The Year of Travel, Comics, and Covid
In the year of our Lucifer, 2022, it will definitely be a memorable one. Amanda and I did so much traveling this year as the world has slowly re-opened during the tail-end of the pandemic, and we caught COVID and still lived to tell the tale. It was a year filled with new Invaders flashed, new comics published, new nieces born, and new experiences shared as a couple. Even with all the highs and lows, I wouldn’t change anything from the past year…except the whole ‘catching COVID’ part.
Since the last update, the mid-term elections happened and surprisingly, our democracy has remained intact. For now. I voted, as I always do every election, and the local outcomes were great (Fuck right off, Rick Caruso!). Yes, the Republicans have barely taken control of the House, and will most likely spend the next 2-years (6 if he’s re-elected) attempting to impeach Biden over Hunter’s laptop, but at least the party already looks to be tearing itself apart from within ("Let them fight"). Plus we retained the Senate, despite Georgia voters' best attempts to install a vampire/werewolf obsessed (fake) Sheriff/ex-football star with CTE as their senator.
One of the shows Amanda and I have been binging for the past few years is RuPaul’s Drag Race (we’re on All-Stars 6 at the moment), thanks to my cousin Collin preaching the gospel of Drag Race far and wide. Two of the drag queens we’ve become obsessed with are Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova, and their hilarious show UNHhhh where they talk about whatever they want, because it’s their show and not yours. They’ve gone on world tours together, recorded albums, and recently wrote another book together, Working Girls: Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Professional Womanhood. Right at the end of October they had a signing at Book Soup in West Hollywood, and since it’s a hop, skip, and a jump away from us, we just had to go meet them and get a picture. A copy of the book came with the purchase of a ticket, so we got the second book personalized for my cousin Collin as a ‘thank you’ for bringing RuPaul and her queens into our lives. They were both behind glass as if fabulous animatronic fortune tellers, but still an absolutely pleasure to talk to for the minute we had with them. Amanda expressed how much they mean to her, always brightening her day when we watch their show together, and commiserated with them over dressing up in ill-fitting outfits and doing make-up (through cosplay). It was definitely a highlight for sure! In other Drag Queen sightings, Amanda got to meet the amazing Ginger Minj at a Hocus Pocus 2 screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery earlier in the month without me, and I was incredibly jealous.
At the start of December, the Permanent Damage 4 comic show happened at Permanent Records Roadhouse and I attended to table. I had CLUSTERFUX COMIX 1-4, FUGU COMIX 1-2, and ULTRAGFUGU VS FUGU GHIDORAH available to purchase, as well as T-Shirts and an EAT THE RICH zine exclusively for the show. Turnout was great, considering it was lightly raining throughout the afternoon, and I sold lots of copies of CLUSTERFUX #4, ULTRAFUGU, and FUGU COMIX #2. It was so much fun pitching people on the comics, and incredibly satisfying to hear compliments about the quality of the comics. A few familiar faces even stopped by to say hi! Special thanks for Keenan who was running the whole thing, dashing around and putting out fires throughout the day. I tabled next to where the bands performed, and after the second band nearly blew-out my eardrums, I decided to call it a day. I’ll definitely be back the next time I get an invite!
When it had been announced that The Phantom of the Opera was finally ending its historic run on Broadway in April 2023, Amanda was determined to fly out to New York and see it one more time at the Majestic Theatre before it was “gone” for good. Everyone is aware it’s only going to be “gone” for a short while until they come back with the horrible (yet much cheaper) traveling version of the show by that talentless hack Cameron Mackintosh. Like Scotland earlier this year, I haven’t been back to New York since 2005, and recalled my one week there not the best. The only, only reason I would return is for (you guessed it), Invaders. And so Amanda bought tickets for the second weekend of December, and off on a plane to New York City we eventually went.
We stayed in Weehawken, New Jersey and had a stunning view of NYC from our hotel room. It took a few days to get used to the public transport (we took a bus to the Port Authority Terminal almost every day), and we laughed at the fact that the Metro in Paris was much easier to navigate than the Metro in New York had been. While we arrived between holidays, it was still immensely crowded and definitely claustrophobic at times. Also? It was beyond freezing. Attending the Christmas Market in Bryant Park was pleasant and charming, and we really enjoyed the Chelsea neighborhood (Lower Manhattan) more than the chaos of Times Square and the surrounding area. I even was able to visit the legendary Strand Book Store and pick-up a few NYC-related titles. I could have easily spent the entire day rummaging through 3-floors of books.
Having seen Phantom recently in London during our summer Honeymoon and being disappointed by it, we were more hopeful for a better cast and experience seeing it on Broadway. Amanda had seen it twice before on Broadway, so this was to be her third time. Unfortunately, the performance was worse than the London one. The Phantom had several bizarre choices when singing (sounding almost Scottish and Italian at times), Raoul appeared drunk, Christine came off as shrill, the Theater Owners felt like they phoned in their performances, and the only person who really stuck the landing was Carlotta. Ironically, Amanda’s favorite Phantom of all time, Ramin Karimloo, was performing just down the street in Funny Girl with Lea Michele. Amanda kept hoping he would break through the ceiling like Batman and save the show, but alas, perhaps it’s a good thing it’s “gone” next year. Amanda hasn’t seen the show in Australia yet, so maybe that will be a saving grace if we make the journey in 2024.
While I would have been happy getting three or four Invaders flashed in New York, I ended up flashing 11 total! I was over the moon! We spent most of Saturday traveling on foot to capture a majority of them, and then while taking an Uber back to JFK on Sunday I flashed two more from the car itself! It was wild. If I do make it back to New York in the future, I definitely want to collect the rest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I only managed to capture Donatello this time). By the time we got back to Los Angeles, our feet were destroyed from all the walking. Which is odd, because we wore the same shoes when we were in Scotland, but for whatever reason they did a real number on us in New York. Must have been the sidewalks vs the countryside.
That does it for this End Of The Year update, as I just received the final pages for CLUSTERFUX COMIX #5 that I’ve been waiting for. To come in mid-to-late January 2023 now (hopefully). I’ve also been churning through ULTRAFUGU VS FUGAMERA pages this month, so hopefully I’ll finish with that sometime in January and start scanning & editing to have it out by Spring. I hope all of you had pleasant holidays, and received everything you wanted and more. I was the happy recipient of several different kinds of Scotches and vinyl records, so that made me a very happy boy.
Here's to a productive 2023, and as always, here’s a picture of Dinah to end your year on a high note.