Archive for Obituaries

Odds and Ends

Hey, here’s some stuff I feel like I shoulda mentioned before!

Bullet Point! Baxter, the foster dog we were taking care of a while back, has now moved on to his Forever Home and Forever Daddy off in the distant wilds outside Marfa, Texas. He’s getting along great with his new big brother and greatly enjoying living in the country, where he gets to snuffle his nose in all the wet cow poop he wants. He’s probably forgotten us already, which is really the point of being a foster, to be honest.

The only thing about the whole situation I’m not happy about is learning that he has to get rattlesnake vaccinations now. Who even knew there was such a thing as rattlesnake vaccinations?!

Okay, here’s another picture of Baxter. He’s a good boy!

And next: Bullet Point! Hats off for Richard Corben, superstar comic artist, who died last week. He did art for Heavy Metal, Meat Loaf albums, Hellboy comics, and a bunch of other weird, glorious, gorgeous projects.

Let’s look at a little Richard Corben art:

Bullet Point! Disney announced a massive buttload of new Marvel and Star Wars movies and TV shows, as well as casting news and photos for their programs, including WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Hawkeye, Loki, What If?, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more.

Can I just say they really need to slow this stuff down a lot? I like superhero stuff as much as anyone, but I’m really not sure there’s that much appetite for so much superhero content on TV and in the movies. I suspect a lot of mainstream audiences figured “Endgame” wrapped up the Marvel Cinematic Universe nicely, and there’s not a guarantee they want more. Better to release one or two movies, see how audiences react, and go from there, rather than jump to a massive glut of Marvel movies and pray people will care.

Besides, why care too hard about Disney stuff when they’re balking at paying their contracted royalties to creators?

Bullet Point! Hats off for Tom “Tiny” Lister, who died just a few days ago. Like most character actors, he had certain kinds of roles he specialized in — namely, the absolutely terrifying black man — with more than enough skill to subvert those roles, whether for comedy, as Deebo in “Friday” or President Lindberg in “The Fifth Element,” or for pure drama, in his small but massively impactful role in “The Dark Knight” as the prisoner who throws the detonator out of the prison ferry.

I can’t say Lister was the best actor in “The Dark Knight,” because he was onscreen for such a brief period. But he doubtless played the part of the most purely moral character in the movie — a man who uses his fearsome appearance solely to preserve life — and he sold the role beautifully.

Bullet Point! It turns out it’s not a good feeling at all knowing that 70 million people and almost every elected Republican at every level of government believes Nazis are Very Fine People and that democracy must be destroyed.

Is there anyone left out there saying we need to reach across the aisle to these people, to learn how they think? Anyone still saying Biden should pardon Trump for the good of the country? I sure hope not, ’cause anyone still saying nonsense like that is a goddamn idiot.

Probably the only way we’ll ever save this country is to somehow get every Trump supporter in the country stuffed into an unmarked grave somewhere — which means it’s probably impossible to save America, ’cause the only people with the drive to execute that many people… are Trumpers and their fellow Nazis.

As I’ve said far too often: (1) if you’ve got the ability to flee the country, do so as quickly as you can. Save yourself, save your family, save your friends, save a few folks from vulnerable populations and (2) The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi.

Comments off

Long Live the King

I’m hesitant to write much about Chadwick Boseman at all. I only knew him from his movies, and his costars, directors, and friends have already written about what a brilliant actor and great man he was.

Still, I’ll say this: I’m not sure there’s any actor whose loss is going to be felt so greatly. Not just in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where “Black Panther” was very much considered the best movie in that entire series, but in Hollywood and pop culture, too. Boseman was a powerhouse actor, and his personal charisma meant that he was incredibly well loved, even if he wasn’t the best-known actor in the world. His death is going to shake us for a long time.

And yes, it’s yet another example of why 2020 is just the goddamn worst.

On Saturday night, right after I’d heard the news and was thoroughly wrapped up in discouragement, I felt like this should be the final nail in the MCU’s coffin. They’d lost a number of their most popular actors after “Endgame,” and the next phase of sequels were looking fairly aimless. Surely now would be the best time to let the series walk off into the sunset?

But I was wrong, for a number of reasons. First, the Marvel movies have been just too popular, and Disney isn’t going to let them disappear without a fight. But Boseman meant so much to so many people. He was deeply loved by his costars and directors, and his fans absolutely thought the world of him.

Some quick examples:

Basically, I don’t think you could stop the “Black Panther” sequel now. The cast and crew would demand it be made. The fans would demand it be made. The same likely holds true for the rest of the MCU. Everyone’s going to want to make a new film in the series just so they can add their own tributes to Boseman.

And it’s a powerful reminder that no other Marvel film inspired more devotion than “Black Panther.” No other movie empowered Black creators — in every art form — than “Black Panther.” And it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if Boseman’s passing encourages a new surge in groundbreaking works by BIPOC creators — filmmakers, artists, writers, you name it — and offers a timely reminder to studios and publishers that diversity in entertainment is an unalloyed good.

Comments off

RIP Richard Sala

Terrible news for comics fans and anyone who loves weird, gorgeous, gothic art. Artist/cartoonist/storyteller Richard Sala has died at the far-too-young age of 61.

Sala created comics that were a wonderfully weird blend of noir and horror in a unique and instantly recognizable style. His monsters, minions, and masterminds were twisted, grotesque, sometimes pitiable, and doomed. His heroes were nebbishes, everymen, braver than they should have been, and doomed. His heroines were beautiful, sexy, stronger than they looked — and not always doomed.

His stories were convoluted, bleak, eerie, full of dread, and frequently funnier than you were expecting. He embraced the tropes of horror, mystery, and noir while giving them his own special flavor.

If you want to read his books, look for The Chuckling Whatsit, Violenzia, Delphine, Mad Night, Hypnotic Tales, Peculia, Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires, and numerous others. He’d just announced plans to create a webcomic called Carlotta Havoc Versus Everyone, which is a great title and a great concept, and it’s depressing we’ll never get to see it.

Let’s check out some of Sala’s art.

I’m honestly amazed I never spotlighted any of Sala’s work before on the blog. Probably because I usually focused on new releases and stuff I figured most people could find in their local comics shops or on Amazon. It’s probably way past time I started posting reviews of older works, though it’s gonna take me a month or two to dig my Sala books out of storage.

Comments off

Rest in Peace, Sir Terry Pratchett


Yesterday was tough, wasn’t it? If you’re anything like me and several million other fans of fun, geeky, glorious literature, you found out around mid-morning that Terry Pratchett, author best known for the Discworld series of novels, had died. And after that, you spent the rest of the day in a severe funk, if not going to hide somewhere so you could safely cry at work.

I don’t think I can reach any unusual heights of eloquence here. I can’t tell you any stories about him you haven’t heard. There are people who’ve actually met him and worked with him who can do that, and you should seek them out and read them, because they’re remarkably good and moving. I can’t tell you about how reading Pratchett’s novels changed my life, because I was already a sci-fi and fantasy-loving geek when I read my first Discworld novel — but there are a lot of people who had their lives transformed by his books, and you should seek them out, too, because they’re also good and even more moving.

I can tell you that I haven’t read all of Sir Terry’s books, but I’ve read a lot, and I’ve loved most of them. And though I know so very many people who love his books as much as I do, it’s also vastly frustrating how little known he seems to be outside of his fanbase. Even those who aren’t readers of horror know Stephen King; even those who aren’t readers of science fiction know Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury; even those who aren’t readers of fantasy know Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. But Pratchett wasn’t just a funny fantasy writer — he was also one of the grandest wordsmiths on the planet — yet most of my officemates at work had never heard of him. That’s terrible, and I don’t know how to solve that.

I am, in fact, sorely tempted to go grab handfuls of my favorite Discworld books and force them on people — but my favorite books — “Small Gods,” “Reaper Man,” etc. — wouldn’t make the best introductions to the Discworld. But some of the earlier books are maybe a bit too chaotic and could turn off neophyte fans. I have no solution, and it frustrates me terribly.

Perhaps the best solution is just to keep evangelizing about how good his books are, and let those who are open to his style of humor and wonder and epic glory… discover for themselves.

I think I have to close with a line — one which has been strongly affecting me throughout the day — from one of Pratchett’s best and oddest characters: WHAT CAN THE HARVEST HOPE FOR, IF NOT FOR THE CARE OF THE REAPER MAN?

Comments off

Live Forever, Ray Bradbury!

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Ray Bradbury has died.

What this boiled down to, personally, is that yesterday was not a very good day for me.

Ray Bradbury has been my favorite writer for as long as I can remember. I don’t know that he was every considered a very hip writer — I’ve worked at too many jobs where I mentioned his name to coworkers and got a lot of blank stares in reply. But I know that he’s pretty solidly beloved by science fiction writers, fantasy writers, horror writers, just about every writer under the sun. I’ve loved the stuffing out of him since I was a little kid. I never got to meet him, I never exchanged mail with him, but I always thought of him as a personal friend — it always amazed me that everything he wrote felt like it had been written with me in mind. And more than likely, most of his other readers felt the same way. That’s an amazing gift.

I’ve been trying to remember what my first Ray Bradbury story was, and I’m pretty sure it was “The Homecoming,” which was the last story in a book called “Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum” that I read when I was a kid. And really, “The Homecoming” is very nearly my favorite of Bradbury’s stories — it’s about a normal kid who lives in a family of monsters and his sadness that he’ll never really be part of them. It’s a lyrical story, like so many of his other stories. It’s beautiful and poetic, funny and creepy. It’s a valentine for all of us who grew up identifying with the monsters and counting down the days to Halloween. And it’s also intensely sad. The last few hundred words are about the saddest you’ll read.

My favorite of his novels is doubtlessly “Dandelion Wine,” which is absolutely one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Its description of a Midwestern summer is so perfect that for years I’d re-read it every winter — I needed a dose of that Bradbury summer to get me through the cold months. But now is a good time to read it, too. Read it through the summer, go for walks in the woods, enjoy your ice cream and new sneakers. Ray Bradbury’s summer is something that should never end.

Ray got kinda weirdly political in the past few years, but I could never bring myself to hold it against him. He gave me “The Homecoming” and “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “The Martian Chronicles” and “There Shall Come Soft Rains” and “Kaleidoscope” and “The Halloween Tree” and “The Small Assassin” and “A Sound of Thunder” and “The Toynbee Convector” and “The Pedestrian” and “The Fog Horn” and “Zen in the Art of Writing” and “Hail and Farewell” and “Last Rites” and “The Murderer” and “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair” and “The Anthem Runners” and “Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed” and more and more and more and more. I can forgive almost anything for someone who’s given me so much.

I haven’t been the only person to note that the chronicler of Mars died just after the transit of Venus. I can’t have been the only one to wonder that he died just before a summer like the one he wrote about in his Green Town stories. I’m certainly not the only person who’s remembering his glorious tale about how a carnival performer called Mr. Electrico inspired him by jolting him with electricity and shouting at him to “Live forever!” Because he will. I know it. You know it.

Thank you, Ray, for everything you’ve done for us. Thank you for being our friend. Thank you for living forever.

Comments (1)

RIP Dwayne McDuffie

Well, here’s some deeply depressing news.

Comic writer Dwayne McDuffie has died much, much too young of unspecified causes.

McDuffie’s work is what got me reading comics again while I was in grad school. I had a friend in the dorms who was reading Milestone Media’s comics — which McDuffie helped found back in the early ’90s — and I got hooked hard on the “Blood Syndicate” series.

He wrote all the first few issues of all of Milestone’s initial releases, including “Blood Syndicate,” “Static,” “Icon,” and “Hardware.” He also wrote comics ranging from “Fantastic Four” and “Justice League of America” to “Deathlok,” “Damage Control,” “X-O Manowar,” “Legends of the Dark Knight,” and “Beyond!”

In addition to comics, he was also a writer and producer for animated cartoons. He developed his Milestone character Static into a TV star in “Static Shock.” He also wrote tons of great stuff on “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited.” He worked on the “Ben 10” cartoons and wrote the script for the animated adaptation of “All Star Superman.”

Obviously, you don’t go and found a company like Milestone — dedicated to furthering a multicultural and multiracial approach to comics — without caring a lot about racial relations in America — and that both helped and hindered him. He got lots of positive press and was very well respected by people who cared about diversity in comics. But it made him a target for other people who liked to see comics as a “Whites Only” zone.

The last of his work that I got to read was his run on “Justice League” a few years back. It started off great and got derailed by editorial mandates from on high. I think DC didn’t treat him right — gave him the title just so they could get their hands on Static and a few other Milestone characters, then ran him off when they had what they wanted.

I never knew him personally, but I loved his work. He’s got my thanks forever, because he got me back reading comics again.

Raise your mugs high, people. To Dwayne McDuffie.

Comments off



No, wait, that’s not it.


That’s not it either.


Ah, there we go.

Well, gee, that was weird, wasn’t it? Like pretty much everyone else around my age, I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. The “Thriller” album really is just about the most perfect pop album ever, after years of amazing pop-soul hits with the Jackson 5. And the guy made some of the best and most iconic music videos ever. I think the “Thriller” album my sister and I bought when we were kids is still around (It’s stored at my parents’ house, ’cause they’ve got a stereo cabinet that was built for storing vinyl albums. Come to think of it, they’ve got an actual fer-realz record player, and none of us kids do), not that we’ve listened to much of it in ages. I’ve got the song “Thriller” on my Halloween mix-tape, but that’s about it.

Of course, I’ve avoided thinking about MJ in years — pretty much for the same reason I avoid thinking about Carrot Top, Andy Dick, Amy Winehouse, the Coreys, or anyone on reality TV — why waste precious brainspace on someone whose existence has become one long, painful slog of embarrassment?

So yeah, an awful way to go out, after a really awful decade of seemingly non-stop, self-inflicted humiliations. I’ll try to dwell on the awesome stuff he did instead

Comments off

Dungeons and Dragons co-creator dies


I had an unusually busy week, which meant far less time than I normally get for surfing the ‘Net. So I didn’t find out ’til this morning that Dave Arneson, the guy who co-created “Dungeons and Dragons” with Gary Gygax, died back on April 7.

David Lance Arneson, who helped trigger the global phenomenon of role-playing games as co-inventor of “Dungeons & Dragons,” has died at the age of 61.

A statement on the game’s official Web site,, said Arneson died Tuesday evening “after waging one final battle against cancer.”

Arneson “developed many of the fundamental ideas of role playing: that each player controls just one hero, that heroes gain power through adventures, and that personality is as important as combat prowess,” the statement said.

I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t even know that Arneson was ill. Gygax died just a little over a year ago – that seems like a really short space of time to lose both of the guys who created the modern roleplaying game.

Hats off, folks.

Comments off

The Death of Science Fiction’s Greatest Fan

Forrest J. Ackerman has died at age 92.

Fan as in fanatic. Fan as in fancier. Fan as in fantasy lover. Forrest J Ackerman, who died Thursday at 92 of a heart attack in Los Angeles, was all these things and many more: literary agent for such science fiction authors as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt, Curt Siodmak and L. Ron Hubbard; actor and talisman in more than 50 films (The Howling, Beverly Hills Cop III, Amazon Women on the Moon); editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and creator of the Vampirella comic book franchise. But each of these trades was an exponent of his educated ardor for science fiction, fantasy and horror, and his need to share that consuming appetite.

The Scifipedia, an online biographical dictionary, defines Ackerman first as “American fan.” That’s good enough. As much as almost any writer in the field, he created a devoted, informed audience for speculative fiction. If he didn’t coin the term “sci-fi” — Robert Heinlein used it first — then by using the phrase in public in 1954 he instantly popularized it (to the lasting chagrin of purists, who preferred “SF”). Forry, as everyone called him, was the genre’s foremost advocate, missionary and ballyhooer. His love for the form, stretching back more than 80 years, godfathered and legitimized the obsessions of a million fanboys. His passion was their validation. He was the original Fanman.

I wrote about Uncle Forry just a month ago, when it looked like he’d be leaving us in days. As it turns out, the cards and well-wishes from his own legions of fans helped him rally for an extra four weeks.

If you’ve ever been to a convention, whether for comics, horror, sci-fi, Star Trek, you name it, you’re one of Uncle Forry’s kids. If you’ve ever dressed up in costume as a character from fiction, you’re one of Uncle Forry’s kids. If you’ve ever spent an evening geeking out with friends about something awesome in a comic book, in an old science fiction story, in a horror movie, you’re one of Uncle Forry’s kids.

Mugs up, folks. Here’s to Forrest J. Ackerman.

Comments off

RIP Michael Turner


Comic artist Michael Turner as died after a long battle with cancer at the way-too-young age of 37.

I’d love to make this just a plain, pure tribute to the man, but I don’t think that’s gonna be possible. Honestly, I just didn’t enjoy most of Turner’s artwork. I mean, it was obvious that he had really strong artistic chops. Look at this cover he did for “Teen Titans.”


I think it’s just beautifully done. Yeah, you get a little Buttcrack Theatre from Starfire, but it’s far, far from the worst art we’ve ever seen of her. The rest of them, Cyborg, Raven, Superboy, Robin, Kid Flash, Changeling, even the all-too-frequently-fetishized Wonder Girl, they all look great.

But Turner would also produce work like this:


That’s preliminary artwork from one of the “Justice League of America” covers from last year, and it got rightly and loudly criticized by almost everyone. It’s emblematic of a lot of my problems with Turner’s style — heavily plasticized figures, bad anatomy, vacant and identical faces on women.

And I’m gonna stop with the criticism right there. From everything else I’ve heard of him, Turner was an enthusiastic, good-natured, fun guy to be around, who didn’t deserve all the pain from his health troubles, and who definitely did deserve a tremendous amount of respect for continuing to produce artwork even after multiple painful surgeries. Just about everything about his life story is pretty inspiring, and his death, like Mike Wieringo’s last year, comes way, way too soon, and is going to be very keenly felt over the coming years.

Raise your glasses, folks. Here’s to him.

Comments off