Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tek Jansen, and an open letter to SDCC07 attendees

Tek Jansen came out this week, from Oni Press, with art by Scott Chantler, covers by John Cassaday and Scott Chantler, a back-up story by Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez, and a main story “co-written” by Tom Peyer and myself. I intended to blog about it, but my personal trainer has gotten himself in a bit of a fix with the INS, and, as you know, what affects Ricki, so affects me. I’d also intended to blog and point out that Tom Peyer would be doing a store signing Saturday at The Comics Dungeon Comic Book shop on 45th Ave in Seattle, but considering what a disaster that turned out to be, it’s probably better I did not.

I just got off the phone with Tom Peyer, who tearfully related the events of yesterday’s signing with a series of low moans and high-pitched blubbering. To say that the signing did not go well would be an understatement. I’ll relay details, but first: a bit of information about Tom.

Tom Peyer is legitimately a legend in comics, and one of the reasons I agreed to “write” with him on Tek Jansen. He has read and written comics more than most of us have been alive, and was entertaining our parents with comic scripts that brimmed with folksy charm and vaudevillian wit. Today, his time long past, he walks with a permanent stoop, shuffling slowly, sometimes shaking, and his forlorn, hangdog face is etched with a long lifetime of hundreds and hundreds of broken dreams. Still, when you look at his faded, blood-shot, tear-streamed, rheumy eyes, you can still see the slightest spark of life, and it never fails to charm the people in his presence. I don’t know a single person who knows Tom who does not love him. He is a kindly old gent from a different era. A gentlemen’s gentleman, and his rich legacy should be respected.

Which makes yesterday’s events all the more disappointing, shocking and shameful. And I hold not just the attendees of the Comics Dungeon store signing responsible, but also the staff, and in particular the store manager Chris, who really should have known better than to offer Tom Peyer a tuna fish salad for lunch. In his advanced years, Tom is not as dexterous as he once was, and much of his lunch ended up on his shirt, and matted in his beard. This drew lots of snickers, comments and low laughter from many of the teens in attendance. The good Mr. Peyer, being from a different generation, does not always understand the parlance and humor of today’s youth, and he gamely played along, assuming people with laughing with him, and not at him. And things then deteriorated further, as one brash youth leaned over the table and tugged on Mr. Peyer’s beard, and then subdued chuckles grew to raucous laughter, and then derisive jeers. I’m extraordinarily disappointed in what happened next, to this poor, dazed old man, as things continued to escalate, and one of the heartless youngsters grabbed Mr. Tom Peyer’s cane and the entire crowd and staff participated in an impromptu game of “keep-away,” while the tired and infirm Mr. Peyer could only fumble around confusedly and haplessly.

To the pair of fans who actually attended this signing to pay homage to Tom Peyer’s bountiful comics history, I salute you. I’d rather not go into any details about the final part of the story. Suffice to say, it will likely be Tom’s final signing, so humiliated was he. Tom is not as young as he used to be, and does not have the control he once did when he is agitated. I have no doubt, if he ever can be convinced to do another signing, he will opt to wear dark blue jeans, rather than lightly-hued khaki slacks, to avoid any further messy embarrassment.

Which brings me to this:

I will be attending this year's San Diego Comic Con, flying in to sign for a SINGLE DAY, for a SINGLE HOUR. My publishers have gone to considerable expense to fly me there, I have an exorbitant appearance fee, and a list of demands that in no way can be considered reasonable. And be warned: I spend about 3 hours a day writing comics, and twice as much time pumping iron, and chiseling my body into muscular perfection. I pop ‘Roids like hard candy, and I have a rage in my heart that makes Chris Benoit look like an Osmond tune played during butterfly mating season on a field of sunflowers.

I would like to ensure there is no repeat of Mr. Tom Peyer’s disastrous signing, and am taking steps to guarantee my safety, and the safety of well-behaved comics fans understandably desperate for my autograph. I advise all attendees of the SDCC07 to read the following, and abide by these expectations I have for you when you line up to receive my signature on your comic:

1. Please stand in a single file line, arms at your side, looking straight ahead, and not talking. Turn off your iPods and your cell phones. Teenagers, that also means NO TEXTING!

2. Look directly at me at all times, but do NOT actually make eye contact. This will be interpreted as an act of hostility and aggression and be returned with punitive measures.

3. Do not stare at my crotch. My body is a temple, and I am just as our Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ made me, and I would never defile myself with anything as crass as a penile implant. Yes, it is real, and, no, it is none of your business.

4. Address me as “Mr. Layman” or “Sergeant.” You have not earned the right to call me “John.” Nor “Sarge.” Do not presume any familiarity. Do not be surprised if I do not remember you if we’ve met previously, even if we have met repeatedly.

5. Yellow lines designate my 5-foot “fan-free” zone. Please do not cross yellow lines. Unbag your comics and hand them to a member of my support staff or one of my unpaid interns. Do not under any circumstances attempt to touch me, even if you are wearing gloves.

6. No small talk. No chit chat. There is nothing you can say to me I could possibly care about. You have exactly 5 words to attract my interest, with either flattery or a racist joke, 7 words if you are an attractive female, 8 words if you are a supermodel, celebrity or member of the clergy. In the very likely event you do not attract my interest, I will make a lightning fast “zip it” motion with my index finger and thumb across my lips, and you should immediately stifle yourself in mid-sentence and henceforth remain silent. Holding your breath would be a big plus.

7. If I do chose to engage you in conversation, please be aware the very one-sided conversation should consist entirely of compliments. You should offer no criticism toward any aspect of any book I have worked on. I don’t care if you don’t like the assistant editor, the letterer, even the production guy who laid the UPC code on the cover. If you have anything negative to say, keep it to yourself. If you any have any negative thoughts, purge them from your mind, because I can read it on your face, and there is no human force that can stop me from getting out of my chair and beating you within an inch of your life.

I offer you the following list for your own well-being. I can and will not be responsible, morally, legally or financially, for any heinous bodily harm you suffer for failing to capitulate to the demands on this list. Reading this and/or attending San Diego Comic Con means you agree to abide by the above, and I hereby waive any responsibility for my actions if you incur my terrible wrath.

Have I made myself clear?


Brandon Jerwa said...

Man, your shit's crazier than Danny Bonaduce.


...I mean...


Chris Burnham said...

Tom's holding out on you. The place was swamped with fans. There were so many fans I could have sworn I was at a Robert Kirkman "Astounding Wolfman" book signing. Hell, I even picked up a couple of chicks while I was there.

Awww, who am I kidding? We just hung out and bullshitted with Tom for a while. It was fun though.

Here's how Tom signed my copy of the book. I'm not quite sure how to take this. I think it might be a passive-aggressive message of some kind.

Chris Burnham said...

That's a .jpg on the end of that link in the last post. Stupid Google blog.

bubba g. russo said...

You guys are so out of control- but it's like watching a trainwreck. I could only look away long enough to get the popcorn out of the microwave, and crack another beer.
I love the Ranxerox-esque spit curl on Colbert- I mean, Tek. I'd love to do a cover for you sometime. Certainly, the Mighty Layman could send a photo I could use as an anatomical reference?
Does Colbert know you guys are part of the vast left wing conspiracy? I promise not to tell him, provided I get a signed copy delivered in a plain brown wrapper to my door, along with my usual Swiss bank account deposit from Tom for linking his page to ours. And Peyer, if you're out there: this one better not bounce or Chertoff will have a gut feeling about that "sleeper cell" in Seattle!

Superfrankenstein said...

Jesus, Chris. Now John knows I stole his "you're dead to me" autograph. I know you didn't know, but you're still a snitch.

Chris Burnham said...

I wasn't aware John held the trademark on that, Tom. My sincere apologies for narking you out. You can smack me upside the head the next time you see me. Now John will have to create something new and clever for you to steal. Yes, I'll tattle on you when you do that too.

mike abbott said...

from Wired
"Comic book industry veteran John Layman joins the team at Cryptic Studios as Design Writer for their upcoming MMO, Marvel Universe Online."

Congratulations Sergeant!

Philip Kollar said...

Er, so this is a bit of a weird place to do so, but I can't seem to locate an e-mail address for you. John, I was wondering if you might be interested in doing a mini-interview about your new job with Cryptic for I can be reached at if you're up for it, and I'll also check back here later today.

-Philip Kollar-

Ann said...

I have no doubt, if he ever can be convinced to do another signing, he will opt to wear dark blue jeans, rather than lightly-hued khaki slacks, to avoid any further messy embarrassment.