Animate Me / Special San Diego Comic Con-Outtake / Where’s Wonder Woman?
“I give you my hand and welcome you into my dream.” ~Wonder Woman
“What’re you doing?” I ask as I set her coffee down on her desk.
“Deciding on which hotel I want to stay at for Comic Con. We have a block of rooms at the Marriott and the Hilton, but I prefer the Omni. Are you going?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” I assure her. “Comic nirvana.”
“You mean geek nirvana. Every year it gets more crowded with more entertainment stuff and less comic books and I swear I’m not going back, but then I think of what I will miss and I cave in. Besides I’m on the Sketch Republic panel this year talking about the new season.”
"Are you supposed to go with Arnauld?” I ask with trepidation.
“Ha!” she blurts out. “No, Arnauld refuses to go. Of course, he’s supposed to, but he always figures out a way to wiggle out of it. This year it’s a family reunion or something.”
She’s not going with him to his family reunion? That’s a good sign.
“A family reunion, huh? That must be a meeting of the fur. I bet all the women have uni-brows and moustaches.”
“Nathan!” She shakes her finger at me but she’s grinning.
“I know, but then I can go with you to Comic Con! We can share a room, and that will save the company money.” I try to wiggle my eyebrows at her like Groucho Marx. “I always have the company’s bottom line in mind, you know.”
She raises her eyebrows. “That’s very thoughtful of you” she says. “But I know very well that we don’t pay for the animators to go anyway, so you’re not saving squat for Sketch Republic.”
“All right, you’re onto me. But just think how useful I’d be. I could be your body guard.”
“By the way, if you are planning on dressing up, may I suggest Cat Woman?”
“No, I’m not dressing up, as much as you’d love to see me parading around in that skintight bodysuit with a whip. I dressed up at Comic Con once, and that was enough for me.”
“Me too!” I say. “Who did you go as?”
“Well, all my friends were always telling me that I looked like Wonder Woman from the Justice League, so it was a no-brainer. My friend, I roomed with, was a Teen Titan freak and went as Raven. We looked a bit out of place with our group who were all anime and manga people, but I think we looked hot. And I must say, I really liked wearing that red corset with the gold stripes. It made my boobs look great.”
“Your boobs always look great,” I say smiling.
“Well, that may explain why every teenage boy wanted to take a picture with me. That was the down side. I couldn’t get down one aisle without being ogled over and over. I’ll never do that again.”
“Now that you mention it, please don’t wear the Catwoman costume at the Con.” I shake my head sternly. But then a new idea occurs to me. “Do you still have that Wonder Woman costume? Maybe you could model it for me when I come over Thursday?”
“So you’re a Wonder Woman fan too? You are so provocative today, Mr. Evans,” she teases.
And you seem to like me being provocative, Brooke….win!
I continue boldly. “I tried to pick up a Wonder Woman at Comic Con once.”
“You did? Was she prettier than me?” she teases.
“Well, she was really pretty. But no one is prettier than you, Brooke.”
She gives me a side glance, and smiles at my flattery. “Okay, I’ll put on the costume after dinner and you can tell me for sure.”
“Better yet, why don’t you answer the door in it? I’ll be putty in your hands.”
“I bet you will. And what costume will you wear?” She bites her lower lip anticipating my answer.
"Whatever you want me to wear.”
Please, please, please…nothing involving tights and little man panties.
“How about Indiana Jones? I always thought he was hot. Don’t shave that day--I want the whole look. I want sweaty and manly.”
Manly…as in macho? That’s a tall order for me. I can certainly do sweaty, but the rest may be a challenge. I panic a bit wondering how I will find a safari hat by Thursday, and how I can successfully fulfill her fantasy. I decide to stop at the DVD store on the way home so I can pick up Raiders of the Lost Ark and have time to study Harrison Ford’s manly moves.
When Brooke’s blackberry goes off, I regretfully remember that I’ve got a ton of work to do back at my animation table, so I push up from my chair.
“Okay, I’ve got to get back, but tonight I’ll be shopping. Too bad there isn’t a one-stop place, Manly-Men R Us or something.” “So you’re really going to fulfill my Indiana Jones fantasy?” she says with cute pouty lips, twisting one of her long locks around her finger.
“Anything for you, Wonder Woman...”
* * * *
The next night as I work on my comic book my mind wanders to the image of Brooke dressed as a sexy super hero and I am reminded of the one and only year I wore a costume at Comic Con.
It was Joel’s stupid idea in the first place. He wanted us to be a team of Storm Troopers from Star Wars, which is an intriguing idea until you find out that it is an eight hundred dollar-per person idea. I’m at his place snapping on each part of his intricate fiberglass costume, when he drops the price bomb on me. I’m not sure what I expected. I have to admit, each Storm Trooper uniform is elaborately and realistically crafted for a small group of freaks who want authentic--not one of those cheesy nylon Halloween costumes that take suspended belief to a whole new level.
Still, when it comes to spending money on a costume I don’t even want to wear, the idea of wiping out my comic book budget for Comic Con is never going to fly. I have to let Joel know that it’s time to stop smoking crack.
“What the hell? You paid $800.00 for this? I would expect my own rocket thruster included for that much,” I insist.
“You get what you pay for, dude. Andy bought a sub par Tomb Raider costume last year and it fell apart before he even made it to the panel. All of his fantasies of Angeline Jolie spotting him in the crowd, pulling him backstage, and straddling him, evaporated in a pile of cheap fabric.”
“Well, if you intent is to pick up girls, perhaps you should pick something without a full face mask.” I suggest. “It’s not like you’re Quasimodo or anything, and have a real reason to hide.”
“Yeah,” agrees Joel. “That’s the one issue with this idea. It isn’t a chick magnet, but I think my charisma will shine through.”
I shake my head, even though I have to admit that Joel has never had a hard time attracting the ladies.
“Well, if you aren’t going to be part of my squad, what will you be?” He asks. “You have to have a costume on if you’re going to hang with us. How about Spiderman? Chicks love him. He’s one of those emo guys that the ladies always have a soft spot for.”
“No tights man…if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times…no tights!”
And that is how I ended up being Clark Kent. I found a Superman T-shirt in the boys section of K-Mart that fit very snuggly to wear under my white shirt that appeared pulled open, the rest was rather dull but easy to pull together: the usual dress slacks and dangling tie. I didn’t even have to find new glasses. My big black frames and brushing back my floppy hair did the trick. Unfortunately, the guys were not impressed, and made me walk five steps behind them. But at least they didn’t abandon me all together.
* * * *I’d always felt that the best part of Comic Con was that there never seemed to be judgment about your particular obsession…all were welcome and encouraged. If you can deal with the crowds, it’s the freest place on the planet for a geek like me. Whenever I’ve gone, I’ve been surrounded by my people, all one-hundred thousand of them. It’s always made me feel great. I got more and more excited as our pilgrimage to Comic Con grew closer.
Once we arrived and entered the great hall, I also learned that there is an unspoken bond between all the costumed people. Nods of appreciation, and high fives abound among us as if we were a daring band of brothers in this crazy fan world. Joel worked it adeptly, having his picture taken with every Princess Leia we encountered. He even groped a feel from the one in the little bronze bikini with the big chain collar around her neck. He had her phone number and several others before noon.
I, on the other hand, found that dressing like Clark Kent gave me no more mojo than my usual shy self. I considered that perhaps Spiderman would’ve been a better choice if I could’ve overcome my fear of tights that put my junk on prominent display.
We stopped at Phantom Press to check out their special graphic novel releases for the show. I’d already spent my last paycheck, and yet was still so excited by everything I was seeing that I was considering throwing my carefully calculated show budget into the wind. I was fondling the latest Neil Gaiman book, Sandman: The Dream Hunters, when I hear a soft voice next to me.
“Hey Clark, mind if I reach under you to get myself a copy too?”
Reach under me? I turn and look bewildered only to see the prettiest girl ever smiling at me. Her skin is the softest ivory, and her stunning face is framed with a mane of silky dark hair. “Wonder Woman?” I gasp, sounding like a complete idiot.
“Actually my friends call me B but you can call me Wonder Woman if that floats your boat.”
“What did you want to reach for?” I ask trying not to stare down into her costume, where her breasts are threatening to escape. I’d give anything for a costume malfunction with her outfit right about now.
“Neil’s book, Clark? What’d you think I meant?”
“Oh, so-so-rry,” I stutter, looking down.
“Gosh, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. Don’t be sorry. I guess I’m just too excited today. There’s so much great stuff here!”
I give her a nervous smile. “Yeah, there sure is.”
She looks down at the Superman S on my shirt. “Hey, you’re a DC fan too. Can I show you something? Maybe you’ll appreciate it like I do.”
She sets down her bag and pulls out a comic, then slowly opens it. Nestled inside is an original drawing of Wonder Woman. She slides it over to me with great reverence. “Look what Adam Hughes did for me,” she says breathlessly.
“Wow,” I say as I hold it up to inspect it closer. I look at her, study her features and then look at the drawing again. “He really captured you. Looks like he was really inspired.”
“You think so?” she asks. “I just love it. I’m going to get it framed as soon as I get home. I just love his style and I swear I’ll always treasure this.”
“He draws the best sexy women,” I agree. “I love Jim Lee and Alex Ross, but Adam’s women can’t be beat.”
“I agree.” She nods her head as she studies the drawing. But suddenly she gets a spark in her eye and looks up at me. “Hey, are you calling me sexy, Clark?”
I can feel myself turning beet red. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful.” I stammer. Damn, I need to get out of here before I make a bigger ass of myself. I close the cover on her book and push it towards her.
She grabs my arm. “Hey, I know you weren’t being disrespectful. I was just playing with you. You’re so damn cute.”
I push my glasses up and look over at her. “Well, thanks I guess…” But before I can continue a group of people surround her and start to pull her away.
No, don’t take my Wonder Woman away! I panic realizing my time with her is up, and I’ll never see her again.
She grabs her book and slides it into her bag. Right before she moves on, she turns back towards me. “Bye Clark. It’s been fun talking to you!”
I consider following them but how would that look? I’m powerless. I wave awkwardly and smile as she disappears into the crowd.
“Look at you, rico suave!” Joel taunts me as he approaches. “Acting all shy, and then you pick up the hottest girl at the con. Did you get her number?”
I shake my head defeated. “They pulled her away. I didn’t have a chance,” I lament.
“Dude, you’ve got to move fast at these things, or you are going to go home empty handed.”
I look up, and Joel waves a bunch of papers at me with names and phone numbers.
“You don’t need to rub it in,” I lament before looking down.
Defeated, I pick up the Gaiman book to take to the cashier when I notice something amiss. There is a comic book on the display that doesn’t belong, and I panic when I realize that B must have grabbed the wrong book. Sure enough I open the suspicious comic and her Adam Hughes drawing is still inside.
Oh no, Wonder Woman left her treasure and I have no idea how to get it back to her.
Without a second thought, I grab the book and shoot into the crowd, the same direction they seemed to be headed. But it is quickly apparent that they are nowhere nearby. I’m taller than most and can scan the aisles stuffed full of bodies but I don’t see her. My mind reels…do I go to Lost and Found? It seems dicey since this drawing is really special. It’s akin to turning in a wad of cash. I decide that I’m going to try to find her even though it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
I spend the next two hours scanning every row until I’m dizzy. Andy calls me on my cell phone three times trying to lure me back to the group with stories of free comics and artist appearances but I’m a man on a mission.
By the afternoon I am at my wits end and frustrated because I’ve missed so much of the show. I stumble over to Starbucks, absolutely sure that a Venti cappuccino is in order. I need a refueling to continue my quest. I’m halfway through the world’s longest line when I see a group in costumes moving to the exit with my Wonder Woman right in the center.
“Hold my place,” I gasp to the short, squat Harry Potter in line behind me, and I sprint towards the exit. I burst out the door and see the group getting in the shuttle bus line. “B!” I call out.
Her entire group turns toward me, but her glowing smile is all I see.
“Hey Clark,” she says as I come to a sudden stop and push my glasses up. “What’s up?”
“Your drawing,” I gasp, holding the book out towards her.
The color leaves her face as she puts her hands over her mouth, horrorstruck.
“Oh, my God. Are you serious?” She reaches into her bag and pulls out the book she thought was hers.
I flip the book I’ve been holding open so she sees her drawing. “You left it at Phantom Press. I’ve been trying to find you to get it back to you,” I explain.
“You’ve been looking for me this whole time?” She shakes her head in disbelief.
I nod, suddenly embarrassed. “I knew how important it was to you.”
“That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me…you have no idea,” she says tears forming in her eyes.
The bus pulls up and everyone starts getting in. She looks over her shoulder and sees her group near the front. She jams her hand into her bag and pulls out her phone and flips it open.
“Here, quick, give me your number. I want to talk to you, but we’re late. Our ride is waiting for us at the hotel and I’ve got to get back tonight.”
I type in Clark and input my number quickly before hitting save. I hand it back to her with wide eyes. “You’ll really call me?” I ask softly.
“Yes,” she assures me and then gently kisses me on the cheek before running to catch the bus. As she steps on she turns back and waves at me. “Bye Clark, thank you!”
I wave back, smiling, and touch my cheek where she kissed me.
I’m never washing that part of my face again.
* * * *
Each day that followed was a torture I was unprepared for. I couldn’t focus, and I must have checked my phone a thousand times to make sure the ringer was up high and the battery was charged. I was so sure Wonder Woman wouldn’t let me down. But by day five I realize that I was an idiot to think she felt the same connection to me that I did to her. I’m just big fucking loser, Clark Kent, after all. She deserves nothing less than Superman. The funk that followed this realization lingered for months.
* * * *
All these years later, I still wonder how my life may have been different if I’d gotten that call. I’m about to turn off the lights in my studio when a thought occurs to me that I can’t shake. What if? No…there are dozens of Wonder Women at every Comic Con…the odds are impossible. No. Absolutely not….No.
“Brooke?” The embarrassment of my insanity is starting to hit me. “I’m sorry to call so late.”
“Hey, Nathan. Are you okay? You’ve never called me past ten.” She sounds like I woke her up. Her voice is all scratchy and cute.
“I just had to ask you something about Comic Con.”
“You woke me up to ask me about Comic Con?” She laughs. “Okay, what do you want to know?”
“Remember how you said you went as Wonder Woman? How many years ago was that?”
“Are you serious? You woke me up for this?”
“Please just humor me Brooke.”
“Hmmm, I think about five. I had just started at Nickelodeon.”
I quickly calculate in my head and my heart starts pounding. “Did you meet a guy dressed up as Clark Kent that year?” There’s a long silence as I hold my breath waiting. “Brooke? Did he bring you a drawing you had left at a vendor’s booth?”
“My drawing? How do you know this? Nathan, how?” Her voice sounds almost afraid, like she’s spooked.
“An Adam Hughes drawing, right?”
There’s another long pause.
“Clark?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say quietly. “That was me.”
“I can’t believe it,” she whispers.
“You didn’t purposely give me wrong phone number, did you?” she asks.
“The number you put in my phone for was for a dry cleaners on Magnolia.”
“Oh, hell no. Do you know how long I waited for your call?”
“Do you know how many combinations of that number I tried?” she says.
“Really?” I ask, feeling the pain from that memory lift. “You really tried to call me?”
“At least twenty times and then I got discouraged and gave up…I started thinking maybe it was subconscious that you’d put the number in wrong. Perhaps you really didn’t want to talk to me.”
“Oh, I wanted to talk to you. I was nervous and it all happened so fast. My hands were literally shaking.” I pause, remembering that rushed moment in front of the bus. “In retrospect, I’m amazed I even got the area code for Burbank right.”
I let out a long sigh. “You know, I dreamt about kissing you for months.”
“Well, some other stuff too.”
“I thought you were really cute.”
“So you would have gone out with me?”
“Sure,” she confirms.
“Wow.” I feel a heavy weight in my chest for all that we missed.
“Are you okay?” she asks quietly.
“I’m kind of sad for that time we’ve lost. I would’ve met you before Arnauld. Maybe you would’ve dated me instead.”
She sighs and I can hear a melancholy in her tone too. “But we can’t be sad for what might have been Nathan. Look at us now. We must have been meant to meet again now. One day we will figure out why.”
“Hey, I noticed you didn’t shave today. Are you working on your Indiana look?”
“Yes,” I admit, smiling into the phone.
“But maybe now you should dress up as Clark Kent instead,” she says unconvincingly.
I consider the idea, but then answer her after I realize my truth. “No, I’m a different man now. I don’t want to be Clark Kent anymore.”
“Okay,” she says happily.
“So have you found your Wonder Woman costume?”
“I tried it on tonight. And guess what?”
“I look really hot.”
“I bet you do. You’re making me hot just thinking about it,” I admit, shifting in my seat.
“Good. You just think about that when you get in bed tonight. And I’ll think about you and how incredibly lucky we are that we found each other again. Most people don’t get that second chance you know?”
“You’re right, Brooke.” I sigh. “ So tomorrow at seven?”
“I’ll be ready,” she says happily.
* * * *It’s six-fifty nine when I step out of my car. I muss my hair and lift the hat off the passenger seat and push it on my head. One last look in the mirror confirms what I realized before I left the house. I make a damn good Indiana Jones.
As I lock the car I coach myself and try to control my breathing. Okay, rugged, manly…be cool but take control…you are the man…you are Indiana Jones!
I look down at my costume. I wadded up my oldest khakis and shirt overnight so they would look wrinkled and worn. When I got home from work tonight I took a quick run, then took some dirt from the garden and rubbed small bits of it on my face and arms, my shirt, pants and hiking boots. I’m a sweaty mess. But am I manly enough? Only one opinion counts, and as I pull open her gate her front door open swings open.
In a flash it all comes back to me, the Wonder Woman of my dreams. And it may have taken five long years to find her again, but she’s back in my life, better than ever. She leans against the door jam with a big smile on her face. My eyes fall to her red boots and move up to her shapely thighs. Her lush hips swivel towards me as my vision rises to the fabled red top that makes her waist tiny and her full breasts the very definition of womanly beauty.
Wow. I’m the luckiest man on earth.
I walk toward her with a powerful gait and her eyes widen, taking in the curled whip in my hand and the sheathed knife dangling from my belt. I fix a hard expression on my face as I approach. I stop only inches away from her. I gaze down into her eyes and tip the brim of my hat forward.
“Indiana,” she says in a low sexy voice. “I always knew some day you'd come walking back through my door.” She reaches out and runs her fingers along the edge of my shirt. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited for you.”
I guess all my research has paid off in spades. I can’t help smiling even though I try hard to twist it into a classic Harrison Ford smirk. I’ve made her happy and in turn, she’s made me incredibly happy too.
I set my free hand against her lower back and pull her closer in a rugged Indiana kinda way. My right thigh pushes between hers so that her legs spread open further. “Are you going to use your super hero powers on me, woman?”
“Will I need to?” She asks pressing her chest into mine and biting her lip.
“We shall see,” I growl as I pull her into my arms. I am overcome with passion as I finally…finally get to kiss my Wonder Woman.