Apr 262011

Comicpalooza, the annual comic… uh… palooza, takes place in Houston, TX this year from May 27-29 (Fri-Sun). Three sets of exhibition bouts will take place on Sunday (5/30) following Saturday night’s sanctioned bout between the Houston Knockouts and Harrisburg, PA Rollergirls.  If you’ve been waiting all your life, as I have, to skate as your favorite comic figure, register for one (or more) of three exhibition bouts, or email Grrrl Friday at inkslingertl@gmail.com. Registration closes 4/29! Refs are welcome, too. Further details at bottom of article.

When trAC/DC told me I could go to Houston for a comic convention AND skate there as a superhero AND see Houston take on Harrisburg, I nearly crapped my spandex.

See, I’ve had a long and confusing love affair with Captain America since the 7th grade, one that my family finds “interesting” and worthy of exploration. So let’s explore it together. Maybe you and I will look back at our superhero-laden childhoods and find that those old capes and masks laid an early, welcoming foundation for derby. Because, you know, everything has to do with derby.


It was a typically disgusting day in Kenner, LA, and I was what’s typically a disgusting age: 13. I sat in my elementary school’s humid cafeteria sweating through my see-through white polyester uniform shirt, looking out at the bayou’s concrete levee walls and the stupid heat-waving blacktop that anyone but a kid would pass out on. As flocks of the fattest seagulls you ever saw positioned themselves above our recess area for shit-on-kids time, I realized I’d had enough of this damn place as I stood in it. I’d been quiet for something like ten years, and though I excelled athletically and got good grades, no kids gave a shit about me. I was too grown up and introspective for my friends. I was always sweaty and only spoke up to stick up for Josh (he had elf ears). They knew me for being… tall.

I stared at my Cheez-It like it was a home video of a windblown grocery bag.

“Hey,” I said, looking up.

I slammed my fist on the cheap linoleum table.


The Clique looked up from their peas.

I had their attention. What was I going to say?

“I’m Captain America!”

There was a long pause.

They looked at me with a singular question in their eyes, one that I, too, was now wondering. What the hell did I just say?

I thought quick: “Callie, catch this Cheez-It in your mouth and you can be my sidekick.”

I threw it at her. She caught it.

“Julianna, what’s the capital of Mississippi?”

“I don’t know.”

“Good. Me neither. You’re in.”

And so it went. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no control. It was like years of pent up hysteria were pouring out of me, and as long as The Clique thought it was good fun, I was gonna sit back and watch me unfurl.

I commanded that damn lunch and recess. By the end of it, I had five of the cliquiest bitches following me around, waiting for orders, laughing hysterically with me and my alter ego. I was brand new, funny.

“Where did you come from?” Kelli asked me by the end of the hour-long break. “We had no idea you were funny.”

I was smug as all hell.

“You know, my mom’s vagina.” Man, I was on a roll.

But I had no idea where it had all come from. I didn’t even know Captain America was a superhero. I’d seen a patriotic car round town with the words sealed on its rear window, and they had stuck in my brain. My sidekicks got names, too. Derby names sorta. Like Sergeant Stripes, Mr. Flag, and Uncle Sam. I assigned them. We wore secret patches on our gym shorts beneath our plaid skirts. There was a handbook and a handshake. I was dope. I was Captain America!

Now, as a weird, grownass bitch, I salute you, Captain America, for coming out of my open mouth that day, for transforming my peer relations, and scaring my mother. I salute you, today, by vowing to wrap your name and colors around my derby-loving bod at Comicpalooza, even if your blue tights make me look like a sausage.

Thank you, thank goodness(!) I didn’t wait a day longer to get weird. Thank you, Comicpalooza, for letting me honor the kid, the superhero within who propels me forth.



*$10 registration fee per half-hour scrimmage includes team shirt with name and number!

What: Comicpalooza Derby Exhibition


George R. Brown Convention Center
3rd Floor
1001 Avenida de las Americas
Houston, TX 77010


Sunday, May 30: 1 pm, 2 pm, 3pm

May 222010

Last Saturday, I was on the roster for a bout. I really didn’t doubt I would make the roster, but I was heartstoppingly excited when I saw my name on the list.

The day of the bout, which was against the Acadian Good Times Rollers (a fantastic group of women, by the way), I was pumped and shaky-excited, but not nervous. In fact, I searched myself to find some nervousness, cause I figure that’s healthy-to be nervous before a bout. I was throw-up-your-breakfast nervous for every other bout I‘ve been in. The fact that I wasn’t nervous started to make me nervous. I thought to myself, “This could be the awesomest bout EVER, or I could be going into a dissociative state and therefore will not be able to move off the pivot line on the track cause I‘m catatonic.” To make matters worse, my pride was hurt when I found out I was in only one line up. ONE. UNO. Granted, there are some awesome bitches on my team, I thought I would be needed at least more than once every 5 or 6 jams. My stomach knotted up as I started to have a vague feeling that I wouldn’t get to play very much. If you have never felt it, bless your little heart, cause it is the worst feeling to have to choke back the tantrum you want to have because you are afraid you won’t get to play as much as your little derby heart feels you should. Well, I choked back just such a *small* tantrum. Thank goodness, we definitly didn’t need that drama.

I was in my boutfit, all dolled up. I was in the most extreme boutfit that I have designed yet. My name is Ms Kittie Fantastik and my favorite color is green, so I let these details guide my hand: I chose a green belt, devised green, black, and pink foam ears for my helmet, green fishnets, used green duct tape for my pads, green eye shadow and green sparkles around my eyes, and to top it all off like a derby girl should, tomato red everlasting lipstick. I was dressed to the nines. Reason being, my family from waaaay out of state, not to mention they had been out of my life for years, was here to see derby for the first time, in their lives. I had to represent derby to its very derbyness.

All of my nervousness about being nervous was for nothing. This bout was the best one I have ever had the privilege to play in. Suffice it to say, I was noticed. It’s kinda hard to miss the derby girl with ears on her helmet. I played the best derby I ever have. I was in just about every other jam-or close to it. (My team needed me! Yay!) I jammed 3 jams (yes, I counted) and I was the lead jammer twice. I even scored points! All this seems like small potatoes to many blockers, jammers, blammers, whatever, but it is a huge deal for me. I am a non-athlete. I mean, I WAS a non athlete, but now I am a derby player. I skated my best at this bout.

I won’t regale you with all my little stories, memories, etc. But, I have to tell you this. Because it is my favorite part. So, I was lining up on the pivot line. I was the pivot. I was so high off of the adrenaline and endorphins from the joy of bouting, that I was grinning manically, have a great time. Maul-her Mae from the Acadian Good Times Rollers skated to the line and started to get set. She just looks at me and kind of sighs, “You’re just going to hit me, aren’t you?” I laughed and said something about this being all for fun or something. I felt supremely satisfied that I, a skater only since last October, could inspire such dejection in an opposing skater. I take Mae’s statement as one of the sweetest compliments that I could have received. Thanks Mae!

Photo Credit: Cajun Eject-her, RSRD Bout Poster