People wandered in and out of realities, so that the worn patrons of an old man's bar stood out on the sidewalk smoking as a brightly-coloured Justice League walked by, one or the other group Obvious Photoshop.
--"Live Nude Aliens."

I asked my wife, whose ancestry is primarily Irish, why she would rise with the sun to watch the coronation. I knew the answer-- I mean, apart from idle curiosity and a love of spectacle. She's a musician. The score for the event outshines any Hollywood production and costs more.

Justin Welby, 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, sets the ancient jewelled crown on the head of the ageing monarch. A short time later, I'm out to witness less costly cosplay in London, Canada.

Free Comic Book Day, JASNA, and the local SF group were all happening at about the same time.

My wife and I dress in a fair approximation of the Regency (my lace cravat is a button-on fake), and join the Janeites in a rented church parlour. A local director and theatre personality sets up impromptu performances, Marion Johnson adaptations of famous Austen scenes. The short scripts do a remarkable job of blending the original dialogue with original lines. Few writers create dialogue as perfect as Austen's. We had one run-through of one reading before performing. Other people volunteered. One notable couple gender-flipped their roles-- he read vacuous and foolish Lydia Bennet and she performed wanton Wickham. We did Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (prepared) and also performed two proposals (no advanced preparation). My wife went from flighty Mrs. Bennet to sensible Lizzy, and I changed from her grounded husband to the thick-as-a-brick Reverend Mr. Collins. We closed the readings as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy at Pride and Prejudice's end.

From an oft comic novel, then, to Free Comic Book Day. Locally, it remains smaller than in the past. Speculation abounds. The pandemic hit public events hard and they are still recovering. The mainstreaming of comic culture through endless superhero movies and shows has been creaking under its weight for some years. Reminds me of Star Wars, really, The original films captured everyone, not just the nerds. Saturday Night Live immediately tapped Carrie Fisher to host the show, you know, back when it was cool. May the Force Be With You Buttons proliferated, and Meco's discofied take on John Williams's iconic theme played past September. Over time, the Star Wars universe grew bigger, seemed smaller, and the fans, less discriminating. It's bigger business than ever, but it's big news mainly among its base. Or maybe it's just the passing of time. Free Comic Book Day has been running twenty years. Popularity comes and goes. Youth who came out twenty years ago are bringing their children. As for the cosplayers, the library-sponsored contest isn't running, giving the hardline costumers less incentive.

In our community, the event takes place between two points on the same street, forty minutes apart by foot.

The walk between the two currently carries us through construction that has turned the street into a dusty post-apocalyptic fantasy. One expects edgy 90s comic-book antiheroes along the route. The unmaking and making of roads also renders downtown less accessible-- I outwalked some people taking the bus along its now-circuitous route between the shops-- and the belief that London's downtown has grown dangerous and crime-ridden, while not entirely false, has been wildly exaggerated. A renovated factory co-exists with stained train tracks and blue-cheese-crumbling buildings, and the various brightly-coloured Spider-men frolic heroically near grey Sackler addicts.

The city's comic shops, in the last decade, have been reduced from five to three. LA Mood moved just before the pandemic from, yes, an increasingly seedy part of downtown to its shiny digs at Kellogg's Lane, the old cereal factory, now popping with snappy, trendy shops and eateries, an entertainment complex, special events and a brewery and bar. A Hard Rock Café and Hotel are in process. At the other end rises Heroes, our answer to Silver Snail or Mile High Comics. In between sits the lower-rent East Village, which once boasted three participating stores. Only Neo Tokyo remains, selling Anime and Manga and collectibles, Japanese pop culture and super-schoolgirl statuettes.

Summer-like weather came rolling in, after a rainy and cool week. I don't know if that helped or hurt attendance.

But I'm overplaying matters, because the lineups downtown were still long, snaking down Dundas, and sales at all points remain high. It's still a crowded, crazy, comic-book day. I have the video to prove it.

The Ting festival still overlaps, a small-scale assortment of events to celebrate the late Merle Tingley, local artist and, in his day, the highest-paid and best-known editorial cartoonist in Canada.

I also caught up with another, still extant local celebrity, out with her husband and children to enjoy the four-colour fun. Tanya Candler was the original bassist for Kittie, famous and notorious for a time, a couple of decades ago. Back then, the media openly referred to male-driven stadium anthem as Cock Rock; the darkly-clad distaff teen band generated paroxysms of outrage when they joked that they played the female counterpart. Candler quit and went back to school; Kittie soldiered on with an ever-changing roster. Inevitably, the original line-up did a show or two. She has also played with other bands, ran a podcast for a spell, and recently has started a business. Rebel girl grows up to be civic-minded mommy. The kids wear black t's with rainbow messages.

I made the round trip, with some stops for other genres and lunch, and returned to LA Mood by the end of the events, to join the owners for dinner.

Right. Free comics. I grabbed three. I haven't read the Doctor Who, which was for my wife. The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. featured a lot of reprints, Gilbert Sheldon and everyone after, fun for what it is. Archie Horror Presents The Cursed Library #1 features solid art, but this attempt to unify and kickstart the Archie Horror Universe underwhelmed me, story-wise. Sabrina hosts.

Speaking of which:

I've been a little critical of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the last two seasons for various reasons, above and beyond the leaning into anachronistic dialogue. However, the recent Susie-focused "Testi-Roastial" really worked. It gave center stage to the show's most consistently interesting character, and resolved a lot of in-show mysteries with three episodes left to go. We can focus on the central story, rather than wondering where they are now and how things turned out after the fact.

We made a heroic effort to catch up on Superman & Lois, but we cannot maintain interest. I like the actors overall, and the characterizations of the classic characters is fine: Tyler Hoechlin's Man of Steel is far more on point than the one found in the fragmented and flailing DCCU, and they do a fair job of depicting Lois and Clark as parents. For our tastes the show features too much forced soapy drama involving teenagers older than the cast of Riverdale. American TV rarely gets high school right, even allowing for stylizations, and there's too little that's super. We wish the series well.

I could also discuss reading and McSorley's Wonderful Saloon-- but I think that past is for a future post.

As for the political circuses unfolding: comics and cosplay pale by comparison. Supervillains are far less scary.

Alas, Superman is busy dealing with his wife's cancer and the angst of overage teens, and the world's powerful men bear scant resemblance to Mr. Darcy.

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