Tag Archives: Bill Shatner

What’s in a Name Bun Toons! YAY!

Rain and sleet can't stay this courier from his appointed rounds, but a writer's conference sure can.

Rain and sleet can’t stay this courier from his appointed rounds, but a writer’s conference sure can.

Sorry I’m late,  folks, I was at the CANSCAIP “Packaging your Imagination”  conference yesterday at Humber College (a delightful symposium for new writers of YA fiction to get to meet professionals and listen to talks and Q&A sessions with the writers).

It’s the price of fame, fellow babies.  It’s always glamorous like this when you’re a celebrity…

working actor websizeYou’d think he’d have twigged that I was a cartoon character.  How many other animated rabbits were in that production?

Ty the Guy OUT!

I’m not the only actor who made it big in the comics biz.

I heard Bill was jealous of my convention groupies and decided to horn in on my action.  If only he hadn't gone with BLUEWATER...

I heard Bill was jealous of my convention groupies and decided to horn in on my action. If only he hadn’t gone with BLUEWATER…


It's a re-run, but my Rob Ford cartoon of six months ago seems oddly prescient.

It’s a re-run, but my Rob Ford cartoon of six months ago seems oddly prescient.

The Bun Toon Archive, available free of charge...all you have to give me is YOUR SOUL!

The Bun Toon Archive, available free of charge…all you have to give me is YOUR SOUL!


Just in case you didn't see this yesterday...my son Kellam's take on our mayoral troubles in Toronto.

Just in case you didn’t see this yesterday…my son Kellam’s take on our mayoral troubles in Toronto.

The Top Ten Signs of Bill Shatner’s Genius – Even When He’s Not Wearing A Starfleet Uniform (or anything ELSE for that matter!)

Today is Bill Shatner’s 80th birthday, and seeing as it’s international “Talk Like Bill Shatner Day” we have no choice but to make this post.  No… choice….at…all.

Let’s start with this:  Bill Shatner is the male version of Marilyn Monroe.

No, I don’t mean he’s an iconic sex symbol for a generation (though he might have been, I’m male, and can’t comment on that), I mean he shares Monroe’s amazing talent for knowing how to be looked at. He may even be the best at it who ever lived.  If William Shatner was on stage with a burning goat who  knocked over furniture and set the theater ablaze, you’d only notice the flaming beast if Shatner pointed it out.

Is there a burning goat in here? Or is it my eyes?

I love Bill Shatner. I love him in ways it’s best my wife doesn’t know about.  I’d take a bullet for him, and have, in fact, taken many bullets over the years, including Kingdom of the Spiders, Tek War novels, and T.J. Hooker. But day in, day out, it always comes back to William Shatner, the  man Eddie Murphy once called “the coolest white guy alive”.

Everyone thinks that Star Trek made Shatner famous, but in the real world, Trek become popular because of Bill, and not the other way around.  The true glory of Shatner is that he didn’t blow it all on one character.  The man has been dropping genius bombs for years, usually to the confusion of lesser men who cannot conceive of the talent before them.  So, I’m here to help.  Today, on the master’s 80th birthday, we talk about his non-Kirk life, and give you…


10– Free Enterprise
A little known flick, made in 1998.  Sure, his Priceline.com commercials had hinted at the rich vein of self-parody that was there, but the role as “Bill” in FREE ENTERPRISE really set it in motion.   In the film, he plays an actor named Bill Shatner, former star of Star Trek, but the character of “Bill” is nothing like real life person at all.  He’s an addle brained doofus in the part, single and on the make (he was married at the time), unemployed and broke (he wasn’t) and attempting to raise money to make a version of Julius Caesar, in which Shatner plays all the parts.  “It would require me to stab myself in the back, I know, but I’ve been doing that my whole career…”.  Bill attempts to raise the money from a pair of Trekkies who meet him in the porn section of a video store and the movie takes off from there.  Besides the magnificent fantasy sequence involving a fight between Kirk and Han Solo, the DVD extras include a scene of Shatner “rapping” soliloquies from Shakespeare in an outfit that would have embarrassed a stoned hippie.

Genius at work

9—Rocket Man

The glory of Shatner’s singing voice is that he’s perfectly capable of singing, and CHOOSES not to.  That’s makes him the Picasso of the throat.  No one performs a song like this, and if they DO, they’re called “Shatner-esque”.  See for yourself:

8 —  Get a Life
When your career (up until that point) is built largely around a single character and a fanbase of stunningly dedicated fans, it takes epic cojones to stab your most loyal admirers in the digestive tract for the sake of a joke.  But Shatner did exactly that on Saturday Night Live in 1986 for one infamous sketch.

What makes it work on every level, is the paternal quality to the lecture.  It’s like he really cares about us; if only we weren’t such a crippling disappointment.  The sketch annoyed about half the world’s Trekkies, and permanently enraged the other half.  Somehow, it made me love Shatner all the more.  He later named his autobiograpy “Get a Life” just to turn the knife one more time.

Not his first role, but an early example of that Shatner genius caught on film.  INCUBUS is the only feature ever shot in Esperanto, an invented international language created in the 19th Century to foster international peace.  The language never caught on, so there was no audience whatsoever for this piece of cinema when it was released in 1966.  Of course, it would have fallen into complete obscurity, without the presence of it’s handsome Canadian star.

I own this film and can report that, thanks to Bill, it’s better than you’d expect.  It’s about mystic women and lost souls and that sort of thing (there are subtitles for the Esperanto-impaired) but the greatness of the film lies in watching Shatner perform his signature staccato style in a gibberish language.  It has the quality of dream when you turn off the subtitles and simply allow the experience.

6—Airplane 2

In those Abrams/Zucker/Abrams comedies of the 80s, the various casts deadpanned the corny jokes, and that carried most of the funny.  But the fifteen minute cameo that Bill Shatner bestowed upon the world in Airplane 2 was a different game.  Bill didn’t play the corny as serious, he played it as the fifth act of a Shakespearean tragedy… an Oscar-bait scene of high drama.  Bill the serious actor “went to eleven” and stole the un-stealable movie.


Twilight Zone is an important milestone in the history of SF and Television.  Everyone loves the one where Burgess Meredith breaks  his glasses in the last library left on Earth, but it’s the Shatner episode that gets the most spoofs, remakes, jokes, and references.  NIGHTMARE is the epitome of the Twilight Zone genre, and once again, our hero is at the center of the storm.

4 – Big Giant Head

Shown actual size

In the 90s sitcom “Third Rock from the Sun” Shatner had a delightful recurring role as the King of the Galaxy (the Big Giant Head), a character who had been mentioned but never seen for many episodes before they cast Bill in the role.  When you’ve created a galactic king, there are so few performers who could have been convincing in the part that they had no choice but to give it to our Bill.

John Lithgow (the star of 3rd Rock) reprised Shatner’s Twilight Zone character from NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET in the Twilight Zone movie.  So, Shatner’s on-screen debut as Big Giant Head included the exchange you’ll see in the clip below:  Meta-jokes and self parody?  BRILLIANT!

3 – Big Bad Mama
The Bill Shatner nude scene.   Say those five words slowly, and intently, and realize what that means.  The. Bill. Shatner. Nude. Scene.  Now realize it’s with Angie Dickinson.  End of story.

Look mom! Bunnies!

2-  Has Been

Your ears will thank you.

Shatner’s music CD, created in 2004 with Ben Folds, is actually magnificent.  I originally picked up the album ironically, to enjoy the terrible over-acted songs, and the over-the-top nonsense of it all, and couldn’t believe my ears.  It’s a brilliant, SERIOUS album, that deserves to be called art.  The spoken word songs are touching, funny, clever, insightful, and for one track about the drowning death of his wife, Nerine…absolutely haunting.  I NEVER saw this coming, and it stayed in my CD player for months when I first bought it.  I couldn’t stop playing it.  And I wasn’t alone…the CD charted in Billboard’s top forty for a while.  The Picasso of the throat strikes again!

1-  Denny Crane

Into his seventies, well past the moment that leading men have long retired, Bill Shatner found the role of a lifetime.  The supposedly fading star of TV became the fading star of the courtroom, complete with Mad Cow, a gun fetish and a mind-boggling case of eponymous Tourettes syndrome.  Denny managed to make the muttering of his own name a threat, a statement, a punctuation and a boast, often all in the same ten seconds.  It scored Shatner an armful of Emmy awards, all richly deserved.


And is the genius done?  No.  He’s eighty years old and STILL going strong, currently starring in Shit my Dad Says, a middling sit-com that ONLY works when Shatner’s on stage.  He’s hosting shows on the Discovery network, and Biography.  He has his own YouTube channel with an internet talk show there.  He’s still plotting Trek novels, and shilling Priceline and showing his skills as a horseman in shows across the United States.

Happy birthday Mr. Shatner.  It really is your world, and the rest of us just live in it.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your EXTRA Shatner Moments:

Bill once starred in a movie made from one of my dad’s novels

The first time I was actually in the presence of the thespian himself (on the set of this movie), I was instantly emasculated and enjoyed the experience completely.

Thank Canada! Thank Canada!


Don't make us put on our antler costumes and come down there.


It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.  We do it early, which proves (by the science of common sense) that we invented it, and gave Thanksgiving to the world as a gift.  The United States later introduced our introspective holiday into their calendar, retroactively attaching it to a big dinner that starving English settlers shared with local Indians a few years before the shooting started.  But it’s our holiday obviously:   It’s based on politeness. Don’t look it up or you’ll insult me.  It’s ours.

Besides Canada’s generosity in giving humanity a moment to reflect on their good fortune, I’ve created a list of the other things the people of the world SHOULD be thanking Canada for.


Thank you, Mr. Shatner.


And no, it’s not going to be about Bill Shatner, though obviously it could be.  It’s about the world of comic books, and that fact that it simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Canada, and that’s a fact.

So on behalf of the bacon-eating hockey players of this proud nation everywhere… Eskimos and fur trappers, and frozen Frenchmen…

…you’re WELCOME, comic fans.




8)  John Byrne

Normally these are top SEVEN lists, but John Byrne is so insistent that people include him in things, that I let him have his way, even though, technically, he’s a Brit.  Canada should be thanked because we educated the Byrne boy.  Took him in from that wretched England, and raised him up from the tender age of eight, until we let him go into the world in middle age.  Turned out he was the biggest thing in comics for most of the late 70s, and to politely thank us back, he made Canadian comic star, WOLVERINE, into the most popular comic book character for the last thirty years.


And made "Snikt" a household word, along with "beer".


7)  Hal Foster

His Tarzan comic strips were phenomenal, but Foster’s PRINCE VALIANT Sunday pages throughout the 40s and 50s are often considered the most beautiful illustrations ever done for the comics page.    Here, look…


That's just one panel.


Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Mark Shultz, Joe Kubert, Dave Sim and literally hundreds of other illustrators of the Golden and Silver ages cite Nova Scotia local boy Hal Foster as their primary influence.  Gee, you think Kirby might have borrowed the look of his “DEMON” from somewhere in panel three…?  Say “Thank you”, Jack.
6)  Our Trees.


Marvel Comics, slightly before they're collectable.


Every American comic book you’ve ever held in your hand started life as a Canadian tree.  You can forget that the printing industry of the North East has ALWAYS used our fine Quebec forests as their principal source of paper, as long as you remember that since the 80s, damn near every comic book published by every publisher, large or small, was printed at QUEBECOR PRINTING in…you guessed it, Quebec.  Thank the French-Canadian lumberjacks for this one.


Oh ho! Ze Comics...they all rely on Jacques to exist, mais non?


5)  Darywn Cooke

Besides being the only man who can collapse civilization by saying “sudden lesbian” in an online video, Darwyn Cooke is comics current “it boy”, with critical gushes and swooning fans following him from project to project.   His retro style has earned him every award the biz has to offer, and he’s done all this while being a dead ringer for Slam Bradley – an achievement in itself.  Without Darwyn, comics nowadays would be nothing more but hyperbolic close up details of forearm veins.  Thank the stars, he stems that tide.


That's a very patriotic American image there, Darwyn...


4)  Lynn Johnston.

FOR BETTER OF FOR WORSE is easily the best comic art ever given to us by a female creator, and for the whole time it was being published, Lynn drew it from her home a few hours north of Toronto.

This magnificent series (only recently finished up) aged along with its readers, and touched the lives of millions in a way that the comics hadn’t since the early days of the century.  Along with Doonesbury, Peanuts, Pogo, Li’l Abner, Krazy Kat, Popeye, Little Nemo, Prince Valiant and Calvin and Hobbes, FBOFW is one of the ten best comic strips ever produced.  If you know who Farley is, and the mere mention of his name doesn’t start to choke you up, you’re an inhuman monster.


The series finale from 2008


3)  Dave Sim


a rare photo of Dave with his mouth shut


The creation and the COMPLETION of the astounding run of CEREBUS THE AARDVARK is the No. #1 most inspiring story the world over for both indie cartoonists and people prone to spelling mistakes.


Yes, that's a typo. A thirty year typo...


Dave Sim proved that if you have an insanely long, mind-bogglingly intricate story that’s going to take you twenty seven years to tell…then BY GOD, it can be done, even if you have to do it yourself!!  CEREBUS is the longest running series ever written and drawn by the same guy – don’t even bring up the part about publishing it and promoting it himself (with the help of his temporary wife and temporary publisher Deni Loubert, of course, and his inker/background assistant GERHARD).  300 issues, 6000 pages, 12,000 loud mouth opinions in the letters pages.  When people say Sim wrote the book on self-publishing, he literally did.  Image Comics, wouldn’t exist without his ground-breaking influence, and apparently, neither would Babylon 5.

2)  Todd McFarlane


The '90s: they were his fault. But at least he has balls.


Speaking of Image Comics…  We must give thanks for our man of the Western Praries:  Todd McFarlane.  Without him, we wouldn’t have all those extra fidgety lines on all those drawings for the last twenty years.  Besides re-inventing Spider-Man’s face mask, Marvel’s sales figures and humanity’s basic anatomy, Todd re-invented the toy industry by adding so many bendy bits to action figures, that they are now too cool to remove from the box.


Don't you DARE play with this. It's not a TOY, it's a McFarlane Action Figure!


Because of the twin revolutions of Image Comics and McFarlane Toys, the fanboy universe would not be the same without him, and neither would the million dollar home-run-collectible baseball market, as I think Todd owns them all.  I think he part-owns the Edmonton Oilers too, but there’s no American who needs to thank him for that.


The Million Dollar Balls of Todd


1)  Joe Shuster


Shuster, hard at work cheating himself out of millions.


Ah, you knew I was going here.  Joe Shuster was the Canadian artist who co-created Superman to help out his American friend Jerry Seigel accomplish SOMETHING in his life.


He helped create this guy.


Canadians know this because we have the stamps, the “Heritage Minute”,  the street named after him in Toronto, and the cousin he left behind to create WAYNE AND SHUSTER.  (It’s absolutely true, they were blood relatives!)


You'll note the resemblance to Jor-El.


Superman is practically a Canadian citizen we hear about this so much.  Metropolis is based on Toronto.  The Daily Planet is based on Toronto’s


He was not born on this street, but it's in the right town, at least.


“Daily Star” newspaper, and the original editor “George Taylor” was named after a real Daily Star Editor, and former boss of former Star copy boy, Shuster.   I don’t  have to tell you that comics in America would have died out long ago without the fellows in the capes, and that the fellows in the capes are ALL a variation on the Man of Steel in one way or another.

So you’re welcome, world!  Thank Canada!

Honorable Mentions:

Stuart Immomen, Ian Boothby,  Dave Ross, Kaare Andrews, Win Mortimer, Ken Lashley, Chester Brown, Tom Fowler, Pia Guerra, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Seth, Max Douglas, Richard Pace, Dale Keown, Bernie Mireault, Gabriel Morrissette, Yanick Paquette, Travis Charest, Diana Shutz,Tom Grummett, Howard Wong,  Steve McNiven, David Finch, Gene Day, Sam Agro, Kate Beaton, Richard Comely, Denis Rodier, Gibson Quarter, David J. Cutler, Clement Sauve, Steve Platt, George Freeman, Dean Motter, Ken Steacy, Adrian Alphona, Pat Davidson, Ramon Perez, Ho Che Anderson, Martin Pasko, Rand Holmes, Cam Stewart, Marcus To, Francis Manapul, Ryan Sohmer, Bob Smith, Mark Shainblum, Kent Burles,  Lar Desouza, J.  Bone, Kalman Adrasofszky…and K.T. Smith.

Just off the top of my head.


Here now, your comic book moment of zen:


Art by Joe Shuster, for adult publishers, shortly after he stopped drawing Superman.