Wasteland #3 (Chapter One)
Writers – Del Close & John Ostrander
Art – Don Simpson
Colors – Lovern Kindzierski
Edits – Mike Gold
Apologies to – Pekar & Crumb
Today’s a weird start to Wasteland. If you can see the teeny tiny thumbnail I included in the cover-edit (the teeny tiny thumbnail in-color), you might recognize that it’s going to be a riff on Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor.
If you don’t know anything about Harvey, well… you can watch the movie based on his life… orrr, if ya wanna be a real savage, you can listen to me and Reggie talk about him on the Cosmic Treadmill.
Either way, I feel like Harvey’s an important fella in comics history, and well-worth knowin’ about. For the story that’s to follow under the dashes, however… I dunno… it might help ya, it might not.
We open with our Harvey Pekar-alike, Henry Pequod fresh off an appearance on the David Letter
maning Show. He tells the story of how he’s had to leave work a bit early of late… because, for whatever reason, he’s had this overwhelming feeling that his bed was on fire. Okay then. This one time, it’s around 4:15, and he tells a friendly janitor, named Mr. Boot about his fears… to which, he is told that ever since he’s been making these TV appearances, he’s been acting way-out weird.
Anyhoo, Henry heads home to check on his bed… and, unsurprisingly (?), it’s not on-fire.
The story continues… the next time he’d gotten this feeling, it came a little bit earlier in the day. The clock reads 2:45 Once again, Henry runs into Mr. Boot… who tells him that he really likes his comic book “American Squalor”, but feels as though every time he goes on TV, “David Lettering” makes him look like a trained monkey. We’re getting deep here, folks.
Henry, once again, heads home. This time, he finds that his bed… well, it isn’t exactly “on-fire”, but damned if it isn’t smoldering.
The next day, Henry tells Mr. Boot about his smoking bed… to which, the Janitor’s all “what does that prove?” All it proves is that he’s paranoid. At this point, the clock on the wall reads 12:10… and that feeling has hit our man again. He heads home, and well hot-damn, the bed is blazin’!
Another day, another conversation with Mr. Boot. Henry tells him that the bed was full-blown in-flames. Boot asks what might be behind it. Henry suggests spontaneous combustion. Mr. Boot corrects him, claiming that it’s Henry’s own fears manifesting as the inferno.
He then asks what Henry’s greatest fear is… to which, we learn it’s making a fool out of himself on television. Well, how ’bout dat? Boot tells him that he’d already done that… and suggests that he figure out how to not be afraid anymore.
And so, Henry Pequod learned a valuable lesson about fear… and his burning bed. He tells us (or Letter
maning) that he doesn’t go home early anymore… and, in fact, many nights he doesn’t go home at all.
Last time we started a Wasteland, I mentioned the concept of the “No Occasion”. Those personal or secondhand stories and anecdotes you might think you have a reason to share, but at the end of the day, you really don’t. Because, with so many of them, it’s a “you had to be there” situation, ya know what I mean? I took “no occasion” from a line in the song, Tempted by Squeeze: “I said it’s no occasion (it’s no story I could tell)”.
And yeah, this is another one of those. Perhaps not as “inside baseball” as last issue’s opener, since Harvey Pekar/Henry Pequod was a public figure, and many comics enthusiasts know of his life, times, and quirks… and yet, still kind of a disappointment. I feel like we get a lot of build… and the dialogue’s really on-point… but then, it just ends. Actually, it doesn’t even really “end”… it just stops. That’s the problem with anecdotes… very seldom do they have “endings” or resolutions. They just kinda sputter out and stop.
Worth noting, the art here was pretty spot on for an American Splendor riff. We’re going to be seeing plenty of really strong work from Donald Simpson. If you’re familiar with his work, you know it’s pretty great stuff. If not, well, hopefully after our Wasteland journey, you will be.
Tomorrow: Some Del-less Noir