Editor’s note: In the series, we ask 13 interesting people to consider a work of comic art and tell us what it means to them. They can focus on the the character, the history, the artist, the context, how it makes them feel…heck, even how it doesn’t make them feel.
For our second installment, we welcome the Daughter of the Shopkeep and all-around awesome person, Calliope Anderson.
This cover reads like a riddle, and it reminds me of one I’ve heard before. What can you bring through the green glass doors?
It’s a game we used to play at summer camp. You sit in a circle and take turns guessing random nouns. When someone gets stuck one of the counselors, or some other superstar who figured it out before everyone else, will give you a hint. You can bring wood but not metal through the green glass doors. You can bring a book but no knowledge through the green glass doors.
You sit in the circle racking your brain, trying to remember what everyone has said. “Jessica guessed a puppy and that could go through. Did Dylan just guess pants again? I swear someone already guessed pants and they can’t make it through.” You listen to the smug giggles of those who already discovered the secret and pray that you won’t be the last idiot to figure it out.
Now I know the mistakes I made that put me in this truly horrifying situation. I wanted to go to summer camp. I wanted to make new friends and learn personal leadership skills that I could bring back to the Northwood Junior High student council. What a fool I was. I should have seen the looming danger. Of course they were going to make us play icebreakers and do team building activities!
What did our friend in the hat on the cover of Tales of Suspense do to find himself in his predicament? Was he lured in by the bald man, oblivious to the harm that was about to be inflicted upon him? Or like me was he seeking out an adventure? Trying to do something good and not anticipating the dangerous mystery that he encountered. Whatever led him to the beginning of this page, his problems have grown larger than a mere riddle by the end of it.
The fear of being the last one to solve a puzzle in front of a co-ed group of preteens may not be as great as the fear of some strange, bald man shrinking then imprisoning you in a blue glass bottle. Or perhaps the fear is the same and only the potential consequences are different. Ending up in the bottle may be the better outcome between these two terrifying sets of circumstances. At least in the bottle, there’s no one to be embarrassed in front of.
You have to learn what can go through the green glass doors the hard way, by sitting in a room feeling anxious and dumb until it finally clicks. The bald man said you have to learn the secret of the blue glass bottle the hard way as well, but we don’t know what all that entails. I suspect our friend’s troubles are only just beginning. I cannot go through the green glass doors, so I can’t tell you if the riddle is any easier to solve on the other side. For our friend’s sake, I hope he can find some answers now that he’s on the inside of the blue glass bottle.
Calliope Anderson can sometimes be found hanging around the back of Comics Are Go, teaching classes in alphabetization and reading when she’s supposed to be working. Every year, she comes in near or at the top of Ye Olde Shopkeep’s annual List of Favorite People on the Planet.