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Around the Store in 31 Days: Day Twelve

Brian Hibbs

OK, so I’ve clearly lost the daily pattern we had at the start — my apologies, it’s been a rough and busy week. I SHOULD be able to do daily through Wednesday this week, but then I have to disappear again (ComicsPRO’s annual in Vegas)

Matt Wagner is one of my favorite creators in the whole wide world. (Come by the store some day and I’ll tell you the story of why I’m in comics, and why Matt is really the one to blame) You can tell if you look at the store, because I’ve got more than 20 pieces of original Matt Wagner art (most commissions) hanging around the store — including an on-going series of JSA portraits (in fact, I even have two that I still haven’t even gotten framed yet)

In most circumstances this would probably lead to a discussion of MAGE: THE HERO DISCOVERED, except that, well, it is OP from Image at the moment, and who knows when it is coming back into print? If it does, grab it.

But, since it is OP, let me relate another story here…

(This is where I would have put the jump, if it wasn’t for the small fact that more than half of you HATE the jump. We’re trying to figure out what to do in the long run, but I heard ya’, at least)

This was early in the store’s life — probably about ’93 or ’94. A gentleman came into the store, and he was pretty obviously on his last legs with AIDS. He was weak and emaciated, had palsy and could barely walk. He had a few sores on his face as well.

He asks me if I have any comics about suicide.

Now, I’m seriously torn here. The guy’s sick, and my assumption is that the reason he’s asking is because he’s contemplating killing himself. This is the first time (and the only time since) that I felt like I had to make a moral decision about selling someone a comic book, y’know?

In the end, I walked over to the rack and pulled off a copy of GRENDEL: THE DEVIL INSIDE, the story of the Brian Li Sung version of Grendel by Matt and Bernie Mireault.

This story aside, the is a great comic, told in fragment, by a fragmented mind teetering on the brink of extinction. Wagner hasn’t, I don’t think, really gotten his due as a writer, and the experimental efforts he had through the 90s. Sure, some of them failed pretty massively, but overall he’s changed the way I approach a peiece of comics writing by his playing with technique and format. And Mireault’s art is astonishing here, bubbling with madness and grief.

I never saw the sick man again, so I don’t know if DEVIL INSIDE helped him or hurt him. I dearly hope it is the former.


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