200 Words with Paul Dini #42 – No Karma Chameleon

December 9, 2008

LIVE COLOR-CHANGING CHAMELEONS! $1.99 each plus postage! From the moment they read those words in a comic book ad, the imaginations of my childhood friends Ricky Godfrey and his older brother Phil were afire with the idea of owning those miraculous reptiles. Though the Godfrey brothers usually had a relationship that rivaled India and Pakistan in contentiousness, they wanted the chameleons badly enough to work together to get them. They did odd jobs around the neighborhood, robbed their banks for birthday money and begged for advances on their allowances. After sending off their money order, they spent a weekend cleaning up an old fish tank, stocking it with colored gravel, a flat rock and other things to delight their pets. The two warring brothers had become best pals, and they frequently fantasized about proudly strutting through the neighborhood with their mighty lizards crawling before them, straining at their leashes and snapping their jaws like Komodo dragons. Finally the big day arrived and so did the lizards, in a tiny cardboard box. One of the chameleons was bright-eyed and alert, while the other was shriveled and still. Tearfully Phil delivered the bad news to Ricky: “Oh, I’m sorry. Yours is dead.”


Paul Dini is the Emmy and Eisner Award winning writer of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Detective Comics, Countdown among many, many other things. You can find him online at either kingofbreakfast.livejournal.com or http://www.jinglebelle.com/.



  1. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:


  2. huuum. $1.99. Sounds like a steal of a deal. So, um, did the alert lizard change colors or was the lizards an alagory of the boys and their changing colors?

  3. It is unwise to suggest murder amongst chameleons. If they wanted to keep any one of us quiet, we’d never see them coming.

  4. The last line made me laugh a lot.

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    It would be neat if the surviving chameleon, guilty of fratricide, was cursed with a red hand for the rest of its life. 

    Also, if I were to mail a chameleon, I’d set it on top of a sheet of stamps so that it could record the proper postage on its skin and then drop it in a mailbox with an address label.   

  6. diabolical were the deeds that went down in the darkeness of that box.

  7. They used to ship live animals, by MAIL! Times have changed.

  8. Bwhahaha!  Nice.

  9. That’s a great anecdote.  Great punchline. 

  10. For an extra buck you could have had the x-ray vision chameleons.

  11. Two words…. Sea Monkeys.

  12. What a way to kick off my night!  Great story. That last line killed me. (oh god… hate puns sometimes.)

  13. I always wanted to buy those x-ray specs and the hovercar they used to advertise in comics but gainful employment for 8 year-old in KY in the 70s was hard to find.  This new junk they try to sell to kids today just isn’t as cool as the junk in my generation.  Anyone remember Grit magazine?  That’s quality junk.

  14. I miss the Johnson Smith Co. ads!  I finally talked my mother into letting my buy the hovercar.  It was basically a whirling piece of sharp metal bonded to a plastic pie plate.  The fact that I’m using all 10 fingers to type right now is a small miracle.

  15. Oh man I always wondered what that really looked like.  You were a spoiled child, sir!

  16. Brilliant.

  17. that was hilarious, never saw it coming