So, needless to say, I'm thinking about superheroes.
Let me say straight up that I've never been a superhero-comics kind of person. I don't know my Marvel from my DC. I'll admit I loved Alan Moore's Watchmen (I read it after a friend of mine told me it had a Bob Dylan reference in it), but I've just never felt too connected to an alternative universe in which underwear-clad vigilantes take part in maintaining the peace.
However, right here in this universe, there are a few super people - some of them even unconventionally clad - who have been on my mind.
First, though - just since we're on the subject - here's one of the only superheroes I ever drew in the Drawing Book: "Wolverine". I never read these comics, just saw the movie (apparently right around the time I was painfully getting over a heavy-duty ditching by a much-loved boy - another story):
Actually, I think that just living in Iqaluit for over a decade makes you a superhero. Don't get me wrong. I'd love to live there... for a little while, at least.
I was sitting just outside this coffee shop (depicted below) with a couple of local folks I'd met, when Polarman came by for a friendly, brief chat - perhaps to check out the stranger on the scene. He didn't stay long, but having presumably established that I wasn't a threat, he literally bounded away. I actually don't remember if he was wearing a mask, but he was definitely wearing an all-black costume including a hood and gloves. As his figure retreated, my companions filled me in: "That's Polarman, our local superhero." It sounded like a bit suspicious to me. I am amazed and kind of delighted to find out that he's still out there.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: a regular guy who doesn't dress up as a superhero, but got dressed up in this poster made by Calgary comics superwoman Fiona Staples.
During this year's flood, this cool and original image was splashed around town. Later, I saw it on display at Rileys Reproductions. Somehow, I wasn't surprised to learn that Rileys was the place that made the poster, since they're one of the best printing businesses in town - and a local business at that. I've been hanging out at Rileys for years, but I spent even more time there than usual this summer, since they were helping me to make some comics posters for another great local business, Red's Diner.
This poster made me think about "the Mayor as Superhero," and so then, of course, I had to think about whether there are any other mayor superheroes out there. In literature and/or pop culture, that is. I'm sure everyone can list few iconic real-life mayors (think Hazel McCallion, Rudy Giuliani, Boris Johnson... and one of my favourites, single dad Gregor Gysi. Well, he was just the Deputy Mayor of Berlin for a while - not the actual deal. But you get what I'm talking about).
I didn't come up with much. Maybe the post of "Mayor" has just not traditionally been such a sexy, "super" kinda job description - not like other political job descriptions like, I don't know, "Leader of the Rebel Alliance." But here are the two superhero mayors I did find:
1. Salvor Hardin, Mayor of Terminus City in Isaac Asimov's classic sci-fi Foundation Series. Hardin is the guy who always manages to come out on top. He's smart, a straight talker, supremely unafraid of taking (calculated) risks, and maybe most important, an independent thinker who seems to be able to see what's coming before it actually happens. And he's definitely the hero of the story - despite the fact that he's "just" the mayor of a city. (Just the most important city in the Galaxy, that's all.)
2. The Mayor of Whoville, from Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears a Who." OK, so you know the story. The whole Who civilization, located precariously on a speck on a clover, is in danger of being destroyed because the bigger animals don't even believe it exists - they're too small to be heard, except by Horton, the large-eared elephant. Well, in order to save their own lives, the Whos have to make a whole lot of noise. And who leads them in this apocalypse-averting effort? Who ensures that every last Who, including that lazy brat Jo-Jo, is doing his part? The Mayor, of course! Yes, he's the one that the Fiona Staples of Whoville would have depicted in a superhero costume after the city was saved.
Here are three parting notes:
1. If you can think of any other literary superhero mayors (other than the Mayor of Casterbridge) - please do let me know.
2. While we're on the subject of civic elections:
If you have never voted before, and you're starting to think it sounds like a cool idea, you may want to check out a unique, free event that's happening this Monday evening: VoteKit Live! Creative folks from Calgary's theatre scene will walk you through a simulated voting scenario that's guaranteed to banish any intimidating notions about what's actually involved when you go to vote. They'll also do their best to create positive associations with the voting process, by providing a little free food and music. I'm liking this idea so much, that I'll be there with my sketchbook (unless I'm having a baby. It'll be one or the other). Stay tuned for some comics about how Calgarians vote!
Do you know someone who's just turned off by the idea of going out to vote? This is the event you will want to drag them to!
VoteKit Live is happening at the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness. More details at www.votekit.ca.
3. Regarding Calgary's superhero mayor: Back when Mayor Nenshi was running for office in 2010, he famously attended a lot of "coffee parties" hosted by random Calgarians around town. He'd just appear at a house full of interested folks and answer all their questions. The last party - the night before the election - was at my house in Ramsay. A neighbour of mine took this video of part of his Q & A, which I just found on Youtube - complete with a glimpse of my weirdo mosaic wall/ceiling. That was a fun night!
All for now!