LNH: Web of Mainstream Man # 6
milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun May 21 12:33:51 PDT 2006
SOMEONE CLAIMING TO BE TOM RUSSELL
PROUDLY PRESENTS THE FINAL ISSUE OF
WEB OF MAINSTREAM MAN
The pure stark whiteness of his surroundings
disorients Mainstream Man: vibrant zebra stripes slice
across his aching retinas. In order to keep yourself
oriented, the Ultimate Ninja had once explained, you
have to find something to focus on. Focus on one
thing, and everything else will follow, will snap into
Mainstream Man focuses on the only thing in the
room besides him: the curiously floating form of the
purple crayon. This is a mistake, because now that it
has Mainstream Man's undivided attention, the crayon
grins mouthlessly and begins to speak.
"You looked tired, exhausted," it says soothingly.
"Here. Have a seat."
The crayon darts down towards the floor-- or, at
least, it darts down to an area of the whiteness that
might pass for a floor if there was anything there--
and quickly sketches a chair.
Mainstream Man, a bit dazed, sits down, never
taking his eyes off the crayon.
"Something to drink?" the crayon asks. It creates
a one-dimensional box that could be anything; it's
only after the crayon scribbles within that it takes
on the shape and texture of a glass. It hangs there,
in the whiteness.
Mainstream Man plucks it out of the air and drinks
it. "Grape juice."
"What do you expect with purple?" The crayon's
tone is bemused, not snarky or ironic.
"What do you want?" says Mainstream Man finally.
"What do you want?" retorts the crayon. "Would you
like a girlfriend?"
With a few deft lines, it summons into being a
curvaceous woman with smudged crayon lipstick, a
purple body-suit, and purple hair. She smiles at
Mainstream Man demurely before raising her fist into
the air. it glows, not surprisingly, with purple.
"It's the focused totality of my psychic powers," she
"Yes, of course," says Mainstream Man. She's
difficult to look at. Her skin is so white (not the
peachy tan sort of colour that adorns Caucasian skin,
but pure stark snow bleeding white) she would blend in
with the whiteness around her if not for the strange,
unsteady purple outline.
The crayon senses Mainstream Man's uneasiness and
furiously scribbles over her, bleating her out of
existence. The box of deep, dark purple scribble
hangs in the air, the faint outline of her body
visible, her two dots-for-eyes frozen beneath a layer
Mainstream Man touches the dark death box and is
horrified to find the crayon wiping off on his hands.
He looks at the purple crayon, who returns his
confusion with a smile.
"Shall I make you another girlfriend?" asks the
"I don't want a girlfriend," says Mainstream Man.
He considers it briefly. "No."
"What do you want?" says the purple crayon again.
"Comics," says Mainstream Man.
In a flash, the crayon is drawing on the whiteness
again, a column of zig-zag scribbles that vaguely
suggest a stack of comics. Mainstream Man sits up
from his chair and, pausing to wipe the streaks of
smudged crayon from his butt, waddles over to the
stack. He grabs the first comic, heads back to his
chair, and cracks it open.
He begins to read.
At first, he has some trouble with it: the entire
thing, like everything in this place, is purple. The
panel borders are thick purple imperfect rectangles.
The purple characters are rendered with quick
geometric shapes; it's hard to get a lot of detail
into a small crayon drawing. The dialogue balloons
and captions are written in crayon, making the
dialogue extremely hard to read. Even the staples are
After he has finished it, Mainstream Man gets out
of his chair and waddles over to the stack. The next
comic is the second issue of the same series. He's
about to set it aside-- he didn't like the first one--
when he notices the cover scrawl. Though he can't be
sure (this issue has a special emboss), he thinks it
promises a stunning revelation. Maybe this one will
It wasn't. The stunning revelation didn't happen
until the last panel of the last page. The art work
was bad, and the twenty-one pages preceding the
cliffhanger ending just stretched on and on and on...
But what a cliffhanger! He wants to know what
happened. Maybe the next one will be better.
Having finished the special double-sized
twenty-fifth anniversary spectacular, Mainstream Man
looks up to see that he is not alone. There are
several people etched in purple outline, some with
smudged detail, others with careful elegance, a few
suggested with one curvy open line, others by ovals
and squares. They are not standing on whiteness, but
rather on a purple sidewalk; behind them, purple
skyscrapers reach for purple clouds in the purple sky.
At first, it's difficult to make it all out; his
vision soon adapts, like it did with the comics.
"Are you happy?" the purple crayon asks.
"Sure," shrugs Mainstream Man. "I wish this comic
book was better. I've stuck with it for twenty-five
issues, and the writer just doesn't seem to know what
"There's a new writer starting the next issue,"
says the crayon. "Don't you know about it?"
"No, I don't."
"Here." The crayon draws a thick horizontal line.
Above the line, he draws a box. "It's all over the
Mainstream Man sits down at his new computer, and
begins surfing the chat-rooms and geek news sites. It
turns out the new writer is bringing back the hero's
WWII era sidekick, who has been thought dead since at
least the sixties. Apparently, he's been working as
Russian assassin all this time. What a stupid idea!,
thinks Mainstream Man. But. Who knows?
Maybe it will be good.
The first issue by the new writer disappoints.
He stopped saying, maybe the next one will be
better, a long time ago.
He grabs the next issue from the stack.
In the middle of an issue, he becomes aware of
someone standing in front of him. He looks up to find
a peculiar looking girl; instead of bleached blazing
white skin with a purple outline, she is purple with
no outline: dark, meticulous, careful scribbling has
suggested the general shape of her body. Her hands
are fingerless chunks, and the only white on her body
are the empty pools of her eyes and mouth.
Now that she has his attention, she smiles at him.
"I'm Candy," she says, extending her hand towards his.
"What's your name?"
He hesitates for a moment, as if he doesn't
understand the question. As a matter of reflex, he
extends his hand towards her, clasping it in a
handshake: it's at that moment that he sees that his
own hand is covered with purple from handling the
With his other hand, with the tips of his fingers,
he carefully feels his face and realizes that it, too,
is covered with crayon. He pulls away from the
"What's your name?" the girl says again.
"Mainstream Man," he says. "I'm Mainstream Man, of
"It's nice to meet you," the girl begins. Whatever
else she was going to say is brutally cut off by her
own scream as the purple crayon angrily scratches her
out. Once he covers the mouth, the scream is abruptly
cut off, never to be finished.
"What do you want?" Mainstream Man demands of the
crayon. "Why are you keeping me here?"
"I want you to be happy," says the crayon, a bit
offended. "Don't you like your comics?"
"The comics suck!"
"And yet you keep reading them. Curious, curious."
"Well... they might get better."
The crayon smiles and nods.
"But that's not the point!" says Mainstream Man.
"I want some answers, buddy, or else...!"
"Sit down," says the crayon soothingly. "Please.
Stop shouting, sit down, and let's discuss this
Mainstream Man hesitates, and then is seated again.
The crayon descends a couple of feet, so that he is
again at eye-level with the legionnaire.
"You are aware, yes, that you are a fictional
being?" the crayon asks.
Mainstream Man nods vaguely and quickly; it's not
something he likes to acknowledge, and he got fed up
long ago with metatextual stories.
"Well, I'm not," says the crayon. "Or at least, I
didn't used to be. I was an author once. I wrote for
the LNH. Created the Purple Crayon and a host of
"That was until the Mechanical Author murdered me."
[*-- see SAVIOURS OF THE NET # 17.] "That's when I
found out it was all a lie. I was a character, after
all. I was not really an author, but an author once
removed. A mere reflection. Never to write again.
"The author-- the real one, the one who really
created the Purple Crayon-- no, not Crockett Johnson--
he offered to bring me back, to put me in the
Looniverse. As a character. A hero, perhaps. Or a
"It was an indignity. I know now what Satan and
his unholy host felt like, cast into hell from the
holy heights. To be a mere character, able to be
written and changed at whim, when once I had been...
an author. A creator.
"I liked being a god, having my little people. And
so, an idea formed into my mind. I would let myself
become an LNH character. I chose the Purple Crayon
because of his reality-shaping powers. And I created
this. This universe. The Purpleverse, perhaps?
Crayonworld? I am open for suggestions.
"It's a place where I can be a god, a creator, an
author once more. Granted, it is somewhat limiting
from an artistic standpoint, but: it's mine, and it'll
do. But here's the problem, and here, my impatient
friend, is where you come in.
"What good is my creation, my stories, if no one
reads it? I knew before I started that I was, in
fact, still fictional. That I would require authors
to write me and my universe, so that I could write my
universe. And I knew that no one would. That this
would strike them all as a stupid idea, as stupid as
Kewl or Durfworld before it.
"I don't want to clutter the archives with
abandoned universes. So I needed to put this in a
pocket of an existing universe. The Looniverse. And
I needed a story for it to happen in. Your story.
And I needed a character to anchor it to the
Looniverse. And that's where you come in."
"Why me?" asks Mainstream Man.
"Because you're passive," says the crayon honestly.
"You just sit and read your comic books, and as long
as you're doing that, you don't make waves. Because
you like things to be just so, and I can do that for
you. I can make things just so. Consider yourself a
demigod. You want women, you've got them. More
comics? Sure. You want to go on an adventure, I'll
write an adventure for you. All I need you to do is
stay in my universe."
"Hmm," says Mainstream Man. There has to be some
kind of hidden motive, he thinks. Best to wait for
the other shoe to drop. "So I'm your captive?"
"No," says the crayon. "If you must leave, of
course I'll let you do so. Trying to keep you here
against your will would invariably result in my whole
universe being destroyed. I won't risk that. My plan
is to just try to keep you happy. To make you want to
stay here. More grape juice?"
Mainstream Man was never really big on grape juice,
but he had to admit that it was growing on him. He
nods, and the crayon refills his glass with a quick
Mainstream Man reads his comic books, drinks his
grape juice, checks his purple e-mail, watches some
purple porn, occasionally talking to the purple
"You have to help us, Mainstream Man!" one of them
is saying as he tries to read his comic book.
"Somehow, a purple people eater has been unleashed!"
"That's nice," he says, flipping the page.
Mainstream Man bides his time, and waits, with
increasing impatience, for the crayon to reveal his
true nature and his true plan. He waits for the
crayon to try to destroy him, so that he can defeat
the crayon, escape, and go back home. With each glass
of grape juice and each comic finished, he hopes for
this to finally happen. As another glass is poured
and another comic selected from the infinite stack, he
is disappointed, and irritated.
What kind of villain was this crayon guy, anyway?
"You look upset," says the crayon.
"You're taking too long," Mainstream Man says.
"You should have tried to kill me or my friends or
something at least five hundred issues ago." Time has
no meaning in this universe. The purple sun is always
shining, people are always talking, Mainstream Man is
never hungry or sleepy. And so, he measures time by
issues of the comic book he's reading, in increments
of pages and panels.
"But I don't want to kill you," says the crayon.
"You can leave any time you want."
"Yeah, right," scoffs Mainstream Man.
"I was hoping you didn't want to," says the crayon.
"But. If you must, here." The crayon sketches out
an oblong rectangle and, within the rectangle, a small
circle. "This door will take you back home."
Mainstream Man looks at him suspiciously. "If I
went out that door, you'd have no anchor. Your
universe would cease to exist. Obviously, it is not a
"There's a small chance," the crayon says, "that
someone will come back to take your place, anchor my
world to your Looniverse once more. If I was to try
to destroy you for some reason beyond all logic, then
there wouldn't even be that chance: my world would
surely be destroyed for good. After all, it is your
"If you want to leave, then leave."
Mainstream Man sets down his comic book, sits up
from his chair, and approaches the door. "Through
"There's no point in trying to keep you here by
force," reiterates the crayon. "Just go if you want
to. At least I'd have a chance."
Mainstream Man reaches for the doorknob. "But the
instant I start to go through, you will unleash your
unholy purple armies upon the Looniverse! That's just
what you want me to do!"
"I don't have an unholy purple army," says the
crayon, genuinely hurt. "And there's no point in
invading the Looniverse. I'd surely be defeated.
It's the LNH, for chrissakes. The LNH always wins."
"So, you really expect me to believe that by going
out this door, nothing bad will happen to me, I'll end
up back home, and your whole universe will probably
unravel but you won't try to stop me? Is that what
you want me to believe?"
"That's about the half of it."
"Now I know you're lying," says Mainstream Man,
pointing at the crayon with his finger. "What kind of
ending is that for a superhero story?"
"Tragic and melancholy?" offers the crayon.
"Strange and wonderful in its metatextual resonance?"
"It's a terrible ending," says Mainstream Man.
"You're the villain, damn it! And I demand that you
act like one!"
"But... but I don't want to..."
"You want to make me happy, don't you?"
"You don't want to keep me here against my will, do
"Well, I want to go home. And I refuse to do so
until you act like a proper megalomaniac villain and
try to destroy the Looniverse so that I can stop you!"
"But..." The crayon sighs. "You know, it doesn't
have to be this way. You can just walk through the
Mainstream Man stands firm and resolute.
"Oh, very well," says the crayon half-heartedly.
"I shall now endeavor to destroy the Looniverse. How
can you stop me, you fool, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. For I
am a god, et cetera, et cetera."
"Don't just go through the motions!" says
Mainstream Man shrilly.
The crayon draws a button. "This button, when
pressed, will destroy the Looniverse. Then my... what
was it, again...?"
"Unholy purple armies."
"Yes, my unholy purple armies will invade the...
uh, non-Looniverse and... take it over...? Really, if
I'm to destroy the Looniverse, what's my motivation?
"You're insane!" says Mainstream Man.
"No, that's my line. You're insane! You shall
"Oh, right." The crayon frowns. "Um. But how can
you hope to stop me? You are powerless, and I am all
powerful! None of your friends can help you!"
"WikiBoy, you're by my side," says Mainstream Man.
The LNHer Anyone Can Edit pops into existence.
"Gah!" he says. "One moment, we're about to fight the
Secretary of Reality, and another moment, I find
myself here!" [*-- see LNH vol. 2 # 12.] "What's
"WikiBoy," says the purple crayon, "you know
everything that's going on so we don't have to recap
"Oh, thanks," says WikiBoy. "Well, in that case,
why doesn't Mainstream Man go home and I stay here in
"Really?" says the crayon. "You would do that?"
"Being waited on hand-and-foot by an
author-turned-crayon who wants to make me happy and
fulfill my every whim? Better than being mercilessly
edited by sadistic creeps like Master Blaster."
"No, WikiBoy!" says Mainstream Man. "It's a trap!"
"It is," says the titan of tights and spandex.
"Besides, you love being edited by Master Blaster?"
"I do? Oh, I do."
"Uh," says the crayon, stretching his non-toxic
mind, "I'm going to push the button?"
"No!" says Mainstream Man. "For WikiBoy now gives
off a form of radiation that eradicates your purple
The purple universe began to vanish.
"Um, no, he doesn't...?"
The purple universe pops back into being.
"WikiBoy can only be edited by fellow
legionnaires?" offers Mainstream Man. "And, uh, I
revert your edit!"
"Well, I revert your edit of him being edited only
by fellow legionnaires."
"Shoot," says the Purple Crayon. "But I'm still a
god. I can create a weapon that destroys both of you,
which is immune to WikiBoy's anti-purple radiation."
"Well, then," says Mainstream Man, "WikiBoy has the
power to transform purple constructs that are immune
to his anti-purple radiation into an object that even
you cannot move, thus reverting your own omnipotence."
"But I never claimed I was omnipotent..."
"Uh, WikiBoy is hereby edited into a being whose
very existence negates your own?"
"Wait," says WikiBoy. "How does that work?"
"Yeah," says the crayon. "How
"Home sweet Looniverse," says Mainstream Man.
"Uh, sure. I guess."
"One thing still bothers me, though. I never did
find out who planted that indie comic in my pull box."
He pauses for a moment. "WikiBoy, did you do it?"
"Are you sure? Because I think you did."
The edit took effect. "Okay, I guess I did. Any
thoughts as to why?"
"Because you shop at the same comic book store as I
"-- yes, you do--"
"Oh, yes. You're quite right."
"-- and you want to expose me to what you consider
to be better comics, comics without arbitrary endings
and pat, nonsensical wrap-ups of mystery plotlines."
"But why would I want to do that?"
Mainstream Man thinks for a moment, rubbing his
chin. "I guess it's because you're my friend."
"Really? We're friends?"
"Sure, why not? _Someone_ has to protect you from
"Well, no. I'll be too busy reading my comics.
But it's the thought that counts, isn't it?"
There is no next time! This was the last issue!
But be on the lookout this summer for MAINSTREAM MAN
ANNUAL # 1!
Mainstream Man: Marc A. Nicol, and hereby released
once more to the public domain.
WikiBoy: Tom Russell, reserved. Cameos okay.
Purple Crayon: Tom Russell, reserved, dead.
(C) COPYRIGHT 2006 THE TOM RUSSELL OF EARTH-PRIME.
Director of MILOS, LIFE AND TIMES OF A DREAMER
Limited autographed dvds now on sale, directly from the filmmaker
"In the beginning, Milos seems to have no clue how to relate
to anyone. He is quizzical, leaving the viewer questioning
-- Ryan M. Niemiec, co-author of MOVIES AND MENTAL ILLNESS
"If a comic book, book, movie or novel is not somebody's fantasy
then who wrote it and to whom does it appeal to? In order for a
shared universe to have a widespread appeal, it has to appeal on
a primal level. If somebody says superhero comics are just 'wish
fulfillment' then he needs to explain what is entertainment that
doesn't satisfy our wishes and what satisfaction at all you can get
from it." -- Dr. Martin Phipps
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