Jaime Valderrama, Cosmic Death Queen

By Kaylie Rivas
Art: Cosmic Death Queen by Jaime Valderrama

Art: Dog by Luke DiBona
Published Issue 080, August 2020

I didn’t always used to be this way. You know … hated by everyone. In a way, all of this “evil” stuff has just given me a complex, really. It’s like you do one thing wrong and they condemn you to hell. Oh well, at least the people listen to me here.

I mean … the people here are all dead, it’s not like anyone is in a hurry to go anywhere. Sure, there have been a few hopefuls but a mortal hasn’t outwitted death yet. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be considered a mortal, now would they? Anyway, I guess now that I think about it, no one is ever really in a hurry to leave or come over. Once in a while there are a few suicides that roll in, but they aren’t exactly all smiles at the gates of hell either. I guess there’s just no pleasing some people.

As weird as it sounds, it would be nice to see a smiling face once in a while. I get it though. I didn’t become Ruler of the Underworld because it was my first choice. In fact, this is not what I signed up for at all when we first discussed taking Olympus back. I just happened to get the short straw when we were drawing for territories. But when life gives you lemons … am I right?

There have been a few times where I think I’ve had it up to my wits with this place. Usually it’s more tolerable the closer you get to my chambers. I keep the peaceful souls nearby so I can get some sleep at night. 

The white supremacists are probably the most annoying though. They just complain all day about everything.“It’s hot in here!” “Well God said—““Get that pitch fork out of my butt, it’s not Wedne-sdaayyyyyyy!!!!”

Let’s be real here, who goes to hell and thinks, “I’m sure this will be a comfortable stay.

Every once in a while we have a family reunion on Mount Olympus and it gives me something to do. Sometimes I forget where I’m at and I start to vent about how people are irritating, even when they’re dead. Do you know what everyone always says to me? “Oh come on Hades, they’re all dying to meet you!”

Do you have any idea how tired I am of hearing Zeus’ repeat dad jokes? An afternoon of being on Mount Olympus with him and my gaggling sisters reminds me that maybe humans aren’t so bad. Those poor disposable creatures; always running on a clock only to fade away in a box that ends up at my door step. 

Sometimes I like to mess with the newbies as they creep around the entrance. It takes a minute for the truth to sink in. Most people are slow at first, unsure of what’s going on or where they are. I usually wait for them to do something naïve, like knock at the gate. Then I respond with my best impression of a woman. I clear my throat and let out my well-rehearsed, “Hehe, yessss? Who is ittt?” Or my personal favorite, “Sorry no one’s home … just kidding!”

I try to liven things up around here (no pun intended). No one is ever amused. Confused is a more accurate way to describe their reactions. When you spend most of eternity in the Underworld, you don’t realize all the things people say about you.

This place is also a permanent getaway for the reaper. You might’ve heard of him but his real name is Stephen and he helps new souls find their way here. Stephen’s a good guy but I always find him in his canoe asleep with mustard on his shirt. We have an all-you-can-eat weenie roast blazing at all times on the fourth floor. Stephen has never gotten tired of the fourth floor. 

To be honest, he’s basically useless in the grand scheme of things, but I guess you could say we’ve been friends since day one. He was the very first soul to show up here. He looked cold in his tiny loin cloth so I gave him a cloak. He’s been really owning the punk rock look ever since. Like I said before, he’s not exactly employee of the month when it comes to guarding the gates of hell. But people keep dying and security isn’t getting any better … I’m thinking about getting a dog.

By Luke DiBona

Kaylie Rivas is a visual artist and writer. She is the owner and artist of Collicular Clothing where she designs all of the clothing, prints and accessories and maintains all facets of the business.

Jaime Valderrama is an an illustrator/screen printer and zine publisher born and raised in Los Angeles. His work is science fiction based with a touch of surrealism. Much of his inspiration is derived from vintage science fiction, life experiences and family. He create material that is beyond imagination.

Luke DiBona is a Boulder-based freelance illustrator and designer and the co-owner of Day Off Ltd. specializing in illustrating, branding, packaging, art direction and making.