This year, for the first time, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund hosted several of the world's greatest comics creators on a special cruise. Few know (most likely because the tragedy was hushed-up) that in fact, the cruise ship sank after two days at sea…
DAY THREE AFTER THE SHIP'S SINKING
Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner, Mark Waid and Frank Miller drift in a solitary life raft. They are still in good spirits, hoping for a marine rescue to come soon.
MARK WAID: How…how long is it?
NEIL GAIMAN: That's rather a personal question, isn't it?
MARK WAID: You've been WAITING to say that, haven't you? It's all about Monty Python with you.
FRANK MILLER: I just realized that this life raft is a metaphor.
WILL EISNER & NEIL GAIMAN: Of COURSE it's a metaphor!
FRANK MILLER: I know, I know. I should have realized sooner.
WILL EISNER: The whole SCENARIO is metaphorical!
FRANK MILLER: Right, right, I get it now.
NEIL GAIMAN: It's an elegant and intricate metaphor, surely.
FRANK MILLER: I SAID I get it.
WILL EISNER: See, we're the talent, and the cruise ship was the comics industry…
FRANK MILLER: LOOK. I GET it now, okay?
MARK WAID: Hey…is that Gary Groth out there? It looks like he might be drowning.
NEIL GAIMAN: Ah. You mean to say, Mark, that you think that fellow splashing about on the horizon might be Gary Groth?
MARK WAID: It's hard to tell. I think so. Should we yell at him, let him know to start swimming here?
NEIL GAIMAN: Gary Groth, who organized this whole cruise and put us all in dire peril?
MARK WAID: …
NEIL GAIMAN: Upon second viewing, don't you think that it might rather be a large seabird of some kind?
MARK WAID: Yeah, it's definitely a seabird.
WILL EISNER: It's a METAPHOR! That seabird out there represents Fantagraphics!
FRANK MILLER: All right, Mr. Inventor of the Graphic Novel…what do I represent?
WILL EISNER: Well, obviously, you're a metaphor for…uh…Say, did I ever tell you about the time I hired Walt Kelly?
FRANK MILLER: We don't have any food. I don't think we're going to make it. All we have is this Rock Em Sock Em Robots set I swiped from Kurt Busiek's cabin.
MARK WAID: Yup! The seabird's drowning.
SEABIRD: I regret nothing!
The four creators are clearly exhausted…their spirits are dropping as the remorseless Pacific sun beats down on them.
WILL EISNER: …**choke** Say…if I die on this life raft, promise me that you guys'll write a nice blurb for my obituary. Will you all agree to do that for me?
FRANK MILLER: Of course we will. You're the greatest storyteller this genre has ever known.
MARK WAID: Virtually every comic panel ever drawn owes something to you, Will.
NEIL GAIMAN: Every comic story I write, I think to myself, "Is this how WILL would have done it?"
WILL EISNER: ….Huh. Well, okay. Thanks.
MARK WAID: What? What's wrong?
WILL EISNER: Nothing.
FRANK MILLER: Come on, Will. What's the matter?
WILL EISNER: Well, it's just that…well, is that the BEST you can do? I DID invent the graphic novel, you know. And perhaps you've heard of a little strip I did called THE SPIRIT?
NEIL GAIMAN: "Will Eisner is the perfect man. To aspire to be like him is presumption. The most a lowly, revolting cur like myself can ever attain is to be allowed to smell his waste."
WILL EISNER: That's closer…I like the waste part. Mark?
MARK WAID: "When people ask me if there's REALLY a God, I say there must be, and Will Eisner is proof. He lights the darkness and feeds the needy. "
WILL EISNER: Too vague. Frank?
FRANK MILLER: I'm TIRED! We've been writing blurbs for your imaginary obituary for FOURTEEN HOURS! Let me SLEEP!
WILL EISNER: Oh, fine. All the things you've swiped from me over the span of your career, and you can't even give me the dignity of a proper…
FRANK MILLER: OH, ALL RIGHT, you BASTARD! Here: "Will Eisner not only invented the graphic novel, he also hung the sun in the sky and taught me what it means to be a man, and he can communicate with dogs and he dances beautifully and he can change size, sometimes he's a veritable doll-sized being, and other times he's nine feet tall, and he won the '63 World Series by himself and he can eat food with his mind!"
WILL EISNER: I like that one. Let's play Rock Em Sock Em Robots again!
Every single Dark Knight
I wrote it, they buy it
I know that Sin City
Huge great stacks of Sandman
They love it, the Goth chicks
Much cuter than the nerds who
Wherever we are
Oh, we know that our art will
Our armpits are sore--
From the heat, but our art will
MARK WAID: Okay. Look, it's obvious we're not going to be rescued in time. There's only one way-we won't all make it, but some of us COULD survive-if one makes the ultimate sacrifice.
NEIL GAIMAN: Agreed. But how do we CHOOSE?
MARK WAID: (Eyeing the Rock Em Sock Em Robots grimly…) You KNOW how we have to do it. I'll take the Red robot. Who's going to be Blue?
COAST GUARD: Hey! For God's sake buddy…we'd given you up for dead! We're going to take you aboard now, all right?
MARK WAID: Oh, thank GOD! I thought…I thought…
COAST GUARD: You're gonna be all right, buddy. We need to have the medic take a look at you now. You're gonna be OKAY, you hear? You just hang on while I get this life vest on you. Hey, you didn't see anyone else, did you? Witnesses on the boat said they thought they saw four go into this raft.
MARK WAID: … I can't be expected to remember everyone who may or may not have been aboard. It's not like a kept a register, you know. I was busy. I had other things on my mind. How am I supposed to keep track of who ALLEDGEDLY was in this life raft? Were the witnesses wearing their glasses? Did you even ASK them?
COAST GUARD: All right, all right-- I was just asking! The witnesses must've been wrong, is all. Listen, you're suffering from exposure and dehydration and who knows what else. Priority One is to get some FOOD into you.
MARK WAID: No, I'm good actually. Thanks, though!
SEVEN DAYS LATER
At the non-denominational memorial services for Frank Miller, Will Eisner, and Neil Gaiman. Mark Waid, wearing black, reaches the podium and shuffles his notecards…
MARK WAID: (Looking genuinely remorseful…) Ahem. A wise man once said that the greatness of a man was measured by his enemies. Well, that wise man was stupid, because Frank Miller, Will Eisner and Neil Gaiman, all tragically lost at sea, were UNDENIABLY great men, and as far as I can see, they HAD no enemies. I've been asked to say a few words about these great men, and…I'm sorry…it's difficult…
VOICE FROM THE CROWD: Booo!!!
MARK WAID: It's just that, well, I must've been among the last people to see the three alive, as they leapt into an IDENTICAL lifeboat to mine with an undetermined passenger, most likely an orphan stowaway, who bore a remarkable resemblance to myself, but clearly WASN'T me…
ANOTHER VOICE FROM THE CROWD: You ATE them, you bastard!
CROWD: Hisssssss! Booooooo!
FIRST VOICE FROM CROWD: You're the DONNER PARTY of COMICS!
MARK WAID: …AS I WAS SAYING, it's odd that all the lifeboats are supposedly accounted for, but as you are all well aware, it's not unusual at all for guests to bring their OWN huge lifeboats, so that explains that, no point in continuing to dwell on THAT in any upcoming investigations that may be under consideration…
FIRST VOICE FROM CROWD: EATER! EATER OF COMICS CREATORS!!!
SECOND VOICE FROM CROWD: MARK WAID EATS HUMANS!
CHANT FROM A SECTION OF THE AUDIENCE: CAN-nibal! CAN-nibal! CAN-nibal!
MARK WAID: In any case, I think it's QUITE CLEAR that they were in fact drowned at sea, or perhaps eaten by a rogue Killer Whale with a lust for tasty human flesh, mmmmmmm, so moist and chewy, or maybe they killed themselves and weighted their raft so it wouldn't be found. Maybe they ate THEMSELVES, then EACH OTHER--did you ever think of that? ALL of these possibilities explain their disappearing, and of course, completely exonerate me, the real victim in this tragic tragic story. Yadda yadda yadda, as long as children love comics, (manful tear) yadda yadda yadda, there will always be a Frank, a Will, a Neil. **sniff** Thank you. Questions from the audience?
FANBOY #1: Yes, Mr. Waid…I'd just like to say how much I enjoyed Kingdom Come, and did you actually eat Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and the beloved Will Eisner?
MARK WAID: It's a fair question. Yes. ****! No, I mean NO, of COURSE I didn't eat them. ****! Whew…that was CLOSE!
FANBOY #2: Mr. Waid, how do you explain that their clothes were all found in the life raft with you?
MARK WAID: As I have ALREADY MENTIONED, they quickly undressed, as the ship was sinking, threw their clothes into my life raft, and then jumped in their own. If you weren't such an idiot, you'd remember what I said just five minutes ago. I swear, the net is ruining comics.
FANBOY #2: (Sitting down, ashamed…) …Hey, wait a minute…he never said that!
FANBOY #1: … Mr. Waid, no disrespect intended, but the Coast Guard Captain claimed that you regurgitated a big chunk of Neil Gaiman…
MARK WAID: This is a high-tech lynching! For God's sake, while you people are harassing me, the REAL KILLER is out there! He may go after GRANT MORRISON next, and THEN who's going to write MARVEL BOY? Huh? Huh? There's probably a rogue Killer Whale swallowing Dick Giordano whole AS WE SPEAK!
FANBOY #3: Mr. Waid, are you ever going back to FLASH?
MARK WAID: This interview is OVER! Don't come crying to ME when rogue Killer Whales eat the Kubert family!
LATER THAT EVENING…
Mark Waid sits in his living room, when he is struck by a sudden thought. He walks to the closet and brings down a plaque bearing the legend, "STATE CHAMPION ROCK EM SOCK EM ROBOTS, 1978…MARK WAID." He smiles to himself.
MARK WAID: …Best cruise EVER!