On Friday, I went to Comic-Con. I’ll tell you about it some day, after I get over my newly-acquired agoraphobia. Believe it or not, it was my third time. I went to my first Comic-Con ten years ago to hang out with my older brother, who was selling off some of his comics to pay for grad school. The most famous person in attendance then was Rob Zombie. Things have changed a lot since; it’s really corporate now and, in addition to nerds, there are Hollywood assholes and celebutards everywhere. Snooze.
The most interesting booth I came across at this year’s Comic-Con was the one selling reissues of L. Ron Hubbard’s fiction. Not just the science fiction he’s known for, but some pulp novels, too. The very nice lady with awful skin who sold me Spy Killer, a 1936 thriller about an American spy in Shanghai, informed me that “The Author” spent “quite a bit of time” in China and also spoke Chinese.
I honestly don’t know if she felt the need to tell me that because I am Chinese or because that gave L. Ron street cred or because she was, in some way, apologizing for the grotesque, chinky dude on the cover. They were also selling the book on tape and I had a listen; I can’t say for sure whether “The Author” spoke Chinese, but his Chinese characters sure do speak fluent…ching-chong.
Here are a few excerpts from Spy Killer:
Kurt went to the back of the room and found the round-faced, slit-eyed proprietor.
Lin Wang was small, hunched to one side, with a twisted back. He did not seem to have any neck muscles; his head sat rigidly upon his shoulders, pulled to one side. His face was deeply pocked, covered with yellowish scales which might come from some leprosy. Several great wrinkles lay like old scars against the cruel visage like ravines in a relief map. The wrinkles were filled with ancient poisonous dirt.
The garlic-reeking mouth of the Chinese was close to Kurt’s face.
And then my favorite line, which is almost a haiku:
He was too tall for a Japanese, he knew, but then some Japanese were tall.
Had me scratching my slit-eyed head for days.
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