A Picture’s Worth #84 – Contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visuals copyright and trademark their respective owners.
My favorite memory of Ray Bradbury was seeing him on the dais with Forry Ackerman at Comicon: San Diego a half-dozen years ago. The large hall was packed and most of us had to watch him on the giant video screen because we couldn’t get close enough to see the men talking and reminiscing about their combined century-plus of experience in film, fiction, TV and fantasy. The stories they told that day were entertaining, informative and insightful. Two giants of their field talking shop with everyone listening. Forry passed away in 2008, and Ray a few days ago.
There’s already been half a gazillion tributes to Ray Bradbury, one of (if not the) last remaining pioneers of fantastic fiction. This will likely be the only one that does NOT focus on his writing. (For more on Ray’s amazing career, and the connection with Truman Capote, see this article. Also see his own site: www.raybradbury.com
I may have read one or two Bradbury prose stories in my life. I may have read Fahrenheit 451 in school but if so I don’t remember anything but the title. Instead, I enjoyed many adaptations of his work in comics (especially EC’s , mostly by Al Feldstein and the host of great artists he used), television and film. The film I remember most was SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. But he had dozens and dozens of his stories adapted in every conceivable medium.
I do have two DVDs of his 1985 HBO TV series, RAY BRADBURY THEATER. The first one had its hits and misses (Ray did not write all the screenplays) and I’ve not yet watched the second. What stood out the most, and continues to do so every time I hear Bradbury’s name or see his face, is the show’s opening title sequence. Thankfully, it’s on YouTube.
(If you haven’t seen or can’t watch it now, it follows an antique elevator in near darkness ascending to Ray’s office/writer’s lair and follows him in. We see tons of photos, tchotskes, toys, books, posters and kitsch while Ray walks to his desk. He narrates, “People ask, ‘Where do you get your ideas.’ Well, right here…I’m surrounded on every side by my magician’s toy shop. I’ll never starve here.” We see Bradbury take out a piece of paper, insert it into an old typewriter and begin to type. His voice continues, “I just look around, find what I need, and begin! I’m Ray Bradbury. And this is:” where the camera would cut to his paper with the show title.)
How cool is that? What a great way to setup a fantasy show, and an even better setup for any writer (or artist). Perfect advice: Surround yourself with wild, wacky and cool things and you’ll always find something to spark your imagination. After all, imagination is what drives all art–whether it’s fiction, music, drawing, comics, film or whatever. Not coincidentally, it’s what Ray Bradbury was most famous for. From everything I’ve read about him, the focus was not so much on his writing technique, his language or even his characters. It was on his imagination as displayed in the ideas, concepts, events and twists in his tons of tales.
The tales that made him famous, wealthy, and well-respected. In other words, he built a very long, impressive and influential career simply on his imagination. And yet he was happy to share a writer’s most precious secret: where ideas come from.
So for anyone out there who may suffer from “writer’s block” or “artist’s block”, there’s your solution. (Over-simplified, yes, but still appropriate advice.) As well as a great excuse for feeding the obsessive collecting bug inside you! (Bad for those who have to live with you, but good for your career.) If Ray could dream up 70 years of stories of new worlds, times and people just from the crap in his office, you should have no problem figuring out what to draw or write for your next project…as long as you can find your supplies, of course!
For me it’s the single most inspiring show opening I’ve seen in years, if not all time. Even when the individual episodes didn’t live up to it, that opening sequence just bristled with equal parts magic, creative inspiration and an anticipation of greatness.
Not unlike every book cover that contained the name, “Ray Bradbury.”
Now go enjoy one of his stories, scripts or adaptations!
P.S.: If you’d like to add something imaginative to your own magical collection of fantasy images, I’d be honored to contribute. Just ask Craig here!