I wrote this short story in college about a pair of friends who had to help a third friend of their get out of his deal with the devil. The plot was really an excuse to do something I’d long wanted to do, though, which was write an involved and long-ranging discussion about the merits of Chris Cornell versus Billy Corgan, which ran the first five or six pages of the story’s eighteen or so total page count (I suppose if anyone was ever going to read it, this would count as a spoiler alert, but Kurt Cobain showed up at the end of the story and tried to set the friends straight. A real rock and roll deus ex machina, there). Several folks in the class whose tastes didn’t at all mesh with mine said they stopped reading the story after a few pages because it just didn’t appeal to them; I’d like the record to show that I read every single page of the stories they submitted to the class, and attempted to write some constructive, or at least entertaining criticism. Just because you’re bored by your classwork, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. At the end of the semester, my instructor mentioned that she’d been wary of letting me into her class, as she’d let in other “genre” (by the way, no word sounds so disgusting as “genre” when it’s spoken by an English teacher) writers before, thinking their writing had the potential for growth beyond comedy/sci-fi/fantasy/whimsical, only to have her hopes dashed at semester’s end. I, too, had failed to live up to her expectations, and she felt it was important I know that. I kind of muttered something about how I’d been told she was a spectacular teacher by no less than ten other folks, and she’d utterly failed to live to up that expectation, and we’ve never spoken again.
I guess the point of telling you that story is to explain that I like making ridiculously winding jokes about music that don’t always go anywhere, because it’s fun. Moreover, just because you personally don’t like a method or type of storytelling, doesn’t mean it’s completely invalid (I had another teacher who outright banned genre fiction in her class; it’s no surprise that I wrote two of my blandest, least-enjoyable tales for that workshop, is it?). Just because everyone he knows thinks the metalhead freshman’s all-consuming passion for heavy metal is ridiculous, doesn’t mean he has to, or should, renounce it for something that means less to him. I like his passion (it gave me an excuse to try a rendition of the cover to Mastodon’s Leviathan on his t-shirt. Paul Romano did spectacular work with that cover art); it makes me hopeful.
This poor freshman deserves a real name. I have a list of potentials, and it’s getting narrowed down. When I know for sure, so will he.
ALSO, if you’ve not seen the link up above that just went live this morning… I’ve just put the finishing touches on the first Mad Scientist High PDF book, which collects the first 130-some strips, and it’s now officially on sale for the low, friendly price of $3. Seriously!