"Elias Nebula is practicing Japanese but no one knows."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to the Sea Floor; Or, "J'Accuse."

I went back, bewilderingly, to the refried basement sale at Jim Hanley's Universe. I had resolved to stop buying up middling comicbooks and wasting my dwindling life on this third-rate guff. So why'd I go back?

Why'd I go back.

I went back like a reanimated cadaver to his best-loved tomb.

Anyway this time down there the place was verily alive with the fanboy's equivalent of drawing room banter. Somebody said something to the shop steward about Batman and soon half the basement was chiming in on this and other scintillating subjects.

These pillocks, seemingly to a man, could not get past the basic problem of verismilitude in the funnybooks. One major pons asinorum for them was that characters in the comics didn't age at the same rate as people in the so-called "real" world.

"Franklin Richards used to be the same age as the kids in Power Pack," one grumbled. "Now he is younger than them."

"Aunt May was born in the era of the Civil War," complained another with furrowed brow, "and yet she still lives."

I had heard similar confusion in other comicshops. At Roger's, he was reasoning with a young seeker of truth, that if the comics were in "real time" then "Peter Parker would be ten year older than I am." The unshying seeker palled and left that place fast, mumbling "I have to look into this."

John Byrne has talked at considerable length about the tedious problem of Franklin Richard's age in a hundred-page interview that I amazingly read from start to finish. Everything interesting to say about this incredibly dry (and cut-and-dried) subject is in there. Still, the comics basement men talked about it as though it were a new, fresh subject for discussion and they were the first brave pioneers to strike upon this magnificent paradox at the very heart of modern life.

Next they began to bitch that characters in the comics had a habit of dying and then coming back to life. They discovered, through the frank exchange of opinions, that this was not the case in real life. In real life, they announced with grave confidence, people who died seldom returned from that interesting state.

They went on kvetching about the unreality of comics, all the while stacking up piles of comics to buy and presumably read.

Finally, after listening in silence for some time, I had had enough. I said, "Lads, lads. It seems to me that you are in the wrong place in your quest for verisimilitude. Might I recommend the works of Emil Zola?"

A moment. Then the Mexican gentleman, checklist in hand, queried:

"Zola? That's the Kirby-era Cap nazi villain with the camera for a head and his face in his thorax, correct?"

I paused; thought regretfully of this doomed planetoid and replied:


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