you don’t tug on Cloak’s cape?”

“Cloak’s cloak!”

“Dude, it didn’t get the laugh. Let it go.”

” ‘You don’t tug on Cloak-the-OTHER-blackness-guy’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind–‘ ”

“No, you gotta have three syllables. Cloak doesn’t scan right.”

“Doctor Strange has three syllables.”

“Nobody knows who he is.”

“Doctor Fate.”

“Oh, nobody knows Doctor Strange but they’re going to know Doctor Fate.”

“It’s got three syllables!”

“Doctor Fate would mess you up, too, he’s as bad as the Spectre.”

“No way. Fate wouldn’t turn you into a log and buzzsaw you.”

“He might if you tugged on his cape!”

“Doctor Doom!”

“Doom would vaporize your ass!”

“Oh hell yeah. ‘None may touch the cloak of the Latverian monarch, fool!’ Ka-ZAM! Grease spot.”

Several voices rose in song. “You don’t tug on Doctor Doom’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim…”


“It doesn’t sound right.”

“What about Dracula’s cape? That’s three syllables. Everybody knows who he is, right?”

Again the song experiment was tried. “You don’t tug on Dracula’s cape… you don’t spit into the wind… you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger…”


“I dunno.”

“It could work.”

“But then you lose the comic book connection.”

“Lone Ranger, dude!”

“Hello? Tomb of Dracula!”

“So what? No one thinks of comics when they think of Dracula.”

“I just did.”

“You’re an arrested adolescent that flew three thousand miles to hang out with a bunch of comic book nerds. You skew the sample.”

“Not in San Diego, not this weekend.”

“Geek pride, baby.”


And that’s why, to this day, every time that Jim Croce song comes on the radio, I start to giggle.


See you next week.

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