If you’ve read Regal Comic Books, you know the pose. Hands pressed together, thumbs crossed, held just below the nose. With my left foot forward, right pointed out, my small clutch purse hugs my hip and the shortest prom dress you’ve ever seen distracts my enemy while I arm myself. Right before I unleash my vengeance, I scan the floor, looking for my enemy’s Achilles tendon. The difference between Promilla and me being the ears, of course. In real life, I carefully hide them with hairstyles and hats. Colton Ritter draws them larger and far more pointedly elfin than they truly are.
In college, I did my growing up and thought the mistakes I made in high school were left behind, molding like gym socks and stale peanut butter sandwiches. Cheating on my first boyfriend ended up following me like a permanent record. When I first found out I was the inspiration for the character, I was flattered. I look really good in blonde hair and a short dress. Then I read the description. “Promilla proves beauty is skin deep, but evil pulses down to the core.” I mean, come on, how many men hold onto a grudge this long? And to turn it into a lucrative career with a fan base?
When I drag Marcy down to the comic book store – I’m not going to buy a copy and have a portion of the price go to him – to show her, she says to let it go. No one will guess it’s me. I tuck my hair behind my ear and hear, “It’s her!” While sputtering and trying to deny it, the kid, well, he’s probably 18, pulls out a collector’s issue to show me. In issue 387, the Elfin Goddess Chastitta pushes Promilla into a swamp sewer. Emerging from the foul water, Promilla has dark hair and green eyes. I’m looking into a mirror.
Humiliated, I scream, “I’m going to call my lawyer.”
“You don’t have a lawyer.” Marcy reminds me.
“For this, I’ll get one.” And I do. For my $200 “hour” with an esquire, I’m told I have a shaky case at best and I should just ignore the whole matter. “He is humiliating me! Send him a cease and desist letter!” I demand. The lawyer points out a sneakily worded disclaimer: All characters are based on fiction and any resemblance to anyone living or whom I wish dead is merely a coincidence.
Fuming, I go on Craig’s List, buy almost the entire collection and read. I’m appalled that Promilla occasionally hooks up with a warty lizard ogre named Slyther MacBreathen. I know it’s supposed to be Steve McKeen, the guy I ended up drunkenly kissing at the after-prom party, but if you didn’t know him, you would assume it’s just a random ogre with kinky sexual proclivities. Each issue is more loathsome than the one before, but I study them, looking at all the ways Promilla had been bested. Her little purse contains some magic potions and pink thorny rose wrist corsages that she flings like a throwing star, tearing the bejesus out of other characters ankles and eyes before they take her down – usually into some vat of goo or a molten mountain lake which leaves a reader to wonder if this time she finally drowns.
When I’m done, I know how to end this. I type “Regal Comics” and “Comicon” into Google. Colton Ritter will be signing at the convention center soon. I have enough time to find my old prom dress and have it altered. I’ll get my hair dyed blonde and easily win the Promilla look-alike contest. After I gather my $250 check, I’m going to ask the cartoonist to please stop drawing me. If he won’t, there will be a brick in my non-magic clutch instead of frilly rose Frisbees. And I won’t be aiming at Colton’s feet.
Growing up in western New York, T. L. Sherwood lived near a creek, farmland, swamps, and forests. She stalked wildflowers and longed to stumble across a man half-submerged in quicksand so she could calmly save him then brush off the feat as no big deal. She’s the Managing Editor of The Tavern Lantern at Literary Orphans and Assistant Editor at r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal. Her work has appeared in many places, including Page & Spine, New World Writing, and Jellyfish Review. When not writing flash, she’s pulling weeds in her garden, attending school board meetings as penance, staring at all the books she intends to read while doing Pilates in the library her husband built to lure her into marriage, or she’s working on a novel. Occasionally, she irons and embroiders, but not often nor for very long because those things don’t make for good stories – yet.