Monday, April 4, 2011


Two years ago, I began composing a pastiche using the most difficult part of my novel TRANZ using other, existing characters blended with my own. I started working on entirely original fiction again afterwards, but continued a cycle of five long stories with full script, finished in January. Those are in my archives (except for X-Men; that one's over on

Now I've been juggling the beginnings of a company, (Think Integrated) while continuing to write. I even took the time to draw (with the Marc Kane) and finish a comic book.

So in a funny way, this began as an apology to myself, for not having the Sheer-Zan: One yet in rough draft form. A day, maybe two, behind. But I'm learning.

Squeezing by in a crowded apartment, Howard the Duck's trying to snap out of a negative mood with coffee. So the others went shopping while he was asleep? Not a real problem...not like slipping on trash with hot coffee. Howard acrobatically keeps his cuppa, until he is standing in the door as his flatmates Winda Wester, Paul Same, and Bev Switzler arrive. So, he gets what he wants, but in no way he wants. Careful what you wish for.

As soon as Winda opens the door, the Duck's wearing coffee, and he's not happy about it. Appeasement---recommended by the doctor after Howard's problems that led him to meet Winda, anyway---he calls out as transparent. So: subject change. Look at the beautiful Persian rug they found on the cheap! "At least some sucker in Persia has a job," he grumbles. Between the girls' enthusiasm in the living room and Paul's kitchen commiseration at being crowded, they have a conversation about flexibility that ends with Winda's teasing observation, "You're so WIJID!" (Rigid.)

The rug floats upward with Winda and Bev aboard. To great consternation, it then sails out the window. There's nothing Paul and Howard can do.

The two Middle Eastern men who slam through the door, swords drawn, demand to know what's become of the carpet, and mention a sorcerer named Wijid. (Yep. That's the secret word.) About the time the landlord and his wife come in the door bellowing about the racket disrupting their "rasslin' on TV" the heavies have charged out the window. Paul tries to reach them, while Howard believes "charity begins at home" (he's the size of a duck, anyway) and speculates the goons will find a way to "run up a wall or something, like they do in those Douglas Fairbanks movies!" But this is no movie, and it's no cartoon, just a darkly comic fate for two zealots several stories below.

Howard thinks Paul's blaming him for not only letting the threat end fatally but losing their only source of information about Bev and Winda. Paul's really not that explosively reactionary; he knows Howard gets the point. He simply picks up a beat-up antique lamp and uses his nervous energy polishing it. He just wishes they had a way to the place they mentioned: Bagmom. "Nuff said!" reads a cloud of dust and smoke that belches forth.

Phone rings. Howard answers. "Who is buried in Grant's Tomb? Well, Grant, I guess!" Just like that: they've won two vacation tickets to ...

... Bagmom, where Bev and Winda, atop the floating rug, barely miss a praying imam, who bows on his parapet high above the street, so they enjoy a guilt-free view: a city, untouched by hundreds of years of time....still ruled by an aging caliph. He entertains the company of his wizard, Wijid, who brings a bejeweled mechanical donkey before his liege. Why does this ridiculous gift have a meter? At your son's suggestion, Wijid says, so that children might put in a coin for a ride while Mommie shops. Ah, his son...where is he? Every since he returned from Cleveland with his university education, he's developed a distaste with Bagmom and a mania for American things. For this reason, the two woman brought in by Wijid's carpet are immediately adopted for the harem by the indulgent caliph, who adds "and because it is my wish, also."

Parachuting into Bagmom---because landing is prohibited---Howard the Duck and Paul Same begin their no-frills vacation package. Don't worry, ladies, the cavalry's on its fearless way...if they can keep from being smeared across the desert sands.

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