US: May 2015
I’m a-gonna tell you how it’s gonna be.
You’re gonna give your love to me.
I wanna love you night and day.
You know my love a-not fide away.
A-well, you know my love a-not fade away.
—Buddy Holly and Norman Perry
Does this ever happen to you? You send out an email or post something on Facebook or Twitter. Then you wait for a response. Every few minutes you pick up your phone to look for a reply or a comment or a retweet. And sometimes nothing happens. The email never comes. The social media post just sits there. Your phone doesn’t chirp or beep or buzz or vibrate. Silence. It seems like no one even notices.
Or you’re waiting to see a doctor or to get a table at a busy restaurant. You put your name on the list; you signed in as neatly as you could. Then you wait. No one calls your name. You see people who were directly in front of you in line get taken back by the nurse. You see people who came in after you be escorted to a table. And you wait. It’s like you didn’t even sign in at all.
Neverboy, the new book from Dark Horse Comics by Shaun Simon and Tyler Jenkins, has given me a worried mind.
There’s this character, Neverboy, who has a name like a superhero – a thinky, high concept superhero. But he’s not a superhero. He’s just an imaginary friend, a childhood construct, a boy’s wish for a true companion – only without the boy. And Neverboy’s got troubles. Big troubles.
He’s fighting a losing battle, reduced to hanging out in emergency rooms, reduced to stealing from the overdosed and the dying. But, you see, he has to do it. The little pills are the only things that are holding him together, the only things that keep everything from fading away.
He has a wife. And he has a son. But they are just as imaginary as he is, just as see-through, shadowy, ephemeral. Just as easy to overlook.
Some days it’s like no one even notices them, like they’re not even there. Old friends walk by like they don’t recognize her. Kids bump into him, stumble over him. Their feet crush his toy plane but they don’t say they’re sorry; they act like they don’t even care.
“It was like I was invisible,” he says. “I don’t know what I did wrong.”
“She must have seen me,” she says. “I was calling her name and everything.”
And I know what that’s like, to go and come, to live and have lived, and to think that no difference was made, no mark was left. To think nobody ever saw me here at all.
So Neverboy has given me a worried mind.
They’re fading away, his wife and his child. Slipping into and then, finally, from his memory. And perhaps he will fade away as well, unnoticed one too many times.
The human condition. To watch our loved ones fade away, right before our very eyes. To ourselves fade away, right before theirs.
A worried mind.
I’m struck by this quirky, scruffy little book by Simon and Jenkins. Neverboy is like no imaginary friend I ever had, like no superhero I’ve ever seen. Simon and Jenkins tell a tight little story that begs to be read twice, that holds a mystery not yet revealed. It grabs you from moment one, with Neverboy peeking over the shoulder of a man in the emergency room, stealing his ailments and making them his own, writing them down on the endless forms that no one, no one, will ever read. And then it becomes a family drama, where small talk about the daily details of life are always tinged with desperation. And then it all goes to hell, is all swept away in a rainbow colored tidal wave. And Neverboy, all tall and angular, Neverboy, with a shock of brown-then-white-hair, is on the run.
And it’s giving me a worried mind.
Looking in the mirror and seeing brown hair turn to grey, looking in the mirror and barely recognizing, barely seeing, the reflection there. Taking the little pills that are the only things holding me together. It all moves too quickly. It all fades away.
But Neverboy, he’ll never give up. He’ll get them back. He’ll save the day. He’ll be noticed. He’ll not fade away.
Don’t you worry.