Sympathy — and Respect — for the Bedeviled

My latest article has gone up at

It begins:
Allow me to introduce Casanova Nobody Frankenstein.
Whose Tears of the Leather-Bound Saints has just issued.
And that is his real name.
Legally, since 2013.
In homage to the evil genius of Mystery Men comics.
(Forgive me if you knew this.)

He was born Alfred Martin Frank, III, in 1967. His father was a physically abusive Chicago cop and his mother emotionally frozen. He grew up near a municipal incinerator whose calcium and lead-based emissions, he has said, endowed him with the “dual super powers of drawing ability and sickness.”
Near-sighted, un-athletic, small, he was bullied by white classmates (“Nigger”) and black ones (“Oreo”). He found comfort in comics, horror movies, and sitcoms. (“Weird Al,” they called him.) He found it in art. (He began to draw at three and to study art at eight.) He thought of killing himself every day, but each pain “(chipped) off another slab of hardened grime from my soul.” By the end of high school, he had a scholarship to Texas Tech.