"...the usual charge leveled against comic books, that they offered merely an escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf. He had escaped, in his life, from ropes, chains, boxes, bags, and crates, from handcuffs and shackles, from countries and regimes, from the arms of a woman who loved him, from crashed airplanes and an opiate addiction and from an entire frozen continent intent on causing his death. The escape from reality was, he felt--especially right after the war--a worthy challenge. He would remember for the rest of his life a peaceful half hour spent reading a copy of Betty and Veronica that he had found in a service-station rest room: lying down with it under a fir tree, in a sun-slanting forest outside of Medford, Oregon, wholly absorbed into that primary-colored world of bad gags, heavy ink lines, Shakespearean farce, and the deep, almost Oriental mystery of the two big-toothed, wasp-waisted, goddess-girls, light and dark, entangled forever in the enmity of their friendship. The pain of his loss--though he would never have spoken of it in these terms--was always with him in those days, a cold smooth ball lodged in his chest, just behind his sternum. For that half hour spent in the dappled shade of the Douglas firs, reading Betty and Veronica, the icy ball had melted away without him even noticing. That was magic--not the apparent magic of the silk-hatted card-palmer, or the bold, brute trickery of the escape artist, but the genuine magic of art. It was a mark of how fucked-up and broken was the world--the reality--that had swallowed his home and his family that such a feat of escape, by no means easy to pull off, should remain so universally despised."