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Chapter 90: I guess we have to talk about it.
New Year! New Stuff!
People Are Talking About Our Joker Book… Yay?
Tour Diary part III- Revenge of the Tour Diary!
Welcome to my first real newsletter of 2023. And we’re only
4 days 15 days in. Whoops. In my defense, I had other stuff to do.
I have high hopes for this year, but I assume thats an absurd thing to do. To prove that I’m foolish in acting like any of us can know what to expect in the next year, someone just showed me a picture of Miss USA from this weekend’s Miss Universe pageant.
I can’t stop thinking about the time she fought Spawn.
2023 begins. Buckle up.
We are going to do a little year end recap coming up, so we can finally put the colicky baby that was 2022 to bed, but for now I will just say I hope you had a nice end of your year and that 2023 is going well. And I hope you’ve been enjoying the podcasts me and the Supple Boyz II Men have been making for you. Lots of folks had nice things to say about Part I of our discussion with international roller coaster enthusiast Josh Williamson. Stay tuned (?) for part II on Monday.
As we are hard at work in Ashcan Laboratories (not a real place) making new things for you, my actual output of books is going to be down to a normal, respectable amount for the next few months. We have lots of fun JOKER and WILDC.A.T.S. stuff coming from DC. And of course the unstoppable beast known as WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? rolls on from Tyler, Hassan, and the fine folks at Image. And this month, the 10 page Elektra short I wrote comes out in ELEKTRA: BLACK, WHITE, & BLOOD treasury edition, which is a fancy way of saying “big.”
If you know how dates work, you may have noticed that 2 of those books are in stores now! THE JOKER and WILDC.A.T.S. are both super fun. And the new issue of WTFPFH? is in stores this upcoming Wednesday. You can grab them all in one go, if you feel like saving gas money.
But should we talk about the (spoilery) elephant in the room?
If you don’t get your news from the “here’s what to be angry about” people you may have missed this. But certain corners of the world are quite mad that the new issue of THE JOKER: THE MAN WHO STOPPED LAUGHING makes the Joker trans and then they become pregnant and give birth. How could we?! Think of the children!!
Only, slight problem, none of that actually happens in the comic. That didn’t stop Fox News, The NY Post, Channel 1 Russia, various internet outrage peddlers, and so many of the other sources of journalistic excellence from going all in on it this past week. This of course made social media somewhat unusable for me because things like this are Christmas for folks who like to get mad at stuff and yell at strangers. My DM’s have never been more exciting! The good news is that I finally made it onto TMZ and I didn’t even have to fuck Pete Davidson like I thought I would.
I should probably explain for those of you who aren’t reading the book. But also, shame on you. It’s fun. So, the main story in the series is about two different men who claim to be the Joker and how their lives violently intersect. The backup stories, by myself with the brilliant Francesco Francavilla on art, are made to be sort of Silver Age style fever dreams of the Joker that explore different, non-continuity explanations of how there could be multiple Jokers and other themes of the main book. So far he’s accidentally cloned himself in a magic mirror, faked his own death so that he could see what people say at his funeral, and accidentally had himself sewn to the body of a gorilla and one of his small henchman like some mythological 6-armed gorilla/circus performer/homicidal clown centaur. In each issue the events of the previous issue aren’t discussed or acknowledged. They are, literally, silly gag strips.
We wanted to pay tribute to the fun old stuff of DC’s history where Batman becomes 2 Dimensional, or Superman turns himself into a lion, or a tree, or an ant, or Jimmy Olsen marries a gorilla,
or Lois Lane turns herself Black. Well, not that one. We wanted to pay tribute to the rest though, but through a fever dream lens of the Joker’s own mind. So they’re a little more violent, a little darker, but still mostly fun, consequence-free jokes. And so far the reaction has been amazing. People seem to really dig them!
Enter last week’s issue. In this issue the Joker swallows some mud, gets a curse put on him by Zatanna, and then wakes up with a distended belly. One of his henchman, who says stupid stuff every issue, comments that he might be pregnant. Joker, being unhinged, makes his henchman find a supervillain named Doctor Phosphorous to give him a pelvic exam. Doctor Phosphorous, for those who don’t know, is a flaming skeleton who gives off toxic fumes, manipulates radiation, and sold his soul to a demon. What he is not, however, is a medical doctor. He looks at the Joker’s crotch and says “I don’t even know where a baby would come out of.” At this point the Joker vomits up the mud he swallowed and our good doctor says “Guess you weren’t pregnant after all.”
Then the mud gets up, runs around, some people get killed, and it ends up that the mud is actually the supervillain Clayface, or a piece of him at least. For those that don’t know, Clayface is a man who became a pile of sentient mud that can shapeshift to resemble different people, and was once used as a walking, talking metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases. Anyway, we jump forward in time and the magical vomit-mud monster now changes shape to resemble a tiny version of the Joker, and the Joker refers to him as “my son.” End issue. And while I obviously was already writing my awards acceptance speech for this 8 page opus, apparently some folks got big mad.
As you might have picked up from my summary, this isn’t an allegory, a metaphor, or social commentary. It’s a joke. I will say, so this doesn’t come off as some sort of backpedalling, I believe Trans rights are Human rights. I have fundraised and donated multiple times to orgs like TRANS LIFELINE, THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANS EQUALITY, and THE TREVOR PROJECT that do incredible work to promote trans rights and protect trans lives. I believe how a person identifies themselves, defines themselves, or presents themselves to the world is their business alone. When someone tells you who they are you can either agree with them or tell them who you think they are, and I’ve never understood why you’d want to be the latter or why anyone should care what you think of who they. With that said, it has nothing to do with this story. This is a story about magical food poisoning.
Now I understand the folks at Fox News and the Post might look up to the Joker and see his an aspirational figure. Yes, he once grew enormous and ate all the people in China with a giant pair of chopsticks, but I guess they can look the other way on that. And yes, he once cut his own face off for fun and walked around with an exposed skull for a while, but who hasn’t? And sure he once paralyzed and then sexually assaulted a woman, took photos of it, and the projected them on a wall while he sexually assaulted her father, but I think Fox & Friends was kinda into that. I was in no way trying to damage the pristine legacy of this psychotic serial murder that they hold in such high regard, but I guess to them I did. And for that I apologize…
Or maybe they work on a cycle of feeding outrage and alienation to their audience in order to keep them engaged and angry, and they don’t care if they take things out of context, misrepresent things, or even lie. But I’m sure that’s not it, right? Either way, thanks for promoting our book. I’ve heard from a lot of retailers that it’s selling out. We appreciate it.
Anyway, there is a much more informative piece about in over on Parker Molloy’s substack if you are curious.
Huge thanks to Parker for taking the time. If you like the article you should subscribe. It’s well worth your dollars.
Well, it’s been a long time, but I am nothing if not a completist. So, here is part III of the ROGUE STATE vs. WILDC.A.T.S. tour diary! If you missed the first 2 chapters you can get caught up here and here. So, without further ado…
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14th.
I stayed home and wrote a script.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15th.
I stayed home and wrote a script. Aren’t you glad we are still doing this?
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16th.
Matt Pizzolo picked me up at 7 AM because he hates me and he wanted me to hate him. It was effective. We drove up to Boston. The drive to Boston is usually pretty uneventful but on this particular morning, my favorite thing ever happened. We were being hyper vigilant about unnecessary human contact because not only could we not afford to get sick, but the idea of making people who came out to see us sick is an actual nightmare I have actually had. Add to that that we were always looking for ways to be as fast as possible on the road, because the schedule was pretty tight. Also, you can take the boy out of L.A., but you can’t take away the weird L.A. shit he does. So Pizzolo needed to get a coffee (remember, it was like 9 in the fucking morning at this point) so he used the Starbucks app to order himself a coffee we could pick up with only a moments slowdown. Order placed, we continue on towards the Starbucks in question, and arrive to find that it isn’t open. No explanation. No sign. It’s just… dark and closed. So he just used his app to buy coffee at a closed coffee shop. This was the happiest moment on the tour for me so far.
We arrived at the mighty NEW ENGLAND COMICS, one of a few different locations, to sign some books and hang out. I have always have a soft spot for NEC because when I was just starting out they took a store exclusive cover for WE CAN NEVER GO HOME. Not just that, but they took the Sonic Youth one, which is an all time favorite. Tyler drew it under a fake name because he’s a fucking weirdo. Anyway, you should always remember the folks who supported you when you started and try to give back when you can. So I was happy to be back there. We ended up talking about hardcore bands with the clerk who was working and then we were on our way again!
Our next stop was one of my favorite comic shops in the whole world, JETPACK COMICS, in Rochester, New Hampshire. Last time I signed there was for UNCANNY X-MEN #1 with Ed Brisson, and we got so ensnared in Boston traffic that we were 45 minutes late, which is mortifying. But everyone who worked at the shop and everyone on line (except for one guy) were super understanding and kind. I was determined not to let Boston curse us again so I gave us so much extra time to get there. I wouldn’t even let us stop to pee or get lunch, and I might have encouraged some liberal applications of the gas pedal when possible.
Anyway, we got to Rochester 2 hours early. At this point we allowed ourselves to pee and eat. First we hit up the KFC to see if they had the Impossible fried chicken. The lady at the drive-thru window responded like we asked her if we could run her over with our car for our youtube channel. Next spot I found was a BBQ place called Mr. Sippy that also had BBQ tofu. I had my doubts about New Hampshire BBQ but Mr. Sippy? That dudes all right.
We rolled into Jetpack well fed, fully peed, and ready to write our names on stuff. There was some weirdness going on around town with someone prank calling schools to report potential school shooters, because we live in the worst possible timeline. Multiple people mentioned it to us, and it clearly had a real chill on the morale of the town, but a lot of very enthusiastic fans came out and hung with us. And, as always, Ralph and the Jetpack crew are among the best in the world.
From there we drove home because I booked this signing tour like a lunatic. I got home around 2am and realized I had a lettering pass due the next day, and worked on that until I passed out.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16th.
One fun thing that I thought I mentioned but totally seem to have forgot was that sometime earlier these were finally delivered! I got stickers made for Ashcan Press and Ideas Don’t Bleed. Why? I have no idea. But Tyler made cool logos for us so I made stickers to give out on tour.
People seemed to dig them, so that was nice.
Pizzolo picked me up at the much more reasonable but still not great 9:30 AM and we began our trek. Our first stop was WADE’S COMIC MADNESS in Levittown, PA. I love signing at Wade’s shop because he’s a great guy, but also because the store has that real “old school” comic shop feel that I love. It feels like whatever you’re looking for, if you look hard enough, you’ll find it there. It’s just a treasure chest full of weird and great books, toys, and the oddest of odds and ends. It was an early signing on a Thursday, so we didn’t have high hopes for a big turnout. But a bunch of awesome folks came out and hung with us while we signed. It was very casual, which is much more comfortable for me. I would always rather hang and chat about comics and whatever than have a very “formal” interaction.
But all things end, and soon we were on our way to Skippack, PA to sign at NEW WAVE COMICS. I’ve known the store for a long time, they even took a 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK VARIANT which you can still get! In fact, maybe you should all order those. I don’t love that they still have copies. I’ll owe you one.
New Wave is a very pretty shop in a very cute town and it was nice to stop in at a shop I’d never been to. Also, some really enthusiastic fans came out, including possibly Black Mask’s biggest fan! There are two things that always make me feel good at a signing- big fans who are super excited and people who are just getting into comics and have no idea who the fuck I am, and New Wave had both. So not only did I get to go into great detail about 12 REASONS TO DIE, WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, and 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK, while Pizzolo talked about the rest of the stuff, but I got to explain who the WildC.A.T.S. were to a kid who had just started reading comics that week and only really knew Venom. The look on their face when I said I (sort of) wrote a Venom comic was really a good reminder of how lucky I am to get to do this for a living. I remember the pros I met when I was a little kid and the role they had in helping me fall in love with comics. So I recommended some of Donny and Ryan’s Venom comics instead of my own EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #1, because I didn’t want to also be the reason they fell out of love with comics. (I’m kidding! EDGE OF VENOMVERSE is… fine.)
After that we found out the shop has fish! I love a good fish tank.
And on that cliffhanger we will wrap it for the day. I am sure you are all going to wait with bated breath for the stunning conclusion of this tour diary next time!
Stay safe. Take care of each other. Support Trans rights.