Thursday 30 May 2013

A Total Attack of The Heart!

Welcome to part 7 of

Where the comic strip based adventures of The Human Fly slip into a Flashback for Blaze Kendall who rather shortly after being dismissed for being a woman by her Captain during her first flight as a co-pilot, finds herself in a life or death situation, As the Captain does indeed suffer from "A Total Attack of The Heart" In this next reproduced page:-
Last week I mentioned there was a another stunt that the real-life Human Fly that also appeared within his comic book adventures

This was announced in none other than the letters page ("Fly Papers") of The Human Fly comic, issue 5, January 1978, in which a letter from the real life Human Fly is printed:-

"We here at the (Marvel) Bullpen just received a letter from the (Human) Fly that we're passing along to you pilgrims out there.  The letter says that, on October 7, 1977, the very real HUMAN FLY - riding a rocket-powered motorcycle - will attempt to double a world's record by leaping over 26 parked buses.

This event is scheduled to take place at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada.

That's all we know as of right now, but if anything further comes along, we'll be sure to pass it on to you."

There's several things to note from this letter, the stunt mentioned was not mentioned at all in the CBC TV interview with The Human Fly (as seen in last weeks blog post) so one can only assume that this is the event for which he was having to train to the level of a athlete and did not want to mention.

But of course the main thing is like the wing walk, this stunt is very specific and should be very easy to prove or disprove…

So to start off with here is a photo of The Human Fly "jumping over 26 buses"

And it turns out there is a wealth of information about this stunt from the person who designed and built the rocket powered motorcycle The Human Fly used, so starting next week we will cover the first part of this!

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!

"While Mantlo wrote certain titles for long stretches, he never bonded with them so deeply that it prevented him from writing other titles. Even when he was writing monthly scripts for Micronauts and ROM, Mantlo was still doing fill-ins. “You gave him the call, and 72 hours later, you’d have a story. That’s something the editors grew to depend on. It was natural to think of him as a go-to guy,” Claremont says.

But Mantlo’s writing itself was also deeper than most other comic writing, especially for the time. Mantlo used comics as a form of social commentary, especially on topics that became flashpoints during the protest era of the 1960s. A comic series about an injured stuntman became an allegory for disabilities awareness. A space opera comic about a talking raccoon became an allegory for taking proper care of the mentally ill. A story about why the Incredible Hulk is powered by rage became an allegory about child abuse.

A lot of writers, including Claremont, did this sort of thing, but few did it as regularly or as effectively as Mantlo did.

“He was one of the writers who thought that comics should be more than just guys in skin-tight suits hitting each other and saving the world,” Claremont says. “He was asking, ‘What kind of a world are we trying to save? What kind of lessons can we impart to our young and impressionable readership?’ The trick was to find a way to do it so that you’re not preaching, but you’re also telling a cracking good story that will make the reader turn the page and bring the reader back next issue so you can have an ongoing and more lasting effect. Bill did that.”

NEXT WEEK:- Rocket Powered Motorcycles and more Tragic Tale!

Wednesday 22 May 2013

We're Heading Into a Storm!!

Welcome to part 6 of

as The Human Fly's comic book story continues at a greater distance from whatever his real life counterpart ever did - as the dialogue in the page below relates that The Human Fly is exposed to rain at 300 MPH…

Though we can't say that was an exaggeration by Bill Mantlo as The Human Fly was seen making the same exaggeration himself in his real life wing walk in the Mojave Desert!

Last Week I started to delve into the mystery of Rick Rojatt to see is he really was The Human Fly. The only conclusion I have managed to come to so far is that possibly Rick Rojatt could be the name of alter ego of the Marvel character The Human Fly but not the real thing, so let's do some more digging

This time here is a 5 minute interview with The Human Fly -"Rick Rojatt" which was filmed by Candian based CBCtv after the Mojave wing walk and makes for interesting viewing

Of course it is kind of hard not to notice that almost everything referred to in this interview did not as far as I can tell actually end up occurring, as well as the reaction from the audience who thought The Human Fly was joking!

That aside what I am going to take away from the interview is the reference to a team of people working on and planning the stunts The Human Fly was doing - we have already seen the Fly worse for wear after Mojave - How much worse will it get?!

Next week I will start to delve into the next stunt The Human Fly performed for real that also featured inside the pages of The Human Fly Comic…!

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!

"One such title was the Micronauts, which was based on a line of science-fiction action figures already popular in Japan and introduced to the U.S. market in 1976. Bill himself suggested that Marvel license the toys so he could develop a comic around them. Marvel agreed and began publishing the Micronauts comic in 1979. The toy line had little in the way of backstory, metaplot or character development, but that did not stop Mantlo from building an entire universe around the toys, inventing numerous additional characters and even a fictitious alphabet for the setting. The toy line died in 1980, a casualty of pretty much any science fiction-themed brand that tried to compete with Star Wars merchandising. But by then, it did not matter. The Micronauts was a hit in its own right, popular enough with the fans that it won the 1979 Eagle Award for Favorite New Comic Title. The series continued until 1984, with Mantlo writing all but one of its nearly 60 issues, including spin-offs.

Also in 1979, Mantlo took on ROM the Spaceknight, also a licensed property based off a toy line. The toy was a talking cyborg doll produced by Parker Brothers, but sales were so poor, the toy was cancelled within a year of launch. Again, this failed to faze Mantlo, who had already written a detailed origin, backstory, setting and supporting cast for the title, which remained popular (and more importantly for Marvel, profitable) enough to merit publication for seven years, ending in 1986 after 75 issues.

During this time, Mantlo remained Marvel’s “fill-in king”, ultimately writing for nearly every title Marvel produced at the time. He had long runs on Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Alpha Flight. At his most prolific, Bill’s work would appear in as many as eight different Marvel titles a month, and his total output exceeded 500 issues.

“Bill was in a class of his own,” recalls Chris Claremont, a colleague and close friend of Mantlo. Claremont’s 17-year writing stint on the Uncanny X-Men and various spin-off titles, from 1975 to 1991, made him one of the most famous writers in modern comic book publishing. Mantlo was different, Claremont says, because he lacked the prima donna ego of most comic book writers. He did not mind sharing story-writing credit on any given issue, often making a point of thanking in the credits anyone who helped him with the script."

NEXT WEEK:- The Human Fly writes a letter to his own comic and more Tragic Tale!

Saturday 18 May 2013

Image Duplicators Forever!

I hope you will forgive my very large indulgence in this blog post, but Thursday was the continuation of part of the unwritten narrative thread which goes through everything I do within “Images Degrading Forever”, So I hope you don’t mind if I share that here, this is where it belongs after all!

As some of you may know, my first published work was actually within the pages of Glamourpuss issue 12. The core point behind the text piece inside was how ridiculous and overblown so–called “serious” art journals can get when praising work

This was taken to its literal ironic extreme when drawings that I had done barely months after first picking up a pen and of terrible quality was featured as the drawings being hailed as the latest breakthrough in art with Dave Sim going as far to describe me as a “genius”…

With the joke or the source of the irony or parody being very clear – over hyped art critique, hyped to the point where the critique has failed to see the point or the intention of the art or the artist at all, to the degree where you can only conclude that its only worth talking about because they say so, a sort of self-perpetuating loop that keep that kind of art critique and that attitude going

Just to clarify my actual involvement in Glamourpuss is merely a question of happenstance and or luck depending on your point of view

The cover of Glamourpuss 12 had a beautiful drawing by Russ heath, arguably ruined by having my name plastered all over it:-

Following this the notion of Images Degrading Forever was delivered to me fait accompli by Matt Seneca and since then I have continually used and translated that expression by misappropriating quite a number of original works and representing them, but hopefully in educational and ethical manner

Taylor Lilley of Orbital Comics described me as a “iterative curator” and that seems to be the closest actual description for what I am attempting to do, represent works and add something to them by doing so

So when I was invited to make a submission for Image Duplicators, the exhibition that wishes to take back art that Roy Liechtenstein “misappropriated” and to make new art that would focus on making statements regarding misappropriations-  not only was this arguably rather meta for me, but I knew I had to return back a Russ Heath original as a way of apologising to Russ for inadvertently ruining his beautiful art for Glamourpuss 12

It was Chris Thompson who invited me and made this possible...

So this is my submission which you can go and see for yourself in the gallery at orbital comics

Robin Barnard after Russ Heath

I purposely included elements which means the picture above is not a faithful reproduction of the original, the original is ironically difficult to copy

Then we have the return of WHAT MEN…

WHAT MEN is very much of out of place within this blog as there was no explanation given, just the pages with the dialogue, there was no other clues - you had to put the whole entire thing together yourself – quite literally and that is exactly where I left it and where I think it should remain

Nonetheless some of my recent notoriety has unsurprisingly come about because of the publication of WHAT MEN

I was of course expecting this to some degree so this is already addressed inside the context of the comic itself

Still I was not expecting the attention of being featured in Orbital Comics Orbiting pod podcast and being interviewed by Chris Thompson at the LSCC

Notoriety aside there was - at least for now - one part of the process that was missing and that was to give Dave Gibbons a copy of WHAT MEN in person

Dave Gibbons was of course the central point of Image Duplicators with his fantastic “WHAAT?” being an perfect encapsulation of the exhibition as a whole:-

"WHAAT?" By Dave Gibbons after Irv Novick

So I brought along the drawing I originally showed Dave Gibbons at Kapow when I told him I would be redrawing all of Watchmen Chapter V by hand - which Dave Gibbons had signed..
and then I handed him the last print copy of WHAT MEN I had:-

Which came complete with a Rorschach hand sketch:-

So yes, I was returning the art back to its original creator, in the middle of an event precisely all about exactly the same thing

Dave Gibbons is of course the most genial person you could hope to meet, he is welcoming, approachable and always positive, and he appeared to be flattered that I had gone to such effort.

I was half expecting him to say “WHAAT?!” …which would have taken the meta irony yet further

I of course was careful to warn Dave with regards the content of WHAT MEN as something he might not like!

Dave did ask if he was featured inside WHAT MEN to which I answered truthfully as yes he appears as the avatar of the creation he is singularly most associated with in Watchmen, Dan Dreiberg…

Who is a combination of a number of things Dave created or has experienced in his career, the most notable being his actual experience of wearing a super hero costume as the Big E in Tornado… 

Dave was quick enough to see that WHAT MEN was on some level about “before watchmen” on his own, I only hope that doesn’t colour his experience to much

In all honesty and fairness that is probably the last I will hear, but Dave was kind enough to spend five minutes being positive and was honoured that someone would spend the time recreating his work

Then all us Image Duplicators went outside for a group photo:-

Left to Right:  Robin Barnard, Dave Gibbons, Karen Rubins, Garry Leach, Mark Stafford, Mark Blamire, Jason Atomic, Rian Hughes, David Leach, Fufu Frauenwahl, Strictly Kev, Michelle Amir, Loz Atkinson, Graeme Ross and Steve Cook taking the photo.

And by pure circumstance I ended up standing right next to Dave Gibbons, wearing a custom T-shirt of a panel from WHAT MEN

So what happens after all this is anyone’s guess, maybe Strictly Kev can provide an answer…?

Strictly Kev of course did a piece for the Image Duplicators directly inspired by Watchmen and as a reaction to Before Watchmen:-
And…  Strictly Kev had actually brought one of the print copies of WHAT MEN!

So Kev and I had quite a number of interesting conversations and Kev was full of suggestions for future projects I might consider – during these conversations I mentioned that I have already redrawn all of the “Tales of the black freighter” panels from Watchmen by hand and these was just sitting in inventory waiting for something to happen to them...

One day, who knows!

Still although this all may sound more than a bit egotistical it is events like this that provide the fuel I need to keep drawing and if you have been following me for a while I maintain that I am not that skilled, so I hope to be a demonstration to anyone who wants to draw, that all its takes is time, persistence and networking

All kinds of wonderful things just seem to happen of their own accord after that, just witness all the above, none of which was planned!

If I can do it, anyone can do it!

The Image Duplicators exhibition is on at Orbital Comics in London until the 31st May 2013, all proceeds are going to The Heroes Initiative

Bleeding Cool was as the launch party and they provide a much better review of the Image Duplicators event

A special and person thanks to Chris Thompson, Rian Hughes, Jason Atomic, Dave Gibbons, Strictly Kev, all the Image Duplicators, and Orbital Comics

Let Image Duplicators last - Forever...!

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Five Million Dollars!

Welcome to part 5 of

And no, that is not a ransom demand by Dr Evil from the "Austin Power's" Movies…

But one from a lot more of a mercenary, quite literally who is responding to a question from someone who looks like Peter Parker in this next recreated page:-
So if you remember from last week, Clay Lacy dropped the apparent real life name of the alter ego of the real life Human Fly as being Rick Rojatt

Well over the next few weeks, we will look into what could be said to support that - the article about Clay Lacy just mentions it as an accepted fact, there is no mention of actually having seen Rick Rojatt in part costume or any other statement that could back up the connection between these two people

The first appearance of Rick Rojatt I have found, actually appears in the letters page of The Human Fly issue 3 (which incidentally features the shark being hit on the nose by the Human Flys baton from the cover of issue 1 in more detail) in a letter from Mitchell Cojocarin - who says:-

"Dear everybody, I just got done reading the fantastic first issue of HUMAN FLY, and I really enjoyed it! Keep up the good work (you, too, Mr Rojatt) and keep 'em FLY ing!"

To which the reply was

"Mr. Rojatt?"

Admittedly that seems a bit trivial until one considers that the Human Fly himself both wrote letters that was published in the letters page and met Bill Mantlo and visited the Marvel offices in person (all of which we will see later)

But even the most causal look on the internet for Rick Rojatt turns up a ton of web sites - all to do with The Human Fly

But it appears (at least as far as I can see) one link between the Human Fly and Rick Rojatt was made by none other than Jim Shooter who actually became editor in chief in the middle of the Human Fly run

As per "Rick Rojatt's" Marvel wikia entry:-

"The character was based on real-life stuntman Rick Rojatt. The comic-book series carried the tag line "The Wildest Super-Hero Ever — Because He's Real!", and photographs of someone in a Human Fly costume appeared in the comic books. Jim Shooter, Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, said in 2007 that the photos were indeed of Rojatt."

His real name is given in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Hardcover Vol. 13."

But then - if you excuse the expression - there is a fly in the ointment with regards to this, that fly being none other than Jim Shooter again who in a Human Fly feature in Tomorrows publishing Back issue 20 who appears to contradict himself:-

"Yes, the editorial people met him, and some of us, at least, knew his secret identity, though I can’t remember it.”

So we will have to look elsewhere for an answer as this by no means definitive and we will continue this next week…

As before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!

"After graduating from the Cooper Union School of Art in 1973, Bill scored an internship at Marvel. He started as a gofer and soon began working as a colorist, which was not glamorous, but it got him into the trade.

At that time, comics were produced on an assembly line: a writer wrote a 17-page script which went to a penciller, who would follow the script to draw the panels in light blue non-repro pencil. Then the pages went to an inker, who went over the initial art, cleaning it up and adding light and shadow with black ink. Then it went to a colorist, who would paint the panels and send the page to a letterer, who would hand-write every word of dialogue and exposition. As a rule, the process worked fairly well unless the writer missed the deadline, at which point the whole show would grind to a halt.

In the early 1970s, Marvel was plagued with writers who regularly missed deadlines. Comics rarely came out on time, often running a full month late (or more). This had become a huge problem for Marvel because at the same time, comic sales had shifted from general newsstands to direct-sales specialty shops that would order issues in advance. Not knowing when or if a certain issue would be in was cause to withhold orders, and Marvel was feeling the hurt in a big way from that.

Bill’s big writing break came in 1974, when a writer had missed his deadline for an issue of Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu. Bill offered to write the issue on the spot, and quickly turned in a script that saw publication and landed him a gig writing Deadly Hands full-time. Deadly Hands was a minor title on the verge of cancellation anyway, but Mantlo did not care, and he took the job, and its deadlines, seriously.

Shortly afterward, Marvel mandated that all ongoing titles would have fill-in stories written in advance and held in reserve just in case the regular writer blew a deadline. Many of these fill-in jobs went to Bill, who became known for his utter reliability and a knack for turning out stories quickly, even overnight. Most of the titles he worked with were minor ones, like Deadly Hands, but eventually he got a chance to work on larger titles, such as Marvel Team-Up, Iron Man and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man. At the same time, he also became the go-to guy for writing stories for properties Marvel had licensed, such as movie and television adaptations."

NEXT WEEK: The "Quest" for Rick Rojatt continues and yet more Tragic Tale!

Thursday 9 May 2013

A Blaze of Glory!

Welcome to part 4 of

Where the Blaze in question is Blaze Kendall and the Human Fly is not a Glory Seeker… but is it all that black and Whyte, as it looks like the Harmony has been disrupted in this next page…

Moving away from the puns for the moment...

None of the supporting characters shown in the comic existed in real life, but what the Human Fly says is almost literally an actual quote…

Last week I found a video of the real-life Human Flys wing-walking stunt onto of a jet plane flying over the Mojave desert at great speed and made note of some of the discrepancies between what was being said and what may or may not have happened in this event

The reason for this is that the jets pilot, the legendary Clay Lacy has a slightly different story to tell…

Take it away Di:-

"His (Clay Lacy's) experience during the Mojave 1000 with daredevil Rick Rojatt, aka "The Human Fly," a Marvel Comics character, falls under that category. The stunt performer, intent on proving he was the "greatest superhero that ever lived," put his life in capable hands when he flew above the Mojave Desert on top of a DC-8 piloted by Lacy. 

"We made a mount for him," said Lacy. "He couldn't have gotten off if he wanted to. He always told people he was up there at 300 mph, but we never flew that fast. The fastest I ever flew him was 220 knots, once, just for a short burst. Most of the time, we were flying at 175 knots."

Lacy flew Rojatt two days at Mojave, and later in Texas, where the daredevil was to be filmed for a television special, which was cancelled due to weather. However, Rojatt made one harrowing flight there.

"He was in a little bit of rain," Lacy said. "Actually, they were big raindrops. When they started hitting, it sounded like golf balls. It really beat him up; he said they felt like bullets."

By then, said Lacy, The Human Fly traveled with his sidekick, Mercury, both wearing colorful costumes.

"Mercury had a three-wheel motorcycle and he drove him to the airport," Lacy said.

On that day in Texas, the battered Fly was removed from the airplane and taken to a makeshift dispensary.

"His legs were just raw," Lacy said. "I waited until they got over there, about 15 minutes, and I called for the Fly. They gave me Mercury, and I told him, 'You have to get him back over here! The weather is clearing up.' He said, "What!" I was just kidding with him. He said, 'I don't know... Well, okay.'"

A dismal Fly agreed, and the duo appeared at the airport 30 minutes later. 

"He was hurting," Lacy said. "We got a cherry picker, and acted like we were going to put him back up. I went over there, and I said, 'Now, I don't want you to do it, if you can't, but, I think you can.' He said, 'Okay.'"

Lacy finally had pity, and told Rojatt they weren't really taking him up."

As I hope you can see the earlier attempt at wing walking which appears briefly in the video in last weeks instalment was possibly even more of a disaster than related - But the the thing to focus on from the account above is Clay admitting that the Human Fly was prone to exaggerating...

I suppose you could say that any showman does exactly that, take the role of a circus ringmaster for example - but one thing to note from the above and the video from last week is the The Human Fly comes across more as a person with a death wish than an daredevil

Admittedly that is a fine line to walk along, but when you first big public stunt fails twice before finally succeeding (but possibly only because the aircrafts speed was lowered to the point where completing the stunt without loosing consciousness is possible) perhaps its not unreasonable to say you set your goals too high, after all there's nothing wrong with building up your stunts a bit and work up to something truly unprecedented

Particularly if the aim really is really more about the message which The Human Fly is supporting - you would think that aim could be achieved with slightly easier to complete stunts just at a few more locations

This aside for the moment, Clay Lacy has just dropped the apparent name of the real life alter ego of the real life Human Fly as being Rick Rojatt and we will pick up on this point next week

As Before I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!

"The Fill-In King

While most people would not know who Bill Mantlo is, comic book fans might. He was, for a time, one of the top writers for Marvel Comics, and to this day he still has a considerable fan base. When Greg Pak recently finished writing a string of issues of the Incredible Hulk, he dedicated the issue to Mantlo. Bill’s impact on the comic world is significant, but even his most ardent fans generally do not know that he has become defined by a cruel irony: Mantlo wrote superhero stories to inspire people to be good to each other, only to become an anguished man in a broken body, in desperate need of a hero himself.

Bill Mantlo was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1951, the first of three brothers—himself, Mike and Adam. Bill became an avid reader and artist early on, with a love for comic books. But it was in 1962, as the Amazing Spider-Man began to hit the shelves, that he became a die-hard fan of Marvel Comics in particular.

Bill got into the Marvel fandom on the ground floor. Although the company had been publishing comics since the 1930s, it was in 1961 when Marvel began evolving into the engine of pop culture that it is today. Writer and editor Stan Lee and artists such as Jack Kirby reinvented the superhero genre, telling stories that were set in real-world New York, filled with characters who were more human (at least to readers) than their counterparts at other comic companies. Characters who are now household names, such as Spider-Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were all getting their big start. For kids who were into comics, it was a special time— the likes of which have never been repeated.

Bill’s connection with Marvel went even deeper, as Jack Kirby was a neighbor of his. Bill often spent his teenage afternoons at “the King’s” house, picking up on drawing tips, geeking out on superheroes and talking about storytelling. It would prove to be a formative relationship for Bill."

NEXT WEEK: Who on earth is Rick Rojatt... and more of "Tragic tale"

Thursday 2 May 2013


Welcome to part 3 of 

Where we launch straight into the middle of the action with a great splash page by Lee Elias (reproduced by myself), which shows The Fly Hanging upside down from a helicopter above a jet in the rain travelling at 300 mph…
If you was with me last week you saw that I found that Human Fly Spectaculars Ltd was a real company set up for "PERFORMING LIVE STUNTS WHICH FEATURE WING WALKING OR A PERSON BEING STRAPPED TO A FLYING AIRCRAFT"

If we go back to Bill Mantlos Essay "The Making Of A Hero",Bill himself said The Fly... 

"was hoisted to the top of a DC-8 jet aircraft which proceeded to take off on a 200-MPH flight over the burning Mojave Desert…"

Well something that specific must be pretty easy to prove or disprove, right?

Witness the below 23 minute video from 1976 of the Fly doing almost exactly what Bill Mantlo described

As you can see the real costume was the basis for the comic not the other way around, The Fly existed before the comic did - also in the video there is a mention of 2 previous attempts at the same stunt, one at Dallas in which the fly was subjected to rain at speed

It seems from the splash page of the comic above, that Bill Mantlo chose to combine the best elements of at least these two attempts as the basis for the contents of issue one

While we still no have no idea as to the fly's identity, some more clues are provided in the video - such as his age and well as the details of The Fly's background which again, almost exactly matches what Bill Mantlo outlined…

Yet there seems to be one or two discrepancies with speeds being stated by the fly, and a few other things - nothing apparently that couldn't be explained at this point…

But the Fly himself seems to come out of this somewhat worse for wear!

Next week we will hear about this event from the pilot of the plane, none other than Clay Lacy…

Before we continue from last week, I would like to remind you all that the following appears with very kind thanks and much appreciation to Bill Coffin

You can read the entire article here and of course it comes highly recommended

Take it away Bill Coffin!

"The victim of a closed-head brain injury from nearly 20 years before, Bill cannot move from his wheelchair to his bed without help, nor can he feed himself, go to the bathroom or conduct any other kind of normal physical activity unaided. He can move his arms, but the fine motor control in his hands is very poor. He needs someone else to put his glasses on for him, and when he wants to take them off, he can only drag his hands across his face and let the glasses clatter to the floor.

Bill can hear and recognise when people speak to him, but his own speech is slow, laboured and typically consists of single words or very short sentences. Most times, he simply yells at anybody who enters his room. He has a history of lashing out violently at staff and patients, though in his current condition, the only person he is likely to hurt with a swing is himself.

His room is nearly empty. No television. No radio. No books, magazines or newspapers. No decorations on the walls. No mementos from previous visitors. Nothing at all to mark the individual who has lived here since 1995. A solitary prison cell has more personality than this, even though Bill is not prohibited from going anywhere. He just lacks mobility, and most times, the will. His average day consists of waking up, getting changed and cleaned by the morning shift nurses, and then a sit in his wheelchair, where he stares at nothing. When he has had enough, he is transferred back to his bed, where he closes his eyes and tries going back to sleep. At some point he will be fed, and after that, more sleep.

Today, however, he has a visitor. A man comes to his room, but immediately Bill wants no part of it.

“GO.” he shouts. “GOOO!”

Bill’s social worker is nearby, openly skeptical that this visit will do anything other than agitate Bill into a state that will make him difficult to handle for the rest of the day. But Bill’s nurse, Fatima, moves in and places a hand on his shoulder. For reasons the staff will not disclose, Bill is disturbed by the presence of any men in his room, which is why his nurses are female. Among them, Fatima has the best rapport with Bill and her words soothe him enough to listen.

“Now, Bill, you can’t talk to him like that,” Fatima says. “Do you know who that is?”

“Who?” Bill asks, genuinely perplexed.

“That’s your son.”

Bill’s head turns suddenly, fixing on his visitor. This is more than a surprise.

“Hi, Bill,” says the visitor, a 45-year-old man in a puffy red jacket. “It’s me, Adam.”

Tears come to Bill’s eyes. Then they come to Adam’s. It is the first time either one has seen the other in 17 years.

NEXT WEEK: Clay Lacy tells us about what happened at Mojave and we see more of Bill Coffins seminal "Tragic Tale"