Ellison and Groth

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TCJ's obituary of Ellison by Michael Dean is worth reading, especially for the introduction:

Harlan Ellison made enemies. He made them with gleeful abandon. He also made loyal friends, fans and acolytes, but the only person who comes to mind who was capable of making enemies as blithely as Ellison did is Gary Groth. Ellison and the TCJ publisher were friends and then they were, almost inevitably, enemies. Not just winking frenemies, but mutually contemptuous, financial-life-threatening legal opponents. Now the time has come for one enemy-maker to publish the obituary of its enemy-making enemy. So it's understandable if readers may expect a less than reverential remembrance here.

Ellison's relationship to comics is examined here:

Ellison is known primarily for his work in science fiction (or speculative fiction, as he preferred to call it), including the Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", the novella and movie A Boy and His Dog, and his editing of two Dangerous Visions anthologies. But though he scarcely wrote any comics stories, he has long been embraced by the comics community as a kindred spirit, a challenge to the hidebound, compromised conventions of traditional entertainment. Comics fans identified with his attitude, his wide knowledge of comics mythology, and his strongly held opinions, perhaps because when it came to comics he was more fan than pro. He loved comics and he was iconoclastic enough to liberate the form from its cultural ghetto, granting comics the same respect and high standards he accorded more mainstream literature.

Dean notes Ellison's departure from the literary scene:

Beginning around 1975, Ellison all but ceased to be a working writer, becoming instead a re-packager, an introducer, a creative consultant, a master of ceremonies, a cameo voice in video games and animated TV shows, a guest of honor, a website commenter, and a lawsuit filer. The first half of his career alone, however, was fertile enough to leave most other professional biographies green with envy. Ellison had written so many stories, novels, screenplays, teleplays, movie and television reviews and essays, won so many awards and assaulted so many publishers, critics, professors and Hollywood producers in such a short period of time, that an early burnout would seem to have been inevitable. His persona -- the young, vital, aesthetically righteous punk who did not hesitate to kick the ass of the stodgy, greedy entertainment establishment was so indelible, that it was hard to imagine Harlan Ellison as an old man.

He mentions the 2008 documentary, Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth, which I have yet to see, and describes Ellison as "both charming and cruelly un-charming:"

Between 1956 and 1976, he went through four wives before marrying Susan Toth in 1986. That partnership lasted the rest of his life. But he was still capable, while onstage at the 2006 Hugo Awards ceremony, of grabbing author Connie Willis' breast and detonating a divisive controversy among fans.

Gary Groth reminisces about the classic Harlan Ellison interview from The Comics Journal #53 (Jan 1980). (If you don't like reading pieces that long online, it was reprinted in The Comics Journal Library Vol. 6: The Writers, pp. 80-156.) Aside from some excessive flattery of Stan Lee and some probably-not-excessive vilification of Jim Warren, Ellison unleashed more than his daily quota of quotable remarks:

I swear to God, just one day I'd like to get up and not be angry. Just one goddamn day in this life I'd like to arise and not be fuckin' pissed off at the world. (p. 86)

People say, "How do you see yourself?" And I finally figured out how I see myself. I see myself as a cross between Jiminy Cricket and Zorro. That's me, man. In my wildest dreams, I see myself precisely that way. I'm able to do a lot of fighting for a lot of people because I'm known as a pain in the ass... (p. 95)

People say to me, "Well, you only do that to shock." And I say, "Absolutely. Abso-fuckin'-lutely. What did you do, come in here to sleep?" It's my intent to run around the outside of the circle like a sheepdog, as loud as I can, make as much noise as possible, and keep the sheep from being eaten by the wolves if at all possible. This may be an egomaniacal attempt on my part to rationalize and ennoble my own troublemaking, but that's what I am. I'm not even a gadfly; I'm a troublemaker. (p. 106)

I have a voracious need to know everything. I have a house with 37,000 books in it. In a given month I will read Science News, Scientific American, Playboy, Atlantic, Harper's, Time, New York, New West, American Film, Armchair Detective, TV Guide, Partisan Review, National Review, New York Review of Books, Intellectual Digest, which is no longer being published, sadly, Esquire, Omni, National Geographic, and a smattering of others. (p. 138)

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 3, 2018 9:04 AM.

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