Fear and Loathing in San Diego 1995

Verily, the aged shall make way for the lame, and the lame for the cripple. Thus shall ye know the time of the Lord is at hand.

The Time of the Lord only allows for a single issue of this report. I’ve just returned from England, where I spent no time with comics except for a strip piece called “Beano”, a real gas, but not particularly groundbreaking.

In China, wall posters are the harbingers of revolution. In the United States, T-shirts fulfill that purpose. Marvel Comics may go the way of DARE if the white on black “MARVEL CAN SUCK MY COCK” is any indication of the future. The king has no need of Daniel to read that message.

Everybody who is nobody was at today’s convention. I had hoped to meet some of the once-a-year net faces, but perhaps there was a huge debauch Saturday night. There were no crowds in the morning waiting to get in; just a few unruly bastards who thought that “preregistration pick-up at nine o’clock” meant that they could pick up their pre-registrations at nine o’clock. Unfortunately, that required getting into the building, which didn’t open until ten.

I finally picked up issue three of Jon Lewis’ True Swamp, which has to tie with Eddy Murphy for language. True Swamp is similar to Larry Marder’s Beanworld in its creation of a new mythology. Coincidentally, Beanworld Book Two is also out, along with the very reasonably priced Beanworld Action Figures. I picked up a personally signed copy of the second Beanworld book—signed for someone named “JEROLD”, complete with all-caps; perhaps I should give this one to my dad, but he doesn’t go by “Jerold” either.

Of course, if I’d been awake instead of on London time, I could have answered him when he asked for my name, instead of letting him pick it off the badge. That’s right. My name’s Jerry. I wear a badge.

Oh, never mind.

With only a single day to rummage, I had no time for the masses of unalphabetized quarter-bins. The only other comics I bought were the missing Rare Bit Fiends from Rick Veitch, also signed. Rick recognized me from the Alternative Press Expo. I had indeed planned on going, but England cut into it. Perhaps it was merely a dream. Or seven days of straight conventioning on both our parts. Rare Bit Fiends is second only to the Desert Peach in the amount of times I re-read issues.

Speaking of the Peach, Donna Barr showed up for her “Penciling a Page” seminar and then left, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to her. I did peek in while the seminar was on, and I can only echo Kathy Li’s description: “All these bright, eager faces looking to Donna Barr for guidance.” Whose twisted idea was this?

The Mu Press booth had all of her Peach collections, which would make excellent gifts, wink wink nudge nudge.

I’ve got a Cherry tattoo. I’m a living warning to those who would indulge in the recreational use of water. Moderation is the key.

Luke Skywalker has the wisdom of Jefferson:

Governments are important, Threepio, but when you sift everything down, they’re all just made up of people.

Have we then found angels in the form of politicians? Presumably not, but we have found heaven in the form of licensing.

“I’ll play with your mind if you’ll let me,” said one attendee to another. There’s more pornography in Marvel, DC, and Image than in all the sites on the Internet. At Comics on the World Wide Web, the “free” copies of Netscape were traditionally color-coded: white disks for Windows and black for Mac. The only useful observation was that “the Internet is like a church”. As it was, it’s a good thing the convention doesn’t allow working weapons (why am I flashing with “I haven’t had a working weapon since Korea”?). I wanted to jump up and mow the panel down with a large axe. I think this session must’ve been secretly funded by Prodigy, designed to drive beginners away from the net in droves.

Dark Horse’s booth was as large as DC and Image. They’ve got the Barb Wire movie coming out soon: “Don’t call me Babe.” What is it with people named Babs?

How much money do clocks cost? The only places that actually have timepieces on display either sell them or are cheap ethnic eateries. Bars also often have clocks, but run them ten to twenty minutes fast. My watch is packed away somewhere and I have no idea what time it is. The only way I can find the time is to go up to the mezzanine with a high-powered telescope and look down on the milling throng. Somewhere out there are two Macintoshes at the ComicBase stand. Macintoshes always have clocks.

In preparation for Oliver Stone’s new Planet of the Apes remake, Eric Greene has written “Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race and Politics in the Films and Television Series”, from McFarland & Company, Inc. According to director J. Lee Thompson, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was “absolutely based on the Watts riots.”

Tunnels & Trolls is still going strong. From Flying Buffalo Inc., of course.

Village of the Damned is returning. And Dracul is a musical at the San Diego Repertory.

According to a poster at Kitchen Sink, Bill Sienkewitz is doing “Voodoo Chile”, the life of Jimi Hendrix. Rip Off Press finishes off the “Hog Wild” summer with Gilbert Shelton’s Wonder Wart-Hog issue 3 in August. Includes the “Famous Superheroes School”.

How can you tell the comic book biz is saturated? If you can’t find a job… teach! If you’d like to learn from someone other than the Wonder Wart-Hog, there’s Wonder Comix “Learn Cartooning (& Comic Book Illustration) by Mail! wherever you live!” PO Box 30834, Seattle, WA 98103. Meanwhile, The Aspiring Cartoonist, from publishers Marty Jones and S.E. Mills, is “the best place to start” and “where cartoonists meet each other”. Hey, it even “looks good”! Best of all, though, is that “it’s all about drawing comics.” Three dollars or $12.00 for a four-issue subscription to The Aspiring Cartoonist, Attn: M5, P.O. Box 18679, Indianapolis, IN 46218. And finally, “in January, the Writers Program of UCLA Extension will offer its first course in writing comic books by working comics professionals.” Call (310) 825-9416 or (800) 388-8252.

I haven’t had a working comics professional since Korea.

“Look what happened to baseball. Is the comic book industry next? Corporate America at work.” Is Marvel trying to monopolize the industry? Ask Marvel. Whoever this is even has a web page: http://www.kingroach.com/.

Men Are Ares, Women Are Athena

Barb Rausch, Trina Robbins, Liz Schiller, Libby Singleton, and Colleen Doran got together for the obligatory “women readers” discussion, placed appropriately in the Sunday Seminar Ghetto. The seminar had a better question this year. Rather than “why don’t women read comics?”, it was “what are the differences in reading habits of men and women?”

Colleen Doran likes to create cute guys with great hair and nice wardrobes. “Women readers seem to like that.” A Distant Soil is big with girl gangs, and gang girl graffiti all over Tucson celebrate her comics. A far cry from the nice young girl who said “I started reading because Aquaman was really cute.”

Kurt Busiek, being half bald, does not understand hair.

“Most of us are not turned on by Lobo”, said Trina Robbins, excepting perhaps Libby Singleton.

Liz Schiller continually plugged Friends of Lulu, a non-profit organization working to promote and encourage female readership and participation in the comic book industry. (And writing strange comics with Donna Barr.)

Friends of Lulu
4657 Cajon Way
San Diego, CA 92115.

Friends of Lulu is attempting a survey to find out which comics female readers like to read. Colleen Doran “did appreciate Val Kilmer’s butt shot in Batman. My mom hyper-ventilated.” However, gratuitous sexiness (is there any other kind) is far more downplayed in male superheroes than in female superheroes, who “could win wet fur coat contests.”

Rather than rot their teeth, Colleen gives away comic books at Hallowe’en and rots little minds. She allows the kids to choose the comic they get, and Young Indiana Jones was the first comic to disappear. Captain America, meanwhile, just sat there like a lump.

Barb Rausch would love to do a great historical epic. She’s on the opposite end of the table from Colleen Doran.

Sexism is rampant in our society, not just our industry. “I’ve had people say you think like a man as a compliment,” says Colleen, “from Dave Sim on down. That grosses me out. I’d like to think I think like a human being.”

Going back to great wardrobes, Katy Keene was a role model for many modern fashion designers. Willy Smith said that “Katy Keene was his Diana Ross,” according to Barb Rausch.

Continuing on role models, Trina Robbins noted that “the Japanese are role models at least in comics, maybe not in bombing the subways or anything.” See, comics do cause violence!

Somehow the “favorite comics” question came up, and I’ll leave you with that and a nice thought from Colleen Doran, talking about the form of women in comics. Obviously, evolution will soon take its part in comics. These women were not made for breeding: “Could you shoot a baby through those thighs?”

Women Creators’ Favorite Comics

Colleen Doran
Desert Peach; All the Legion books; Sandman; Bone (“You know, the character Thessaly, she was supposed to be me. I got to have a relationship with Neil.”)
Libby Singleton
Sandman; Bone; all the DC Universe, especially Batman (“I like the villains better”) and Arkham Asylum; Lobo; and Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin before they were canceled.
Liz Schiller
Omaha; Love and Rockets; Stray Bullets; Twisted Sisters; Action Girl; Girl Talk; Our Cancer Year
Trina Robbins
One Bad Rat (“The Best”); Love and Rockets; A Distant Soil (“And it would be one of my favorites even if Colleen wasn’t here”); Bone; Groo (“There was a time when it was the only Marvel title I read, now, it’s the only Image title I read”); Strangers in Paradise; Sandman; all the mystic Vertigo titles
Barb Rausch
Desert Peach; Bone; Neil the Horse; Chiaroscuro

See y’all next year, if the drugs take effect.

Jerry Stratton