§ I wrote about this in the newsletter (you have subscribed, right?) but here it is for wider dissemination. The other night I watched the whole Evil Dead trilogy with a friend who had never seen it. And along the way I tried to explain Bruce Campbell. Long time readers know that I used to be Really Really into Bruce Campbell. It was sort of a hobby of mine, going back to Brisco County, which I still think got cancelled too soon. But I was far from the only Bruce admirer in the 90s. As I recall he was even on AOL way back in the day and would answer fan emails. It’s part of what led to his writing and books and tours and evenings with and, in general, his own fascination with his fandom.
Bruce didn’t lend himself to fanfic the way Bucky or Tom Hiddleston does, but he was definitely one of the first cult nerdlebrities to have a strong internet following. Which led me to wonder: was BRUCE the internet’s first boyfriend? Not in an Oscar Isaac or Idris Elba way. In a very Bruce Campbell way.
Another contender for the internet’s first boyfriend might be David Duchovny...and as legend has it, the fledgling Fox network programmed The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and X-Files on Friday nights and thought that X-Files would quickly be cancelled and Brisco would be the big hit. And that’s not how it worked out.
Anyway notions of fandom and fanfic and how we interact with celebs has changed a lot since then. Bruce has stayed true to himself no matter what the winds of fashion, though. And for that, we salute him.
PS: Watching Evil Dead II again (first time in a looong time) was really a revelation again. Campbell’s insanely fearless physical acting has never been surpassed – and knowing that director Sam Raimi was trying to make him suffer as much as he could just adds to the fun. I haven’t been following Campbell’s career much of late but he literally JUST started as host of a revival of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not.…kind of the perfect gig for him.
§ Here’s a nice story about The Comic Book Shop in North Wilmington, DE, and how it fosters inclusion. That name is kinda on th enose though, right?
March 16 marked 30 years of operations for The Comic Book Shop. Sarah’s husband, co-owner Patrick Titus, has been around for more than half of that time. He’d worked at the shop for eight years when his boss retired, handing the business over to the couple. Since then, the pair have spent nine years making the shop a haven for a diverse and growing community of comic book fans. Sarah sees the shop’s mission of inclusion as a core part of its identity. “You learn how to be a good person from reading superheroes, and we’ve made (TCBS) a place where, whoever’s being picked on, that’s who we’re gonna help out,” she says. “Who’s under attack right now? We’re going to raise funds for them, we’re going to raise visibility for them.”
§ And Avery Kaplan looks at the importance of getting queer comics into libraries for The MNT:
Vince (Vincey) Zalkind, a clerk at a library in Southern California, emphasized another important reason for libraries to include queer comics in their collections. “Children and teens often look to stories to find themselves, they want to see themselves as the hero of a story,” he said. In some cases, queer kids may not be out to their family or friends, but libraries can provide them with relatable books and serve as a sanctuary for reading them. Because many kids and teens cannot comfortably read queer comic books elsewhere, so including queer comics in library collections is extremely important. According to Zalkind, making these comics available to them at the library gives them the opportunity to read something a shorter without the need to checking it out and then keep it hidden at home. “You might be surprised by the desire and need for these types of materials in your own branch,” Zalkind said. ““I just can’t stress enough how important it is to make your library a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQIA+ youth.”
§ Oh God, the trolley wraps are here.
Our own Outside Comic-Con has your first look at a brand new MTS trolley wrap which was added overnight while out of service (they work fast!), for Family Guy, The Simpsons, and FOX’s Animation Domination block. The trolley also mentions Bob’s Burgers and Bless the Harts — which could be a likely sign of panels for all four.
§ Polygon’s Petrana Radulovic has a VERY deep dive on an X-Men movie that almost happened in the 80s and the saga of little remembered exec Alice Donenfeld-Vernoux.
Alice Donenfeld-Vernoux, a former vice president of business affairs at Marvel, had one mission during the late ’70s: Bring the comic company’s heroes to the big screen. The executive, who later helped Filmation launch He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, founded Alice Entertainment, and wrote a few novels (ranging from erotic romances to canine-themed mysteries), now lives an idyllic retired life down in Mexico, and can only laugh thinking about the pile of gold she tried to hand off. “I’ve often wondered if any of the guys that I pitched to at the majors thought about the fact that they had turned down Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk,” Donenfeld-Vernoux says. “I often wonder if they rue that day.”
The story ties in Nelvana (home of many comics based animation plans), scripts by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas and Marvel’s endless quest to be taken seriously in Hollywood during the 70s and 80s. Just read it. But it’s Chris Claremont who sums things up:
How would the ’80s version of X-Men changed superhero movies as we know it? Claremont, for one, doesn’t like to dwell on all those what-ifs. With every failed attempt, Marvel got closer and closer to finally nailing it. As the rights passed from Nelvana to Fox, as interested directors made the moves and then passed on the project, what would finally become the first Marvel theatrical feature got closer and closer to happening.
“God, we got almost to the starting line, but not quite,” said Claremont. “[X-Men (2000)] changed the game, because up until then everybody had looked on superhero films as losers. Then, the X-Men rolled in with a nine figure opening weekend, which nobody saw coming. That in turn set up Spider-Man, which in turn set up Captain America. And 20 years later we are in the world of today with Black Panther pulling in three Oscars and Into the Spider-Verse getting Best Animated Film. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right project and ultimately the right creative and commercial talent on the other side to bring that project to life. Those stars back in the early ’80s weren’t in alignment.”
The X-men would eventually get their own cartoon in 1992 courtesy of Saban, and as I’ve therized here many times, if it weren’t for that show and Batman: The Animated Series, kids of the 90s would have had no exposure to Marvel and DC’s characters, since the comics of the time had brutally abandoned kid readers. They were the essential gateways to those universes.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.