We lost Russ Heath today. He passed peacefully at age 91. If you don’t know his work, do yourself a favor and look him up. He was one of the best comic artists of his generation, specializing in WWII and western comics. Aside from his enviable talent, Russ was quite the character. He was cranky but in a fun curmudgeonly way, always quick with a (usually off-color) joke, but with pretty strong opinions about comics and a lot of other things. Today we say goodbye.
I was reminded of WIR recently and thought it was high time somebody documented the origin of the term and site, at least somewhat beyond the bare-bones detail to be found at Wikipedia. As it happens, I know pretty much all the people who were involved in the site, and was present during some of the early discussion, so I invited them to participate in an online roundtable discussion.
One of the most incisive and compelling observers of the human condition, Harlan Ellison passed away in his sleep last week at age 84. Everyone who ever met him has a Harlan story, to the point that being in his presence was usually referred to as “witnessing the ‘Harlan Live’ show,” and we here at the Junk Shop are no exceptions. Here are a few.
At the Mount San Antonio College Writer’s Day in Walnut, California in 1974, Harlan Ellison read aloud his new story “Knox” to a packed auditorium. He saw today coming. He’d been late, as always; to entertain us while we waited, the literature department chairman had, with great relish, himself begun reading Harlan’s earlier story, “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman.”Before the chairman finished, word came that our guests had arrived: Harlan, and Ray Bradbury — who never learned to drive, even after half a lifetime writing about Tomorrow; Harlan chauffeured Ray from Cheviot Hills, so both were late. They were put onstage together as chastisement. Harlan went first. And hit all of us right between the eyes.
This thought occurred to me as I was driving home the other night. I was listening to the soundtrack to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it was at the part where the mob sings: “We don’t like what we don’t understand, in fact it scares us…” I thought “huh, Trump voters.” And then it hit me… Donald Trump is a Disney Villain.
It was June 16, 2008 when The Middleman premiered on what was then ABC Family. Ten years later, it’s time to celebrate this brilliant program and try once more to help nudge it further into Cult Classic status.
A lot of movies that I love are widely regarded as bad; they are often labeled flops, failures, train wrecks, disasters… and once in a while, I feel like defending one of them. Today it’s Steven Spielberg’s biggest flop, the big-budget comedy spectacular called 1941.