Sunday, January 18, 2015

Awaiting the Punchline

Friday afternoon, my office phone rang. I waved to my guests - a writer and an assistant - to shush for a moment and answered.

"Marie Javins." (I've been answering my phone like this since the co-publisher called one day and I awkwardly missed a beat as I held the handset to my ear and tried to remember where I was. I'm terrified I'll say "Marvel" or "Teshkeel" when I pick up.)

"May I speak with Archie Goodwin?"

Archie died in 1998. He'd been my first boss when he was the head of the trailblazing Epic Comics when I'd interned there in 1988, and he is rightfully revered as one of the most innovative voices ever to make mainstream sequential art periodicals (you know, comic books) and graphic novels. He'd moved to DC from Marvel the year after I'd started at Marvel, when Epic had been involuntarily reorganized and brought under the Marvel umbrella.

"He doesn't work here anymore," I said, trying to sound neutral and unsurprised, resisting the urge to demand to know who one earth could have been calling 17 years too late. The area code was 407. "A sales call," I thought, but I don't know.

Then later, I wondered how that call had gotten to me, Archie's former subordinate from another time and company. I tried to find out Archie's old extension online and didn't make much progress. There just isn't much info indexed from 1998.

Then it occurred to me to reach under my home-office desk to the shelf at the back, to pull out and blow the dust off my ancient Rolodex.

Yep. I have Archie's old phone number.

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