I met Joe Kelly. Here’s What Happened

In hindsight I probably should have grabbed a selfie. Stupid lack of planning…

So last Saturday was free comic book day and the wife and I decided to go check out what our local shops have to offer. Turns out we live in the nexus of four or five excellent comic book shops, with a thriving, friendly community that is encouraged to visit many of them and follow artists as they drop in to sign material. It turns out a lot of comic book artists and writers live near enough to drop by, which is excellent.

Around 1PM, we happened to walk into Grasshopper Comics in Wiliston Park. Let me just say, with a little work, that shop would look exactly like Planet Krypton from Kingdom Come. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and they wear uniforms that say “Team Hopper” on them. Squee!

Why is this not a real place yet? Note the high ceilings, convenient for high flying capes

I was very happy about the selection. Grasshopper has a great stock of tabletop games in addition to the standard buffet of trades, cheap back issues and current comics. They also keep some juicy selections at the cashier too, like Paper Girls and Wicked and Divine. In fact I was so distracted by the goodies that I missed the demure, polite man in the back with the piles of comics on the desk in front of him.

“So… are you a writer or an artist?” I asked, embarrassed that I didn’t know who he was.

“Writer,” said the man. He seemed soft spoken and polite. Gentile, even, and very distinguished by a streak of lighter color through his close-shaven beard.

“Ah,” I said. “Um. What have you done?”

“Oh…” and then he listed a bunch of serious, heavy-hitting ringers like he was mentioning what flavor donut he had ordered that morning. Watching Joe Kelly talk about himself was a crash course in graciousness, is what I’m saying. We talked about how it’s a guilt trip as a writer trying to remember every author who makes something you like. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t read most of Joe’s work, but the one title that I clung to was that he had done Deadpool. And not just any Deadpool, but probably the most celebrated runs of Deadpool ever. (Joe, if you’re reading this, I just remembered I also read STEAMPUNK: Manimatron. So there, I do remember another one. It was great, thank you =D)

Two of the biggest mouths in Marvel featured in a mildly homoerotic bromance. I can just see the fanfics.

So, I started talking to him about how well the character was done, the great balance of darkness and humor, how hard that is to do, and how human he was making Wade, how relatable he is as someone trying to change. All of it is true, by the way, and all the more so in his newest, Spiderman/Deadpool, which I got signed on the spot and devoured in one sitting. The jokes go from hilariously sick Oprah references to a dig at millennials within one panel of each other. I can’t get enough of how well the plot handles the teamup mechanic, or how Spidey can’t help but be drawn to Deadpool because he can never resist a fuck-up. And let’s face it, we all need a morality app one time or another. Anyway the virtues of the Kelly run of Deadpool have been espoused here and here and I needn’t advertise them further.

I talked to Joe some more, and it turns out he was still basking in the glow of a recent trip to Japan. He described the glorious Ghibli museum to us in detail, and the various neighborhoods of Tokyo he loved. (The better half had her Kiki’s Delivery Service backpack on.) It’s funny how sensitive and sharp a guy he is, how into cultural nuances and how much pleasure he seemed to get from describing onsen etiquette (no tats, but dangle all you want.) Seeing Joe being so enthusiastic about everything kind of makes the good bits of the comics better. Like the scene where Deadpool tries to trick Lady Thor into mud wrestling. Oh yea, that turned out perfectly, and not the way you think.

So I will most definitely be expanding my collection in the Joe Kelly direction a little more as soon as I get the chance. And I hope I can speak with him a little more in depth about his writing, because it is absolutely killer. What are you waiting for? Get your irreverent snark on already!




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