Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pistons = Thrusting

As promised – all the topics I said I would cover. And I have more, like answering comments, but that will have to be later. Maybe. Don’t want to crit everyone with a wall of text again…

Why pistons = thrusting by Wendy.

Wendy and I are sitting at the terrace of (translated from the Spanish) “The Ancient King of the Wines.” Oddly enough, I am having a coffee. A tattooed man parks his motorcycle on the sidewalk in front of us, briefly steps inside and then comes back out five minutes later. He is about fifty and looks the part of a man who beat up his step-dad at sixteen, hopped on his bike and never looked back.

“That’s a Harley.”

“How can you tell?”

“Um, 1. Look at that guy, and 2. The sound. Harleys' only have two cylinders. They use an ancient design that creates a loud, distinctive sound. While other manufacturers try to improve their design, making them more quiet and fuel efficient, Harley is more concerned with their unique sound."

Wendy knows pretty much everything about everything. It is always a moment of blind surprise when I can explain something to her. “What does it mean two cylinders?”

Pretty much all power is based on pistons. Steam, coal, nuclear, tidal, even solar thermal energy, is based on moving a piston. I explain to Wendy how cylinders are the tubes that the pistons are in, and how gas, air and a small spark produce the controlled explosions that drive a piston up and down. The oil of an engine is used to keep the cylinder lubricated so it doesn’t create friction and over-heat.

“Okay, a man invented that.”

Laughter, of course. “How do you figure?”

“Can’t you just see the business meeting? ‘Men, I want to make something that has a very sexual thrusting motion. It has to go back and forth really fast and use a lubricant in some way.’”

“And how will that generate power sir?”

“I have no idea. I don’t care. I just like the idea. Come up with something.”

Obviously, more laughter from me; and then the note taking on the iPhone; so I can remember to make you laugh (hopefully.)

The marketing test has been a success. I sold four books in the last five days. More than I sold in all of last year. Not that I plan to milk “Quest for the Pro Tour” as my sole work and hope to live off it, but Marilyn’s cancer memoir will be done soon and I need to know how to market it since there are no agents interested in the story, as explained earlier. Many people have told me the title sucks so it will be changed. I would imagine on my next read through something will jump out at me. (As one writer said, “Writing a book is like building a house. Except a house is less work, takes less time and you know it’s going to be finished someday.” )

Comic Collection: What are you doing with yours? Mine is in a closet taking up a lot of space in long white boxes. Like yours, mine is worth nothing. Pennies on the dollar probably. I have six copies of Alan Moore’s Miracleman number one. (Dear Wendy, yes, I am making you read this when we come home in August, love Jamie.) Not because I ever plan on selling any of them, or because I thought they would be worth something someday. No, I’m sorry, I have six copies because I LOVE THEM. Period. I read the first three issues from a friend’s collection, then bought those issues and collected the entire print run. I found three number ones in the dollar bin one day and bought all three of them. A year later, I found a couple more for cheap and had to have them. It makes no sense. They are like the one ring to me. No other comic has had this effect on me.

Comics are funny. I have the entire print run of Miracleman. A guy on Ebay is trying to sell the same thing for four-hundred and fifty dollars. He has no bids. Someone else has the identical run and he has four bids, the last being fifty-two dollars.

It is a quandary. What do I do with such beloved things? I have John Byrne's Fantastic Four and reboot of Superman. I have a black bagged Spiderman number one by Todd McFarland. (Very Rare.) I have the first twenty issues of The Savage Dragon. I have the complete run of Dreadstar, Badger and Nexus. Alan Moore’s complete run on Swamp Thing (so…fucking…good…) every single issue of Preacher. In comic form; not trade. I have every Crisis on Infinity Earths and Secret Wars also not in a trade. I have Hulk vs. Wolverine by Peter David drawn by McFarland which according to Ebay sells for between fifteen and sixty dollars. I also have a random collection of Spiderman’s, really old Superman’s, Prime, Conan, The Sign, The Sigle, The Tattoo, whatever that damn thing was from Marvel's new universe, a few issues of the Specter, a couple Ghost Riders, first issue of Spawn (which I’m burning as soon as I get home, before I even go to sleep, jet lagged or not.)

I don’t have room to store all these things for years on end. I need to sort them and keep the ones I love and sell/donate/burn the ones I hate. But every time I try, I end up sitting on the rug, surrounded by comics, reading for hours on end. Progress is always glacial to non-existent.

I need to focus at some point. I can’t sell the whole thing as some of them are precious to me. You will have to pry my Badger’s, Nexus, Miracleman, Preacher’s, Sandman’s, Watchmen, Sandman, Dreadstar, early Claremont Uncanny X-Men and Peter David’s run on Hulk from my cold dead fingers. I’ll die with a smile on my face. (I own the issue of X-men when Phoenix “dies.” Glee!) When do I cut the cord? At what issue do I realize Claremont has lost his goddamn mind and toss the rest of his X-Men run?

I’ll have to burn my early Spawn’s so no one else is affected by their awfulness. Hell, every Image title I have should be sterilized and then purified by fire. I wonder what the colors of flames are from holographic covers? I have a bunch of Fantastic Four’s that I will stare at and wonder whether to keep, sell, donate, burn, whatever. Almost everything John Byrne drew I will keep and almost everything he wrote will be used to heat my house or cook over. What do I do with the issues he wrote and drew? The dilemma…

The truth is, I have about five hundred comics that bring me great pleasure and about five thousand random issues of mixed crap that need to be decided on. Here is a common problem I come up against : I have about a hundred issues of Spiderman where about ten are good, fifty are borderline good and forty are borderline awful. Which ones get the axe? What if a storyline starts out great and ends badly? Which issues do I get rid of?

If only I could resist their siren lure and sort them in a matter of hours instead of infinity.

For now I keep them all and look forward to being eighty when I will read them all over the span of a month.

If you’re looking for a good podcast on comics I suggest iFanboy. They have a nice website I have visited all of once, but their podcasts keep me entertained for hours. I stopped collecting comics since moving to Spain and their podcasts from 2006-now are filling me in on everything that’s been going on in the imaginary universes. They’re great. Three funny guys and an English girl who swears like a trucker. How can that not be totally win? I totally geek out listening to them. I have about a hundred episodes to go before I’m caught up with the present. Right now they’re discussing “52”, Young Avengers and All Star Superman number three. All of which was right about the time I stopped being able to read. They talk about their pick of the week, discuss movies and television and remind me a lot of the conversations my friends in the states and I used to have when we lived close and bought comics every week.

More rambles later this week about Denia, Battlestar Galactica, the crazy cat lady of WoW and more!


  1. Don't get rid of them, rent a storage unit (split the cost with a friend in the same delima) throw those babies in there and forget about them. You will have the nice cozy feeling that your old friends will be ready for you when you return.

  2. Badger? Norbert Sykes? Still one of my favorites, especially the arc where he meets Mavis Davis, MD.

  3. I have the same problem with books (mainly sci-fi), and magic cards (I can just not bare to throw out commons, even if I have 40 of a jank common I would not even play in a limited deck).

    I started sorting and got through less than 10%. After that I have a stack of 40 books I read 20 years ago that I have no desire to re-read, but I can not bare to get rid of. I want to re-read them and then toss them, but guess what, I have no desire to re-read them.

    I signed up for a free-sell account to see if I could exchange them with someone else who has a different collection. Well a week later there were 1,000 posts of things people wanted other people to give them. Turned me right off.

    I do like the idea of renting a cheap storage place and just parking them. My tastes have changed a lot in 20 years, maybe they will change again.