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COMIC-CON HAS ARRIVED! (Add thunderous drum SFX)

Hello all!

Yes, it is that time of year again for all us comic book junkies to tap our veins and inject our minds with the sights, smells and tactile sensations that only those pulpy printed pages can provide!

It's COMIC-CON time! The world's biggest freakin' pop culture mindhigh! Over 100,000 freaking freaks packed into a hall so enormous that it has it's own black hole (I hear whispers and rumors of the dozens that mysteriously vanish every year within those hallowed walls)! And I'm talking 100,000 freaks every day! No lie. It's really truly unreal. Last year on Saturday the line to get in was over a mile long and people were in that line in 90 degree heat for hours. And some were turned away due to overcrowding. This show is big people. BIG.

And my being there only makes it all THE BIGGER!!! HA HA HA! (insert booming drum sound effects here again).

Seriously, though...I am great. And I will be there. So, if you know what's good for you you'll show up at my booth in the "Independent Publishers Pavillion (the "I.P. Pavilion" for those of us in the know). I will be debuting my new book, THE LIST, there (plug) and also have new original art, new prints and also be talking about my new gig over at Marvel Comics. It'll be great stuff people so don't miss out.

I really am great.

Other than that... We won our softball game last night and it felt great to be alive! I had a couple nice hits and a catch in the outfield that made me feel 20 again. It was cool.

My buddy, Big Tim, was put off by a comment I made about Brewer's ace pitcher, Ben Sheets. He got kind of mad. Here's the dilly...a few days ago we were at a party and the Brewers were on the tube. We picked it up in the 10th inning...it was tied and into extra innings. Neither of us had a clue what had transpired before the 10th. We started talking basebal, the team, the playoffs, etc. giving our opinions on the Brewers chances this season. At some point the subject of Ben Sheets (ace pitcher) came up and I "got on him" for all the injuries--he's had many and varied in his short career. Tim defended Sheets a bit. I said "I guarantee he doesn't make it through the season without going down again!" To which Big Tim gave me heat for being negative. Maybe he was right about being negative, but I defended my prognostication by loudly exclaiming, "Hey, I'm only using history as my guide...he gets hurt every year! Why would this year be any different?" To which Big Tim gave me a "look" of disdain and quite possibly a little disappointment.

Mere minutes (maybe even less) went by and the Brewers won...then we got the game recap where they informed us that starting pitcher Ben Sheets went out with a finger injury in the third inning!!!! I went nuts..."See! SEE!! He's done!...He's out for the year!" I really laid it on thick. Big Tim, a little stunned by my magnificence, I think, sheepishly retorted, "It's probably just a blister...he had one of those the other day." I kind of smirked, said some crap and got another beer.

So, a few days later the injury report comes in and Sheets sprained his middle finger on his throwing hand. Out for 15 days. HA! I called Big Tim right away...to gloat. I admit it. I rubbed it in a little. Just because I "called it" you must understand. I found the timing very ironic, that's all. I wasn't gloating about him being hurt. Just my greatness at predicting this calamity...the crazy timing. It was uncanny you know.

So we get to our game last night and I see the Big Man walking up and right away say, "Hey, Tim...you hear about Sheets...he's out for the season!" I was kidding. I hadn't heard any updates but I was just trying to get a rise out of him. He laid into me. Said I was "Gleeful" about it. He was ticked. Said I found some perverse joy at the Brewers bad luck. Now it was his turn to "lay it on thick." And he did. I was stunned into a stammering, babbling, ineffectual defense. I think I maybe even wet my pants a little. A few nervous squirts. It was not my intention to anger my large friend. No. Nor was it my intention to sound gleeful about a Brewer player being injured. (He's not out for the year BTW, only 6-8 weeks!) My only intention was to get his goat a little...tease a little again about my prognostication a few days earlier. He went pretty "Wrath Of Khan" on me.

I probably had it coming a little. I do tend to be the "Devil's Advocate" when it comes to Wisconsin sports teams. But it's a defense mechanism, man! Our teams generally fail. And for a looonnnng time. It's tough being a Wisconsin sports fan. You learn to "not believe" because they've given us so many reasons not to. It wears you down and then cynacism and skepticism creep their ugly ways into your sports soul, man. I don't wanna be that way. I don't. I just can't help it. I can't.

What the Big Man should've done was embrace me...just hold me. Couldn't he see my pain masked in sarcasm and spit? Can't he see I have a disease...that I'm sick? That I need help? I am a Wisconsin sports fan, dammit! My cynacism is a symptom of that fandom...of that disease!!!! It is as it is.

I am a Wisconsin sports fan. There I said it.

I need help.

Word.

r

OWNING A HOUSE SUCKS!

The damn bathroom has become the bane of my miserable existence these past 2 weeks. What started out as a simple, "Hey, let's spruce up the bathroom, honey...shouldn't cost more than a few hundred bucks" has blossomed into a complete gut job that's gonna run an easy 2 grand! Of which I don't have. So any of you Kumbaya guitar singing hippies who think that all landlords (yes, I own a duplex) are "The Man," and are just here to take the "little guys" money, can go straight to hell!!! Most of the tenants I've had make more money than I do. Fact.

Sad fact, actually.

Moral of my story? Never buy a house that's older than ten years old. You open up a wall and you open up a can of friggin' worms. You simply want to change a faucet and you usually open up a $500 can of goddammed worms, man!!! Every time I turn a stinkin' nut on a stinkin' bolt I wince in fear for what calamity is sure to follow. Said calamity always costing at least $130 at the Home Depot. The gas going back-and-forth 6 times a day alone is hitting the $100 mark and I live 2 stinkin' miles away!!!

Damn!

I'm going back to renting from some other "Man"...I think I'll take up the guitar while I'm at it. I should have plenty of time to learn it since I won't always be fixing shit. Yes, that was another facitious shot at you Kumbayaers! Take that hippie bastard!

In other news...

My newest book THE LIST is printing as I write this and will be shipping on Monday, July 16th to a store near you. Or get it here on this snazzy little site right now! Yes, right now. You read about my bathroom right? I need your money. Seriously.

ALSO!

My writing for MARVEL COMICS is in full swing so look for MCP (Marvel Comics Presents) in September!

And!...

I'll be at Comic-Con International in 2 weeks so stop by my booth in the "Independent Publishers Pavillion"! Then I'll be at Wizard World Chicago in August in Artists Alley.

And again!... Look for the latest issue of ARSENIC LULLABY cuz I just did a sweet little pin-up in Doug Paszkiewicz's hilarious and extremely irreverant book.

Quick movie recommendations...

In a past article I rated some animated movies and pretty much summarized that of the past 3-4 years there have been very few good animated films. And alot of turds! Way more turds than gems. We went to see SURF'S UP! and RATATOUILLE in the last 2 weeks and both were very good! The former was geared a little more for older kids as Stella (5) was a bit bored at times with the very clever "documentary" style--that Sandy and I LOVED! Jeff Bridges was awesome as the voice of the recluse surfer and made the film. The latter was more of a true "all ages" film and was equally enjoyable. Not Pixar's best but still a very enjoyable film. Both were well worth seeing. Two good animated films in a row!!! It's been a looonnnng time since that's happened.

Word!

r

THANK YOU, LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM!

In the past couple months––and more specifically the past couple days––I have been so extremely busy with work; Archie duties, finishing up my new book THE LIST and embarking on this new journey with MARVEL COMICS. But last week we ran into a huge mess when we decided to spruce up our bathroom a little bit. When I went in to regrout the bathtub tiles my Dremmel tool went right through the gap between the tiles and I saw nothing behind them. So I proceeded to gently remove the one tile and see what was up. The tile pulled free with minimal effort...and that's because ALL the backing material that is supposed to hold up the tile, i.e. THE FRIGGIN' WALL! was completely saturated with water and just crumbled upon touching it. 1 hour later I had a bathroom that looked like THE PERFECT STORM" ripped through it.

I felt like crying.

Then my wifes, Sandy, came back home from some errands and I revealed my handiwork. Then she felt like crying.

So, a few days later, when we didn't feel like doing anything at all but laying on the couch and watching a movie...ANY movie, but we had already made arrangements with Sandy's parents to take our daughter for the weekend so we could go to Summerfest (the WORLD'S biggest music festival right here in lil ole Milwaukee!) and see Lindsey Buckingham in concert, we really kind of had to force ourselves to go. I knew we'd regret it if we didn't make the effort.

So we went. Got there 2 hours early to grab a bite to eat, a couple/few beers, and get good seats. It's first come first serve at most of the Summerfest stages and a dozen bands share each stage every day. So the band before Lindsey Buckingham was some cover band that was pretty decent but wasn't any major national act of any kind. Good deal for us cuz this meant the crowd was full (they always are no matter who's playing) but not "packed" full. This meant yours truly got us right up front in the second row!!! And we only had an hour and a half to wait. Sweet!

Let me tell you something. Lindsey Buckingham is a NATIONAL TREASURE! He is, by far, one of the most underappreciated talents of any kind to walk this earth. He held the crowd in the palm of his hand from the first song through the 2 hour set and up until the final solo finale. He's a genius and he has stones! Who else would come out all alone and start with a mellow tune from his newest solo album, UNDER THE SKIN (Genius BTW!), proceed to play the next 2 tunes solo and then finally bring out the rest of the band. He mixed old Fleetwood Mac songs in with solo stuff and new stuff, twisting and turning through these songs, mixing them up and making the old sound new again by giving them all a new little patented "Buckingham" twist! There were many highlights in this show and absolutely NO lowlights, but the most amazing moment for me was during the song, "I'm So Afraid", which is a fantastic song as it is, but Lindsey did a guitar part (not a solo) that lasted about 5 minutes and crescendoed and crescendoed to the point of sheer impossibility and I swear...I SWEAR TO GOD!...I fully expected––as I saw him there 10 feet in front of me with the spotlight silhouetting his body––to see his already fire-like flow of hair actually start smoldering and come ablaze with fire as he raised up into the heavens, all the while still wailing the hell away on that beautiful guitar! I ain't kiddin' either. He was the closest thing to a living God I've ever seen just then.

There are few moments when an outside force can actually cause you to involuntarily lose control of your senses without any actual tactile contact. This was one of those moments as I fully lost it and just started laughing with pure unadulterated joy and disbelief (softly of course) as I turned to those around me to see if they were being affected as I was. The guy right behind me was and we had "a moment" together where we just nodded wide-eyed each knowing the other was being equally and completely enthralled.

So, thank you, Lindsey Buckingham, for sharing your beautiful music with us. You made life very wonderful for those 2 hours and reminded me that it's not too bad after all. If there's someone like you out there doing magic like you're doing there truly is religion in this world.

Now to play "poor man's pychiatrist" for a second. Lindsey Buckingham is one deep, weird and sometimes dark genius. He has, through his music, bared his soul for his audience in so many different ways with such openness and honesty. I relate to him. I see in him an artist who can't sit still, just relax and watch a movie, or "turn the brain off" for even a few seconds. I think he's always "working" his brain constantly wondering, tormenting, doubting...I might be wrong but I get the feeling he's only entirely comfortable with himself––whole as a person––when he's up there on stage wailing away on that guitar and singing with an intensity I've NEVER seen anyone sing with before. And I think that's what makes him as great as he is. He never stops.

Fitting that his last song, played solo again, was "Shut Us Down" off of his new album. An album which fully expresses some of the aforementioned doubt he's felt over the years. In "Shut Us Down" he sings, "...Oh I won't shut us down, No I will stay around, As long as I can....As long as I can...As long as I can...As long as I can..."

God I hope that's a long, long time, indeed.

Word!

r

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