Wasteland #2 (Chapter One)
Writers – Del Close & John Ostrander
Art – William Messner-Loebs
Colors – Lovern Kindzierski
Edits – Mike Gold
Welcome to the Wasteland, gang!
For the foreseeable future, this little horror-ish anthology series will be anchoring my offerings here. New Talent Showcase and Wasteland, interspersed with Bizarro Breaks (and Binges) will be the “format”… at least for the next eighteen/nineteen weeks… and/or, as long as I can keep this thing going!
Now, we’ve already discussed the first issue of Wasteland here… wayyy back in the long ago. Back when I was more of a wide-eyed “Aw shucks, just happy to be here” sort of blogger. I considered re-reviewing the first issue as part of this little project, but… ehh.
Anyhoo, I hope this will be an interesting few months of stories… if you have any ideas on what to “name” this project, please pass it along, cuz I haven’t the foggiest!
Our story opens with Dr. Dracula’s performance troupe broken down on the side of some desolate road in Kansas. Del asks the Doc to teach him how to eat fire… but, the Drac don’t dig the idea of sharing. Del then prods him on how he can swallow razor blades without carving up his mouth, to which, the Doc replies “I heal fast”. Del is relentless, and keeps on badgering.
Finally, the bum wheel on their rig is changed out, and they’re headed to the next stop… Clay Center, Kansas. Hold on to your heads… The Horror Show is coming to town.
That night, Dr. Dracula and the “Chasm of Spasms” is headlining at the State Theatre. The Doc himself drops off a reel of film for the Projectionist to run during the performance… but first warns that it is made of Nitrate Stock. This means that the stock is both likely ancient… and extremely flammable! Nitrate film is notorious for its ability to create its own oxygen as it burns… and is even said to keep burning even under water! So, this is a pretty risky deal. The Doc forks over two American dollars for the fella to look the other way… and it looks like that was enough.
The audience begins to shuffle in, including a broad-shouldered fella who is told he’s gotta check his “hog-leg” before entry. Now, that is a euphemism… but, not for what I was expecting. He just needs to leave his gun with the ticket-taker.
The show kicks off… and, ya know, it’s a theatrical magic show. No bigs. In one of the acts a woman is placed behind a screen, where she appears to transform into a beast. It tears through the screen and lunges toward Doc Drac… who shoots it dead!
The show continues… and the lights go out. From the ceiling, worms begin pouring into the crowd. This freaks out that big “hog-leg” fella so badly that he… messes himself. Whoops. Turns out these “worms” are just cooked spaghetti.
After the show, Del and the Doc are confronted by the pants-pooper… who has, in the interim, reclaimed his hog-leg. Ya see, he doesn’t take to being humiliated in public… and intends to perforate whoever it was that threw the “worms”.
He unloads his pistol… right into the Nitrate film!
The explosion causes some major damage to the theatre… and the Doc winds up having to fork over 20% of the take to keep the Projectionist’s mouth shut.
In case you’re unaware… or have never listened to any of my audio offerings… I might be known as a fella who can drone on when attempting to telling a story. Last Summer, I spent a good dozen or so episodes of Chris is on Infinite Earths sharing some of the more seminal events in my life. Stories ranging from dealing with weight issues, addiction, poverty… near-homelessness. A lot of personal stuff, that I’m not sure is interesting to anyone but me.
Sometimes these personal stories follow a linear narrative format… other times, they take the form of a series of semi-connected vignettes. Along the way, there were plenty of moments and events that popped into my head… things I thought would be interesting to share. However, the more I thought about it, the more these “events” in question began to feel like “No Occasions“… which is what I call those stories that don’t need telling. And so, I’d ultimately leave them out.
Now, I’m sure Del Close had lived a wildly interesting life… chock-full of amazing and engaging stories. This… was not one of them. This is a “No Occasion”, which Del even admits might’ve been embellished in the telling. You’d think that sort of thing would make a story even more interesting… but, you’d be wrong. This might be a great story to tell your pals while bellied up to the bar a few drinks deep… but, as a piece of sequential art… eh-eh. Not all that great.
I think we’re going to be getting one “semi-autobiographical” piece from Del in every issue of Wasteland… and while I didn’t outright dislike this one… hopefully, we only go up from here!
Tomorrow: Genghis Sings?!