(I need to say at the very top, to Mr. Chabon, how very much his novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, has meant to me. It's brilliantly written, charged with emotion, and is one of my Top 10 favourite novels of all time. Everyone who loves comics should read it.
But the ending of the book filled me with such anger and sadness, and I cannot, even after reading this book every year since its publication, and loving it every time, CANNOT forgive or sympathize with Sammy or his actions at the end of the novel - even though it is the only way the story could have ended. So, here's what I think happened MUCH later...)
Layout: 3 rows, 2 panels each.
Panel 1 to 4 combine to make one picture: that of a tabletop covered with ESCAPIST memorabilia. Among them: in Panel 1, a stack of 1940's era comic books in mylar bags; the top one, titled simply "The Escapist", has an image of the ESCAPIST crashing through the castle window of a mad scientist, in whose lab, trapped in a flask on a table, LUNA MOTH is held captive. In Panel 2, Lying on top of a fifties-era box containing The Escapist: the Great Escape! board game, there is a Captain Action action figure dressed in a cloth Escapist costume, a die-cast Escapist decoder ring from the radio show and a dog-eared, yellowed membership card to the kid's club, the gold leaf from the lettering falling off where it should read "LEAGUE of the GOLDEN KEY!" In Panel 3, on top of an autographed photo of early eighties David Copperfield, hair dyed blonde and in the mask and costume of the Escapist, is a key pendant on a slender gold chain and a domino mask. In the corner, there's standing a small plastic Escapist figure next to a Hot Wheels panel van with the Escapist emblazoned on the sides. In Panel 4, there is a modern Escapist comic, Whilce Portacio style, the Escapist gritting his teeth and breaking his chains, surrounded by Kirby crackle, a Bruce Timm style Escapist animation cel, and a DVD of Halle Berry in "Luna Moth". Copy as follows:
Panel 1 -
CAPTION (Saul, the lawyer - his captions are in light green boxes): ...it's like this, Tommy...
CAPTION (Tom Clayman - his captions are in canary yellow): Tom.
CAPTION (Saul): What?
Panel 2 -
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): Tom. Only my fath...Sam...only HE called me...
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): ...´s ridiculous...
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): ...look, just call me Tom, please...
Panel 3 -
CAPTION (Saul): ...yeah, well, look, er, TOM. Whatever, he left you a pretty sizeable estate.
CAPTION (Saul): Turns out all that goofy comic book crap was pret-ty lucrative, my friend.
CAPTION (Saul): Every venture, every investment, every time he could rub two nickles together, he put one away for you.
Panel 4 -
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): ...
CAPTION (Saul) Um, Mr. Clayman, your father - -
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): Stop right there, Mr. Goodman. I need to be perfectly clear here.
Panel 5 - P.O.V. from inside a freshly dug grave. It's a cloudy day and the sun shines from above. We see an average-looking man of about 60, in a dark grey suit. This is TOM CLAYMAN. He tosses what looks like a cloth domino mask, a golden key, and an ivory-colored piece of cardstock the size of a business card in at us at the bottom of the grave. His face is expressionless. The only other person we can see is a young rabbi singing the shma.
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): You might think that Sammy Clay was the Prince of Comics. How good for you. But...
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): The man who I believed was, and raised me as, my father, he left me and my mother when I was 10. Just so he could play grab-ass in sunny California.
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): He missed my bar mitzvah. My wedding. The birth of my son.
Panel 6 - On the lid of the unadorned pine coffin, the flowers and dirt are topped with the items TOM tossed in. An circular inset panel reveals "the small two-by-three card...wrinkled and dog-eared and dyed by the stain of long years spent in Sammy's wallet. Sammy had taken a pen and, bearing down, crossed out the name of the never-more-than-theoretical family that was printed above the address, and in its place written, sealed in a black rectangle, knotted by the stout cord of an ampersand, the words KAVALIER CLAY."*
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): So, you'll forgive me, I couldn't give a shit about what he left me.
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): What he left me, was a him-shaped hole. And all his money and guilt can't fill it.
CAPTION (Tom Clayman): And I sure as hell could never escape it.
*Attribution: detail of the card in the last inset panel from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.