Off Limits

Comic relief

First, there's Eugene Wang. Then there's his girlfriend, Chief. And finally his mother, Selma.

And before you even get to the end of chapter one of graphic novel The Wang, Chief and Selma have met in the Fascist Nation Bondage & Sex Superstore (modeled on -- you guessed it -- Fascinations) and begun a lesbian affair because, as Mom says, "We both weren't getting enough love from you, Eugene."

Now Eugene's creator, Denver author Stan Yan, feels like he isn't getting much love from Diamond Comic Book Distributors. The company has refused to include the cover image of The Wang in its catalogue, Previews, explaining that it wants to keep a PG rating and that Yan's vibrator cover is just too PG-13.

Smut patrol: Vibrators are out, but boobs and 
cameltoes are A-OK.
Smut patrol: Vibrators are out, but boobs and cameltoes are A-OK.

"I respect that they're a private company, but by the same token, Diamond has sort of a monopoly on distribution of the new comic-book industry," Yan says. "And there's a little bit of a double standard. Another book has an image of a woman taking her shirt off, and you can see the bottom of her huge breast -- almost to the nipple, but not quite. Another has liquid latex paint painted on a woman, and her outfit is such that it creates a major cameltoe -- and that was fine."

But Yan isn't shut out completely: Diamond will still distribute The Wang to comic-book stores starting in September, using an illustration from chapter three to sell the book. Complains Yan, "I think what they have done is a disservice to retailers' ability to make an educated buying decision based on the actual cover art."

And if he knows about anything, it's buying decisions. Yan began penning the comic tales of Eugene as a final project for his art class at the University of Colorado, where he was getting his accounting degree. "I stated doing a superhero parody, and in development, it became less about superhero stuff and more about the dysfunctional relationships of the characters in my book -- Eugene, his mom and his girlfriend," Yan says. "So I got Eugene off of steroids and out of his tights and cape and made it more of a twisted slice-of-life story."

But not his life, he insists. Pass the vibrator.

A purrfect match: Chauncey Billups has the city's heart right now, but fame is fleeting. Fortunately, the next celeb worthy of some Mile High hero worship is already waiting on the bench: Morris the Cat.

The newest finicky 9Lives feline hails from Aurora and has the sort of lowly beginning that most stars would hide under fake names and dark sunglasses. Marcy Brown, director of Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance, was at the Vista Haven trailer park last year, catching feral cats at the management's request, when she spotted Jack the Cat digging food out of a dumpster. "I set my trap and he went right in, and I realized as soon as he was in the trap that he was tame," Brown says. "I asked the neighbors if he was anyone's cat and posted fliers, and finally a woman told me that Jack's former owners took off and left him behind."

The moon-faced orange tabby's mug was soon posted on the RMACA's website, and he was sent to foster care with volunteer Laura Smith. In August, RMACA got a call from Morris's trainer, Rose Ordile. She'd seen Jack on the website and thought he might be the perfect understudy for Morris IV, who assumed the title in 2000. Since the first Morris was discovered in a Chicago animal shelter in 1968, all of the Morrises have been rescues, and Ordile regularly trolls the web in search of her next star.

But Brown wasn't letting her foundling go to just anybody -- even if Ordile did have the Del Monte brand backing her. "We really wanted to make sure about the whole situation," she says. "We didn't know Rose, and we didn't know 9Lives' procedures. So she went through the procedure just like anyone off the street."

Jack's rise to stardom wasn't guaranteed, either. Even though the cat's personality convinced Ordile early on that he was her man, she still had to submit numerous photos to Del Monte to prove that Jack was the proper heir to the Morris throne. In March the company finally gave the go-ahead, so Ordile adopted the vagabond and took him back to Hollywood.

Morris IV is still going strong, so for now, Jack's enjoying a leisurely life of cushions and cream. "These cats ride in limos," Brown says. "If they need to be transported to another state, they have a seat on the plane; they don't go in cargo. Here's this poor cat, abandoned, eating out of a dumpster, and now he's riding in limos."

Didn't the same thing happen to Hilary Duff?

Going to the dogs: Some Denver pooches may soon get the royal treatment, too. As part of East West Partners' Riverfront Park development, plans are in the works for a dedicated off-leash dog park at 20th and Little Raven streets.

"We've been having a lot of dog use of Commons Park," explains Amy Fuller, the non-dog-owning CFO of East West Partners. "So in figuring out how to keep dog owners and non-dog owners all happy, we determined that we needed a dog park, and this is a good location because it's offset from Commons Park. It's a little smaller than Parks and Recreation usually likes, but we really need something down here."

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