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Life On Hold

My search for a new studio space continues. I am even considering buying a building so that this can’t happen again. I have a lot of friends looking for me, something I really appreciate. I am checking out two to three dozen places each day. My wife took off work last week to drive me around the sketchy parts of L. A. and Pasadena, hoping we could find the right place.

I am so sorry to hear about the suicide of film director Tony Scott. Like his brother Ridley, every film Tony made had incredible visuals. My favorite film of his is also my favorite Quentin Tarentino movie: True Romance. In my opinion True Romance was easily the best film of 1993. If you have never seen this movie, you are in for a cinematic treat. The cast is unbelievable: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman (as a black pimp!), Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer (as the ghost of Elvis!), James Gandolfini, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Penn, Saul Rubinek, Conchata Ferrell, Michael Rapaport and Tom Sizemore.

The scene between Hopper and Walken is worth the price of admission alone.

My second favorite Tony Scott movie is Man on Fire with Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken and Dakota Fanning. It’s an incredibly visceral film and a sadly accurate and vivid depiction of the world that is Mexico City (I used to live there). Man on Fire has my favorite performance by Mr. Washington.

I was hoping to work with Tony on a film; one of his regular production designers is a good friend of mine. I am sorry that’s never going to happen. I am really, really sorry that there will be no more Tony Scott films.

Comedienne Phyllis Diller also died. I really wanted to meet this funny lady to ask her one question. In an interview from years ago she said that her friend Bob Hope taught her the proper way to enter a room (at a party). I would love to know what he told her.

Joe Kubert passed away as well (reaffirming the “it always happens in threes” superstition). Joe and I shared the same birthday (September 18). We were looking forward to collaborating (I was dying to ink a Tor piece for him). Joe had that special knack (like Frank Frazetta, Mark Schultz, Charles R. Knight, Frank Cho and Bernie Wrightson) for capturing the essence of All Things Reptilian. As Al Williamson would say, Joe Kubert was a “good lizard man” (good at drawing dinosaurs). Joe was a giant in the comic book industry, influencing hundreds of artists, both through his work and his groundbreaking school. When I was fourteen or fifteen, Joe was already an enormous fan favorite, primarily worshiped back then for his Hawkman work. I loved his Viking Prince and Rip Hunter Time Master comics, too. Later, I reveled in his gritty war comics. One of the things I loved about Joe Kubert was that he never rested — he was always pushing himself and his work in new directions. What an inspiration! Besides being a great artist, Joe was a great guy, as anyone who knew him will attest. My kindest, warmest thoughts go out to Joe’s family.

I’m hoping my next Journal entry includes a bit of happy news.

Let me close with a funny story from last weekend.

My grandson Jesse was visiting. He’s not quite two yet but his vocabulary and cognitive skills are off the charts (he knows his numbers and has begun to read). He asked my wife if she would read him a story. She agreed and they went upstairs to where I keep a stash of Gustaf Tenggren Little Golden Books for just such an occasion. We still have a crib in that room. Jesse insisted on getting inside the crib.

“Don’t you want to sit on the bed and hear the story?”

“No. I want to be in the crib.”

My wife lifted him into the crib. He settled in and then proclaimed, “Ahhhh…it’s like the good old days.”

5 thoughts on “Life On Hold

  1. Man on Fire was an extremely powerfull and (sadly) accurate depiction. A film I have not seen in a long time but still fresh in my mind. I also love True Romance, not a lot of films at the time included comic refrences or comic shops. I had always heard that the small scene that Brad Pitt was in went on to inspire Judd Apatow to help pen Pineapple Express.

    I was also sad to hear about Mr. Kubert. As a young man I had hopped of attending his art school but never made it. I am sure his sons who are also very talented will carry out the Kubert legacy.

    Oh and good luck on finding a new art space Bill!

  2. First, you really shocked me with the news about Joe Kubert. Inexplicably, I never heard anything in the news or from any friends. He was one of my heroes. His work was amazingly “simple”….great compositions and generally minimal lines….making it wonderfully perfect and complex in its overall and individual panel layout…as well as the drawings themselves. Every line represented a bone, tendon (or its shadow), or muscle. His use of heavy blacks was perfect. Just plain wonderful in every way! (And I see that same economy and perfect choice in your work as well.) A real loss to the art world. I had written him a lengthy letter many years ago when they published a few pages of his Redeemer piece. Sadly, I never received a reply….but that was okay..I just wanted to be sure he knew how much I loved and appreciated his work. I loved the Viking Prince, and was REALLY excited when he was sort of “reborn” with Hawkman’s updated run with DC.

    I don’t know what he told Phyllis, but I did read one or two of his books, and I often laughed out loud on the bus….perhaps mostly because as I read it, I could just hear him delivering the lines…almost as if it was an audio book. I think one was Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me.

    And Jessie’s line was both precious and hilarious.

  3. Hey Mr. Stout,

    Great story about your grandson!

    I was listening to an NPR interview with Phyllis Diller last night. She described how she developed the “shapeless” look to go with her frazzled stage persona. The interviewer asked, “Because your body was too good?” Phyllis replied, “That’s right.” And you could hear her smile even on radio. She also related that she didn’t do her laugh anymore like she had earlier in her career, because she was delivering twelve jokes a minute now and there wasn’t time for her to laugh at them.

    I’ll pray you find that perfect studio space.


  4. Looking at just the covers of those old Golden Books, they are a far cry from his amazing working on Pinnochio. Actually hard to believe it could be the same artist. I had many of those as a kid.


  5. Bill,

    It’s good that you closed on a happy note with a clever grandson story. It’s been a hard month… and then I read about Michael Clark Duncan. I wish death would take a well deserved holiday. Maybe i’m just not seeing all the cretins he’s taking between these wonderful people but I’m feeling tired.
    Phyllis Diller was a solid staple on the television when I was growing up. She dared to be funny and funny looking, something someone recently noted that few women in the business will do anymore. That laugh and her distinctive- practically chalk board scratch- cackle will live with me until I’m gone. She was great as Peter Griffin’s Mom on Family Guy. I remember thinking what a daring character that was even for Phyllis Diller, making all that much funnier. It’s sad to know she’s gone but I’m so much better for having had the opportunity to laugh at her antics.
    Joe Kubert was that guy who really worked on my subconsciousness. I loved his work on the cover of the Losers and The Haunted Tank (I’d love see the Tank covers collected into a large format folio style book) and, of course, LOVED his work on Sgt. Rock. However, when he first took on DC’s Tarzan as the regular artist I was not taken by it. Maybe it was all those years of Russ Manning’s work being the hallmark that rough and ready, lean and weathered looking Tarzan just didn’t sit well. Feeling that way until he left the book and it became my obsession to go back and collect them. I’d been seduced by the posh and articulate lines laid down by the likes of Barry Smith, P. Craig Russell and others to such an extent that only when Joe left did I “get it” at last. I haven’t missed a beat since then and snapped up the nice DHC archives of his Tarzan and Tor books. His Fax From Sarajevo is a humanist gem along with Yossel, Gangster Jew and the incredible Abraham Stone among others. He’s probably close to, or the last of that generation too. Artists who were comic artists until the pen or brush practically dropped from their hands. He didn’t retire when he could have and we’re all the better for his work. Everyone I know who’s a Kubert follower is champing at the bit for the release of the Joe Kubert Tarzan Artist Edition from IDW. And then there’s the new Joe Kubert Presents from DC to look forward too (though, I wonder how of that was finished before….).
    This age is almost over. I hope people commemorate it well before it is just another part of popular art history.

    Sorry for the long rant.

    Best to you o’ smiling Grandpa,
    R. Tucker

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