Dark Horse’s Next Anthology, Pros and (Comic) Cons, Gives an Intimate Look at Con-Going – Check out this Excerpt by Diana Schutz!
Dark Horse is back at it again, wooing geeks and nerds everywhere with another anthology targeted right at the heart of what makes us us. We were huge fans of the Secret Loves of Geeks but their latest anthology shifts gears to talk about something many of us love – namely the comic book conventions that we often frequent. Pros and (Comic) Cons aims to give us an inside, first-hand look at the convention going culture that many of us known and love.
If this book is even half as awesome as the Secret Loves of Geeks anthologies, we’re totally in. As long-time convention goers ourselves we can’t wait to see what this book has to offer!
Following the bestselling The Secret Loves of Geeks comes this brand-new anthology featuring comics and prose stories by cartoonists and professional geeks about the world of comic book conventions from the guests who’ve attended them across the world. Featuring stories that are funny, sad, sweet, embarrassing, and heartfelt of a geek-culture life that shapes us, encourages us, and exhausts us every summer.
Featuring work by Brian Michael Bendis (The Man of Steel), Jim Zub (Wayward), Kieron Gillen (The Wicked and the Divine), Sina Grace (Iceman), and many more.
Pros and (Comic) Cons goes on sale May 29, 2019 and retails for $19.99. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local comic book shop.
The synopsis promises a really great read with some really amazing contributions from the people that take nerdiness to heart. Below you can check out an expert, Diana Schutz’s Only Lonely Mademen!
This story was originally written in 1992 on the occasion of Richard Finn’s Portland Comic Book Show, and reflects the industry as it was then. That year, the American Continental Circus was preparing its performance just outside the convention doors.
ONLY LONELY MADMEN
It’s unmistakable. That rich, loamy, sweet stench of animal shit, I mean. And it assails my senses on an already hot July morning, like Sandburg’s fog, coming on little cat feet, silent and curious at first, then sinewy and suffocating all at once. It’s an uncommon fragrance for the urban outdoors, miles away from those yawning fields of country cowpies, but this Rose City parking lot is shriveling my nose just as if I’d been napalmed. Twenty years and a continent away from Vietnam, I’m dodging still cars moored outside the Memorial Coliseum, seeking sanctuary in the Assembly Hall, headquarters of the Portland Comic Book Show. There’s no cause for alarm. Or is there?
My name is Diana Schutz, and I’m . . . a comic book fan.
Four elephants, naked but for the weighted chain binding their stump-like ankles, sway in the stifled air, lifting first one foot, then the other, in unison, a four-part harmony, tapping a massive toe on scorched pavement to keep the beat, trunks curling up and around like the dance of a conductor’s baton, in slow motion. They have no tusks, have long forgotten the eleven-foot upper incisors forcibly removed by the safari dentist—neither a degreed surgeon nor painless, for that matter. They no longer need their ivory weapons. Elephants have no enemies—besides man. And they lost that war a long time ago.
I’m standing in line with Tom and Wes, 13-year-old twins who flank me as we shuffle, lifting first one foot, then the other, to lighten the hour- long wait for an autograph from the star of today’s comics convention, Sergio Aragonés. The twins are only dimly aware of Sergio’s Groo the Wanderer, one of the moribund breed of comical comics, a funnybook— at one time a label applied to the entire medium. Nor are Tom and Wes really aware of Sergio’s considerable, thirty-year contribution to Mad, his innumerable, tiny, rapid-fire but no less painstaking silent caricatures— pantomimes—that limn the pages of that venerable magazine whose gap-toothed mascot is perhaps the most familiar face in America. These Portland twins, each named by a different parent, have paid their two-dol- lar admission, netting them two free autographs by the Mad marginals master himself, and by god they’re going to get their money’s worth!
Their friend approaches, wielding a limited edition Spider-Man print— number 9 of 50—signed by local artist Randy Emberlin, an inker for Marvel. The kid wears that preadolescent scorn for women in comics, a look that flies up, up and away once he learns I’m a comic book editor. Eyes agape but teenage pride yet intact, he lets Wes—or is it Tom?—exhale the sigh of envy. “Luhh-cky!” pronounces the twin, whichever one it is. “That’s a fun job. Get to read comics all day.”
I’ve heard this before, and smile, ceding them their four-color fantasy. There’s time enough for life’s empty truths. Read comics all day? Not a chance.
I read ’em at night, just like I used to as a little girl, in the much maligned Weisinger era of ’60s Superman titles—the proverbial flashlight cocked under the cloak of bedcovers, haloing the heroes of my young years: Supergirl, Super-Horse, Streaky the Super-Cat, and Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane. I don’t remember any super-elephants in those comics of the Silver Age, but with DC’s Mort Weisinger in the editorial ring, there might well have been!
“Head up! Head up!” barks the assistant trainer, a short, sour man dressed in showtime black-and-white. Wanda grudgingly lifts her cumbrous chin, her 45-year-old trunk looping up and over to form an arch framing the slim man’s passage. He’s gone to confer with Robert, poor Robert of the sweaty blue work suit and broken teeth, heaving some dusty carriage-type thing onto the elephant’s hulking back. Robert works for the American Continental Circus, and he’s wise in the ways of elephants. He’s dressing them right now, in black leather bondage outfits with mirrored anklets, primping them here, in this $4 parking lot, for their Portland performance. Really, he’d rather be in the conditioned air of nearby Assembly Hall, trading his minimum wage for the latest issue of The Jaguar. Robert, too, is a comic book fan.
The line has hobbled ahead, and I can see Sergio from where I stand, his thick handlebar mustache sparkling with more silver than I recall. That Mexican mustache was black as India ink when first we met, some ten years ago, as I hosted him from store to store in my pumpkin-colored Volkswagen, a guest of the Comics & Comix chain in northern California. I don’t need to wait in this line, straining to see Sergio who even now is telling stories to my friend Steve in those incredible, rolling Latin rhythms and cadences.
Maybe he’s talking about his first job for DC Comics, an issue of Young Romance written as a favor to editor Joe Orlando, who was scrambling to beat the “dreaded deadline doom,” as Marvel’s Stan Lee used to call it. Sergio sent Joe out to lunch, then finished the story before the editor even had time to digest. Maybe Sergio is describing the legendary Bill Gaines, the long-haired, long-bearded father of Mad, whose EC line of horror comics so inflamed a Better Homes and Gardens psychiatrist named Freddy Wertham that the good doctor publicly branded the entire industry, in the now infamous Seduction of the Innocent, as the wellspring of juvenile delin- quency in 1950s McCarthyite America.
By now I’ve grown bored with the twins, their creepy movie monsters, and steroid saviors. I should march right up to the front of the line, drop a quick kiss on Sergio’s bronzed cheek, murmur something true about how charmed I am, as ever, just to see him—and then get the hell out of there, perhaps for a quick search of the dealers’ room, which, on a lucky day, might be inclined to yield an affordable copy of Shock SuspenStories #6, with its classic bondage cover, or even better, Action Comics #252, featuring the first appearance of Supergirl, the Maid of Steel, one of those 10¢ comics my mother threw out like so much trash, now listing on the collector’s market for upwards of $540 in mint condition and for which I would gladly starve through a thousand lunches just to possess once more. Yes, I am a comic book fan, just as much as Wes and Tom and their girl-shy companion with the $10 Spider-Man print. And so, I wait.