A man's eyes roll in like two garish beach balls on a windy beach. The rest of his face follows.
Random Person: "Helloooo."
RP: "Do you know when comic con is?"
Me: "August, I think. Let me...yea. August 11th to the 13th."
RP: "And that's where I'd go if I wanted to get something published?"
Me: "Uhhh...Probably not. It's mainly a place for fans and establish artists and writers to meet, get things signed, have discussions. You don't really want to show up in person somewhere and try to get published, you want to send your work out to places."
RP: "Which places?"
Five minutes pass where I make suggestions, he takes a pen out of his bag, writes down one piece of information, puts his pen back in his bag, waits for me to say something else, takes his pen out of his bag, writes down another piece of information, puts his pen back, ad nauseum infinitum.
RP: "See, I've written this very logical sequel to Gone With The Wind. 187 pages, 1700 painted pieces. Very logical. I wrote it every day from 10am-7pm for six years, and now I'm done. It's very logical. It needs to be logical. I saw the movie 47 times in theaters. Have you seen it?"
Me: "I have."
RP: "It's the most seen movie of all time. Mostly because it's old. If Star Wars came out in 1939, maybe it would be more popular, but it wasn't so it isn't. And it was one of the most popular books of all time, too. But there was no sequel, and I always thought a sequel would be"
DON'T SAY IT
My only coworker is on the phone. I assume someone has asked him to tell him a complete history of The British Empire, as he has been on the phone since I was a small child. But it turns out, he is just being interviewed about the history of our store, which, like my mother for the last three decades, is forty-something years old.
RP: "I brought some pages, if you'd like to see them."
I don't want to see them. I fear they will be somewhere between competent to excellent. The biggest time wasters at our store are blowhard artists talking about how wonderful and talented they are, and, unfortunately, most of them are correct. And, maybe if they stopped talking from time to time, they could get enough art out there in the world that they would be at least famous enough to leave me alone.
They are quite good.
Me: "These are charming."
RP: "Charming! That's exactly what they said at Houghton Mifflin. They wanted to publish it but they said it wasn't quite in their bullpen."
Ballpark. They definitely said ballpark. It is exactly what they said to me in 2004, after they asked me to send them a section of The Insafemode Journals. I think they even used the word "charming". Christ.
They're really adept watercolors, but they are modeled precisely after the characters and costumes from the movie version of Gone With The Wind, and I don't know about licensing and rights, and who, outside of the Shitbart voter base, wants to read a graphic novel by a white guy with a character of color called Mammie.
RP: "The sequel came so"
DON'T SAY LOGICALLY.
..........................................."effortlessly, and the painting so logically. There must be an audience for it. I've been to the library, and there are so many graphic novels. Science fiction and capes. But nothing like this."
Me: "Actually, there's a local guy who did some Shakespeare adaptations that--"
RP: "Well, this isn't Shakespeare."
At this point, a customer who wants to buy something approaches the counter, and RP is very gracious about stepping out of the way so I can conduct business.
The thing is, he's Very Familiar. I know I know him from somewhere. But he isn't the usual store crazy.
After a few customers, his eyes venture back to the counter, dragging the rest of his face behind him.
RP: "This place is so overwhelming. I have a signed picture in my house from Bob Montana. The man who invented Archie. He was Archie, actually. He went to school in the same town where my partner taught at, so my partner had him come back to the store and give a speech, as the most famous alumni, and nobody else in the store cared. Betty and Veronica had already graduated, but Ms Grundy was still teaching there, and she didn't care in the least about him. But my partner did, and Bob was very gracious and did this sketch for us. He signed it to him and everything."
Me: "Archie is very popular right now."
RP: "It is? But it's So Old."
I tell him about the TV show, and the recent resurgence of the comics. His eyes get bigger and bigger, until I am pretty sure I am merely a fleck in his left iris.
As I wrap it up, my coworker gets off the phone. I introduce them, and run out the door to get something to drink, as RP is clearly about to repeat every piece of information I've survived.
I say "run". I walked. Slowly. Took my time in the store, and came back via Azerbaijan.
RP: My partner used to teach at his high school.
Coworker: They made a documentary about Archie a few years ago.
Archie, archie archie. Sketch, sketch, sketch. Partner, partner, partner. Logical.
At some point, my coworker asks him if RP and his partner were married. And it turns out, not only were they married, I was there when they got their marriage license. And my coworker was there when they got their marriage license. And I was there when my coworkers' in-laws got their marriage license. And there was a documentary about this guy and his partner, who'd been together 49 years at the time, getting married. And it was directed by the same person who did the documentary about the store that my coworker was in. And they've each seen the others' movie, but not their own.
Coworker: I don't like seeing myself on film.
RP: Me, either. My partner was Marlene Deitrich's dresser and makeup person for a few years, and she didn't like the way she looked on film either, and she was Marlene Deitrich. Not liking yourself on film is just"
...........................................................................logical. My partner was very beautiful. He was a runway model. When we met, I told him I wouldn't sleep with him, that I was looking for a life partner, not some fling. He told me years later that he thought I was crazy. But it intrigued him, and we ended up spending 56 years together until he died. And when he died I just didn't know what to do, and someone told me when their partner died they just dove into their work, so I've just been doing this graphic novel every day from 10-7 since he died. I break for lunch and dinner, of course. And I have Some Friends. But mostly it was just this, and now. Now it's finished. And I don't know what to do with it."
My coworker gives him virtually the same list of publishers that I did an hour or so previous. And he shakes our hands. And he leaves.