In the early 2010s, I wrote a play called True Believers that was kind of a send-up and a love letter to comic-con culture. The play had a full production in Boston in 2012 (closing on the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con, when they first announced the Guardians of the Galaxy, which totally ruined the meta-level "I Am Groot" gag in the script), as well as staged readings at fringe festivals across the country, from New York to Chicago to Valdez, Alaska.
I later tried to turn that script into a novel. It was an interesting writing experience — trying to adapt your own work across mediums, from one that's explicitly external to one that's largely internal is a weird challenge, to say the least — and ultimately, nothing really came of the manuscript.
But now that we're all quarantine, and now that comic books themselves have also been quarantined for the foreseeable future, I've decided to serialize it on Medium, broken down into digestible chunks. The first 10 chapters are out now, and they each take (by Medium's calculations) about 4-9 minutes to read. I'll be adding new chapters every day through the end of the month. If you're looking for some nerdy laughs and nostalgia, it could be a delightful way to pass the time right now.
Here's a fuller synopsis of the story, in case you're not convinced:
It's the weekend of the big annual comic book convention, and Chad Mailer is a young professional comic book writer who hit his career peak five years ago with a series that he never actually finished, and he now wishes to re-ignite his career. Desperate for one last chance to prove himself to the world, Chad reaches out to Ted Thompson, a newly-divorced comic book editor with whom Chad previously worked. Ted has recently begun a new relationship with a young woman named Chloe Long, whom he met playing video games on the internet, and the two have decided to meet in person for the first time at the comic book convention as well. Meanwhile, Chad must contend with the constant heckling of Billy Horowitz, a belligerent comic book fan and self-proclaimed rogue cyborg video blogger, who is determined to destroy Chad's career because he really didn't like that one issue of Wolverine that Chad wrote that one time, and Billy's (incredibly reluctant) best friend / sidekick Calvin Elder, a closeted young comic book artist who longs to become a real-life superhero. Chad also attempts to reconcile his relationship with Kt Watts, his former creative partner — and possibly more — whom he has not seen in five years and whose career has now eclipsed his own.
But mostly it's about the Cyborg Head of Stan Lee.
Note: while the Cyborg Head of Stan Lee does play a role in this novel, the book should not be confused with Abraham Riesman's upcoming biography True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. That being said, we did construct a functioning Cyborg Head of Stan Lee as a prop for the play.
True Believers: A Comic-Con Novel [Thom Dunn / Medium]