MINDY NEWELL: Back In The Saddle Again
There’s a scene in Sleepless In Seattle where Tom Hanks, whose libido has been dead in the water since his wife died, comes home from work to discover his young son hanging out with a friend in his room – and that’s a literal hanging out, as the two of them are cozy cuddling on one of those mod hanging chairs built for one. Oh, did I forget to mention that the son’s friend is grrrl? One of those 9-going-on-24 types who seem to have waaaay too much information ‘bout the birds and the bees and who looks on grown-ups as burnt-out Muggies without a clue about the magic in the world and who you just have to tolerate because, well, that’s just the way life is.
“H-A-G,” the girl says to Tom. And, proving her point, he says, “Huh?”
“Hi and good-bye,” she sighs with a sad shake of her head.
“Oh. Yeah. Right” says Tom, and closes the door. Now Tom is such a brilliant actor, and you can just see the thoughts going through his head about just being kicked out of his son’s room, number one being, my 9 year old son is gettin’ some! And number two being fuck that! And the soundtrack gears up and Gene Autry sings “I’m Back in the Saddle Again” while we watch Tom going through his Rolodex and dialing the number of that cute interior decorator he works with.
So how does that relate to comics? As you’ll learn as you read my columns, my mind works in mysterious ways and I have given up trying to understand how that works.
See, it was a Saturday. A few days earlier Mike Gold had asked me to write for ComicMix. I was so flattered that I said yes immediately, and then after we hung up I’m like, “What the hell am I doing? Why did I say yes? I haven’t written anything in years. I’ve haven’t been involved with comics for years. I don’t even have an account at my local comics store anymore. I’m calling him back and telling him, thanks, but no thanks.” Only I didn’t. I watched Sleepless on HBO instead.
So the next day is Sunday and I’m driving out to Watchung to see my parents, and I’m listening to the Buffy “Once More With Feeling” soundtrack for like the millionth time and singing along and all of a sudden in the middle of I’ll Never Tell my mind flashes on that scene with Tom and his son and the wise-ass girl and Gene Autry singing in the background and I say to myself, Back in the Saddle Again. What a great title for my column.
So here I am.
I was going to write today about how I got into comics. See, I’m a nurse. An R.N. With extensive education and fancy certificates. I don’t talk about my “other career” at work. (For a reason. I’ll tell you about that later on, maybe.) But somehow someone always finds out. Through their kid, or their cousin, or their accountant, who are readers or collectors and “your name came up in conversation yesterday and my boyfriend asked me if you’re the Mindy Newell who wrote Wonder Woman. And I googled you and, wow, you worked for DC?” And then, you know, gossip, and in the middle of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the surgeon says to me, “Somebody told me you wrote the Legion of Super-Heroes. I loved the Legion. Read it all the time when I was growing up.” Once I had a patient who couldn’t get over that the writer of the Amethyst mini-series was his nurse.
And on the other side, the people who do read and work in comics, they always find it fascinating that I work in the operating room. A lot of them – maybe it has do with being comics fans? – always ask me about the blood, they all think there’s a lot of blood in the operating room, they’re like “how do you handle all that blood and guts and stuff?” and their eyes are glowing with excitement, and I swear, some of them, their mouths are watering, and I know they think I work in The Tomb of Dracula, but I love to fuck with them, and so I tell them that there really isn’t a lot of blood in the operating room, and that it can really be quite boring, but no one ever believes me, and they look so disappointed, so for those of you who really need that blood gratification, I will say that, yeah, sometimes there is tons of the red stuff, and that’s when it’s Avengers Asssemble!!
I promise I’ll tell you next time how I got into comics.
Oh, and one more thing.
I love being back in the saddle again.
Hope you’ll join me.
TUESDAY: Michael Davis!