My Lunch with Paul Jenkins At Wizard World Chicago

Mon, August 7th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Shaun Manning, Staff Writer

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Paul Jenkins, at WWC 2006

This year, ACTOR auctioned lunches with comic creators Paul Jenkins, Dan Jurgens, and Joseph Michael Lisner to benefit the industry's veterans. I was the winning bidder for Paul Jenkins, writer of "Civil War: Frontline," who is known for his sense of humor in person. So I really ought to have known better, but I've always been willing to sacrifice a little dignity for an unusual experience.

I met Paul and his ACTOR chaperone/"bodyguard" Desiree at the booth, and they started off making fun of me right away. I'm sure they were quite relieved to see how easy it would be, a skinny guy in a powder-blue t-shirt with floppy hair, sporting two badges (for press and pro). Desiree nodded approvingly that I didn't appear much of a threat, but that she could "snap my neck off" if I stepped out of line. Other than that, she said, "Paul is your bitch."

Walking to the Hyatt's restaurant, Paul called his wife and had me say hi. She had no idea whatsoever what any of this was about, which Paul found hilarious. Once inside, Paul managed to bring up that he was once voted one of the sexiest men in comics, which led to a recap of yesterday's Aspen panel and the fact that, while Michael Turner may be attractive, he has not been democratically elected. Paul credited his accent, and suggested I might think about getting one. I mentioned that I'm moving to Glasgow for graduate school, and that I wasn't sure how alluring that accent may be. Paul suggested I nourish an interest in football (also known as soccer) and that I decide quickly whether to support Celtic or Rangers, and "they won't let you not choose." Also, "don't wear green or blue anywhere: you wear green, Rangers fans will beat you up; wear blue, Celtic fans will beat you up."

Startling stories of adventures in drinking followed, with both British and American customs covered. Paul prefers the more nuanced American drinking games over the British "I salute General Chunder," in which the last person to throw up wins. We formulated preliminary plans to find a karaoke bar tonight, we'll see how that pans out. Paul favors "unexpected" hits, like Dolly Parton's " Love is Like a Butterfly."

Paul and Desiree then swapped a few war stories, Desiree having just returned from Afghanistan and on her way to Iraq for National Guard service, Paul having once served in the Royal Air Force Reserves. Perhaps unexpectedly, the "Frontline" writer's most harrowing tale of battle comes with a punchline: the morning after celebrating a bogtrot, Paul tripped down a hill chasing after a frisbee and put his arms through a dead sheep. There's a good deal more detail, which will no doubt be covered soon in one of Paul's columns.

Picture time came, as Paul decided it would be a really funny idea to arrange things like I'd won a chance to hang out with Desiree. Which would be a perfectly nice time, but as both acknowledged would seem a bit strange to my wife. Paul inquired as to my intentions in comics, which gave me a chance to show my short story "Renewal" in Ronin Studios' "Hope: New Orleans" benefit anthology. Asked which mainstream character I'd like to write, I mentioned the pre-headwound Blue Beetle, which seemed a good surprise.

On the way back to the con, there was more talk of karaoke plans were elaborated, with Adam Kubert roped into the fun as he tried to enter the hotel. Kubert is apparently a master at pool-but perhaps not as skilled as our man Mr. Jenkins. Paul related his thirteen consecutive pool victories over Mark Bagley, who plays in a league. "It's something I could have done if I didn't work in comics," he said. Desiree said he handed over all of his winnings for her to stuff into her bra, until she had increased by a cup size. "Makes me feel important," he said. "Just to be able to say, 'here, put this in your bra.'"

 
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