DENNIS O’NEIL: Poopface
Mr. Grotty couldn’t open the comic book. He didn’t know how long he’d been trying because here, in Limbo, there was no day, no night, no sun, moon, stars, and even if there had been any of those things, Mr. Grotty would not have heeded them because they were all poopystupidpooplappers; this was certain because to Mr. Grotty, everything and everyone was either a poopystupidpooplapper, or it was worse.
The comic book – Justice League Number One, it was called, not that Mr. Grotty cared – had on its cover pictures of seven dopeysnargers who all looked like they were hurrying to get somewhere and Mr. Grotty neither knew nor cared where they were going. But he felt that he belonged there with them, if not on the cover, then at least somewhere inside the comic book. Because he had to belong somewhere, because if he wasn’t anywhere, could he possibly even exist? And if he didn’t exist, then he…wasn’t. And that was pretty poopy.
So he attacked the Justice League: pried and pounded and tossed and humped and jumped up and down on it, too. Nothing. He paused, first catching his breath and then wondering how he could have caught his breath if he didn’t exist and then, when his head either did or did not begin to ache, depending on whether or not his head existed, he considered his situation. He knew that he was in a novel and that would seem to indicate that he existed. But he also knew that the novel had not been published – had, in fact, been read by only four people, not counting the check-chasing poopface who wrote it, and three of those four had said that they thought changes should be made. And since poopface had not given any of the four print-on-paper, but instead had asked them to read the book off computer screens, did the book exist only as digital code, and was that existing at all? Worse: even if Mr. Grotty existed now, would he exist if the book suffered future changes? Couldn’t poopface push a button and cause Mr. Grotty to vanish without a trace? Then wouldn’t it the case that he had never existed, even if he had?
AAAAArrrrrgggghhhhh, Mr. Grotty commented.
Mr. Grotty spat on the Justice League. That didn’t help, either.
So it came down to this: he felt that he belonged with those dopeysnargers on the Justice League cover because he dimly remembered doing feats such as they did, and wearing similar clothing – in short, having another identity – when he was computer code, which is all that he could claim to be, even now, and in order to really exist, he had to join them, but he couldn’t because he couldn’t get the poopy comic book to open.
Finally, not certain whether or not he was exhausted, he sat on the cold stone floor next to the comic book, which seemed to be mocking him. He might have cried if he could have decided the crying status of maybe-non-existers such as he.
Poop, he either did or did not say.
RECOMMENDED READING: Cosmicomics, by ItaloCalvino.
Note: This column only copyright 2011 by Dennis O’Neil. All Rights Reserved. If you’re not a poopface, maybe some day I’ll tell you why.