At noon I pretended to be a protester. With a sign and everything. It's just that I was protesting things that don't exist: superheroes.
It's because of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen. Their comic is set in an alternate reality where superheroes, instead of starting to appear in comic strips and comic books in the 1930s, started appearing in reality in the 1930s. At first they're Batman-styled vigilantes, with no actual superpowers, but in the 1960s an accident creates the first truly superpowered human -- as a reporter says, "Superman exists, and he's American" -- and history really changes. One of those changes: people become so distrusting of superheroes, they ban superheroes with legislation called the Keene Act.
My fellow marchers and I walked from Cosmic Monkey Comics to Things From Another World along Sandy: waving signs, chanting, and encouraging passing drivers to honk. I had a sign with messages on both sides:
We Need The Keene Act
BAN THE SPANDEX
Pass The Keene Act
I held it high and proud, and we marched, led by partners in crime Cort and Fatboy of KUFO. Other signs had defaced Superman logos, a big prohibition sign over Bob Parr from The Incredibles ("Down With Supers"), and slogans like "Badges Not Masks!," "Who Watches the Watchmen? We Do!," "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (the Latin version of "Who Watches the Watchers?"), "The End Is Nigh" (carried by a little girl on her dad's shoulders), "Down With Masks," "Support the Keene Act," "Save Our City From Costumed Psycho," "No Masked Vigilantes," "I Watch the Watchmen," "Heroes Don't Wear Masks," "Bring Back Our Police," "What Are You Hiding?," "Stop Vigilante Justice," "Underwear Goes On The Inside," "Keene = Clean," and "No More Blue Balls!" (in reference to Watchmen's blue-skinned and naked Dr. Manhattan). We were a happy, motivated crowd, marching on a briskly beautiful afternoon.
"Do you know the Truth about superheroes?!" I said to a curious woman passing by. Then I didn't explain, because I didn't want to fall behind. I left a trail of confusion in my wake!
We had to narrow to one single-file ("to hide our numbers") past a construction site near TFAW, but then we spread out to fill the sidewalk again. About a block from the shop, we finally got a good loud chant going on, "COPS NOT CAPES! COPS NOT CAPES!" We pooled around the entrance to TFAW, listened to further exhorting by Fatboy (drawing on his acting instincts and almost looking like a revival tent preacher as he called superheroes "fascists"), then filed into the store.
And then the DJs and the radio station's street team handed out stuff: a random drawing for Watchmen screening passes, and giveaways of Watchmen and KUFO T-shirts, cups, stickers and whatnot.
I don't know if this was officially available at the store, but I also saw the Watchmen condom. Indeed the Watchmen condom doesn't just exist on the Net.
Speaking of... "I knew I slept with him for a reason!" a woman said when her boyfriend won a pair of screening passes.
One of the KUFO staffers photographed me with my sign and a determined expression -- probably cartoonishly determined, I'm not an actor -- and I headed home feeling very satisfied. And righteous. As I'd said earlier.
Bonus! Here are the slogans I considered before deciding on the two I used:
THEY HOVER, WE COWER: THIS IS WRONG*
BAN THE SPANDEX
You can’t spell SCOWL without COWL
Superheroes: A CURE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE
Worse than criminals
GOD HATES CAPES**
Keene is the True Hero***
Heroes are Zeroes
Super-Heroes are Super-Zeroes
LEAVE EARTH, HEROES
Away with your blue super-powered penis!
Go back to Vietnam, superheroes****
Was it worth winning Vietnam for THIS?
No Rights For Capes
* The Watchmen character Nite Owl has this cool hovercraft he uses to patrol New York City.
** A "tribute" to Fred Phelps and his band of jackasses, but A) I wasn't sure people would get it and B) I didn't want to bring Fred Phelps or God into it. (I have respect for God.) I'd told Cort and Fatboy in an e-mail that I'd considered that one; Cort told me he almost used it himself...
*** As in Sen. Keene, who authored the bill.
**** This and the next slogan have to do with this: in Watchmen, President Nixon drafts sueprheroes to fight in Vietnam. And we win that war, which really really changes history. For one thing, Nixon has no trouble getting reelected in 1972, Watergate never happens because Nixon never decides it has to, and in 1985 he's still in office.