Nostalgia is a funny thing. It has a tendency to “color correct” our memories so that the way we remember things is pleasant or, at the very least, less painful than the actual events. I know guys who collect “antique comics” and have to listen to them ad nauseam describe how the storytelling is more pure and how the artwork, while less detailed, is more involved because the artists were “pioneers of the craft.” These assholes take Comic Hipsterness to a whole new level, and the crown prince of douche”¦ is Todd. Don’t get me wrong, Todd is a relatively nice guy until you sit down and let him speak and last weekend that’s exactly what happened.
So this is the story of how Lobster Johnson kicked the comic hipster’s ass.
Every few weeks I get the chance to sit down with some guys from the local comic book shop and we have a few beers, talk about comics, and then, inevitably, someone gets pissed off and storms out. About 80 percent of the time it’s Todd because”¦ well”¦ he’s a douche and can’t stand people not taking his opinion as factual history. Todd is an “independent journalist,” which means he’s a blogger who works nights at a pizza joint downtown. His accolades include being retweeted by someone who works at Marvel and not getting laughed out of a Q&A session with Dark Horse (that’s a story for another time, because if you know Todd”¦ that’s an accomplishment). Back to the events of this particular Saturday night: There were five of us at the table, and though you wouldn’t know it by looking at us, this was a pretty impressive collection of genuine talents. Not me, I’m just an asshole who reviews comics”¦ but the other guys at the table are a graphic designer, a programmer for a large e-commerce site that is named after a river, an indie film maker, and Todd.
We were about 45 minutes in when the inevitable happened: We all broke out our tablets and started showing off what we were each reading. Well, all of us except for Todd. He broke out a bagged issue. This is not unusual for our table, but given the flowing libations and the propensity for melted cheese”¦ this was a dangerous situation for printed pages. I showed everyone my copy of Lobster Johnson and the discussion quickly turned in a direction that Todd felt he could control.
The 3rd issue in the Get the Lobster arc is fantastic. The story flows very well, the dialogue is smart and engaging. The art manages to be clean and detailed while also paying homage to the era it is portraying. In general, it’s a fantastic book and is an absolute pleasure to read in any format. All of this is lost on Todd who stands from his seat at the wraparound booth and proclaims it is a “blatant attempt at the establishment to dilute the creative waters of years past.” I really wish I was making this up, but I’m not. I decide to engage Todd in a little discussion about the merits of Mike Mignola‘s works on the book. I point out the style of the writing and even the lettering as not a rip-off or bastardization, but as a tribute to an era that had limited resources and a much smaller and younger audience. I show him Tonci Zonjic‘s art and how he manages to blend some of the fine detail we see today with the more rougher aspects of the period’s art. I try to explain how Mignola starts with a very boilerplate story we are used to seeing in some of the “vigilante hero” comics of the day and adds more depth to it without watering down Johnson’s persona. It’s very well done, and not like trying to shoehorn a Bourne film into Dick Tracy.
Todd ain’t having none of that. He stands and, with fork in one hand and bagged issue in the other, proclaims that not only are older comics superior to newer issues in terms of art and story, but also the digital medium is just another plot to wipe our physical printing on the whole. While he’s ranting, I decide to put my Surface back into my backpack, which is resting under the table. If any of you have ever held a Surface Pro, you’ll know the damned things are a bit heavy so holding one outstretched in one hand for even a few minutes is tiring on the wrist. As I lean over to get my backpack, Todd whirls wildly as if thinking I’m going to stab him in the side while he makes him impassioned speech touting the virtues of “Ye Olde Books of Comic Lore” and manages to step into my Surface as it becomes completely in line with the edge of the table. These tables are bolted to the ground. My Surface is a rock solid piece of hardware. Todd’s groin is fleshy human tissue. The momentum of Todd’s turning body collides solidly with the corner of the tablet which is pressed solidly against the table. I have a choice: release my hold on the tablet and hope Todd stops his movement or hold fast to my device and let physics combat human biology. Nuts be damned, this tablet was expensive, so I hold on dearly and hope the screen holds out.
Todd’s face makes an expression that I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed in person before. It’s agony on a scale that I’ve only seen in Tom and Jerry cartoons. He manages to stop himself before he winds up with any major damage, but as with all men, he does the first thing that comes natural when taking a hit to the boys: he doubles over in pain. I yank my tablet away and the sudden change in resistance causes him to shoot forward and he smacks his forehead on the edge of the table, shoots back up, and sits right down on his ass”¦ where he proceeds to do something that we (men that is) have all done at one time or another: he sits on his balls. This is a pain like no other, and it shows as the agony returns to his face, although this time there is a 90-degree angular welt forming on his forehead.
We help him up, make sure he is ok, and proceed to pay the check. Todd is a little dazed, but swears he is fine. We hang out for a few minutes, the waitress brings us some ice for Todd, but it appears the worst of all the damage is his ego. As we all file out of the establishment, Todd turns, and waves as he walks away”¦ bowlegged as if he’d been riding a snowmobile for the last two hours.