Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pizza Man #3

Pizza Man #3, Shanamation Publishing
writers: Damien Shanahan & Aaron Shanahan
artists: Damien Shanahan, Chris Wahl, Paul Newell

I’m in Hollywood tonight, in a Borders on Sunset and Vine to be specific, the second bookstore I’ve been to in as many hours, since the original intention of my trip to Tinsel Town was to meet comedian Don Rickles at Book Soup, where he was signing his new book, appropriately titled Rickles’ Book. Alas, I was just two people shy of acquiring a necessary ticket, so, waiting for traffic on the 101 freeway to subside, I’ve taken to wandering the strip, visiting the world famous Amoeba record store and Meltdown Comics, both of which were visually overwhelming experiences. See, I’ve lived in Southern California for ten years this August, and I’ve been to Hollywood dozens of times, but a large part of me still feels like a tourist, amazed by the history and virtual celebrity exuding from the very architecture here. I mean, in just a few hours, I saw Don Rickles (yes, I did get to see him), an eighty-one-year-old performer as old as this town itself, and I saw a young beauty clutching a stack of headshots walking eagerly into a small theater house undoubtedly looking for some big break. Few cities can make or break people’s hopes and dreams.

So, though disappointed by my solo mission to Hollywood but content in my thoughts and personal sojourn, what comic book did I read to parallel these poignant thoughts? What issue will ironically reflect the themes of celebrity and aspirations, I wonder? Pizza Man #3. Yeah. A real slice of life, that.

Actually, Pizza Man #3 surprisingly delivers, featuring a character akin to the Tick (complete with a miniscule sidekick) working at a pizza parlor, where his arch nemeses can easily find and attack him. Dimwitted, the “man of cheese” always seems to initially believe that these villains are simply placing orders for pies, though they’re really calling for his death, which, despite these rogues’ impressive feats, is inevitably postponed by Pizza Man’s sheer strength, his second most prevalent trait. Interestingly, creator Damien Shanahan uses the pizza motif to spoof archetypal characters like Wolverine and Spider-man, and though these characters’ dialogue is shallow and ultimately unfunny, I was particularly amused by the Spidey-clone’s first impression – Spaghetti Man, clinging to a “web” of noodle strands. Unfortunately, that visual is about as far as the food/superhero synthesis can go (sans a Hulk with a meatball head – that’s mine, Shanahan!), but approach is valiant and different, and the shortcomings of the story are softened by the competence of the visuals. Shanahan, Chris Wahl, and Paul Newell contribute expressive, dynamic illustrations to this issue’s stories, and the much hyped four page color insert, featuring an intergalactic squad of alien Elvis impersonators, was odd enough to deserve the understandably more expensive to produce format. These creators had fun producing this cheesy issue, therefore I had fun reading it, plain and simple.

One point of contempt: that four page insert was poorly placed between the main story’s only two page spread, which actually may have been intentional considering the smirk-worthy impact of seeing Pizza Man’s expression on the second half of the big splash (a horde of villains are charging him, incidentally), but nevertheless the abrupt flow pulled me out of the adventure for a bit, a phenomenon I’m discovering that I don’t like. We’ve been spoiled by the companies that make an effort to cram all of its ads in the back of any given issue nowadays, so much so that even a legitimate contribution to the comic is a brief distraction. You know when a pizza looks like it’s cut through but the slice needs a good tug before breaking loose, inevitably pulling off the cheese of the pieces around it? It’s kind of like that.

So, as I said, I’m on Sunset and Vine, two of the most recognizable street names on Earth, and I can’t find an open wireless Internet provider. Granted, by typing machine here is a little temperamental, but if my Orange County suburb can be wireless in its downtown, I don’t see why the entertainment capital of the world can’t do the same. So, I’m hoping I get home in time to cut and paste this review from Word – a crude method indicative of some of the behind the scenes struggles I’ve experienced trying to keep this blog current daily. Indeed, tomorrow is the first day of the last month of A Comic A Day, which means I’ve been reading a new-to-me comic every day for a solid eleven months. Not a terribly impressive feat, but an ambitious one considering my hectic day-to-day. I mean, if I had been a few minutes earlier, I could’ve met Don Rickles. If I had a more time before midnight, I might’ve found some Wi-Fi here in Tinsel Town. If I hadn’t limited the A Comic A Day challenge to a mere year, I might experience even more unique offerings from this wonderful medium . . .

But twelve months are good enough for me, for now. A Comic A Day has a bright future, but with a different direction, I reckon. I just hope that, like Pizza Man, I can really deliver.

Ha! I knew there was a connection here somewhere!

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