Monday, July 5, 2010

An Archie Haiku Duel between Jeff Krell and Mark Haney, judged by Brad Cran (Vancouver's current Poet Laureate)

Today we're very fortunate to have a couple of distinguished guests in the blog, Jeff Krell and Brad Cran.

For those of you unfamiliar with Jeff Krell, he is the writer of a comic strip called "Jayson" that has been running since 1983. Next year will see the publication of "Jayson Gets a Job", the follow-up to the enormously successful "Jayson Goes to Hollywood" (which you can find here). Aside from being a successful cartoonist, publisher, translator and writer, Jeff Krell has an unfulfilled life-long ambition. 

Jeff's ambition is to write for Archie comics, a quest I interviewed him about for First Comics News. In the second part of our interview I put Jeff's Archie knowledge to the test with the Competitive Archie Triathlon, which saw Mr. Krell deliver an incredible performance.

Today Jeff Krell and I will face each other in battle, in the most dangerous of all gladiatorial arenas: 
The Archie Haiku Duel.

The rules are simple enough: We took Betty & Veronica Digest #204, and each wrote a haiku for the seven Betty, Veronica and Betty & Veronica stories in the digest.

Judging the match is Brad Cran, the current Poet Laureate of Vancouver. Brad's excellent book of poems "The Good Life" was called "exhilarating" and "fierce, urgent and fun" by Books in Canada, and "Hope in Shadows: Stories and Photographs of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside" (with Gillian Jerome) is a remarkably powerful depiction of Canada's most troubled neighbourhood. 

Brad also gave the city what is, for my money, the best response to anything Olympic: "In Praise of Female Athletes Who Were Told No".

The haikus were given to Brad anonymously in accordance with ICAF rules (International Competitive Archie Federation), and Brad's judgements are definitive.


Without further ado, I'd like to turn the proceedings over to Mr. Cran:


(Brad Cran): In homage to the world’s current obsession with soccer, and to make the Archie Haiku duel even more oddball,  I’ll be refereeing this event in reference to the World Cup. Unlike FIFA I think it is important to not only have rules but to also follow them. 
So for this Archie Haiku duel I would like to lay down the following rubric: 
Archie Haikus should follow the 5, 7, 5 syllable pattern. Often there is a turn of logic or perception in the third line. 
Haikus should not sound like they came out of a fortune cookie (with all due respect to the fine art of fortune cookie writing.) 
They should have more substance than Bon Jovi  lyrics. 
And finally each Archie Haiku should sound better in plain English than in Yoda-ese (ie they should not sound better read aloud while imitating Yoda.)


Okay, kick off. 



Betty & Veronica in “We’ve Got it Maid!”
I'm pretty sure she's trying to humiliate you, wouldn't you say?
Snobs accustomed to

being served should not attempt
to serve other snobs (Jeff K)

Brad Cran: Shot on net. Fine play but no goal. 
Ginger, Ronnie scheme

Cheryl humiliated
‘Till her comeuppance (Mark H)


Brad Cran: Back up the field. Carrying the ball far but no goal. 
Score: Nil - Nil

(I'm pretty glad Brad scored that one at Nil, I kind of thought Jeff spanked me in the opening round.)

Veronica in “Space Case”
Sigh, an already out of control ego, and now this.
Upon discov’ry
a star burns intensely but
oh so fleetingly (JK)
Brad Cran: He’s looking nice. Being fancy. Wants to score a goal and show the world his six pack. He’s juggling the ball in front of his own net. Oh no, “discov’ry” aint a word. He scores on his own net. It’s a goal for the other team.

Cosmic size ego

Finds new star for pride’s orbit
But white dwarves burn out (MH)

Brad Cran: And what’s this? He passes it up the wing to Yoda. Score a goal he might? Haiku sound like Yoda should not. 
Score: 0 -1 for Haney

(Ouch. At least I didn't get called with a fortune cookie foul, but still. Even though it happened through Jeff scoring on himself, it's nice to score the first point and take an early lead.)

Betty in “Mother Hen-Pecked”
Will not make 'cheep' joke about Betty and a shower scene..
Betty’s love and care

Give shelter and safety but
Leave an empty nest (MH)

Brad Cran: My grandma can kick better than that. Still a shot on net but this is not what soccer is about. 
Nature remains by

its very nature untamed 
and untameable (JK)

Brad Cran: Isn’t that nice. Is this soccer or Hackey sack? Let’s score a goal.
Score: 0-1

(It looks like Mr. Krell and I need to step up our game. Out of the first 3 rounds not one haiku was up to Mr. Cran's standards. Perhaps next time it should be a limerick duel.)


Betty & Veronica in “Fabulous Fakes”



Imitation gems
can be lustrous when paired with
genuine feeling (JK)

Brad Cran: Corner kick. Out front of the net. Bicyle kick and in.  A beautiful goal. This is what soccer is all about.


What’s fake and what’s real?
Decided by a harsh judge
The beholder’s eye (MH)

Brad Cran: And the other team is not taking chances. They are playing for a tie. Which they get. 
Score: 1 - 1

(Holy crap, Krell kicked my ass on this one. Good officiating, Mr. Cran, and congrats to Jeff for earning the first real point.)


Betty in “Borrowers Be!”
Ah, the rarely seen Polly, and a Carmel cameo!
Three Cooper ladies
Exploring three life stages
United by clothes (MH)

Brad Cran: A charming pass. Lots’ of team work, all the words working together and just when you think you know where you are: we get a shift in the third line and an unexpected goal. Fancy.

Betty’s perfect blouse
will be hard to hold onto
in a house of femmes (JK)
Brad Cran: Oh and right back with another goal to tie it back up. That’s answering the call. So simple but says so much. What a game. 
Score: 2 - 2

(Whew. I was worried none of my haikus would make the grade, but at least one did. Nice play by Jeff to keep the score tied up. Only two rounds to go and you can feel the electricity. Can't you? Don't answer.)


Veronica in “A Prom to Remember”
Yes, one night can atone for years of vile behaviour.
Hermione shames Ron
Who then grants dreams to earn hers:
Guilt-free nastiness (MH)

Brad Cran: What the hell was the coach thinking putting this guy on the field? I think he’s playing field hockey.


Veronica Lodge
opens her heart to throw a
prom for the ages (JK)

Brad Cran: Oh and a nice turn up the field a and quick goal. The lead is taken.
Score: 3 - 2 for Krell

(Wow, I was smacked with a field hockey put-down. I'm not even sure how to process that.)


Betty & Veronica in “A Quick Study”

The less fun you have
when you study with a group
the higher your grade (JK)

Really? The more you practice soccer the more goals you will score. 


Third-tier bonanza!
Nick St. Clair gets a mention
Seriously cool (MH)

You might know Ronaldo but that doesn’t mean you score like him. Nick St. Clair might be seriously cool but name dropping does not put the ball in the net. We need more sweat on this one. 

(I've got to take exception to this. Nick St. Clair getting a name mention is a huge event, and not to be downplayed in any way. Nick getting mentioned outside of "Bad Boy Trouble" is the kind of thing that future generations will want to know more about, and will turn to the important work we're doing here for these answers. Won't they? Don't answer.)
Whistle. Game. End score 3-2.  A fine match. No red cards for the Bon Jovi rule. 5 nice goals and a few of them spectacular. And the Archie Haiku World Cup winner is...

Jeff Krell of the United States. Congratulations Mr. Krell.

(A well-deserved victory by Mr. Krell. Combined with his stellar performance in the Triathlon and the great interview he gave me, I'd like to think Jeff Krell is more than deserving of a shot at his dream.)

My unending thanks to both Jeff and Brad for their time and sportsmanship, this was a truly epic contest and will surely go down in history as one of the best Archie Haiku Duels ever to be staged.


Jeff's blog is also well worth a visit, as is Brad's website.





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