January 4 - Hey, everyone! Please excuse me while I send a little note to a new friend...
Hello, 2009! Nice to see ya. We've been waiting for you for what seems like a very long time...and you're finally here! Now, I know you're busy, but I'd like a moment of your time, please. Here...have a seat. Comfortable? Good. OK, I'll just get to it. We are happy to see you, but that comes with some big expectations. I know that it's unfair to ask so much of you, especially when you are just starting out, but we don't have time to stand on cordiality. Put bluntly, you have to be one of the best years ever. We can't afford any more steps backward. Your predecessor, 2008, broke some ground, but ultimately left you with a world on a precipice...and we're starting to slip over that already. All we ask is that you not be as awful as it looks like you could become. That's it. In short, don't suck. Sorry to put all of this on ya, but I thought it was only fair to let you know what you're up against. Well, thanks for stopping in. I won't keep you any longer...but, before you rush off, I do have one final request. Please keep my friends and family as safe as possible. Can you do that for me, 2009? I'd consider it a personal favor. So, thanks...and get out of here. Go! Go be the best freakin' 2009 you can be!
Sorry about that. So, to you, dear reader, I add my salutations and best wishes for this New Year. As today is January 4th (well, actually the 5th, now that I look at the clock), I think that, finally, the "holidays" are over. It seems like everyone goes a little nuts during these last two weeks of the year. My dreaded "real" job had me working four or fives times as much as usual, all while I've been waddling around on a bad knee. Oh, that's right...I haven't told you that story yet. Almost a month ago, I was driving home from a quick run to the bank, when I saw a car stall out in the middle of the highway. I drove past it at first, then, after seeing the little older lady get out of the driver's seat to try to push the car, I backed up and jumped out to help. Barking orders like I was in charge or something, I told her to get back inside. Traffic was light, but it was still coming at us from four lanes. I got her to roll down her window so that I could help steer. In pushing the vehicle, I twisted my leg, but I couldn't stop to cry about it...we had two big trucks coming right at us. Fortunately, I got it rolling and safely backed into a nearby rollerskating rink's parking lot. By the next day, my knee had swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, and the pains shooting through it were a bit like having hot knives clumsily carving it up from the inside out. Fun! Now, it's much better. At the end of a particularly long day (like the one I just finished), it does hurt, and my limp reemerges, but everything is clearly mending (thankfully). Sigh. What a way to top-off what was, in spite of some wonderful "highlights," a fairly terrible year for me. I hope your 2008 was better, but, for me, it goes in the books as "thumbs down." In reviewing my WOMP-Bloggings from the last twelve months (what few there were), I was struck with the abnormal amount of, well...death. Something like every third posting concerned the passing of someone, and most of those were people I've known and loved. It was very hard to come up with a "Biggest Stories of 2008" list in the light of this, but I've devised a way to try to get past it. Confronting the issue head-on, January is going to be "Dead Comic Book Characters Month" here in the WOMP-Blog. The "rules" for being included on the list are simple; at some point in the character's "life," he or she died. Some stayed dead, some became undead, and many more became never-really-was dead. A cheery subject, I know, but it should be interesting. Now, though, I want to get to that "Year In Review" that I had planned. In looking back, I turned to sources other than just the WOMP-Blog and my own failing memory, but most haven't been much help. For example, my hometown "newspaper," The Courier Press, led their 2008 review with this line;
"Embattled hog farmer A.V. Roth of the town of Wauzeka will finally receive his license to expand."
Man. Just when I think I have problems. As bad as things might have been for me, at least I was never described as an "embattled hog farmer." Sheesh! Well, my list is a bit less...controversial? Just to get it all out of the way now, I start the countdown tonight with...
The WOMP-Blog's Biggest Stories of 2008
Number Ten - Goodbyes
As I've mentioned, for me personally, 2008 was a year of loss. I lost childhood mentor Father John Scott, my grandfather Clifford Fry, my lifelong friend Joe Shulka, and my oldest cat (Earl). We also lost neighbor Steve Uher, who was a very good friend of O.F.O.WOMP Eric Gillitzer and a direct inspiration for one of my characters and several stories. The passing of Muriel Kubert, wife of comics legend Joe, had me revisit my Kubert School days, and the threat - then confirmation - of the "death" of comic book character J'onn J'onzz prompted me to publicly plead for his life. The world of comics lost many greats, including Steve Gerber, Dave Stevens (and his inspiration, Bettie Page), Jim Mooney, and Will Elder. Even my home state of Wisconsin was hit hard with "goodbyes" as we lost Lake Delton, the town of Gays Mills, and Brett Favre in the same year.
(this is my Grandpa Fry's 1927 high school graduation photo)
Like any year, 2008 could be remembered for who passed (and this was just a brief list), but I hope that it may also be recalled for some of the other significant events. More on that later. I'll leave you for now with the first four days worth of your Dead Comic Book Characters of The Day - J'onn J'onzz, Deadman, Jean Grey, and Superman!