December 16 1998: That's the cover date of prog 1124, the third and last of three double-sized progs which had been on sale for a two-week period and featured extra-length editions of the stories within. The issues turn out to be "trial runs" for the now-standard end-of-the-year 100 page progs. This time, Judge Dredd (represented in parts two and three of Dredd's latest run-in with the Angels of Death, Oola and Homer Blint, by John Wagner and Jason Brashill) is joined by Sinister Dexter (Dan Abnett and Steve Yeowell), Mercy Heights (John Tomlinson and Neil Googe) and Missionary Man (Gordon Rennie and Henry Flint). For the record, the Missionary Man installment is one of the venerable series' finest moments. Flint chose to depict Preacher Cain full-on in camera shot exactly once in the episode, in a stunning, surprise pants-filling moment when the reader turns the page, and for the rest of the story, he's seen in shadows or off-panel. I'm not certain whether it was Rennie or Flint who made this decision, but the effect is just amazing - it really emphasizes that Cain is absolutely not the man you want to be anywhere near while he's carrying out his vengeance in this episode. Chilling stuff.
But that's not what I wanted to mention this time. I'm not really inspired this week to tell you what 2000 AD was doing almost ten years ago; I wanted to tell you that on December 16 1998, my daughter was born. And while Pat Mills may be discouraged to learn that she does not care for either Slaine or The ABC Warriors at all, she is certainly a squaxx dek Thargo and enjoys Dredd, Sin Dex and Nikolai Dante hugely.
For some reason, the geek in me naturally associates my son's birth with the debut of Nikolai Dante in the spring of '97, but oddly enough my daughter's birth brings an association with a certain third season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You remember the episode where Cordelia wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale and creates an alternate reality where some of the cast are vampires? Well, the week before my daughter was born, we had a false alarm - a pretty frightening one, since the darn kid wasn't due 'til the end of January - and watched that episode from the hospital bed, hoping for an all-clear.
So every time my daughter makes some little baby step towards turning into a little goth chick with her Living Dead Dolls and her BeGothed dolls, I figure this had to be coming, because we were watching Alyson Hannigan's "Dark Willow" schtick that evening and it simply must have rubbed off.
The Hipster Daughter was born eight days later. She was very seriously jaundiced and stayed in the hospital, in one of those little "Baby Tank" incubators, for a whole week. The process was incredibly surreal. We had a baby that... we couldn't take home. We had to go home without her. We had another kid who couldn't quite understand what was going on, and while we told him that he had a sister, he couldn't quite connect that this little baby that he couldn't touch would, one goddamn day, come home with us. So we spent some time in the hospital, but couldn't really do a whole lot other than look into this plastic thing and periodically, awkwardly, rub and pat her through the rubber gloves. It was like visiting the zoo or some museum, because you'd park a mile away and trudge up to the building and join the lines and... this is no way to connect with another human being. "Hey, after I get off work, let's get some dinner and go see that little girl who just sorta lays there and fidgets and cries again!" What began as surreal gradually became unbearable, with neither of us wanting to be in that ward any longer without being allowed to cuddle her, and it was certainly a huge contributor to the post-partum depression that her mother and I suffered for many months afterward.
By about Day Six, I'd become about as angry as it's possible for a human being to get, utterly furious to a point not one of you save her mom has ever seen. As we hissed and growled our concerns to some hospital administrator, literally the only thing keeping me from strangling him to death was my desire to actually get to know the kid with whom we were being prevented from spending any private time. I'd already had words with the neo-natal ward of the other hospital in Athens, who'd gone so far above and beyond the call of duty in taking care of our son, and they were pretty disappointed by what was going on as well. Unfortunately, the different insurance we had with our daughter kept us at St. Mary's. I've made it a point of advising people to not visit that hospital if Athens Regional is available. We finally took her home on the 23rd.
For years, there was a sign at St. Mary's directing people to the MATERIEL SHIPPING AND RECEIVING entrance. This was around the time that Coors marketed a beer called ARTIC ICE.
Next week, I'm thinking the Balls Brothers debut. Less of the biography and more of the comic, perhaps.
(Originally posted Sept. 25 2008 at hipsterdad's LiveJournal.)