Revisiting My Letter To Blaze

If one were to find a copy of Marvel’s comic Blaze volume one, number five, with the cover date of December, 1994 they could turn to the letters page and find a trace of PDR.

This was a reply to the first issue of the book. I would’ve been possibly twelve but more likely thirteen when I read that first issue (it was released in June, but what are the odds I got to it before July 18th, which is my birthday?) and for a reason I will bring up later, I was moved to write in.

It’s weird that I decided to address the letter to Icebox Bob, the villain of that first issue. I also claimed this villain was the greatest thing ever, and maybe there was some honesty in the my enthusiasm for the character. I like horror villains and did back then too. But if it is true enthusiasm, it certainly isn’t enthusiasm that carried me into continuing the book. I did not read another issue of the book until I found issue five in a back issue bin around the year 2000 and discovered that my letter had been printed. As far as I can remember Icebox Bob was a pretty generic horror villain, some kind of ghost serial killer or something, probably one who laughed and made quips like the Joker. That was the style at the time. I have no idea what ever happened to the character, but I remain somewhat fond of him just because of this letter.

I also feel the need to question my claim here that I had “always been a fan of Johnny Blaze.” I didn’t get into superhero comics until I was ten. While I fully admit that three years at that age mean a helluva lot more than they do at my current age, those three years were certainly not filled with me being a huge fan of Johnny Blaze. I’d probably read a few of his appearances in the then-current Ghost Rider book, and I could believe I’d seen some old guest appearances in Marvel Team-Up or something, but I’d expect most of what I knew about Johnny Blaze I got from trading cards and reading the Marvel Handbook. I probably liked Blaze fine, but he wasn’t my second favourite character (I have no memory of who the first would have been at that time. Darkhawk maybe if the timeline works out?).

But why was I overselling my enthusiasm for the book and characters? Because of what is not included in the letter as printed. In the first issue of Blaze, the only one I bothered to read, they mentioned that they wanted suggestions for the title of the letters page. I wanted to get that, to make a suggestion that would be emblazoned on the book that, I assumed, would go on forever. The fact that they didn’t even include my suggestion shows how good it was. If I remember correctly, which I admit isn’t necessarily the case, my suggestion was “Blazing Pens”. The winning suggestion that got to be the name of the letters page was “Writing Shotgun”. I admitted when I was twenty and I admit now, that is much better than my idea.


I’m gonna do it again! I’m gonna watch a science fiction show I dimly remember from my youth again! Only actually, this time it isn’t as dimly remembered and I was slightly less of a youth.

I was over twenty when I watched Firefly, still a child by the standards I hold now, but technically an adult. And by the time I was twenty, I was more discerning about the television I watched, which is why I absolutely never watched Firefly while it was on television. But I heard good things and I got around to it when it was on DVD. I remember liking it! But I also remember thinking it’s one of those things where if it hadn’t been cancelled early, the Internet maybe wouldn’t have been as in love with it as it was. I can’t know if that’s true, but it was the opinion I held. Now, decades later, I don’t even know if the show is held in the esteem it once was. I think people still like it fine, but I’m out of touch, so what do I know? But here’s the thing: I wanted to do another PDR Sci-Fi Watching but also I don’t want to commit to a big project while I’m falling behind on other projects, so a show that got cancelled after a dozen episodes or whatever sounds like it’ll go down smooth.

So what do I remember about the show? Well, unlike Earth-2 or Space: Above and Beyond, which had fled my teenage mind after their cancellations, I can even now remember whole characters, names and all. If I tried, I could probably come up with a general description of five or six episodes even. I even know that the show doesn’t have any aliens for poor little alien-starved me. So this one will not be a font of surprises, but it should be easy, and that’s probably more important.

Star Trek Needs PDR’s Aliens

I first got into Star Trek when I was around ten years old. So this was after I played the Space Quest games and experienced world with truly weird aliens. This was after I watched that Star Wars documentary about how they made all the alien puppets. This was possibly even after I read collections of Marvel’s pre-Fantastic Four sci-fi stories I got from the library with Kirby and Ditko-designed aliens abounding. What I’m saying is that, even though I came to love Star Trek, I was disappointed with the aliens on the show since Day One. That’s why so many of the Trek Thoughts I’ve posted have been about that.

As a child new to Star Trek, I responded the way a PDR responds to everything. I wondered what I could do if I got to make Star Trek. I daydreamed about a type of alien I would make. Well, today, more than three decades later, I finally got around to putting ink to paper:

This is the one. It’s nothing radical by the alien designs I prefer, but by Trek standards, it’s some unknowable beast. I pictured them being about half the size of humans (probably E.T. sized, if I’m looking for more of my likely inspirations), and in closeups I assumed they’d be worked like puppets, or more specifically Muppets given what I watched back then. But the real innovation that little PDR had was how we’d show this alien get around the ship in wide shots. The reason the alien is designed with the big dress is to hide the remote control car that lets it move!

Now, keep in mind that as a ten-year-old I did not assume that they would build some remote-controlled wheel system or whatever, I assumed they would need an entire remote control car under there for it to work.

Remote control cars are peak technology to ten-year-olds.

I accept that would probably not be how they do it now, but I’d still want keep the dress for the design. Just assume there’s some alien business going on under there. Anything that makes them less humanoid.

Now, a full-grown PDR would have named the species and thought up stuff about their homeworld and all kinds stuff. Little PDR didn’t do that. He just thought that this little design deserved to be represented in Starfleet. Well, Old PDR can agree with him on that.

I Haven’t Seen Ben Grimm’s Dick (yet)

For some reason, one of my earliest experiences in reading superhero comics was the Official Marvel Index to the Fantastic Four, which was actually not comics, it was prose summaries of the Fantastic Four’s comics. I remember many nights laying in bed reading dry descriptions of these high concept character driven adventures. Maybe it wasn’t the ideal way to experience them, but it was how I did, so I cherished it.

Life went on and I grew up, but one thing I remembered was that there was an image in one of those Index issues of Ben Grimm, the ever-loving blue-eyed Thing, relaxing on a beach and his erect penis was visible, but because of his craggy, rocky skin, it was hidden. Eventually I didn’t own those Indexes anymore, so I couldn’t prove it, but I was sure I had seen it.

Much later in my adult life (April 2021, according to when I posted about it on Twitter), I found the answer to my childhood memory:

It was his foot. He was indeed relaxing on a beach, but he had one leg crossed over the other and his toes were positioned such that a child could see them as being a dong. I don’t know what I expected, but I was sure that if an artist (I had actually assumed it might have been done by the inker as a form of rebellion) had snuck Ben’s boner into a comic it would have been noticed long ago and it would be known to the Internet. So why wasn’t it? Maybe I imagined it, or misread some coincidental pattern on his skin? But the memory had been so certain. Anyway, I never entertained the idea that it was just his foot.

Anyway, since that time I’ve definitely read at least one Fantastic Four comic that calls into question whether Ben even has genitalia post-transformation. At least I’m pretty sure I have. I guess I can’t really trust my memory about these things.

At Some Point I Watched Really Weird Tales

For a long time I’ve had a vague memory of a movie or episode of some anthology television show in which a woman was cursed so that any time she said “I love you” to someone, they would turn into a doll. The way I remembered it was that, at the end of the story she was fixed and realized that she could say it finally so she jubilantly shouted “I love New York” or “I love this town” which I thought at the time was reckless. But anyway, I had this memory, but never thought much about it.

On a whim I tried to search Google for it tonight. I got nothing. I could only find episodes about evil dolls and the like. I was flummoxed. I was sure I’d seen this thing. I assumed it was some episode of Outer Limits or Amazing Stories or something, niche sure, but mainstream enough that it’d be talked about online.

I reached out to other people I know to see if they remembered it and with their help I eventually seem to have found it. Really Weird Tales seems to be the answer. The thing is, the woman in Really Weird Tales (played by Catherine O’Hara no less!) does NOT turn people into dolls by saying “I love you” to them. What she does is if she loves someone (whether she says it or not) they explode. That’s in the same ballpark, but it’s a different game. But I kept watching and at one point she feels affection for a doll and it explodes. So is that it? My childhood mind conflated that with turning people into dolls? NO! There’s more. In an attempt to cure herself she has to go on a date with someone she finds repugnant, so she does that, but it goes poorly. That said, we do get the “I love New York” scene that was so embedded in my memory. AND THEN it turns out that the repugnant guy has a thing where if he hates someone, they turn into a doll! So the movie has the love thing and the doll thing, they’re just in different people than I remember. Clearly this is the movie I saw as a kid, my memory just got some things twisted.

But it gets weirder, because during my search I was led to a Reddit post by someone else trying to find the movie and that searcher ALSO remembered it as her turning people into dolls. Memory is weird.