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Wings That Work

May 31, 2008 |  2:00 pm


At 3:05 p.m., it was hard to tell who had the longer line: R.L. Stein or Berkeley Breathed. At the autograph area, a throng of conventioneers queued up for the chance to get books signed by two very distinct authors; one a weaver of juvenile horror and the other a penguin-obsessed, mustachioed cartoonist.

Although Stein's serialized novels -- "Goosebumps," "Fear Street" -- have become nearly an industry of their own and Breathed has settled with aplomb into life after Bloom County, I couldn't help but be the slightest bit enthralled. After all, I cut my teeth on the "Fear Street" series and spent most of high school figuring that Binkley and Milo had the right idea. The authors are themselves potent gateway drugs. Getting ensnared at the right age often leads to indulgence in books by Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, along with a potent sense of whimsy and the tendency to laugh at jokes no one else thinks are funny. At least that was my experience.

But who was in line to get their books signed? Lanyard-dangling name tags ranged in origin from the Santa Monica Public School System to Harper Collins Publishers. It was almost the end of the day and conventioneers stood in patient, bubbly lines, chattering about the day's events and waiting to say hello to their heroes.

George Ducker