RIP: Peter O’Toole

One of my favorite actors, and star of three of my favorite movies (Becket, The Lion in Winter, Lawrence of Arabia) passed today, aged 81. One of the greatest actors of all time. And a very intelligent, witty fellow. A few of my friends have met him and he always said something really clever to them each time. He was a true artist.

Here’s a great chat between O’Toole and Orson Welles on Hamlet.

RIP: Elmore Leonard

One of the great crime writers has passed at age 87. Elmore Leonard wrote a ton of great books over the years: Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Rum Punch, Out of Sight, 52 Pickup as well as books that gave us the character Rayland Givens and the TV show Justified, one of the best TV shows on the air today. He also wrote a bunch of westerns that made it to film. Joe Kidd, 3:10 to Yuma, etc.

I’ve read most of his books. I remember when I discovered him, I read stacks of his books over the course of a few months. He had a very unique voice and he will be missed, but 87 is a good run.

UPDATE: Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. They’re excellent.

RIP: Margaret Thatcher

I used to live in England briefly during Thatcher and worked with many British comics people through the 80s and it always amused me and sometimes confounded me how much she was hated by those who think government programs are a good idea. Thatcher dismantled a lot of socialist policies in Britain because they were bankrupting the place. I lived in the UK from 1976-1977 and I remember how it was before she came to power. She did a lot to improve things and this is what people who believe in statism hated about her. She proved the wrong and didn’t let them forget it.

If you look around you will find all kinds of hate against her today. As well as many praises.

Thatcher was able to turn around her country after Obama-like policies nearly destroyed it. It’s unfortunate but some people want to believe the big lie that big government works,. We’re seeing proof that it doesn’t right now but if course there are so many people who have deluded themselves and refuse to accept this fact. Reagan and Thatcher reversed the destruction caused by their predecessors and to this day they are trying to rewrite history to act like it very happened. They want the mess we live it now to be considered the “New Normal”. They did that in the 70s too. America was in serious decline. Cities were falling apart, crime was out of control, so was inflation and yet Thatcher and Reagan showed this can be reversed.

That is why I am not interested in the defeatist talk we’re hearing from many these days. I do think if we keep on this path we’re on it’s going to get really bad but things can change and eventually they will. Hopefully there will be those who get elected that can do what Reagan and Thatcher did.

(Yes, neither were perfect but then, who is?)

RIP Toren Smith

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Tears are streaming down my face right now. One of my closest and best friends died yesterday. Details are pending. But he and I were very close. I had some of the best conversations with this guy and we changed each others lives. In 1982 I introduced him to Anime and Manga and he moved to Japan and started Studio Proteus. He was a major manga provider in the US for two decades. He sold his business to Dark Horse a few years ago and his marriage to the very talent artist Tomoko Saito also ended recently. I just saw him a few weeks back and I can’t tell you how much I miss him. We clicked almost from the start. We just got along so well. Call it a bromance, whatever. We were very good friends and had some of the greatest of times hanging out. We saw eye to eye on so many things, we had so many similar interests. Whenever we got together we would talk until the break of dawn.

He was a regular commentor on this site for many years. I know he made friends with some of my readers here. And he worked with many others.

He was a great guy, a great friend and I will miss him probably till the day I die. He was one of those people that was endlessly fascinating and fun to be with.

My biggest regret of the last ten years is not being able to see him that much. And the last time I saw him I only got to spend about 5 hours talking. Now I’ll never have the chance again.

RIH Hugo Chavez

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Another dictator bites the dust. Like so many leftists before him, Hugo Chavez turned one of the richest countries in Latin America into a financial basket case with one of the highest crime rates in the world and the least amount of freedom. Time and time again, when leftists have power, they ruin economies and take away the people’s freedom, all the while promising the opposite.

Chavez famously decided to get his cancer treated in Cuba, famous for its socialized medicine and we saw the results. Socialized medicine is toxic as we will soon discover as Obamacare destroys what was once the world’s greatest health care system.

Soon Fidel Castro and his brother (who said he’s retiring) will be out of the picture. That removes two of the biggest socialist icons in the world. It remains to be seen what happens in the wake of Chavez’ death, but Cuba us slowly moving towards a market state, It may seem like leftists are on the rise with Obama in a second term and Hollande in France with his insane taxes, but the people are getting angry and I suspect a backlash is building against the destruction lefties are leaving in their wake.

The world economy is an unbelievable mess, due to the largess of the “blue model” state. When we come out of the other side of the pending global meltdown there will be a much different world.

UPDATE: Like all other leftist dictators, Chavez was also a thief who robbed his people of their wealth. This quote sums up how he was typical of his kind.

A former paratrooper, Mr. Chávez had a radical vision for “21st Century Socialism,” which was never fully explained. His skillful rhetoric, which filled supporters with utopian dreams, was used to justify the methodical destruction of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and the free market.

Monsters of the left always promise utopia while delivering hell.

RIP: Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert died today. He was 85. One of the great masters of comics art and a staple at DC Comics. I have a lot of memories of his work growing up. I didn’t appreciate his art when I was a kid but I grew to appreciate it as I got older. His Kubert school trained a lot of comics professionals over the years, some of them are friends of mine. He was a great gut from all accounts. I only met hi once but he was very warm and friendly to me and offered to let me do a class at his school if I ever visited, which was really nice of him.

I wish I had taken him up on the offer. Anyway, the world of comics has lost another great artist.

Steve Bissette was going to do a interview on Wednesday but he will be at the Kubert funeral. We’re hoping to talk on Thursday. He can tell us all about it.

RIP Ray Bradbury

One of my favorite authors as a child and one of the greatest influences on me becoming a writer has passed at the age of 91.

He sent me a very encouraging letter of praise for my first comic, Espers back in 1986. I still have it and will get it framed. He was a great guy and a very nice man who was an inspiration to many. His works are classics of American Literature. Many of his short stories are unforgettable.

I will never forget he Martian Chronicles, a book I’ve re-read so many times. The Illustrated Man and Dandelion Wine, great story collections. None of his stories have been adapted to film as well as they could have been. But I remember liking the Illustrated Man movie as a kid with Rod Steiger in the title role.

RIP: Moebius

One of the greatest comics artists of all time died over the weekend. Jean “Moebius” Girard was a original visionary artist from France whose designs were so exciting in the 70s and 80s they influenced a generation of film makers and comics creators. While he is best known for his science fiction and fantasy art, his western comics Lt. Blueberry showed he could do realistic subject matter incredibly well, too.

I met him several times at Comic Con over the years. Watching him draw was amazing because he would do these sketches for people in pen and was so confident. He didn’t need to make corrections and he could draw the most amazing perspective just doodling with a pen. He was a one of a kind talent that will be missed.

RIP Ralph Mcquarrie

The great painter died, aged 82. He designed the look of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. He also did designs for a host of other films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Close Encounters. He lived up near where I’m from in Northern California near the Bay Area. A friend of mine who’s an artist got to spend some time with him once. Said he was a great guy.

He leaves a great legacy behind. I’ll bet his paintings fetch a bundle.

RIP: Andrew Breitbart

I can’t believe I woke up to read Andrew Breitbart is dead. He died of “natural causes” according to his sites. He was still in his 40s so it comes as a shock. While the news will make a lot of people on the left happy they shouldn’t be. He was actually a great man and a nice guy. He was nothing like what the character assassins tried to make him out to be. He was down to earth and approachable. He stood up for what he believed and was an important figure in the new media. He also asked me to be part of his sites when they first started, which I’ll never forget. I was surprised he knew who I was but he reached out to people in entertainment who weren’t brainwashed by the pro-statist media. People who believe that people should be free of big brother and corrupt politicrats. That was where he was coming from. He was against the lies of our times. And for that he was attacked as the anti-christ by those who try to maintain the dysfunctional and corrupt status quo.

He will be greatly missed. I hope his websites continue on without him.

No, he wasn’t a racist. At all. Its a shame he didn’t live to carry out his fight longer. He was fighting a vicious and lying machine. But one that is breaking down.

RIH: Kim Jong Il

One of the most evil men in history died last night. Kim Jong Il was as far left as it gets. He was an example of what statism achieves at its pinnacle of success. A corrupt state where a few people at the top have utter control over everyone below them and there is no freedom at all and only despair as a collapsing economy must be propped by by outside money. North Korea would ahve collapsed a long time ago if not for the Chinese and other countries like the US giving them aid money. Once they acquired nuclear weapons, thanks in part to the Clinton Administration giving them nuclear power plants, they were able to threaten their way into more foreign aid money. We would send them food which was meant for their people but would be stolen by those at the top.

The late Christopher Hitchens did a piece years ago explaining the horror that was North Korea. This is why we must fight statism constantly. Even here where we have a statist president who is eroding our rights constantly.

More on the Norks here and here. More stories should be coming out in the following days.

RIH means rot in hell in case you were wondering. Kim Jong Il was a monster of history.

UPDATE: The Kim Jong Il Crazy Train

RIP: Eduardo Baretto

I was just informed that Eduardo Barretto has passed at the age of 57. It really makes me sad on a lot of levels. Not only was he a great artist but he was a really nice guy and I wanted to work with him again. We never met, even though we did Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography together and its one of our best works. We did trade emails over the years and we had a mutual admiration. We just never had the chance to do something again.

He was a tremendous talent and he will be sorely missed.

RIP: Chris Hitchens and Joe Simon

One of the best and most honest left wing pundits of his time has died, Christopher Hitchens, who was a great writer and a brilliant mind. Hey may have been wrong about some things as all humans are but unlike most people on the left, he could back up his arguments and because of that did not fall into the foolish ideologies many of them have. He was well respected by those on the right because he was honest and not prone to reflexively disagree with them just because of the side he chose. I enjoyed many of his pieces over the years. He will be missed.

Joe Simon was the co-creator of Captain American and worked with Jack Kirby on a number of projects in their youth. He ws 98 years old. He is considered one of the important writers of the Golden Age of comics and its refreshing to see the attention he’s getting in the press over his passing. It’s nice to see comics legends get some attention they deserve. It’s about time the art form was respected.

RIP: Elisabeth Sladen

The actress who played Sarah Jane Smith on the Tom Baker Doctor Who’s has passed. Sladen was 63 and had cancer. She was a fan favorite and returned to the character in recent years. Hers were the first Doctor Who’s I saw. I was living in the UK when I was in the Air Force and saw the very first Tom Baker episodes when they aired. Sladen started playing the role with the previous doctor. No matter how camp or silly a Doctor Who story was, she always played it believably.

She will be missed.

UPDATE: Tom Baker writes this tender rememberance.

RIP: Dwayne McDuffie

I was really surprised to read the news that comics turned anime writer died today of complications from an operation. He was an excellent writer. I really loved his work on Justice League Unlimited and movies like Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and the new All Star Superman movie.

McDuffie got his start in comics as a member of Marvel’s editorial staff in the 1980s. While an editor at Marvel, McDuffie began writing the Damage Control miniseries and helped to revamp the Deathlok character. Eventually, McDuffie began writing full-time and would help create the Milestone comics universe at DC. Milestone was a separate line that featured minority heroes such as Static, Hardware, and Icon. In recent years, McDuffie began writing for cartoons as well, including a cartoon adaptation of his Static character, Static Shock. He also served as the story editor on the immensely popular Justice League Unlimited cartoon and a writer on Ben 10: Alien Force. McDuffie also wrote the DC Comics straight-to-DVD animated feature Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, as well as an adaptation of All-Star Superman that was released on DVD and Blu-ray today.

I didn’t know him that well but we traded friendly e-mails over the years. This is sad news.