I was in Sydney’s Chinatown recently, negotiating a tiresome crowd of zombies, when I bumped into a tall, shuffling figure wearing a trenchcoat, scalf and hat, even though it wasn’t all that cold. It was only as I apologised and bent down to retrieve the guy’s fedora that I noticed the long green tail spilling out from his trenchcoat along the cobbled road behind him. I glanced up and realised I was having a Seredipitous Celebrity Encounter. It was the majestic Fin Fang Foom himself! The moment reminded me of a comic I’d read a while back — “How Fin Fang Foom Saved Christmas” by Scott Gray and Roger Langridge in Marvel Holiday Special #1 [you can read the whole thing here]. He wasn’t giant-monster size, not like he had been in Jack Kirby’s day, though he did tower over me.
“Sorry, Mr Foom,” I muttered.
“What, clumsy simian peasant?” he growled. “Dare you recognise me?”
“You’re a famous guy,” I said. “How could I not?”
He huffed, then declared, “Out of my way, revolting boil! Those who interrupt the mighty Fin Fang Foom in the course of his business end up as mere cinder smears on the nearest wall!”
And he strode off, pushing the hapless crowds out of his way. I watched him go, cursing my lack of journalistic aggression. I could have interviewed him! What a coup that would have been!
But my luck held. After finishing some business, I went to the crowded yum cha restaurant I often frequent for lunch when visiting the metropolis; the waiter said they only had a seat way down the back — and looked sheepish. I checked out the spot… and there was Fin Fang Foom himself, isolated, as patrons had left a large clear space all around him. His imperious manner and fire-breath seemed to daunt them. Not me. I barreled up to a hastily vacated table right next to Foom and made myself comfortable. He shot me a scathing look.
“You!” he hissed.
“Me!” I replied.
“Those foolish enough to hound the great Fin Fang Foom are doomed to meet a hideous and gruesome end!”
“Sorry,” I said. “It was just a coincidence. But I’d love to interview you! Can I?”
His eyes blazed. “Interview me? Those who dare to seek an interview with the magnificent Fin Fang –“
“I have a blog,” I interrupted. “Undead Backbrain. I write about giant monsters, zombies… that sort of –“
“I’ve read it. I read it all the time. Complete rubbish. But, yes, you may interview me.”
“I wish you’d reconsider … what did you say?”
“You can interview me. It’s lucky you got me in a cheery mood.”
I grinned, thrilled by my good fortune. “So why are you in such a cheery mood?”
“Ahh!” He patted his vast green belly. “I just had a top-notch entré.”
“Pork buns or fried squid?”
Hmmm. I knew that would lead to trouble, so decided to get stuck into the questions straight away, before the army turned up. I signaled for food to keep Foom happy — and he chewed on his second waiter while we talked.
Backbrain: Are you in Sydney for a holiday, Mr Foom?
Foom: Call me … [he uttered a cacophony of syllables totally impossible to either pronounce or transcribe] …
Backbrain: Sure thing, Mr… umm …
Foom: Foolish mortal! Do you think I’d visit this cesspool of convict peasantry on a mere whim? I’m here on business.
Backbrain: What sort of business?
Foom: If I told you I’d have to gouge out your intestines and use them to strangle your brains.
Backbrain: OK, forget I asked. Still, it’s great to have you visit our shores.
[Foom glanced around at a woman sneaking past on her way to the loo.]
Foom: Why does everyone cringe away from me, even when I’m not trying to pull off their legs? Am I that scary?
Backbrain: Maybe you should’ve worn your purple shorts.
Foom: Bah! Those shorts are an atrocity drawn on me by the mediocre talents I’m forced to work with! Are you so parochial that pant-less dragons are uncommon here?
Backbrain: Not at all. We’re visited by big reptilian celebrities without any sort of clothing all the time. Godzilla was here a few years back making a picture. He totally trashed the Opera House. Totally gone!
Foom: Lie not to me, foolish cretin! I saw the Opera House as I flew in this morning.
Backbrain: I’m afraid that’s just a cardboard façade. They’re rebuilding it but it’ll take a while.
Foom: A few years ago, you say? Does it take them so long to re-construct the city? Tokyo does it in mere weeks.
Backbrain: They get a lot of practice.
Backbrain: Have you ever worked with Godzilla?
Foom: Why would I want to? Calls himself “King” when there’s no royal blood in his veins at all. Sheer arrogant pretension. For a while he was contracted to Marvel, as I am. They wanted us to slug it out in … Chicago, I think it was, or Philidelphia. But I refused. Godzilla’s breath is appalling! I can’t talk to him at all. Every time I try all he does is roar inarticulately.
Backbrain: What’s it like to work with the superheroes — Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man…
Foom: Pitiful cringing dolts, all of them! Not so much superheroes as superzeroes. The company only brings me in when those talentless hacks are losing the plot. I’ve saved them all many times.
Backbrain: But you always lose!
Foom: Censorship! It’s a problem I face every single time. They have to win, the pathetic worms. Their so-called public image demands it. No one wants to hear the truth.
Backbrain: So why do you do it?
Foom: Even an ancient dragon needs money. Where else am I going to find work? It’s either comics or being a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
Backbrain: A waiter?
Foom: I tried it back in the early days. Customers are so rude. I kept losing my temper. I burnt Constantinople to the ground. Twice. Then there was that time in London…
Backbrain: Can I ask: why are you so small now? I recall a time when you were gigantic!
[He reared back and was suddenly over 15 feet tall. His back gouged holes in the ceiling.]
Foom: I can be any size I please. It’s a matter of …. [All around us people are screaming and running for the doorway.]
Backbrain: Sorry? I can’t hear you.
Foom [shouting across the ruins of the restaurant]: BE SILENT, YOU FOUL INSECTS! THOSE WHO WOULD DROWN OUT FIN FANG FOOM’S WORDS WILL MEET AN IGNOMINIOUS END!
[His voice was so loud it caused what was left of the roof to collapse. I dragged myself out from the wreckage. Foom was now towering some 60 feet above me. I could hear the jets coming in the distance.]
Backbrain: Perhaps we could continue this interview some other time.
Foom: Perhaps. I have an appointment now anyway. [He bends down, so his gigantic face is close to my ear.] Listen, can you please give me directions to the Fox Studios?
Backbrain: Fox? Sure. Does that mean we might expect to hear about a movie deal one of these days?
[Foom laughs, rearing into a sky-shattering howl.]
Foom: If I told you I’d have to peel your flesh from your bones and shove the whole lot down your gullet to stop you from talking!
Backbrain: Right. Forget I asked.
I gave him directions. As he flew off into the sky, the jets arrived and began firing their rockets at him. He used the Harbour Bridge to gain added momentum and the whole structure twisted into a vast metallic pretzel as he pushed himself southward. It was quite a show. Dozens of tourists whipped out their camera phones and filmed it. Did you see it on YouTube? It was only up for a short time. Marvel and Fox’s lawyers made them remove the footage soon after it went online, claiming the images were some sort of infringement of copyright.
Oh well! I found a chair that wasn’t too wonky and grabbed some chicken legs from the food trolley.
Tasted fine, once I’d blown the dust off.
Note: You can read more about Fin Fang Foom in Part 1 of this article here.