Apr 25, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 60: Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children volume 6, 1989


For my 2-month anniversary, I present "Happy Birthday to Hell," which I think might be one of my all-time favourite short stories. Ever.

The nice thing about this particular issue of BSFUC is that rather than an illustrated story, this one reads far more like a comic. The text is all in hand-writing, ostensibly Satan's (he likes to be called "Wally"), so not only do the words and the images combine, but the actual form of the text adds a layer. I suppose this is kind of common now with digital lettering giving every character their own distinctive voice, but back in the day such things were not common.

The story is a lovely little tale about Satan's fall from Heaven, and his understanding of how things really are between him and God. I'm honestly loathe to say much more, because I really, really love this story, and I think everyone should read it. The final sentence of the piece is going to eventually be tattooed on my left arm. They're words I've lived by for most of my life now. I'm going to quote the whole last page here, so if you're going to track this one down, or you have it and just haven't read it yet, I urge you to stop reading.

For those who've stayed, this never fails to move me:

"Now when things get out of hand, I take off for the furthest reaches of the smoldering wastelands, that blackened stretch the sinners still haven't found. Out here, the stars ache with just as much quiet desperation as in Heaven, pulsing silently overhead as I search the horizon. For this is a place of fallen angels and benevolent misfits. They plummet from above, the bile of Paradise, twirling like spastic saints who've lost the equilibrium of grace. They crash at my feet and break. They are vulnerable and confused, not yet aware that they are damned. I gather them in, fix their hair, straighten their robes, and try to make them feel comfortably at home. Because in Heaven or in Hell, or in any lonely place that's been forgotten inbetween, the only thing that seems to matter is feeling wanted, like you belong."

Since the day I first read that last sentence to today, that's how I try to live my life.

Back to 2001: A Space Odyssey tomorrow, though I just picked up some super-beat up old comics at a flea market, and I think the newest of them is from 1960. A whole bunch of cool old 50s stuff, so that might find its way into my daily readings. Especially if Kirby continues to tell the same story over and over again.

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