You can email me at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Halloween darkens

It's tough for me to put into words how much Ray Bradbury meant to me, and his passing yesterday was not unexpected, because like the song goes, everyone meets the Reaper, but it's not too often when a single person impresses their thoughts upon you in a way that changes your life the way that Mr. Bradbury did for me, and Ray's words, visual poetry to this dumb kid, made me want to write, In fact, I wrote my first novel based on all of Ray's magical thoughts and stories regarding Halloween.

Mr. Bradbury met my kids at a book signing in Pasadena a few years ago, and he was such a nice, gracious man to my children, who then of course grew up thinking that it was normal to meet the living embodiment of a genre in popular culture, and when I thanked him for a quote he had written for one of my stupid comics, he gave me a warm smile and some kind words that meant the world to me. There I was, a kid that grew up looking at toys at Kmart that I knew I could not afford, sitting in the bedroom that my brothers and I shared through long summers reading words and stories that were both poetic and magical about Halloween and mummies and dinosaurs and Mars, and making that transition from a curious kid to an alleged adult that in a very, very, very humble way began to explore the same type of stories that Bradbury told.

His story, the Fog Horn,  gave a lonely dinosaur a soul, and it was turned into a movie called Beast from 20,000 fathoms, with the creature animated by another hero of mine, Ray Harryhausen. I've assigned Fahrenheit 451 in my class at times, but to me his true tour de force was The Sound of Thunder. The ending of that story shocked my kid mind, with its literal ripple effect on a story. I've never been the same, and for me the word Bradbury means science fiction with a soul, without a slide rule, a pocket protector or a calculator. It's wonder and amazement, Spielberg before Spielberg. I read where Spielberg told Bradbury that his Close Encounters of the Third Kind was inspired by a film that Ray wrote in the 50's called It came from Outer Space, a gentle story about aliens that happen to crash on our dry mudball of a planet and all they want to do is be left alone to change the tire on their interplanetary sedan and get back home.

Ray gave me the best advice anyone has ever given me when I was watching him give Ray Harryhausen his honorary Oscar, because he said that we should all, "Grow old but never grow up."

Click past the annoying Madagascar 3 trailer after a few seconds and just...listen.
He talks just like he writes.

If you're an artist and you are reading this blog, then you'll enjoy this video of Ray talking about his office.

I've assigned this book to my classes a few times.  It's still my favorite. I've got one at home, signed. It introduced me at a very young age to the all-important theme of multiculturalism, seeing that all cultures are similar, not different.

Lastly, here's a trailer from It Came From Outer Space:


Back to 'normal' stuff tomorrow.