As most everyone knows by now, Tuesday, June 16, is NATIONAL DRAGONFLYMAN DAY in America, the time each year that people commemorate and celebrate the iconic series, which has captivated readers now for 91 weeks. In cities and small towns across the country, activities - far too numerous to list - are planned.
With the big day approaching, we caught up with Tom Peyer, who is currently writing the series for AHOY Comics. Here is the transcript, unvarnished and unedited. As a result, we warn you in advance that readers may find some elements to be troubling, if not disturbing.
Hello, everyone. Our guest today on TOTAL TRUTH NOW (Editor's note: There is no show called TOTAL TRUTH NOW) is the venerable writer, gadfly and AHOY Comics editor-in-chief Tom Peyer. Welcome to the show! (See above.)
Thanks! It’s a real obligation to be here!
Before we start, is there anything you want to talk about?
Oh, yes. It's time we knew the truth about Rep. Gary Condit and that poor intern. Also, what was up with all those shark attacks back in 2001?
Great. So, how long have you been writing comics?
I've been writing comic books for... jeez... my first credited work came out in 1989. Thirty-one years ago. It was in an issue of Superman, who was my childhood favorite. For a decade before that, I worked on a couple of comic strips for local papers here in Syracuse.
What was that Superman story about?
I wrote this with then-regular Superman writer Roger Stern: Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up to magically create all kinds of lethal havoc in Metropolis. Superman is away in space, so it falls to Lex Luthor to manage the crisis. Luthor deals with the imp in the most blatantly underhanded way, which angers the imp so much he swears off coming to earth ever again. But we know that's just a mood that will pass, and we also know that Lex has made the Mxy situation worse by showing him how to be sneaky. Somehow, the Pulitzers overlooked this masterpiece.
I’ve always viewed Mxyzptlk and Bizarro as the most unsettling characters in the DC universe. They both operate on fundamentally different planes of reality. Neither is technically evil, but both are capable of doing anything. Which do you think posed a greater threat to Superman?
Mxy, I think. His power is limitless and his intentions are bad. I think Superman loses sleep over him. Bizarro is dangerous, but he means well. He's no more powerful than Superman, and a five-year old could outsmart him.
What’s wrong with Bizarro’s speech? I get it that he’s supposed to do everything in reverse, but does that have to mean poor grammar?
Sadly, Bizarros--imperfect duplicates of Superman and Lois Lane who live on a copy of planet Earth shaped like a cube--did not enjoy the educational opportunities afforded to original beings raised on spherical worlds.
Wait a minute. Are you blaming their school districts?
I'm blaming inequality. Bizarros are conditioned to love ignorance, squalor, and pointless activity, all in the name of human superiority. If they ever woke up to what was happening, they'd freeze us all to death with cold vision.
I’m sorry, but I’m missing something here. Aren’t Bizarros supposed to be the direct opposite of humans? Thus, they should hate ignorance, squalor, racism, pointless activity, etc. – traits that much of humanity now embraces.
The Bizarro philosophy, followed to its logical conclusions, can lead only to madness. Why do they talk with their mouths and not their butts? Why do they talk at all? It can only work if applied arbitrarily.
It would be really cool if they talked out of their butts.
It would be! DC Comics, you go ahead and get someone to write that and we'll split the profits 50-50. That's how writing works, by the way. If you know a writer, tell them your life would make a great story and propose the 50-50 split. Writers love that.
Why do we need DC? Wouldn’t you simply draw the word balloons so they emanate from the butts? By the way, this is why I’m publisher, and you’re just the lowly editor.
We don't own Bizarro, genius.
You don’t need to smartmouth. We’ll cut the above section, anyway. So, let’s get to it: How do you think the Yankees will do this year?
With Gerrit Cole leading the rotation, we're poised to go all the way. I'm loving that, and I'm looking forward to seeing Yankee Stadium crowds react to the Astros and Red Sox in 2020. My prediction: the boo birds will be out in force!
Could we do a comic about the Astros cheating scandal?
We could call it TUBTHUMPERS. "I get knocked down, but I get up again..." Now we know why.
This is a perfect subject for a comic because, from The Joker to Doctor Doom, we've has always concerned itself with extremes of evil. I'm not sure the severity of the Astros' menace has ever been portrayed in any medium. We might win awards, but we'd also be putting ourselves in grave danger.
It would be worth it. We would be sending a message to the Yankees, proving to them our infinite love. We haven’t done that lately, and I worry that they’re concerned about us. Also, wouldn’t the Bizarro Astros be the greatest sportsmen in history?
The Bizarro-Astros! "Winning am not everything! It how you play game!" "Me bang on can to let opponents know what pitch is coming, give them fighting chance!"
And they talk from their butts! The Ass-stros. Get it? Um… okay… all hilarity aside, a few final questions: How are you handling the pandemic?
I think it's making me stupider, more forgetful, angrier. Just like it's doing to everyone else. I'm good at reminding myself that other people have it worse. I just read in Jacobin that, in the worker shortage that characterized the Black Plague years in Europe, wages tripled! Isn't that wonderful to think about?
I’ve found myself stuck in a depressing routine. I wake up each morning at 6 o’clock. I eat the same breakfast. I surf the same websites. Then I sit down and watch the tape of “Groundhog Day.” Do you think that’s smart?
The smart thing is, you're apparently still using VHS. The best format there ever was. Man, when you'd get the tracking just right... And how about those trailers you have to sit through every time? I miss Blockbuster. It was owned by a guy in Miami who was in the sanitation business. Am I rambling? Of course not. A lot of thought has gone into this... it's more like a TED talk. I know I worked hard on it because I think I also delivered it yesterday and the day before. The sanitation business!
Of course you can't talk about Groundhog Day without mentioning Dragonflyman Day, which should also be every day, like Children's Day. We have some major things planned for our favorite hero's 91st (week) anniversary! Do you want to hear about them? Because you will.
Seeing as how Dragonflyman Day is the Christmas of the AHOY calendar, do you worry that there could be a “war” on it?
The war on Dragonflyman is here and it's real. If you hear someone saying "Happy Commemorative Holiday" instead of "Happy Dragonflyman Day," you know they're the enemy. And our enemies are everywhere. Trust no one.
I just say, “Merry Drag Day!” and people seem to get it. But to everyone, it’s a deeply personal day of reflection and reverie. How do you plan to celebrate?
To honor The Bug House, Dragonflyman's secret headquarters, I will spend most of the day sheltering in place with my partner-in-peril, Mary. If I do go out--to get supplies, or simply exercise--I will honor Dragonflyman's secret dual identity by wearing a mask. In the evening I will raise a glass to Dragonflyman and watch something on television. Anything.
There’s a local bar, the Dragon & Flagon, which every June 16 always opens at 9 a.m. They serve “Stingers” and “Royal Jelly Shots.” By 10 a.m., it’s a mob scene - people blotto, but in a deeply contemplative way. Moving on, a few quickie questions: What is the greatest power that a superhero can have?
Squeezing coal into diamonds.
The most fun superpower? (Aside from x-ray vision.)
I'm afraid of heights, so it wouldn't be flight. Although a series about a flying superhero who's afraid of heights would be right up my alley. DON'T STEAL MY IDEA, PEOPLE.
What’s your personal superpower?
I can answer any question, as you see. It's gotten me out of some scrapes.
Does pure evil carry a distinct aroma, and if so, what is the fragrance?
Cinnamon buns, fresh out of the oven. So tempting. Pure goodness smells like Pepto Bismol.
In a fight between Superman and the Hulk, who would win… and why?
Superman's strength is virtually limitless (at least the version I grew up with). Hulk's strength is also at the topmost level of the possible, provided he's angry enough. So while Superman is punching Hulk, he needs to be making convincing excuses in a soothing voice. "Oh, I'm sorry." (POW!) "I didn't mean that." (WHAM!) "Clumsy me!" And it wouldn't hurt to get the Hulk laughing. The emerald brute has a very simple mind, like a baby's, so a game of peek-a-boo between flattening blows might do the trick. If Superman can't pull this off, the fight goes on for a very long time--until Hulk gets tired, passes out, and becomes puny Bruce Banner. Either way, the championship belt goes to Superman, but the second model takes too long.
Now, if you're talking about a less powerful version of Superman--TV and movies, the earliest comics, the 80s and 90s comics--The Incredible Hulk wins every time.
That sounds like an answer a lawyer would give. Okay, who would win between Dragonfly and Dragonflyman?
You’ll see. Sooner than you think.
Okay, Mr. Smartypants, here’s a question: Which member of the 1927 Yankees – probably the greatest team in baseball history – was universally considered to be the best bunter?
Oh, shoot. You told me that once, years ago, and I can't remember. I just tried to Google it so I could fake like I know it, but "1927 Yankees bunts" yields everything but. It even led me to one of those George Will baseball books and I actually read a paragraph, which can kill the morale. But here's the deal: when I said "you'll see," I wasn't trying to start anything. You really will see Dragonfly & Dragonflyman fight at some point. And if I tell you who wins now, I'll spoil it.
Babe Ruth. BABE RUTH! He was the best bunter on the Yankees. You didn’t know! HEY, EVERYBODY, MR. SMARTYMOUTH HERE DIDN’T KNOW SOMETHING! HE DIDN’T KNOW! HAHAHA! BABE RUTH! So… where were we?... Um… how many years have we been doing this?
Bickering in public? A long time. Let's figure it out. I remember going to a 1984 New Year's party with you, and that we were already fed up with each other. So the argument, I mean the competition, I mean the friendship, would go back to... 1981? 1982?
As for Ruth, I should have known. I hear his bunts would leave the park!
If we were alive back then, whenever Ruth came up, we’d have yelled, “LAY ONE DOWN!” So… a long time. I guess we should shut this down – the Q&A, that is, not the friendship. Final thoughts… wait, what’s your philosophy on life, based in rock lyrics?
"Don't stop believ--" KIDDING! Whatever you're believing, for the love of God, stop.
Speaking of Journey, do you believe some will win, some will lose, some are born to sing the blues?
I hold that truth to be self-evident.
Then again, do you not agree that poor man wanna be rich, and rich man wanna be king?
The second part of that is obviously true. To answer the first part, we must look to the lyrics of folk singer/coal miner Jim Garland (1905-1978):
I don't want your millions, Mister,
I don't want your diamond ring.
All I want is the right to live, Mister,
Give me back my job again.
It goes on. But the poor man definitely doesn't wanna be rich. It says right there.
All right, we’re running out of time. Thanks for appearing on the show. (Note: There is no show.) Any final thoughts? Don’t worry, we’re going to cut the rock lyric part. In fact, I think we’ll cut everything. So you can say anything. Nobody will see it.
What? I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention.