As far as impending celebrity deaths go, I’ve been dreading news of Stan Lee for so long that I never even gave any thought to Art Bell dying.
Art Bell was one of the guys who saved am radio from dying off decades ago. After FM radio came out with the innovation of stereo music (that’s right younger generations, fm stereo music was not only an innovation at one point, but people actually believed they could tell the difference between music played on am vs fm radio…of course we now know they are both sh*t for listening to music. it was a simpler time) AM radio didn’t know how to compete. How could you, with your staticy music, possibly compete with stereo staticy music?! There was a clumsy, slow recognition that you could use it to just talk about stuff instead of play music.
It took them awhile to figure out you didn’t need to play music at all. Steve Dahl, Howard Stern and Art Bell pioneered talk radio and being a “personality” on radio.
Art Bell Pioneered more than that of course, he brought fringe topics like aliens, bigfoot,time travel, ghosts and the like, into the mainstream. It’s hard to imagine a time when grown ups wouldn’t even discuss any of this, but years ago such stuff was thought of as topics fit for only for comic books.
Well here we are, 2018 comic books art king and a majority of the population believes in aliens.
Art Bell and Stan Lee are a lot alike in my mind. In the sense that they capture peoples imaginations and know how to craft a story and are interesting in and of themselves.
Art had a lot of loons and crackpots on with fantastic tales, but anyone who’s been part of a live broadcast can tell you that if you don’t know how to steer the guest correctly the story isn’t going to come across as fantastic, or even interesting. One of my all time favorite shows was about “Mel’s hole”. It was about…a hole. A hole on someone’s property that the guy couldn’t find the bottom of. That isn’t much to work with if you are the host…somehow Art made it riveting. I heard to first 20 minutes on a drive home and went directly upstairs and listened to the next three hours, to find out what the f*ck was up with that hole?!
Stan Lee called his style of storytelling “the illusion of something happening”. Spider-man is a teenager with super powers who has trouble with girls and paying his bills, the Green Goblin shows up kidnaps someone, threatens the city, there’s a big fantastic fight, the city is saved, the hostage is saved…spidey goes back to being a teenager with super powers, trouble with girls, and paying his bills. For all intents and purposes of the telling a story the next day, nothing actually happened.
Art’s show was like that. You tune in, get wild tales of conspiracies, aliens abductions, creatures that defy classification, and when the show is over…nothing is actually any different. What can you do with any of the information you heard, for whatever credibility it had. But while it was on, it sure felt you were an audience to something fantastic.
Art Bell’s show was on third shift radio and I started listening when I lived in Florida…I’m super not in the mood for nostalgic tales of those days, so here’s a story I wrote and drew while listening to his show…the influence is obvious.
The story AFTER this wasn’t done when he was on the air, since he had long since retired but I like to think he would have liked this one in particular. I wasn’t planning on releasing it just yet, but what the hell, in memory of Art I’ll give you just the black and whites.
In case you’re wondering, the story above is from The Devil’s Digest Part 1
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