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Apr 26

Day 26: Green With Envy Because This Guy Wrote The Incredible Hulk (Envy)

I had a hard time coming up with an envy story.  This is the last of the seven deadly sins that I am writing about, and it’s the one that has the least hold on my life. I like to think I am not a “material guy,” but the truth is that I am not a thing guy. I am surely material in my enjoyment of events, occasions, and experiences.  And I have a monstrous TV, though I got a fantastic deal on it.

But I normally don’t compare myself to others because I normally am happy with what I got and I’ve got what makes me happy. That sounds like a 1936 song lyric, and it might be.

So let me tell you about a guy I met at Dragon Con. He was roughly my age, a little less plump than me, and they type of guy you see in a convention who really, really knows his shit about things. I met him on a hot dog line at the Hilton at Dragon Con. We talked a little. His accent was New Yorkish, and he explained he grew up in NJ. Cool beans.

I bumped him the next day when he came to my helpdesk to ask a question. Nice guy. Good to meet a grown up at Dragon Con.

Later that day I hovered outside the ladies room waiting protectively for my daughter to finish so we could go to a panel of comic book writers. She was super excited because the panel was lead by Peter David, creator of her favorite comic Young Justice.  My buddy from the hot dog line walked past, and I nodded and smiled.  When my daughter and I finally arrived at the panel, my pal was revealed to be Mr. Peter David –Marvel and DC writer extraordinaire.

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Let’s make a something clear, he wasn’t actually my friend. At every convention, you run into people you see several times in a day. I don’t know how this happens, but I assume it’s covered in the classic book, Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick. It’s voodoo stuff and can’t be calculated with linear mathematics.  The flip side of the coin is your best friends will never be in the same place as you at a convention. Go figure. David was a bump-into-buddy. I assume he wouldn’t remember me if he was just another dad. Being a famous writer with signings and panels increased those odds.

Soon after that, I became a director at Dragon Con and did something no one else at Dragon Con had ever done. I told a CNN Producer that I loved her. Then, despite that creepy mistake (I had just kissed my then wife goodbye for the afternoon), I was invited to appear on CNN live the next day. It was pretty cool.

After I acquitted myself well on the cable network, I returned to Dragon Con in triumph. This cool hobby of mine had just allowed me to do my first really cool thing. I was elevated in spirit and could have easily had a big ego. I walked around the convention with my daughter enjoying the moment and ended up in the Comic and Pop Art Alley.  There was Peter David! We were hot dog buddies, right? I figured I would talk to him in my triumph.  He was not as excited to talk to me as I was to talk to him. I introduced myself by position and explained that we were big fans of his work. He looked at his watch.

To be fair to him, he had a panel starting in minutes and needed to get there. It was not that he was rude, it was that he was appropriately unimpressed in an instance when I needed to not be as impressed with me as I was. It was all good.

But it was in the following year as I found out more about him that began to feel a sense of envy towards him. I grew up in NJ, he grew up on Long Island. We both loved Marvel comics, and in 1984 I called them up to find out what it would take to work for them. I was full of self-doubt and stupidity, so I gave up on pursuing that dream. When I called Marvel, Peter was already a Marvel sales manager. He would get his first break writing one of my favorite Spider-Man stories, the Death of Jean DeWolffe. I went off to learn Russian and fight the cold war. He went on to on to redefine the Incredible Hulk, Aquaman, and Young Justice.

I realize my envy is founded actually not my resentment to him as a human, but in my resentment of me as a lazy human. Had I been focused, believed in my own creative power, and TRIED…who knows where I would be. I could have been someone that people line up to see. I could have been the person who brought existing comic book characters together to forge a new team and inspire a new generation. It was probably unlikely, but I made it impossible to happen because I decided not to try.

So I salute Mr. David and celebrate his achievements. We have talked several times since then, almost always in a professional capacity. I once bought a script from him.


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