Aug 22, 2007

The last thing I want to do is write about Ray Bradbury.

I don't have anything against the guy, in fact the complete opposite is true. I love Ray's stuff. It's my personal connection with his stories that makes writing about him hard. I can't help falling into cliche. Summing up how grateful I am for his stories is beyond my writing and yet no tribute at all would be worse.

The first sci-fi book I ever read was Bradbury's "R is for Rocket". I discovered it in my Jr. high school library and the reading opened a whole world of imaginative literature. If I had never read another one of his books I would still be eternally grateful, but many of his stories are personal favorites.

Bradbury doesn't just write a story, it runs from his veins. He ties off his writing arm with a long rubber hose, uses his pen to extract a story and plunges the results onto paper. His stories of the impossible seem personal as if they've already been lived. Bradbury isn't just writing, he seems to be retelling stories as he heard them from the characters involved. I picture Ray in white tennis shorts at the last stool in the Mos Eisley Cantina, a sort of intergalactic Norm from Cheers. He's nursing a warm bottle of Atomic Ale and drinking in the stories.

I got to meet him once at a signing. I had a brand new journal I had purchased for writing down ideas. What better way to break in a book of ideas than to have a childhood hero sign it first? Seeing all white pages, Ray Bradbury took his sharpie and drew a big goofy face in profile. Next to the face he wrote his secret to success.

Write, Write Write, Dammit.

I've never received easier advice so difficult to follow.

Bradbury Links

Ray's official site is here.

Did you know Bradbury won a Pulitzer this year? Yup. "A special citation to Ray Bradbury for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy."

An interview with Bradbury from Jason Marchi I think about 1998 or 99. At the time, Mel Gibson had planned to remake Farenheit 451. This article talks about that and other stuff.

Last year, Bradbury's childhood home of Waukegan Ill. started a story telling festival. The one night only event is scheduled for Oct 26. This year's theme is Literary Monsters for more info...

If you're looking for a good bibliography start here. If you're looking for a more in depth look at his work, this site from the UK is exhaustive

Aug 16, 2007

If anyone in the blogosphere is paying attention, I am sorry for the long delay. I will be back shortly. Please accept this Indian Head test pattern as a temporary substitute for content.

Thank you for your patience

Aug 3, 2007

Safety Card Friday #4

The characters are almost on model and the coloring isn't too bad but what's with the slogan? "Obey your Safety Patrol He is there to help you" Shouldn't it be they are there to help you Or obey your Safety Patrol leader? Something like that. I'm also not seeing Yogi as the safety conscious type. This is the bear who runs willy-nilly through Jellystone with unauthorized picnic baskets.

And what curbside danger is Yogi saving anybody from? If he's about to help Top Cat across the street, he's doing it with no crosswalk in sight. I'm thinking Yogi needs some supervision. Since Ranger Smith isn't doing the job, maybe it's time to call in someone with more authority. Yogi needs someone like Smokey Bear who can whack him with a shovel and knock some sense into him. Just don't ruin the authorized yellow safety headgear.

Happy Birthday Jay North

At some point every generation embraces it's inner brat. There's a long history of fictional characters that are funny because of their nasty behavior. Just how mean the characters can be or how much they can get away with depends on the mood of the country at the time. Before the kids of South Park there was Bart Simpson. Before that, Kevin Mcallister [Home Alone] & Junior [Problem Child] and on down the line. In the 50's, the brat du jour was Dennis the Menace.

Hank Ketchum was living in Monterey California with his wife Alice and 4 year old son Dennis. One peaceful day Alice checks in on Dennis who has been put down for his nap. Mrs. Ketchum discovers that Dennis didn't want a nap. He's not only awake, he's in the process of ripping his room apart.

I'm sure Hank can hear a commotion, but every married man knows what's coming next. No matter how bad Dennis has been, Alice can only be so mad at the kid but the rest of that frustration and anger has gotta go somewhere. Being smart, Ketcham stays in the studio and waits for the storm to come to him. He didn't know his wife's next words were going to change his life.

"Your son is a menace!" Alice roars, and the little light goes on. Our son Dennis ...the Menace. In her exasperation, Ketcham's wife helped to create one of the most popular and enduring comic strips of the 20th century.

Dennis the Menace first appears on March 12, 1951 in sixteen papers. Eight years later millions are reading the strip around the world and the Dennis the Menace TV show begins it's four year run. Jay North is hand picked by Ketcham to play America's new wonder brat.

North played Dennis for four seasons and may have played him longer but near the end of the third season, Joseph Kearns who had been playing Mr. Wilson passed away. The show brought in Gale Gordon to play Mr. Wilson's brother for season 4. It's no fault of Gordon's but the show didn't recover.

For North, Hollywood roles slowly dried up and he eventually became a prison guard in the Florida penal system. He is now retired and living in Central Fl. He occasionally attends nostalgia conventions signing autographs for fans and discussing his days as Hollywood's tow headed terror.

The official Dennis the Menace site is pretty good with lots of info on Hank Ketcham and his creation

Hank Ketcham also wrote his autobiography and you can get it from the publisher here. This same publisher [Fantagraphics Books] is also releasing all of Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace strips in a planned 25 volume set. Every year a new book is released with two full years of Dennis strips. If you're a big fan of comic strip art, you owe a visit to Fantagraphics site.