Off Beat: Technology makes movie magician’s autograph ‘disappear’

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An autograph from Ray Harryhausen? Darren G. Davis was stunned.

The legendary filmmaker, who died on May 7, was up there with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg as a movie magician. Actually, it sounds like Davis ranked Harryhausen even higher.

"As a kid -- I get yelled at for this -- but I liked 'Clash of the Titans' more than 'Star Wars,'" the Vancouver comic book publisher said.

Harryhausen mastered the art such as crafting miniature creatures like sword-swinging skeletons, then moving each one slightly while filming shot after painstaking shot in a process known as stop-motion animation.

It still sparks the imagination like no other cinematic technique, Davis said in an online tribute.

But that's not why the head of Bluewater Productions was stunned to see Harryhausen ink his autograph across a comic book cover.

It helps to know how their relationship changed when Davis started collaborating with his hero. Bluewater created several comic books based on Harryhausen's classic films, including "Sinbad" and several "Titans"-inspired titles.

Instead of paying a licensing fee to essentially rent a character or film title, "We incorporated Ray and his storytelling into everything," Davis said. "We got to work one on one with him, and it was fun."

After Harryhausen's death at age 92, Davis was one of the people contacted by The Associated Press. AP relayed the Vancouver man's thoughts on Harryhausen's role in pop culture around the world.

Scary cool

On a more personal note, Davis recalled when Bluewater and Harryhausen appeared at the annual international comic book convention in San Diego. It led to " one of scariest -- and coolest -- things" they combined on, Davis said.

"The artist who did the cover on the 'Jason and the Argonauts' book wanted to show Ray the cover before it was scanned in. It was just the line art. Ray looked at it, and took a Sharpie and signed his name.

"The artist and myself, our eyes met: My God! We had not colored it in yet!"

The color artist was able to Photoshop the autograph from the page without actually erasing the signature from the original cover.

"It's on my wall now," Davis said.

— Tom Vogt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.