I probably don’t have to tell you that the newspaper industry hasn’t exactly been in a super-duper period of late.
The layoffs, the cutbacks, the revocation of my parking pass …
A sad situation, indeed.
Yet despite all the gloom, I’ve tried to maintain the pie-eyed belief that my noble profession would somehow survive.
Or at least a few more years so I can retire and maybe parlay my literary skills into a meaningful career, like writing parking tickets.
But all hope left me the other day when the unthinkable news broke.
Clark Kent quit his job at the Daily Planet.
Aw, say it ain’t so.
In my mind, Kent was the only print jockey left who was safe from the digital heartburn that has forced fine newspapers like the Times-Picayune in New Orleans to go from a thriving daily to three days weakly.
Hello. We’re talking about Superman. It’s not like he worries about paying the rent or where his next codpiece is coming from.
Need some dough? Squeeze a bag of Kingsford briquettes into a Kardashian-size engagement ring.
If Clark Kent calls it quits, then where does that leave the newsies who can’t type faster than a speeding bullet?
I needed answers and knew where to find them.
So Thursday afternoon took me to the Comic Book Shop, 3207 N. Division St., a print industry that appears to be flourishing.
One reason for the success of comics is that America is in the midst of a significant nerd boom.
Look around. Nerds have never been more popular, as seen in shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and gubernatorial candidates like Rob McKenna.
And nerds do love their comics.
After some chitchat, store manager Matt Reynolds handed me a copy of Superman No. 13, the comic book where Kent pulls the plug.
The cover stopped me cold.
“My gawd,” I exclaimed. “What have they done to him?”
The once-mighty Man of Steel looks more like the Man of Brie.
As a comic-addicted lad, I grew up in the glory years of superhero sagas. I read them all, from Batman to the Hulk to Spider-Man and The Flash.
But Superman was my all-time fave.
What made Superman so likable was that he was essentially an average palooka who could also fly and see through walls and do other way-cool stuff.
Clark Kent, with his fedora and trademark horn-rimmed glasses, was likewise unassuming and unaffected by fashion.
To be frank, the Superman of today looks like a twit who moonlights as an Abercrombie & Fitch model.
Dude’s got hipster hair and doesn’t even wear red trunks anymore. Really. He does his crime fighting in a blue skin-tight unitard.
Superman’s alter ego is too cool for school, too.
Kent shows up at the newspaper in baggy jeans and a red hoodie that sells for 44 bucks at Urban Outfitters.
His attire is even more unprofessional than my sketchy wardrobe.
As a reporter, Kent is assigned to cover the Superman beat. Trouble is, he hasn’t filed a story all week.
The one thing that hasn’t changed at the Daily Planet is that everyone there has the IQ of moss and doesn’t notice that Clark Kent looks exactly like Superman ONLY WITH GLASSES!
And being thin wire rims, Kent’s new eyewear doesn’t even provide half the cover that his clunky old spectacles gave him.
In the story, Kent sits at his computer terminal when he becomes embroiled in a heated exchange with Morgan Edge, the nefarious weasel who heads the conglomerate that owns the Daily Planet.
(Think Rupert Murdoch, only not quite as evil.)
Edge scolds Kent for not turning in any Superman stories.
“I own the stories and your notes,” Edge warns.
“And for reasons I don’t always understand, I even own you, Clark.”
Whew. Talk about déjà vu all over again.
Just reading that dialogue made me think I was back at the Coeur d’Alene Press.
Anyway, Kent gets so cheesed that he actually takes off his glasses during the verbal fireworks.
Don’t worry. He could put on the cape and levitate and still none of these witless dorks would do the addition.
“I can’t be the only one who is sick at the thought of what passes for the news today,” states Kent.
I’m with you, Clark. And while we’re on the subject, why do TV reporters always stand outside in the dark and then report “live” about something that happened in the same spot, only hours and hours earlier?
And so it happens. Clark skulks out of the Planet before Edge can give him the boot.
I’ll say it again: What a twit.
You’re Superman. Smelt a mountain of gold with your heat vision. Then hire your own conglomerate of stooges to buy the Daily Planet out from under Edge’s nose.
Or you could always start your own daily newspaper.
Yeah, like that’s a great business strategy.
I don’t know where the brains at DC Comics will take this.
Maybe Clark will go online and write a sappy fashion blog.
He could always enter the gigolo trade. The sky would be the limit for a guy with his, um, staying power.
Whatever he does, I just want him to please stop with the whining.
It’s so un-super.