Friday, October 14, 2005

In Action Id Comics # 65, we review Harvey Pekar's "The Quitter" (Oh, forget it ...I give up! Sooo, who's on Conan O'Brien-???)

"If only you could do something useful with that mind of yours - You're like Lex Luthor!" -- Jerry to Kramer on "Seinfeld."

Meanwhile, at "The Daily Futile" (3rd-tier Metropolisp's only daily newspaper!), the editor-in-chief, Very White, begins his staff meeting...

Very White (chomping on his trademark cigar): "Great Caesar's Ghost! The mayor of Cleveland gets caught taking kickbacks from Wal-Mart - in the form of tacky polyester leisure suits - and we get scooped on it by a (shudders) free news and arts weekly! What AM I paying you people for-?!?"

Lois Lame (typing merrily away on her Fisher-Price (tm) word processor): "Um, how many 'P's' in 'pulitzer,' Chief...?"

Clark Cant Cut It (adjusting his glasses - made by Superhero Lenscrafters in only one hour): "Um, excuse me, Very White, but many of the local bloggers are doing a lot of great work exposing great injustices - maybe we could just steal some story ideas from them-?"

Very White: "At last! A reporter with an ORIGINAL idea! Good work, Cant Cut It! Finally, somebody's thinking around here!

Clark Cant Cut It: "I mean, sufferin' succotash, as writers we all steal things on a subconscious level at times - but anything else would just be sad and pathetic, right-?"

Lois Lame (to Clark Cant Cut It): "Great stories don't find good reporters, Clark. GOOD REPORTERS find great stories - Got that, Smallville-?"

Suddenly, a white dog wearing a red cape named "Krypto McSuperdog" comes flying through the window of The Daily Futile...

Very White: "Sweet Mother of Troy! Who let that dog fly in through the open window-??? What am I running around here - The Weekly World News!"

Krypto McSuperdog: "Arf! Arf!"

Clark Cant Cut It (leaning down to talk to his faithful mutt): "What's that, boy-? You hear somebody's Life Alert medical bracelet going off in town-?"

Krypto McSuperdog: "Arf! Arf! Arf!"

Clark Cant Cut It: "Great Scott! Auntie Jane has fallen down a well on her way to the Death Cab for Cutie concert-??? We've got to help her, boy!"

Krypto McSuperdog: "Arf! Arf!"

Clark Cant Cut It (removing his glasses that the nice salesperson at Lenscrafters said made him look "sophisticated"): "I'll just use my heat vision to cause a distraction by starting those stack of yellow newspapers in the corner on fire. Heck, nobody's subscribing to them anyway..."

As Very White and Lois Lame are easily distracted from their own self-importance - and, oh yeah, to put out the fire in the corner too - Clark Cant Cut It races to the nearest broom closet with his faithful companion by his side.

Clark Cant Cut It (ripping off his clothes faster than Bill O'Reilly on speakerphone): "Maybe lazy journalist-by-day, Clark Cant Cut It - or, hey, even Marty Sullivan - are not able to help Auntie Jane ...but Super Blog CAN!!! Now ...Up, up and malaise!"

*****

So I went to the book signing this week for Harvey Pekar's newest Vertigo graphic novel, "The Quitter." It was kind of a surreal feeling, having worked at The Free Times with Harvey for a brief time after college, kind of like when Marty McFly first encounters the younger version of his father, George McFly, for the first time in "Back to the Future."

I kept waiting for the space-time continuum to violently rip open in anger and suck me into the stratosphere, a black hole for psuedo-journalists or a Phantom Zone for hackneyed writers and scribbling wannabes like myself (Oh, wait - I'm already there: It's called ..."the blogosphere!!!").

But it never happened. And Harvey began his Pekar press conference to a modest group of fans, a bit uncomfortable at first and complete with his patented Pekar "trademark twitches." He started out squirming like Gollum under a heatlamp, but he sooned warmed up under the spotlight - and to the local Cleveland crowd nicely.

Some significant news Harvey announced was that he was bringing back his American Spendor series for DC Comics (the parent company of Vertigo).

When asked by a member of the crowd if he would ever return to David Letterman's show, Pekar cackled impishly: "Yeah, sure, I'd do it! For the money ...but I guarantee you that he (Dave) doesn't want me back on his show again." When pressed further for more info on this tantalizing tidbit, Harvey informed the crowd that whenever his people called "The Late Show" about Pekar's return to late night, the producers would only say one of two things: "No comment" or "Dave's not in the mood tonight."

Other than that, and a semi-awkward "meet and greet" with Harvey Pekar, I ran home - like Indiana Jones greedily grasping my prized "gold monkey" - with an autographed copy of "The Quitter."

I read it from beginning to end that night (after "Lost" of course!). And I have to say that "The Quitter" is absolutely brilliant in it's simple semi-self-loathing complexity! The black and white (with many shades of gray) artwork by Dean Haspiel and Lee Loughridge popped off the page in breathtaking fashion that pulled the reader right back into Cold War era Cleveland.

Sure, from a kid groomed on comic books, it was a bit of stretch for myself - someone not used to being grounded in realism, with an active imagination that often runs rampant ...like the Road Runner on ACME crack. I kept waiting for Harvey Pekar to find that green power ring and fly off into outer space wearing some funky green and black tights... but that's not his thing - and lucky for us, the readers.

No, it's not the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics of the 1970's (drawn in demigod detail by comics' legend, Neal Adams) and fighting the injustices of racism, corporate corruption, social unrest and "The Man." Nor is it the dark and gritty "realism" of Batman: Year One by Frank Miller that "revamped the camp" of the Batman mythology (Sorry, Adam West! You were, um, Bat-groovy in your own way, I guess. Anyone who can shout the line: "Confess to your crimes, you hateful hussy!" with a straight face to Julie Newmar in a Catwoman suit has this square's admiration 'till the end of time).

But if you want to get to know Harvey Pekar, his work, and a slice of his not-so-peculiar world, then I suggest you run out and read "The Quitter." If nothing else, it cements a piece of Cleveland, Ohio, into the space-time continuum of underground pop culture history in glorious graphic detail...

Now, if DC Comics would only give me a call - and give me the greenlight to re-write The Atom! A six-inch superhero with an addiction to Hoegaarden beer bordering on the alcoholic - all the while battling "modern day" villains that would make the wacky weirdoes on "nip/tuck" look like freaking Betty Boop! Or not.

In the meantime, just like Wile E. Coyote, I guess it's back to the drawing board for me...

Arf! Arf!

The Id and I - "If web blogs were cereals, we'd be The King Vitamin of cyber-space!"

8 Comments:

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