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“Goth is more of a sensibility,” Jordan continues. “It’s a way of thinking, and then comes the look, the sound, the lifestyle, the art and the cinema.”
Strolling around the cemetery, as group members seek the final resting places of Rudolph Valentino, Hattie McDaniel and Rozz Williams (singer for cult goth band Christian Death, who hanged himself on April Fools’ Day in 1998), organizer Christina Hayward, 24, mulls the gothic mindset: “It’s a love of darkness, romance and, obviously, blackness . . . it’s people who hatemainstream culture, it’s people who have to belong to a subculture to be true to themselves.”
Jordan recalls that at high school he was the anti-jock: “I was usually the one in the library or in art class during recess: drawing, painting, writing stories or hanging out with my English teacher.” One of two African-Americans in today’s group, Jordan takes goth a step further. “When I go to goth clubs in L.A., I’m usually about the only black guy there,” he laughs. “We’re a minority within a minority!”
Lunch is spread onto blankets beneath a shading tree: sushi, Triscuits and red wine are passed around. In a few days’ time, this area will be covered with Day of the Dead shrines, but the timing is coincidental. Halloween isn’t necessarily a big day in the goth calendar, it’s “every day,” says Jordan. “The rest of the world just celebrates it on October 31.”
And sometimes the goths feel a little put out by it all. “I was at Trader Joe’s today, and the clerk said, ‘Hey, I love your costume!’” says Christina. Her group-mates laugh and groan in empathy. And the red wine flows.
A Real Super Man
Bill Liebowitz: 1941–2004
Collectors know that every Wednesday is Comics Day — when new books arrive and, for a brief spell, satiate the enormous appetite for heroes, monsters, guns, sex and the occasional punch line.
Wednesday, October 27, was notable also for the passing of one of the gentle gods of local pop culture, Bill Liebowitz. He was the founder of perhaps the most influential comics store on the planet, Golden Apple.
It was through Golden Apple that Liebowitz touched legions of artists and comic enthusiasts, including myself. For the last several years we hosted the L.A. Weekly/Golden Apple signing with comics creators like Carol Lay, Kyle Baker, Tony Millionaire and Steve Niles. I’d come to look forward to Liebowitz’s call around November asking if I was ready to do another one. And though I knew ours was only one of a dozen events that Golden Apple hosted, Liebowitz and his wife, Sharon, made it feel important and personal even to the point of baking cakes for the guests. One participant in our very first signing, writer and DC/Vertigo editor Jonathan Vankin, remembers Bill:
“From the moment I moved to L.A. and first walked into his store, Bill was immediately supportive of me and my writing. He didn’t have any particular reason to be. My books did okay but they weren’t the biggest sellers. I can only assume that he was the same way toward everyone. He was so passionate about comics that when he saw someone starting out in the field, he just had to help out, however he could. I know that whatever confidence I have in myself as a comic-book writer, I owe much of it to Bill. His passing is an enormous blow to comics, to Los Angeles and to me.”
Liebowitz was a tireless promoter — particularly of local talent — hosting events for such artists as the Hernandez Brothers and Dame Darcy. The emphasis was on fun as much as hype. One story I heard had a still virtually unknown Matt Groening crashing a signing. He sat with the other artists and grabbed and signed the books of bemused attendees before they could object.
There will be no funeral for Bill Liebowitz (there’s no body; he donated it to UC Irvine). But the folks at Golden Apple are having a memorial, a party really, with music and food and yo-yos. If you never met Liebowitz, go and get to know him.
Liebowitz is survived by Sharon, their sons Damon and Ryan, daughters-in-law Teri and Kendra, and the only thing he loved even more than comics, his granddaughter, Sage.
For information about the upcoming memorial go to www.goldenapplecomics.com.