- A man sitting alone on a low wall, a thin black plastic bag of unknown contents next to him. Figured he was waiting for his ride to pick him up.
- The Mexican street food lady scraping the grill and packing up her stand with the help of four other people, her van parked next to the sidewalk where she sets up.
- A coyote brazenly skulking around in front of the shops. I wondered where the rest of its pack was, surely not far off, simply unseen.
- A homeless man, or perhaps just mentally ill, standing on the very edge of the curb facing directly into the street, a white terry cloth towel completely covering his head, obscuring his face from the angle I walked behind him.Just feet away, near a shrub there were two big pieces of shit, human by the looks of them. His? Hard to say, but likely considering the scene.
- A man, just ahead of me, picking up his pace when he sees the bus he’s been waiting for coming up the street. I watch him enter the bus and look for a place to sit as the bus takes off again. “The man is blue now” I think as the cold lighting inside the bus changes him into something even more distant from me.
- A building, still under construction but already nicer and more modern than anything else around here, graffiti already ruining its brand new windows. We ruin everything, want the world to look how we feel.
I was asleep when he came down. I actually heard him before I saw him, heard him yelling about something – it’s what woke me up.
There was that sound of his boots on the stairs and everyone who was still awake tensed up the way you do when you’re trapped in some insane asshole’s murder basement. He walked up to the first person he could, the redhead guy closest to the stairs, barely more than a kid, late teens, maybe early 20’s.
“Just LOOK at this!” mister boots says to the guy as he holds out a phone with I guess a video on it. The kid looked, of course, did whatever the hell mister boots asked him because what else are you gonna do? I couldn’t see, but boots was describing everything and apparently it was nanny-cam footage of a babysitter smacking a baby around.
This really pissed mister boots off and he sure as hell let everyone know about it. “How the hell could anyone do that to a baby?” he said, honestly sounding aghast like he couldn’t imagine some of the awful shit humans do to their own kind.
”What the fuck is wrong with people??”
Red just shook his head slowly, unsure of what the hell was happening Because he was pretty new here as far as guests in this place go. He hadn’t seen some of the shit the rest of us have.
”Yeah, that’s really bad“ the kid managed.
”This world…” mister boots said, looking down at the phone as he turned to head back up the stairs.
Somewhere else in the place, somewhere deeper below us was the sound of someone screaming suddenly, the kind of scream you imagine characters in a Lovecraft novel would let out when whatever happens to their tiny unraveling minds happens.
I’ve been here a while, and I’ve seen some fucked up shit but that scream got to me, but mister boots just kept walking slowly up the stairs, distraught about what he was watching.
”This world…” he said again before disappearing.
As dungeons go, there’s probably worse ones. The smell of cleaner can be a bit much but it’s almost pleasant if you had to pick a stink to be trapped in.
I won’t even try to guess how long it’s been, me being down here. Lost track of days and weeks with no changing light, just the permanent gloom with no real pattern to when he comes down, making it hard to tell when he sleeps or wakes, if he sleeps at all.
“I made too much toast” he announced last time he showed up, with not a slice of toast in sight. “If anyone wants some I can bring some down.”
Some did, and so he did. It strikes you as weird what people are capable of enjoying when in the worst situations. Sometimes a piece of toast, some decent sourdough in that case, connects you to a different world, a better world that isn’t haunted by a sleepless lunatic, a world that isn’t blanketed in cleaner masking the smell of nightmares just underneath.
He seemed happy a few of us accepted the toast, happy to be part of such a small, almost normal moment, and then he got that look in his eyes again, like this world was barely there to him and he was seeing something else, hearing something else.
“Not tonight” he said to whatever he saw through the walls. “They just ate.”
I’m not getting out of here.
Last year I was asked if I wanted to do one of a series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated shorts, and, long story short, this is it. I’ll maybe do a longer post going into more detail about the creation of this monstrosity.
This has already been posted all over the place, but I figured I’d be a completist and post it here for the four of you that still haunt this little place of mine!
The time is 1:18 in the morning. Entered car and successfully penetrated the dirty membrane containing me within Los Angeles around 9 P.M earlier this night and found myself in San Diego something like two hours later.
The drive was already tainted with the knowledge that the passenger seats SHOULD have had the butts of several traveling companions firmly planted upon them, but said companions had, one by one, been diminished by unknown forces. I was doing this Comicon SOLO, and everyone knows that’s how people die. It’s how you fucking DIE. Anyone ever tells you they’re going to Comicon alone, you know they’ve given up, you know they see no future for themselves in a world they clearly feel has already abandoned them. Nobody goes alone unless they have no plans to ever come back.
I was a dead man the moment my foot hit the gas pedal.
Musta been around 11, 11:15 that I found myself approaching the Gaslamp District, bro-haunted host to my many previous stays in San Diego for this annual gathering of masochists, and I wondered “Have I stayed at this Sheraton I’ve been put up at this time around?” The view out my driver’s side window a parallax scrolling of convention halls and the old familiar hotels full of the orgiastic writhing of fans and creators. Is that the Sheraton? Nope. That one? Nope.
A creeping dread starts to set in as I leave that scene behind and continue winding up along the coast. Where the hell am I going? Where is this hotel?
FIfteen minutes later, I pull up to the hotel, and I think there must be some mistake. There’s nothing here but a hotel in the middle of cracked, parched earth, the only landmarks the occasional bleached bones from convention goers foolish enough to attempt the walk this far out. I swear, before going in, I swear the moon laughed at me.
“Can I help you?” asks the valet, a skeleton in rags, all teeth and empty eyesockets. “I’m not sure…” I reply, “I’m not sure I’m in the right place.” He laughs, the sound of dried leaves and sand grinding in fleshless hinges.
“You’re in the right place” he says, and though he has no lips, I know he’s saying it with a smile.
The people that put me up, they brought in other guests, and I somehow, despite the haze of confusion and growing sadness, think to ask if those guests are also in this same place. One by one he tells me no, that person isn’t here, that person isn’t here, nope not that one either.
It’s just you.
I check in, a growing gloom taking me over. I get into my room and the smell of death is in here as well, masked, sure, fresh sheets, sure, but it’s there, just underneath, and the gloom sits heavier on me like a depressed elephants ballsack dropped onto my chest.
I frantically connect my Playstation to the TV. I’ll play games with friends online. I’ll forget where I am, forget that I’m the only one out here breathing the dead up into my nostrils, and I’ll just play. No signal gets through. The hotel blocks the hdmi and now the despair seeps into the last part of me that had been fighting it off for this long. I crawl into the bathtub and weep, curled up in my Playstation’s cables, cradling the console itself to my chest like those sexy nerd people who think that shit is sexy, only it’s even LESS sexy as I do it. Why can’t I be sexy? Why is this hotel so far from everything? I pop another cashew from the forty dollar tin I got from the “refreshment center” and my tears only make it saltier.
Surely day TWO will be better.
Here’s my complete list of San Diego Comicon 2016 activities!
• Happy Happy! Joy Joy!: 25 Years of Nickelodeon Original Animation (Thursday, July 21, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; room 6A)
For 25 years Nickelodeon has produced some of the most innovative and memorable animation in the history of television. Nick Animation Podcast host Hector Navarro finds out how and why four of the network’s most influential creators did what they did: Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom) and Arlene Klasky, who along with Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain, created Rugrats. Don’t miss the chance to see production art from the upcoming TV movie Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie; animation from Hartman’s new Bunsen is a Beast!; and the world premiere of Don vs Raph, a TMNT animated short written and produced by Jhonen Vasquez.
• Invader ZIM Conquers San Diego Comic-Con, Saturday, 7/23/16, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Room 29AB
It’s been one year since the premiere of the Invader ZIM comic books, based on the popular Nickelodeon series, so join us for a retrospective of the series so far as well as hints for what’s to come! Featuring Jhonen Vasquez (series creator, control brain), Aaron Alexovich (character designer, artist), Dave Crosland (comic artist), and Megan Lawton (inker) all telling horrible, horrible secrets about the comic book series.
Oni Press Booth #1833
Thursday, 7/21 • Invader ZIM signing with Jhonen Vasquez and Megan Lawton, 6–7 PM
Friday, 7/22 • Invader ZIM signing with Jhonen Vasquez, 6–7 PM
Saturday, 7/23 • Invader ZIM signing with Jhonen Vasquez, Aaron Alexovich, Dave Crosland, and Megan Lawton, 3:30–4:30 PM
Sunday, 7/23 • I expire from exhaustion and germs.