The Unearthly Power of Muscle Cars and The Matador’s Secret
Peter’s Café in Millbrae offers a wonderful thing they call Peter’s Special Scramble, which combines the best features of eggs, spinach, ground beef, mushrooms, garlic and olive oil. Add some hashbrowns to that and a pot of coffee, and you’ve got enough power to get me moving on a Saturday morning.
Granted, my soul had already been stirred by the Dodge Challenger Daytona in the parking lot I saw on the way in. This thing was cherry, man. Hood locks, spoiler, mags, enough horsepower to send a battleship into orbit, the whole nine yards. Yeah, muscle cars are utterly impractical (he said, driving his little Prius around SF), but they’re amazing things, utterly of a time that’s nearly lost to us now, designed to do one thing and one thing only (go in a straight line really really fast). But they do it so well.
Breakfasted and drove into the city a bit on the late side. Wasn’t in any hurry. The first panel of the day was another of the three DCU panels, which seemed to be covering the same material, just on different days for the benefit of folks who couldn’t make it on Friday or Sunday. I also heard that it was pretty entertaining. Sample question: “Why doesn’t God just come down and make everything okay?” I’d like to have seen their answer to that. My understanding is that Greg Rucka fielded it. Of course, the easy answer is “God is down there. Who do you think the Spectre is, man?”
But that probably wouldn’t have made me so very popular.
The group I’d hooked up with (mostly the same folks I ran into at the Isotope the night before) headed over to the Meteron for lunch. I followed, still somehow hungry, or at least ready to eat. Not that the two are the same thing, really. Of course, I do get myself into trouble like that. Anyways, the Meteron was described to me as “a shopping mall as designed by a 14-year-old.” I suppose that’s not too far off. It’s very cool and more like a Disney ride than a shopping mall. Oh yeah, it doesn’t seem to have any public restrooms. But then again, you’re in downtown San Francisco, so perhaps that’s by design. Though the barbeque place sold a pretty decent tri-tip sandwich. And the french-fried onions looked pretty good, too, but I had a sudden attack of sensibility and ordered…salad. Yeah, I know. I’m gonna die anyways. May as well go for the gusto.
The real reason I was there on Saturday, of course, was to attend the Grant Morrison solo panel. Those are always entertaining, and you generally get a fun crowd with ‘em. This time was not really an exception, though the room was so big that it was hard to get a vibe going, as I’d seen in smaller venues.
And no, it didn’t take long for the line of questioning to run right the hell past superheroes and into fourth dimensionality, hypersigils and how Grant really didn’t encourage INVISIBLES readers to abuse themselves: just that he condoned it that one time. Like they needed his blessing…
Spoilers for a book that’ll never come out follow.
High points of the panel included his relating the utterly and beautifully absurd first issue of SEAGUY v. 2, which he’s basically written though there’s no interest in it at Vertigo right now (apparently the numbers on the first series were less than stellar, which is criminal on a cosmic scale.) Apparently our hero has been brainwashed by the agents of Mickey Eye, when he realizes that the parrot who replaced Chubby the Choona at the end of the first series is a BAD GUY. Seaguy is transformed into El Macho, world’s greatest matador! But he’s not a normal matador. See, you can’t kill bulls now, they’re sacred. So instead of poking them with a sword, you have to dress them and by doing so, utterly humiliate them. No really. The ghost of Chubby appears to Seaguy and ultimately, Seaguy follows him out of his artifically crafted life (apparently abandoning his pregnant wife.)
Of course, she isn’t pregnant. She says “Well, we just couldn’t keep him” to her round belly. Then she lifts her shawl and underneath it is not an unborn child, but a Mickey Eye.
End first issue. Cue applause.
Morrison teased the crowd with the possibility of a follow-on INVISIBLES volume, perhaps in the ENDLESS NIGHTS sort of format, to revisit the characters. I wouldn’t mind that at all. I’m not gonna hold my breath, however. And yes, there’s a rumor of something going on with JH Williams as the artist. I don’t know what it is, but I’m sure it’ll be worth reading. No mention of LE SEXXY, which is unsurprising, but I hold out hope. Non-genre work is going to be a tough sell. And he re-confirmed the “leak” that he will be writing BATMAN. More importantly, it’s the hairy-chested love god Batman. I’m wondering if he’ll just go all out and write him as Diabolik in the DCU, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, really. Plenty of room to put him on the wrong side of lots of superheroes and use his brain to show that BATMAN IS STRONGEST ONE OF ALL. Bring back the Sci-Fi Closet!
And when the questions got too heavy, someone wisely asked “Could Hulk beat up Superman?” Cue applause and relief. I’m always intrigued how Grant’s superhero fans mesh with his batshit crazy stuff fans. Fun dynamic to watch.
Oh yes, he relayed an utterly bonkers ATOM premise/pitch that could be a lot of fun. Not sure how long it’s sustainable, but it’d make a great little miniseries. Or anthology anchor. Imagine that. Tales of the DCU, anchored by a big talent story and a couple of other smaller talents just going wild. I know. I’m a dreamer. So I’ve been told.
Waited around after the show to get my copies of FLEX MENTALLO and ALL STAR SUPERMAN signed. I know. I’m a fanboy. Duly noted. Teased out some details of upcoming stories and apparently the third issue of SUPERMAN features Samson and Atlas vying alongside Superman for Super-Lois’ love. Issue four features Superman and Jimmy Olsen in the Complex (aka the nexus of all zaniness in JIMMY OLSEN ADVENTURES). Superman goes bad and it’s up to Jimmy to take him down. Sign me up.
Tried to attend some of the SUPERMAN RETURNS panel, but things were running very late, and instead caught the tail end of the Pixar panel. I love Pixar, I really do. But CARS doesn’t look so good. Doesn’t help that I kinda loathe Owen Wilson’s persona (which is just about all he’s asked to play these days.) The ONE MAN BAND short that they played after the CARS clip was a hundred times better. Gimme more of that.
SILENT HILL looks like stylized by the numbers sort of spookery. Pass.
Followed the group along to the Mark Waid spotlight panel. I dunno, I’d probably have a lot more fun chatting with Mr. Waid about physics than superheroes. His writing’s never really done much for me, though EMPIRE was intriguing. He certainly proved he understood Dr. Doom better than anyone since his creators, though. And he’s an entertaining speaker, which is more than can be said for a lot of comics folks. And on that note, let me just say that I’d pay good money to see Howard Chaykin host a solo panel where you just put him down in front of a mic and let him go. He’s dominated every panel I’ve seen him on, and, sure he’s not wrtiting INFINITE CRISIS, but I’d rather listen to him than Geoff Johns.
Hit the floor for a little longer, trying to get Nora hooked up with some Wrightson art to learn from and I started rummaging around for copies of KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND and ROGAN GOSH. Didn’t find those, but I found a bunch of old Vertigo one-shots for half off (I DIE AT MIDNIGHT and SMELLS LIKE TEEN PREZ [ouch, that title!]) and some weird stuff in a dollar bin (SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #1 – the original Ditko series, not the revival). Encouraged Ian to spend a dollar on the wonderfully deranged Steve Purcell/Art Adams GUMBY WINTER SPECIAL. Got a look a the new Bob Burden/Rick Geary GUMBY series as well. Looks promising.
Oh stop snickering. Gumby is a font of absurd and surrealist goodness. You can draw a line from Gumby to Jim Woodring’s FRANK without too much trouble whatsoever. At least I can.
A word about convention attendance. Yes, it was well attended. So well attended that the fire marshall found it necessary to close entry to the show for awhile on Saturday afternoon, which I’m sure made for Very Happy Comics Fans. I wasn’t there, as I was heading out about the time that happened. But there was indeed a big mess of people waiting to get in as I left. Saturdays are crazy.
The aisles were indeed packed, but I don’t know how many people were throwing down cash for the vendors. I did hear that some of the other panels weren’t so well attended (a handful of people for the Mike Mignola and Eric Powell spotlight panels), but the big draws in the center room and the more fan-oriented shows probably contributed to that. Getting around Artist’s alley, particularly the corner where the >ahem< models gathered, was pretty tricky, though not so tricky that I wasn’t able to manage it. Even picked up a copy of DORIS DANGER SEEKS: WHERE GIANT MONSTERS CREEP AND STOMP, the deranged brainchild of Chris Wisnias (TABLOIA and OJO), as well as monster inker Dick Ayers and a great selection of monster pinups by obvious (Mignola) and not so obvious (all three Hernandez bros., Tony Millionaire, Steve Rude, Gene Colan and Mike Allred) artists. Curse my giant monster lust.
Headed out after that, more or less. Ian, Steve (Lieber) and I made our way out of the maelstrom of traffic (Lunar New Year parade on Market Street was hosing everyone in downtown) and crossed over to Berkeley for the Comic Relief 1st anniversary party. Low-key, not much to talk about. Talked The Shape of the Industry with Brian Hibbs, which is fun (but I’m sure it’s the last thing he wants to do in his downtime). Nibbled on some free cake and cookies (allergic to the free beer) and then paid for it by buying (for twenty bucks) the Walt Simonson ALIEN adaptation as well as Giardino’s A JEW IN COMMUNIST PRAGUE v. 1 on Steve’s recommendation. I must say, the party was pretty quiet, but then it seems like lots of folks don’t wander out of the city when they come to Wondercon, even though the public transport is cheap and convenient. Pity. They’re missing out.