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    Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
    3:04 pm

    Today was rice day.

    Fifty-pound sacks of white rice in trucks bearing an elephant logo. The same happy elephant appeared on the bags, its head raised to the sky, the trunk curved like a letter ‘S’.
    "Elephant," Todd said.
    He said it because a laborer was staring at it intently. Which meant he wasn't working.
    "That's right," the man said. "I couldn't remember the word."
    He was the only other human at the loading dock this morning. The man didn't have a name, just a number, like the humanoid robots that made up the bulk of the workforce.
    "Let's get back to it, 8831, okay?" Todd said, with sympathy.
    "Yessir," the man replied.
    “That could be me,” Todd thought as he watched him work side by side with his silent mechanical counterparts, lifting, carrying, and dropping bags of rice from the back of the truck to the warehouse. A bad car accident, a bad fall from a ladder, and that could be me.
    Or a bad mem-rip. Rumor had it that was what happened to number 8831. Todd wasn’t exactly sure since medical records were confidential and only to be accessed by those with Group 7. He was only a Group 4 but the files were, for some reason, kept in an unlocked cabinet and he had, up until now, simply refused to glance at them out of respect.

    At lunch, Todd thought of things he could sell. Everything he owned of any value: his grandfather's watch, his grandmother's wedding ring, a gold necklace belonging to some forgotten relative. His car, too, but that was out of the question, as he needed it to get to work. There was no way in Hell he was going to start riding in Levbusses, no matter how much he needed the money. Levbusses were floating, cylindrical steel disease-factories.
    He got up from his chair and scanned the floor below, the robots still working away, a sea of metallic shoulders rising and falling in unison, strangely beautiful in a way. Over by the forklift sat 8831, his eyes as blank and plain as the piece of bread he was eating.
    Two weeks from today was Todd's thirtieth wedding anniversary, and even if he were to pawn the watch, the ring, and the necklace, he knew he wouldn't even come close to having enough for Paris. That's where Sue had wanted to go for as long as he could remember. They didn't have the money to honeymoon there, but that was okay because back then there had been plenty of time. They were young, both healthy and working, so they would save a little here and there and, in a couple of years, they would be walking up to the Eiffel Tower at night arm in arm, finding themselves underneath the arch and looking up at the beacon that shined on that city of lights.

    But then came two sons, a war, three recessions and a second mortgage. A hysterectomy for her, a double bypass for him, and now here he was, nine years short of retirement, supervising a team of robots and a retarded man, thinking about folks who could sell things they couldn't touch, like stocks and bonds and whatever else he couldn't even fathom, people with money who would pay to experience another's most cherished moments.
    Silly. That would be Sue's word for it if this were a story she'd overheard. For a trip, a goddamn trip, what a silly thing to do.
    But it was more than a trip. It was their life together. There was life and there was death, and it seemed to Todd that if he waited any longer, there wouldn't be a difference between the two.
    For the first time in nearly fifteen years on the job, curiosity got to him and he opened the filing cabinet and rifled through the personnel folders. In all the years he'd been here, only a handful of human workers had come and gone. All of them were handicapped in some way; they came through the city welfare program, and 8831 was no exception.

    Name: Lopez, Manny
    Age: 46
    Tax Status: Married
    Disability: Neural Trauma

    Neural Trauma. From a mem-rip? It was worth a shot.
    Manny's wife picked up on the second ring.
    “Mrs. Lopez? My name is Todd Bergdonner and I’m Manny’s supervisor here at DistribuCo.”
    “Oh my God,” she whispered, “is he okay? Has something happened?”
    Todd assured her that her husband was not hurt. That he was fine and was a great worker and then lied to her about having to fill out a review for the insurance company.
    “…So I need to know how Mr. Lopez ended up with Neural Trauma.”
    “I don’t remember ever having to answer these questions before,” she said, an air of nervous, paranoid caution to her voice,
    “I know,” Todd answered, “I’m about 2 years behind. The insurance company is pretty damned pissed at me.”
    She listened without interrupting him, and then there was a lengthy silence.
    "Why?" she asked.
    "Does it matter?"
    "This is invasion of privacy,” she replied, “I can report you."
    "I know."
    More silence.
    “It was a bad Mem-rip, Mr. Bergdonner” she finally said, “is that what you want to hear?”
    “I…” Todd attempted to stammer out some sort of reply to Mrs. Lopez’s frank candor.
    “You’re not the first one to ask me about his condition. Usually it’s people who are interested in the process themselves. Are you interested, Mr. Bergdonner?”
    Todd didn’t answer her question, “Why did he do it,” he asked instead, “Why did he choose to sell his memories?”
    "I met my husband almost fifteen years ago,” she explained, “he was a brilliant surgeon. Soon after we got married, health care was privatized and he lost his job. He had always promised me a big house on the beach and was determined to provide it no matter how much he had to sacrifice and despite the fact that I continuously told him it was unnecessary. He decided to sell off some memories.”
    Todd listened closely as she recounted the night she got the phone call. The police had found Manny wandering around in a complete state of delusion. They had id’d him from the information in his wallet. She told him about the therapists and the councilors. The failed attempts at reversion and hypnosis.
    “He did it because he loved me,” she said, “Loved. Not loves. He barely knows who I am anymore."
    “Why did you stay with him?”
    “Because I love him. And I have faith that, some day, he’ll come back to me.”
    Then she hung up on him.

    For the rest of the day, Todd replayed the conversation in his mind. Should could have lied to him, made up some story about a car accident or a war wound? He wasn't good at talking, especially on the phone. People thought he was unfriendly, hostile. A woman once told him his voice sounded like broken stones rattling in a cage.
    The horn blared at five, time for the two humans to go home and the robots to be
    reconditioned and put in standby.
    Todd was walking out to his car when Manny touched his shoulder.
    "Boss," he said, sounding uncertain. He held out his phone. "My wife, she wants to talk to you."

    The was quiet when he returned, and it seemed to Todd that he wanted to keep it that way. Take small, measured steps, like a thief. He carefully pulled the door shut, holding onto the doorknob and turning it by hand until it locked.
    Above, the floorboards creaked, as Sue walked from their bedroom to the bathroom. There was a flush, and the trill of water climbing up to refill the toilet tank. And now the muffled voice of the late-show host on the bedroom TV, the encouraging laughter of the studio audience, the one-two punch repeating until they cut to commercial.
    Todd sat at the dining table and peeked inside the microdome at the plate Sue had made for him. Pork chops, a bunch of broccoli spears, a hill of mashed potatoes with a well of gravy. He touched the REHEAT button and watched his plate spin slowly, the inside of the dome steaming up.

    “One thing for sure, my clients never tire of wedding proposals.”
    The man Todd had met after work was funny, friendly, and utterly normal. It didn't seem possible that they were talking about something that could land both of them a minimum of two years in prison.
    “I'm not going to lie to you, Todd” the man had said, “There's a risk to this. People do get hurt, like your friend Manny. But keep in mind that Manny didn't follow our simple yet extremely important directions. We told him over and over again that he wasn't to consume any alcoholic beverages twenty-four hours before the procedure. We even hired a Portuguese translator to make sure he understood what was required of him. See, this is why Mrs. Lopez still led you to us, because she knows we do good work. Her cousin's a regular sourcer, comes in once a month, has been for years. We don't mess up, Todd. It's the sourcers who mess up. And I can see we'll have a smooth ride, because you're a smart guy.”
    Though he introduced himself as Richard Gibbons, he also immediately admitted that it was an alias.
    “In my opinion, Todd,” ‘Gibbons’ said, “In my opinion, I think it's something the government should regulate. Because let's face it, everybody's doing it. But think how long it took for marijuana to become legalized. Hell, it's still not legal in Alabama.”
    Todd opened the microdome and took out the plate. The pork had gotten a little tougher, but it still tasted wonderful, his wife's signature flavors of mint and garlic in every bite.
    “The way I see it, you're getting peak value for something that is going to eventually disappear. I'm not just talking about Alzheimer's. Once you go past sixty, memories fade at an alarming clip. It's what happens because the brain can only retain so much. Like all of our other organs, it's about usage. When was the last time you thought about your honeymoon? Honestly? The less you use, the more you lose. It's the foundation of how our bodies work. The health benefits of mem-ripping, they're not some urban legend. You're cleaning house. You're taking out the garbage and putting it out on the curb, but here's the difference: you're getting paid for that trash.”
    It’s a painless, quick procedure. All you have to do is remember what you wanted to have ripped while the machine was plugged into you. The surgery’s completely automated and technologically sound.”
    Memory is free. Not for our clients, of course, but for you, Todd. Think of all the new memories you'll create with the money you'll have. Our government wants to equate our enterprise to organ trafficking, but nothing could be further from the truth. You grow memory like a crop, and when you want to, you harvest it. Are there people picketing against farmers every time they cut down a bushel of corn? Of course not. It's natural. It's life.”
    Sue met him at the sink. She reached for the dishtowel hanging off the hook, but Todd angled his body to block her.
    "It's just one dish," he said. "You can let it dry."
    "You had a long day,” she said, smiling as she attempted to take the plate.
    Todd wiped his hands on the towel and turned around to face her. Even though she looked prettier with her makeup on, he also liked seeing his wife like this, right before they went to bed, because only he saw her like this. Nobody else in the world knew this Sue, only him.
    Though it was possible that wouldn't be true after the mem-rip. But was that a bad thing? Was it so terrible to share his love for his wife with someone else?
    Todd waited to turn off the kitchen lights as Sue switched on the lamp at the landing of the staircase. It was their unspoken routine to retire to their bedroom. There were many other small routines like that one, and now, as he climbed the stairs with her, Todd thought how wonderful it was to know another person so well, that this was comfort, that this was home.

    Triangle boxes.
    That was the shipment that waited for him when he arrived at work the following morning. There were blue ones and red ones and yellow ones and green ones, and each contained a like-colored chair from a Korean designer. Todd couldn't see how a box like that could hold a comfortable chair, so he opened one up and sat in it.
    "Jesus Christ," he said, smiling.
    Four auto-adjusting palm-shaped prongs supported him in ways that seemed impossible: his lower back, his love handles, and his neck. If he had his way, he would sit there forever. But he couldn't, as the whistle blew and the robots came to life.
    He thought the oddly-shaped boxes might pose a challenge for them, but they didn't miss a step. The robots saw the way the boxes were stacked inside the truck, right side up and upside down, staggered to maximize space, and they replicated the exact pattern in the warehouse.
    Manny worked in perfect tandem with his mechanized brothers as the morning turned into afternoon. Like yesterday, he went back to the forklift to eat his lunch. In his office, Todd dug into the brown paper bag of his own lunch and thought that today was very much like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. But tomorrow would be different because tonight would be different. If the mem-rip went according to plan (and he had no reason to believe it wouldn't, because he hadn't had a beer in the last twenty-four hours, hadn't washed his hair this morning, followed everything Gibbons had told him) tomorrow he would call up that travel agent who advertised in the paper and tell her to book the platinum romantic getaway to Paris for two.
    For a trip. You sold your memories for a goddamn trip. What a silly thing to do.
    He could almost hear her say it. But she would be telling him as they were flying over the Atlantic in first-class seats. They'd never sat in those large leather chairs, only walked past them on their way to the narrow discomforts of coach.
    Sue had made him the perfect egg salad sandwich, just enough mayo to keep the egg bits and chopped slivers of celery together. As he ate, he took out his flexphoto to watch the twelve-picture slideshow from Uncle Patrick's wedding. Gibbons had given him the paper-thin disposable device, which was programmed to turn on just once. According to Gibbons, the worst thing a sourcer could do was over prepare and try to remember too much and turn an emotional memory into an intellectual exercise.
    “My client has been waiting seven years for this, Todd.” Gibbons had said.
    Each picture only stayed on for five seconds, but it seemed much longer than that when the first one came up. How was it possible that they were both so thin, so young?
    Sue was in a blue sleeveless dress. She was in attendance because she was a friend of Uncle Patrick's sister. She was nineteen years old, and Todd was twenty. In the picture, they were both in the frame, sitting down at adjacent tables as dinner was being served. They had yet to meet, and somehow that made the moment even more special.
    “Love at first sight,” Gibbons said, smiling and revealing his annoyingly perfect teeth, “ People say it, but they rarely mean it. My client has gone through sixteen mem-rips and still has yet to find a real one. That's why he's willing to pay big.
    He and Sue dancing, his left hand clasping her right hand, his right arm around her waist, their youthful faces glowing like a pair of full moons.
    “I know the risk is more on your side, but you have to understand, the destinator also faces dangers. Emotional dangers. The disappointment can be so crushing that they often need to seek psychological and spiritual guidance. This client who'll be installing your mem-rip, he's got one therapist and two holistic advisors on permanent payroll. So needless to say, he's counting on you.”
    Their first kiss, and the angle showed Sue's surprise and delight. She was slightly drunk and so was he, but Todd remembered that moment more than any other, the warmth and wetness of her lips, the way they parted as the kiss transformed into a smile.
    “I know you'll do your best. That's all we ask”.
    The flexphoto blinked off, and lunch was over.

    "READY?" Gibbons asked.
    They were in a dentist's office, and from the looks of it, not a very successful dentist. There was a leak in the corner of the ceiling, turning half of the tile brown, and the muzak that flowed out of the speakers was at times staticky.
    Todd sat in the chair, his head tipped back and immobilized inside an octagonal metal cage. He couldn't see the machine anymore, but he knew it was there, a black cylinder with a silver arm. At the end of the arm was a clear tube too thin for the naked eye to see, which would enter through his left ear, travel through the auditory nerve, and make its way to his brain.
    "You won’t feel a thing."
    "Okay," Todd said, and soon there was a whirring in his left ear.
    Indeed, he felt nothing as the tube burrowed inside. The pills Gibbons had given him were working, too, making his eyes a little dry but calming him.
    “And we're in," Gibbons said.
    Gibbons slid a flexphoto into a slot in front of the cage, filling Todd's view with blackness. Then the slideshow started again, and this time Todd held nothing back. Uncle Patrick's wedding, thirty-two years ago, meeting his future wife for the first time.
    Realizing he'll never again remember this moment filled him with regret, and for a second he felt an intense desire to scream. That he didn't want to do this. That this memory was his and no one else's. But, just as quickly as it came on, the feeling passed.
    Just buyer's remorse, Todd thought, and went back to the task at hand, which was to remember.
    At some point, Gibbons said, "The buffer's getting full, so it's going to scrape."
    Todd didn't think there were words that could describe it. Clean? Was that what it was, that he felt clean? But it wasn't like washing his hands or taking a shower. Suddenly there was lightness in him, fresh, impossible pockets of air inside his mind. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation because it wasn't a sensation at all. That was it: whatever this was, it was the antithesis of something, but it wasn't exactly nothing, because the concept of nothingness existed in relation to a somethingness before it. What the scrape did was more than just remove his personal history; it removed the concept of history itself.
    This should hurt, Todd thought. Something like this should be painful.
    The next photo came into his vision, he and Sue at the bar, waiting for their drinks, but what had he been thinking about just before?
    "Don't back up, just see forward, Todd," Gibbons said. "Let it go."
    There were two more scrapings, and then they were done. The whirring in his ear stopped, and Gibbons unlatched the harness around his head. Todd rotated his neck left and right and back again, stiff from two hours of stillness.
    On the top of the mem-rip machine was a round clear disc, a petri dish, with just a smidge of gray matter.

    Paris was stubborn. While other cities around the world were busy upgrading concrete with organic alloys and replacing old street lamps with compact photon bulbs, this city looked no different than the way it did a hundred years ago. The stone bricks, the gargoyles, the wrought-iron fences, they looked like they'd always been here.
    "Are you sure we're going the right way?" Sue asked.
    Paris, at night. It was what she had always wanted, wasn't it?
    Wasn't it?
    These questions, these doubts. If only he could make them disappear.
    "I think so," Todd said, walking past signs he couldn't read.
    For a while things were fine, and then they weren't. Gibbons found a neurologist who was willing to examine Todd without notifying the authorities. Just bad luck, the doctor had said. You can never tell how these things will go. That's why it's not legal.
    “Memories are like a million little houses. Taking one out is like lifting a house from a community. Not a big deal, because you can just build another in its place. The community remains unaffected.
    But some memories are like skyscrapers. If you're careful, you might be able to take away individual walls or rooms on the first floor of a tall building and leave it standing, but never for long. Sooner than later, walls start to crack. Ceilings leak. It's just a matter of time until the structure groans and loses integrity.
    For now, though, you still have lots of houses, Todd. A strong, stable community of memories. That's why you're still capable of functioning. Of doing things like your job, or walking and eating and enjoying a movie. But little by little, you’ll begin to lose more and more structure.
    I'm so sorry.”
    Just one more street, Todd thought. When he glanced at Sue, he saw the way she was favoring her left leg. Why was that?
    He didn't know.
    If only they could find their way. How could they be lost, trying to find the tallest structure in the city? It was stupid. It was infuriating.
    "Oh my," Sue said, pointing.
    And there it was, finally, having hidden behind a row of buildings on this side street. There was no buildup to their encounter: the tower was not there, not there, and then…just there, in its entirety, tall and strong and sharp but still far away. It would take another fifteen minutes for them to reach the Eiffel Tower, where Todd would stand with the woman he was supposed to love underneath the arch, holding her hand, and listening to the wind whipping through the girders.

    Just six months later, Todd stood on the loading dock at DistribuCo staring at the animal that was stenciled on the side of the fifty-pound burlap sacks full of rice that he was helping unload from a truck with the same logo painted on the side.
    Its head raised to the sky.
    Trunk curved like a letter ‘S’.
    “Elephant,” the driver said.
    "That's right," Todd replied, "I couldn't remember the word."
    Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
    3:11 pm
    Caesar’s city was dying. The soil and water are irradiated and, although his fellow Apes are immune (if anything, it seems to be speeding up their evolutionary process) it is beginning to poison the Human inhabitants. And as the Humans grow weaker, the Apes are developing a sense of entitlement that has started to reveal itself in a very unappealing manner. While his fellow council members and many of the Ape citizens see this as a problem best left to nature to sort out, Caesar has other plans. He has to do what can be done to help the Humans survive. He must prove that his kind can be merciful. That Apes can succeed where Humanity failed. Somewhere beyond these ruins may very well lay the answer. Somewhere out there may be an oasis in which he can move Ape City, a place where the Humans may establish their own colony and live amongst themselves in freedom. He will establish a unified marketplace where Ape and Human alike shall offer their wares and peace will be maintained through interaction and camaraderie. This is Caesar’s dream and he will do anything in his power to see it through.
    Caesar realizes that his thoughts have strayed and he refocuses on the matter at hand. Her turns to face the others and notices that Balthezar, James, and Robert are looking at their surroundings with both awe and fear.
    “How could anyone live in this place?” Balthezar says, as the elder human shakes his head in disbelief.
    “It could barely be called ‘living’,” Caesar replies, “The humans who chose to stay were the victims of radiation poisoning. It warped their minds and ate away at their skin leaving them entirely mad. And they chose the maddest of them all to be their leader. Madness being led by madness. We should move on.”
    They continue on their way, with Kharim and Azzar in the lead and Balthezar’s Geiger counter continuing to click steadily.
    The chimp glances down at the meter and looks to Caesar.
    “The surface radiation has been slightly above normal but not nearly as dangerous as we had anticipated Caesar,” he says with slight surprise, “Perhaps it’s dissipated?”
    “Perhaps,” the elder Chimp says, nodding, “but we’d still better make out way out quickly. We don’t know for sure if the city has been completely abandoned. I’d rather not stay to find out.”
    Caesar and his small group of explorers continue down the main city street, passing crumbled buildings and storefronts that seem to have melted from the intense heat. From time to time they pass human-shaped silhouettes burned into the cement or against a wall, an eerie reminder of how many Humans and, yes, Apes were completely incinerated. Reduced to nothing but shadows.
    The great Chimp leader thinks to himself that an exodus through these ruins would very well serve the inhabitants of Ape City well. It would, if anything, teach them of the folly of violence and the true price of war. Perhaps this is the one thing they need to see in order to, finally, learn to work together. It may be a bit of a controversial move, but Caesar was running out of ideas. For now, though, he and his party continue onward.
    Friday, July 8th, 2011
    4:32 pm
    KEVIN: “Yeah. And THEN there was Carly. I met her through a mutual friend. Two weeks after we started dating she decided to let me in on the fact that she was into dressing like a cartoon fox and engaging in ‘cuddle orgies’ with other, similarly clad participants.”

    Panel 4:

    BAILEY: “Oh my God, she was a ‘Furry’.”

    KEVIN: “She was a ‘Furry’. She actually convinced me to dress in a tiger costume and go to one of these ‘events’, but I just felt like I was getting jerked off by the mascot for a high school football team.”


    Panel 1:

    BAILEY: “You have NOT had much luck in the dating scene.”

    KEVIN: “No. No, I have not.”

    BAILEY: “God…I can’t believe I’m going to be single again. I don’t want to have to date again. I hate dating.”

    Panel 2:

    KEVIN: “Then why don’t you and Chuck try to work it out?”

    BAILEY: “Charles. We have. We’ve done the therapy thing, the spending time apart thing, the hypnosis thing…”

    Panel 3:

    KEVIN: “Hypnosis?”

    BAILEY: “His idea. None of it worked, though. The sad fact is that we just don’t feel the same way for each other. It happens.”

    Panel 4:

    KEVIN: “Trouble in the sack?”

    BAILEY: “I’m not going to answer that.”

    KEVIN: “You just did. It always starts there.”


    Panel 1: Kevin coyly looks at her, eyebrow raised.

    BAILEY: “No it doesn’t. We never had any trouble in the sex department.”

    KEVIN: “You can say THAT again.”

    Panel 2:

    KEVIN: “Well, it’s either that or money issues.”

    BAILEY: “What about communication issues?”

    KEVIN: “Sure, okay, communications issues…”

    Panel 3:

    KEVIN: “…but it always starts with trouble in the bedroom.”

    BAILEY: “It’s the other way around, Kevin. How can you get intimate with someone you can’t communicate with?

    KEVIN: “I do it all the time.”

    Panel 4:

    BAILEY: “Well, see? That’s the difference between you and me. And that’s PROBABLY why you haven’t had a decent relationship since we broke up.”

    KEVIN: “That’s not the reason. I already told you the reason.”


    Panel 1:

    KEVIN: “It’s true. I never stopped loving you. Not for one second…I’ve tried to drink you away…Tried to fuck you out of my mind…tried therapy…tried to immerse myself in my work…tried to find new hobbies and new distractions. None of it worked. At least not yet.”

    Panel 2:

    BAILEY: “I don’t know what to say. Ten years is a long time to hold a torch for someone, Kevin.”

    KEVIN: “Yeah. It is. But I’m still holding it. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable.”

    Panel 3: Silent. She looks out of her window.

    Panel 4: she looks at him and he smiles.

    BAILEY: “I have to pee.”

    END BOOK 1

    Book Two: “Burning Matches”


    Panel 1: Exterior shot of a roadside diner. Kevin’s car is in the parking lot. It is dusk.

    TEXT BOX: “Diner coffee is the best coffee…”

    Panel 2: Kevin and Bailey sitting in a diner booth. This will be the setting of the entire issue. Bailey is holding a
    cup of coffee, Kevin is looking at a map.

    BAILEY: “…I’m not sure why that is, but it’s true.”

    KEVIN: “We should hit the halfway mark in another hour-or so…”

    Panel 3:

    KEVIN: “…I figure we can find a motel and get a few hours of sleep. Then we can hit the road again early tomorrow and we should be in Austin by seven-ish.”

    BAILEY: “Works for me.”

    Panel 4: Kevin folds the map.

    BAILEY: “Are you nervous at all? About meeting him?”

    KEVIN: “Of course I am.”


    Panel 1:

    BAILEY: “You haven’t said anything.”

    KEVIN: “I’m trying to put it out of my mind until we get there. No use getting into a panic.”

    Panel 2:

    BAILEY: “I guess. I just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. What he may look like now…what he enjoys…is he into sports or art…is he good at math or writing…all that stuff.”

    Panel 3:

    KEVIN: “We’ll find all that out when we get there. Relax.”

    Panel 4:

    BAILEY: “Do you think he resents us?”

    KEVIN: “He asked us to come see him. If he resented us, he wouldn’t want to see us.”


    Panel 1:

    BAILEY: “What if he just wants to tell us how much he hates us?”

    KEVIN: “I doubt that. The kid’s just curious about –“

    Panel 2:

    BAILEY: “And his PARENTS, God…What are his parents going to think when they meet us?”

    Panel 3: Kevin is silent, looking away for a moment.

    Panel 4: He picks up his coffee, nonchalantly.

    KEVIN: “The seem like good people. I mean I haven’t talked to them all that much but they seem okay.”

    BAILEY: “What were you going to say just then?”


    Panel 1:

    KEVIN: “When?”

    BAILEY: “Just before. I said I wonder what his parents are going to think and it looked like you were going to say something.”

    Panel 2:

    KEVIN: “Hmm…I don’t remember.”

    BAILEY: “
    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
    1:24 pm
    How I spent my summer vacation (aka: Mikey's Heroes Con 2009 con report)
    So, okay, this weekend I was in Charlotte, NC attending the 2009 Heroes Con. Rich Stahnke of Tin Star Studios (WHEN DRIVE-INS ATTACK, FURIOUS FIST OF THE DRUNKEN MONKEY) shared a corner booth (along with our "booth babes" Al Dorantes and W. Darryl Wright)and did pretty well, sales-wise (even though they put us over with the retailers and not with the other artists).

    The big seller this time around was PACK OF LIES, the first in what I hope will be many POCKET PULP PROJECTS (we're already planning the next one, a sci-fi yarn in the tradition of FLASH GORDON called DOC ROCKET: AT THE ALTAR OF THE DARK STAR - more on that at some point).

    PACK OF LIES is a 17 chapter detective noir murder mystery thingee written by myself with art by Byron Winton, Marcel Walker, Shawn Atkins, Darryl Wright, Scott Hedlund, Barry Linck, Jeremy Ray, Kristoffer Smith, Loran Skinkis, Jon Towers, and Jason Bender (as well as my own art on chapters 4,5,16, 1nd 17). The individual chapters are separate little mini-comics, 6 pages in length (102 pages in total)and came housed in a full-color "cigarette box" along with four pins and 2 extra chapters (a text piece on the influences that led to the project and a list of bios for the artists involved). So, in all, it was like getting a 115 page graphic novel for $5.

    People really liked the format of the chapters and it truly was something altogether different from anything else available there. We sold a total of 20 out of 25 which I think is fantastic.

    I also started, after encouragement from Al and Darryl and Rich, to charge for sketches. I never used to because, really, I kinda hate it when I have to pay for a sketch at a con...BUT, it seems, there are plenty of people who are perfectly willing to shell out a few bucks for a sketch if they like your stuff. I ended up drawing quite a few sketches for folks, but color and B/W (I need to get myself a prismacolor marker set). There was a really nifty one I did of THE QUESTION that I didn't get a chance to photograph but here are a couple of them that I did snap with my cell phone:

    Captain Marvel...

    and Indiana Jones.

    I had a really good time, as always, and look forward to next year.

    Pittsburgh is next in September and I am, of course, excited about that.

    Okay then!


    Current Mood: tired
    Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
    11:18 pm
    Okay so, real quick geeky tings update:
    The new STAR TREK film kicks loads of ass. It's an IN continuity reboot which is a very clever way of starting over but not forgetting what came before. It's STAR TREK will balls. Awesome. Just loaded to the gills with kick-assery.

    X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE? Not so much. It's not an "X-MEN: THE LAST STAND"-level waste of time by any means, but it's CERTAINLY not an "X-MEN UNITED" level success, either. Sort of on-par with the first X-MEN movie. Not bad. Gambit's in it so the chicks'll be all damp in the pants. The White Queen is in it, too, but for, like, 2 minutes. Liev Schreiber is actually pretty awesome as Sabertooth. Ryan Reynolds makes a great Deadpool until they actually start calling him "Deadpool" and an effin samurai sword comes out of his forearm. Where'd they FIT it?

    Anyway...It's okay. Go to a matinee.

    GI JOE: RESOLUTE? Awesome. And, if you're ANYTHING like me and have no EFFIN' clue what a "resolute" is, here's the definition: 1. firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion. or 2. characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper, spirit, actions, etc.

    Okay. Great. Still think the title sucks.

    Ummmm...Watched the SPIRIT again on a bootleg DVD I paid a buck for. Still sucked. Wanted my money back.

    Annnnd...That's about it.

    Current Mood: dorky
    Saturday, February 14th, 2009
    11:27 am
    Thursday, February 5th, 2009
    6:16 pm
    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
    8:13 pm
    Frank Miller's SPIRIT aka: That Bullshit
    A friend of mine who is a Spirit fan and actually ENJOYED the movie (oh HE'S the one!) asked why I didn't and why I think Frank Miller ought to be ashamed of himself.

    Here's my reply:

    "I thought from the moment they announced him as director that he was wrong for it.

    In my opinion, having read upwards of 350 of WILL EISNER'S Spirit strips dating from '40 to '46 (essentially SPIRIT ARCHIVES volumes 1-13) Eisner's strips were never A) Overtly slapstick (although they were, from time-to-time, fun) or B) overtly 'noir' (although they were, from time-to-time, 'pulpy'-primarily the earlier strips).

    Miler's movie is a film noir Looney Toons cartoon. It's ridiculous. His attempts at 'humor' fell totally flat and he almost goes out of his way to get every character wrong. He took Eisner's characters and turned them into thinly-veiled 'Frank Miller cliche's'.

    Miller has cliched himself since midway through his SIN CITY projects. Now, bear in mind, I dig SIN CITY. I think it works better as short stories (and I didn't really enjoy HELL AND BACK) but I dig it. It's a great 'homage' to the hard-boiled 'Noir' stories of Spillane and Chandler in the same way that SILVERADO or Raimi's QUICK AND THE DEAD is an homage to the Western: It takes all of the cliches and amps them up to 11. The men are tough as nails and the women are sexy and neither of them would think twice before blowing your brains out. They act tough, talk tough, and ARE tough. Drink, fight, fuck. It's as if Miller uses his dick to write out the stories. Yes, Frank. We know you're a heterosexual man.

    Unless he's NOT..which would explain some things.

    The only problem is, it seems EVERYTHING he has done since has been the same. 300 and ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN being great examples thereof. 300 is all tough-talking manly-men while, of course, ALL STAR BnR gives us the 'Goddamned Batman' who smacks around Robin and calls him a retard.

    There's a joke to Miller's work but, honestly, he's the only one who gets it. He's proudly biting the hands that feed him and spitting the bones back into said feeder's face. DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN is the obvious example of that. "Super-heroes are ridiculous and I'm gonna PROVE it!"

    So, all-in-all, was it a SURPRISE that he handled the Spirit as such? Not at all. Why, then, did I bother seeing it? Because I READ "Eisner/Miller". I saw how he gushed and acted as if he understood the character and Eisner's work and I was hoping that he'd translate that supposed admiration to the screen. What I saw was that, frankly, if he DID have said admiration and respect, he threw it all out the window in favor of his own, personal cock-in-hand idea of what 'tough' is. Eisner's stories were short little morality tales. Miller's story has no morality.

    You know who got it right? Darwyn Cooke got it right. All twelve issues of his run on DC's current SPIRIT book were dead-on perfect. They were wonderful. Loving, respectful, and classy but not without his own little flourishes (the book is still fun, but it's gotten a little silly since Aragones took over).

    Anyway, I have to say, while a DIRECT translation of Eisner's work wouldn't fly either, what Miller gave us was upsetting to me to the point of anger. I was furious.

    The only thing POSITIVE I can say is that it was a very pretty film. I'll give it that. But when I can ALSO say that the TV movie version was BETTER? That's a problem."

    Current Mood: opinionated
    Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
    11:55 am
    Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
    9:23 pm
    Literacy NOW!
    (Lifted from Lithera)

    *Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
    *Turn to page 56.
    *Find the fifth sentence.
    *Post that sentence along with these instructions in your LiveJournal.
    *Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

    Here's mine:

    "Once, when the family - calling itself the Littles that year - was living in Ashland, Virginia, and Lex was eleven, a photographer snapped a picture of him parading on stilts at the town's July Fourth picnic."
    Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
    1:03 pm
    "At Midnight, All the Agents..."
    A little bit of WATCHMEN info...

    ...well, a LOT bit of WATCHMEN info. This is a BIG post. If you're up for reading, please do.

    First of all, for those of you unfamiliar with what, exactly, WATCHMEN is: It's a comic book. A twelve-issue "maxi-series" written by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons that was published by DC comics from 1986-87. But it's certainly more than that.

    I will admit to being a proud supporter of the "but it's only a comic book" school of thought. I think people get a bit too pretentious about comics sometimes. And, usually, these are people that 'discovered' comics in college or something, not people who rode their bikes to the newsstand or five-and-dime when they were kids to grab the latest issue of G.I.JOE or SECRET WARS of POWER PACK. USUALLY these are people who use the term "Graphic Novel" incorrectly which drives me utterly batty (I've gone off about this before so if I'm repeating myself, bear with me).

    Such as the quote below:

    "[WATCHMEN IS] A work of ruthless psychological realism, it’s a landmark in the graphic novel medium. It would be a masterpiece in any."
    –TIME, TIME MAGAZINE’s 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present

    YES, it is "A work of ruthless psychological realism". And it most certainly is "a landmark". But it is NOT a "Graphic Novel". It is a comic book.

    What is a 'Graphic Novel' and why WATCHMEN isn't oneCollapse )

    Next up is a question that many MANY people get WRONG, including the people at DC Comics themselves:

    Who are The WATCHMEN?Collapse )

    And that brings us to the third part of my manifesto:

    What's so big about WATCHMEN and why should I care?Collapse )

    If you love and appreciate WATCHMEN and if you have $125 bucks lying around (or if you, like me, have a ton of toys just sitting around collecting dust that you can trade in somewhere) I highly recommend picking up the one-two punch which is ABSOLUTE WATCHMEN and WATCHING THE WATCHMEN. The pairing of the two is like a two-disk Special Edition DVD. ABSOLUTE is disk 1, all digitally remastered and recolored with some pages of commentary in the back, and WATCHING is disk 2, with all of the behind-the-scenes info. WATCHING THE WATCHMEN is crammed with so much preliminary artwork and sketches and roughs etc. that your eyeballs will pop out of your head.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
    11:15 pm
    Ladies and gentlemen...
    ...yes we can.

    Current Mood: VICTORIOUS!
    10:41 pm
    It's 10:41 PM...
    ...and, if I did my math correctly and if Obama wins the states he's projected to at this point: Virginia, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and Florida (Yes. FUCKING FLORIDA!  Eat it, you bastards!) McCain would have to win ALL of the un-counted states (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California) to beat our boy by under FIVE electoral votes.

    I don't want to get TOO fired up but:


    PS: Dems have the House AND theSenate.

    It is a good day.

    Current Mood: excited
    8:12 am
    Please vote.

    If you haven't gotten all of the facts yet, and if you are in the least bit confused or undecided, please quickly go to any number of websites and read up on both candidates. Don't just assume you know the facts.

    One that I found really quickly is

    Scroll down and there's a section called "Issue Comparisons". A lot of what you need is in there.

    Choose wisely. Don't be satisfied with what the media feeds you. Use your head AND your heart. Vote for what's right AND for what's smart. Don't let your opinion be swayed by any advertisement, mailer, or sound byte.

    Good luck. This is not something to be wishy-washy about. If there's one thing we SHOULD have learned in the past eight years, it's that EVERY vote matters. They may not COUNT, per se, because of our ridiculously flawed electoral process, but they matter.

    Someone will listen. And, hopefully, that someone will be the next President.

    I'm Mikey Wood and I approve this message.

    Current Mood: awake
    Friday, October 3rd, 2008
    6:26 pm
    Heh heh...AWESOME...

    Current Mood: amused
    Saturday, September 27th, 2008
    10:51 am
    Paul Newman 1925-2008
    Paul Newman (who really should have played Hollis Mason in the WATCHMEN movie) passed away yesterday. He was 83.

    BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID is one of my favorite movies. The chemistry between he and Redford is incredible.

    And he makes a great pasta sauce, too. No lie.

    Current Mood: melancholy
    Monday, September 15th, 2008
    7:10 pm
    I hate repeating myself...
    ...but I feel the need to re-post this little 'editorial' of mine from waaaay back in 2005. March 26, 2005, to be exact.

    Why, you ask, would I feel such need? Why bring up old news again, over three years later?

    Because, sadly, I have to.

    The number of people who are aware of this horrible blight on society hasn't gotten any larger. Most people still blindly fall victim to this intellectual threat and, even worse, feel JUSTIFIED in their victimization.

    "But I LIKE it this way!" they cry from their places in the aisles of local Wal*Marts.

    "The other way is too STRANGE. It confuses me."

    Well, my children, fear not. I am here to, yet again, show you the way. Maybe I'll post this every three years until you all get it through you thick skulls. Maybe my crusade will pay off and more people will convert to the RIGHT way. Because it IS the RIGHT WAY, dear people. The ONLY way.

    So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you:


    Current Mood: accomplished
    Friday, August 22nd, 2008
    6:53 am
    Writer's Block: Your Favorite Series: One Last Go Round
    If you could pick any TV show that has been off the air to come back for one more season, which show would you pick and why?
    It's a toss up between either TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY (which is my all-time favorite TV show) of the live action TICK series.
    Sunday, July 13th, 2008
    8:01 pm
    Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
    9:46 am
    Help me, man...I need a fix...Just a quick FIX!
    Like a few others on my friends list (who I don't communicate with NEARLY as often as I should) I have a plastic addiction...mostly its to those wonderful litttle JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED guys. I have a ton. I'm about 20 away from a complete (thus far) run...I need (and, yes, darling wife, when I say NEED I mean I NEED):

    Solomon Grundy (SDCC exclusive)
    The Ray (SDCC exclusive as well)
    Gorilla Grodd
    Lex in Armor


    Anyone out there have any of these and are willing to sell? Hmm?


    Current Mood: determined
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