Monday, August 29, 2011

In Memoriam

It was 28 years ago today, August 29th, 1983, when the world lost one of its greatest and most versatile character actors.

It seems surreal whenever I actually stop to think about it: Simon died three years before I was even born. (And there are other actors I admire who died many years before that.) He is deeply missed; 68 is far too young to die. Although, no matter whether he passed away in 1983 or 2010, the feeling of having lost someone special would persist.

It’s hard to fully know what to say without sounding trite or silly. But Simon’s memory lives on in every single role he played, every line he spoke, and every look he gave. He appeared in so very many productions through the years, some of them still highly beloved today, that I wouldn’t find it surprising if somewhere in the world, every day, someone is watching a character he brought to life. On any given day, someone could be viewing West Side Story or Psycho or Kolchak: The Night Stalker, or countless other entertainment in which Simon took part. It’s not every actor for which such statements could be made and actually have the chance of being true. But in general, everyone who watches old movies and television shows has a high chance of encountering Simon somewhere along the way. He has appeared at least once in almost every major genre: comedy, drama, Western, adventure, action, horror, musical, war, historical, science-fiction, fantasy, and crime. There’s something for everyone.

All who worked with Simon have described him as a thoroughly professional actor and a wonderful man. He was happily married for forty-plus years and fathered a daughter. And he touched Heaven knows how many lives with his performances, on stage, on film, and on television.

I post now and then on, to Simon’s page and others. For the time being, it is the only way I feel I can leave a message “to” him. But I like to think that someday I will be able to speak with him personally and tell him how much I have enjoyed his work.

You are, and ever will be, remembered and missed, Simon.

~Lucky Ladybug

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Golden Voice

A lot of an actor’s appeal comes from not only what you see, but by what you hear.  I’ve always thought Simon had a marvelous voice, and his voice has always been an integral part to his characters.  There are some roles where his voice is everything; the Empyrian from The Outer Limits episode “Second Chance” comes to mind.  As many have described, if you were going by appearances alone, you would never recognize that the Empyrian is, in fact, the same man who would go on to play Tony Vincenzo.  But all you need to do is merely listen, and it soon becomes clear.

Simon’s natural Brooklyn accent has always been very appealing to me; it’s part of what gives Tony Vincenzo his tough exterior, and, at the same time, also lets slip Tony’s softer side, given the right opportunity.  Initially, I was surprised to find out that Simon’s Brooklyn accent was, in fact, his natural one; the first time I saw him was in “The Day Smart Turned Chicken” in Get Smart, where his character as the Cowboy had no accent at all.  That is the hallmark of a good actor, of course: to be able to work his voice in such a way that the viewer believes it.

Brooklyn is not the only accent that I’ve heard Simon speak in, of course; he was able to work his voice to a number of accents that were believable each and every time—from Stawski’s Jersey accent in The Sand Pebbles to Colonel Vasily’s Russian accent and Alonzo Galezio’s Italian accent in Wagon Train.  The accents don’t seem forced at all; they sound natural, as though he had been speaking that way for years.  The accent also helps to make the character more endearing; how can anyone not like Alonzo, with his almost boyish enthusiasm and joie de vivre that are so plainly evident in his words alone?

All accents aside, there is the sheer quality of Simon’s voice itself: a strong, golden baritone that exudes an aura of both charm and even reassurance.  Yes, reassurance; most of Simon’s characters—the good guys, at least—are the ones you’d want to hide behind if there was something scary out there.  I, for one, would have no hesitation in asking Lt. Schrank to be a police escort if I was traversing Manhattan at night.  If monsters were crawling around Chicago, I’d sooner stay in the INS building knowing that Tony Vincenzo was holding the fort.  Simon’s paternal characters, like Daniel Gorman from Tucker’s Witch and General Moore from Black Sheep Squadron, pretty much live and breathe this aura of security when they speak.

And even some of the villain characters haven’t lost everything in the reassurance department; why else would so many people trust someone like William Poole?  It’s because Poole talks with a comforting, sympathetic vibe, cheerfully singing and whistling his signature song, that people are automatically put at ease by his words.  As much as I’d hate to admit it, I probably would’ve believed that he was a harmless traveling man like the rest of Virginia City did.

Of course, Simon also used his voice to showcase how disturbing the villain characters could get, as well.  Once Poole’s charade is unmasked, his voice turns to a low, almost pseudo-growl before he strikes—and then, later, an all-out roar as he yells at Little Joe.  And then there’s Joshua Broom, from the Cimarron Strip episode “The Beast Who Walks Like a Man.”  Joshua Broom is a role unlike any other that Simon has played, and it’s his voice (low and gravelly, and he does indeed really growl and roar this time) as much as his appearance (a bizarre combination of Hagrid and Wolverine) that seals the character and makes him utterly unforgettable.

Perhaps another testament to Simon’s wonderful voice is that he has done his share of voiceovers, able to have a presence without actually being seen.  No matter what the role or what the accent, it’s always a joy to hear his wonderful golden voice.  And it seems so fitting to remember the voice and the man today, on what would’ve been his 96th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Simon.  You are greatly missed.

~Crystal Rose

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Captain Caldwell: A Victim of the Most Unnecessary Death

Out of all of Simon’s characters, and out of the few who have died, I have suddenly come to the very odd realization that it was his Perry Mason characters’ deaths that broke my heart the most of just about any of them.

While Howard Walters from The Frantic Flyer is most certainly a bad egg and really probably deserved what he got, Captain Mike Caldwell from The Misguided Missile is definitely not a villain and did not deserve death at all. He is, perhaps, not a complete pillar of virtue, but he is a multi-faceted and complex character. This is quite a trick considering he has only scant moments onscreen!

The Misguided Missile opens with a failed missile launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base. An investigation is promptly begun to discern the cause, and Captain Caldwell is the man they send. He is stern, serious, and determined to uncover the truth about what happened.

His dark side is that he has a grudge against Perry’s friend, Major Jerry Reynolds, and wants to prove that Jerry was responsible for the failed launch. It’s not an unfounded suspicion; it looks worse and worse for Jerry as the investigation proceeds. Captain Caldwell interviews others involved with the launch (and the very idea of Simon Oakland interacting with William Schallert is an epic thing of beauty) and finds evidence of the missile having been tampered with. But before he can do anything with this evidence, he is murdered on the test grounds the night before another launch. Jerry Reynolds is implicated and eventually tried for his murder.

Some of what happened comes out during the court-martial, as characters recall offscreen interaction with Caldwell. Jerry was almost the last person to see him alive, as they had a bad confrontation in the Officers’ Club that culminated with Caldwell insisting he knew Jerry wasn’t the great man everyone claimed and Jerry hauling off and punching him.

So what was the reason for Caldwell’s seeming obsession of proving Jerry guilty of sabotage? We don’t get the details; we never even hear the story from Caldwell’s point-of-view. It is only briefly mentioned by Jerry as he speaks with Perry and Paul. His explanation goes as follows: When they served together in the war, there was a time when Jerry gave an order and Caldwell did not carry it out. He was reprimanded and reassigned.

But it isn’t as simple at that. Caldwell always insisted that he never received the order. Did he or didn’t he? This mystery, sadly enough, was left unexplained. It’s possible that he was telling the truth. A messenger could have been at fault for Caldwell not receiving the order. Any number of possibilities could explain it. Caldwell could have been flying a plane and Jerry gave the order over the radio, but it was not received due to a faulty transmission. We simply do not have enough information on the incident to judge one way or the other.

It’s possible but unlikely that Caldwell received the order and simply ignored it. From the little we see of him, he is a dedicated officer seeking to locate the truth. He isn’t there to hurt anyone, he tells Helen Rand, the one in charge of public relations at the company responsible for creating the missile. Perhaps Caldwell is guilty of too much determination to prove Jerry’s guilt, but he isn’t focusing all of his time and energy into that one angle. He also investigates the two corporations that want the missile contract.

And who was responsible for the poor man’s death? As we finally learn, it was Dan Morgan, the rather batty inventor of the missile. Caldwell’s information would have stopped the second launch, and Morgan wanted his missile to fly. Ironically enough, by killing him on the test field, Morgan almost caused the launch to be stopped anyway. Such a pointless, senseless death.

In the end Caldwell may not have always made the best choices, and he did have bitter feelings towards Jerry which may or may not be founded, but over the course of the episode we saw, both firsthand and through others’ testimonies, Caldwell’s good side as well as his less favorable traits. Caldwell was, as it turns out, very human.

Rest in peace, Captain.

~Lucky Ladybug

Friday, August 19, 2011

Teardrops: the Tear-Jerking Roles of Simon Oakland

A good actor is one who is able to instill a variety of emotions in those who see his work.  Simon Oakland definitely fits that description; he brought to life so many characters that evoked adoration, anger, shock, laughter, and tears.

A good tear-jerking role can be a wonderful catharsis for the viewer, and I have been moved to tears by some of Simon’s roles.  I mentioned in an earlier entry about Adam Howard, from “The Secret” episode of The Big Valley.  It was Adam’s heartfelt and heartbreaking speech where he lamented about his dream of having a son being all a lie—as he was certain that the son he had been raising wasn’t his—that made me feel for him and cry for him, despite whatever cruelties he was doing.  The interaction with the child in question was also very tear-jerking; Adam genuinely cares for the child, even despite all of his doubts that he is not the boy’s real father.  Adam himself seems torn up about it, too, his voice cracking up when the boy presents him with a hand-made wallet.

Two more of Simon’s tear-jerking roles can be found in two separate episodes of Hawaii Five-O: “Strangers in Our Own Land” and “The Reunion.”  In the former, Simon’s character, Benny Kalua, seems absolutely broken and devastated upon hearing about the death of a friend with whom he had a love-hate relationship. Though we find out later that he has things to hide, one cannot help but feel for him initially.  And one can’t help but feel even more for his character in “The Reunion,” Frank Epstein.  Frank is a veteran of the Second World War, who had been interred in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp with two other companions.  Tortured by the cruel and calculating commandant, Frank eventually lost his leg before it was all over.  Bitter and vengeful after all of these years, Frank is shocked and enraged to see the very same commandant in Hawaii, though the man insists he is mistaken.  Eventually, though, it’s revealed that Frank was right, and that the commandant—still as cruel and calculating as ever—has led him right into a trap.  Thankfully, he’s able to hold his own against the commandant until Steve and Danny arrive, but the commandant taunts Frank, hoping to get him to kill him while Steve is desperately trying to convince him not to.  As the commandant cruelly reminds Frank of all he had inflicted upon him, poor Frank can do little more than stare into his worst enemy’s face and blink back tears of rage—and the viewers can do little more than wish they could help him.  Alas, the version of this episode I saw cuts off before we see what Frank’s final decision was (and if anyone reading this happens to know what that is, by all means, please tell me!).

But, by far, my favorite of Simon’s tear-jerking roles was the Wagon Train episode, “The Donna Fuller Story.”  Simon plays what must be one of the most adorable roles of his career: Alonzo Galezio, a cheerful and animated winemaker from Sicily, looking to make a fresh start in the United States, bringing barrels of his best wine and grape plants.  He falls head-over-heels for Donna Fuller, a prim and proper widow, who happens to be the head of a group of ladies determined to see the consumption of alcohol eradicated.  Initially, Alonzo is unaware of her stance on this, and she is unaware of his career, and she is initially attracted to him.  However, once she finds out that he is a winemaker, she drops him cold, and you can see the poor man’s heart just shattering to pieces, unable to fathom why she does this.  Even after she reveals her reasons, he desperately tries to get her to see that he is a good man, even if he does make wine, but she will hear none of it.  And then, it gets worse; in her group’s crusade to eradicate all alcohol on the wagon train, they end up getting to and destroying all of the barrels of wine that Alonzo had brought, and a good number of the grape plants.  Simon plays the role with such believability as Alonzo breaks down and narrates his tale of how being terrorized by the mafia had forced him to flee to America, and now he finds himself ruined again at the hands of a mob, his dreams all but shattered.  By the end of it, you just want to hug him and tell him that it’ll somehow be okay (and, thankfully, it is).

It’s just another testament to how powerful an actor Simon was—that a young lady such as myself can cry for an angry and bitter man or an adorable winemaker whose world has been turned upside-down.  But they are good tears, most definitely, each one an appreciation of an actor who was the master of his craft.

~Crystal Rose

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Frantic Flyer vs. The Fugitive Nurse: A Recycled Plot

We’ve all heard it said that there are only so many basic plots in the world and every story today is a reinvention of one or more of them. Sometimes, however, it occurs more times than at others, and hits closer to home than plots borrowed from ancient mythologies or fables. Some television shows recycle plots from other television shows. Some recycle their own plots. In any case, they change names, details, and various outcomes, while still keeping enough of the basic backbone that the similarities are recognizable.

Simon’s first Perry Mason episode, The Case of the Frantic Flyer, was a remake of an episode from the first season, The Case of the Fugitive Nurse. His character, Howard Walters, is a crooked employee of a corporation who is also guilty of infidelity. He plans to fake his own death and disappear with his mistress and a bundle of stolen money. To further ensure that people won’t look for him, he kills the company president’s son and leaves him in his airplane to crash and burn with it while he secretly bails out. The plan works, for a while; people believe that Walters was killed instead. But Walters broke his leg during the landing, forcing him to take cover at a cabin to heal. Later he returns, seeking the mistress with whom he has not yet reunited, and almost promptly is killed for real.

What are the differences between that plot and the plot of the earlier episode, The Fugitive Nurse? The answers are quite surprising.

In The Fugitive Nurse, the Howard Walters character is a doctor named Charles Morris. The titular nurse is the mistress. They still plan to run away together, with Charles allowing himself to disappear entirely. There is still an airplane, which crashes with another body in it, a body that is mistaken for Morris’s.

The similarities end there. While Morris is an adulterer, he is not actually a criminal. He did not steal any money, nor did he kill someone and place the body in his airplane. He had no involvement with the murder at all. All he really wants is to go to Mexico and get the divorce his wife won’t give him so he can marry his nurse. The nurse cares about him too, unlike Howard Walters’ mistress, who was hoping to get him out of the way. By the end of the episode their fate is not clear, but it is assumed they will live in Mexico, where their marriage is valid. Hence, another huge difference is observed: Morris is still alive at the end.

There are other major differences, mainly involving the poor man who was murdered. In The Fugitive Nurse, he was a trusted friend of Morris’s and is in several scenes. Compare that with The Frantic Flyer, where the deceased is barely, if ever, seen and did not appear to be especially close to Howard Walters. In The Fugitive Nurse, the decedent’s personal life is highly important to the plot. His family life is still important to the plot in The Frantic Flyer, as his widow is the murder suspect, but that is quite different from The Fugitive Nurse, where the widow is actually the murderer and never was a suspect (until Perry picked up on her big mistake).

In the end, Morris’s plan to disappear quite succeeded. Perhaps Walters’ would have too, had he not suffered that accident that required him to stay in a cabin and recover for seven weeks. Or vice versa: Maybe Morris’s would have failed drastically if his attempt had culminated the same way as Walters’.

Heaven knows why the writers chose to make the particular changes they did when working on The Frantic Flyer. I must confess that I would have preferred the Howard Walters’ character’s personality and eventual fate have been more like that of his prototype, Charles Morris. But the dark twists of the later episode are certainly intriguing and intense. And Simon displays his wonderful abilities to play a wretched villain and yet still make there be something about him that is sympathetic. I felt sorry for Howard Walters that he honestly cared about that woman when she wanted him gone. And I shall never forget my disappointment and devastation when he turned up dead—although I still believe my feelings were more because of Simon himself and not the character he was playing.

~Lucky Ladybug

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sympathetic Villains: More than Meets the Eye

Lucky Ladybug already did a musing on Simon’s villain characters who deserve no sympathy; I decided to a musing on those villain/antagonist characters who, despite the things they’ve done, either make you feel sorry for them or end up redeeming themselves in some way.

There’s Nick, the shady casino owner from Follow that Dream, for starters.  He’s definitely not a nice person, trying multiple plots to get rid of Toby Kwimper, whom he considers to be a thorn in his side.  True, Nick doesn’t really have any sympathetic traits; nor does he redeem himself in any way.  But the sheer level of backfiring that his plans undergo make him an incredibly ineffective villain—and one you can’t help but laugh at.

But once we deal with sympathetic villains, it’s a whole new game; Simon never fails to tug on the heartstrings, even when playing a villain.  William Poole, from “The Thunder Man” episode of Bonanza confides that his girlfriend was killed in an accident involving one of his demolition charges.  Whether or not he was being truthful is debatable (granted, he isn’t the most trustworthy of people), but if he is, then it certainly explains his descent into madness—a madness that is revealed in its entirety at the episode’s end, when he declares himself to be above the powers of Heaven and Earth.  At any rate, Poole is a madman, and one has to wonder if, underneath the madness, he was once a nice, decent person.

Joe Palakopolous (known by his nickname of Mr. Pal), from “The Canada Run” episode of The Untouchables, is another interesting case.  While he is a nasty sort, manipulating the head of a local church, Father Gregory, into being an unwitting pawn in his scheme to smuggle whiskey from Canada, there is no denying that Mr. Pal does donate a great portion of his wealth to Father Gregory to help him set up a soup kitchen that the hungry in town desperately need, plus other additions to the church.  Father Gregory is touched by his generosity, and becomes horrified and sad when he discovers Mr. Pal’s true motives.  And yet, there is still a part of Father Gregory that pities Mr. Pal—one that the audience might also end up sharing.

Also take the case of Mel Grayson, from the “Puzzlelock” episode of Ironside.  Grayson is a nasty fellow, having killed his wife and covered his tracks expertly.  However, as cold and calculated as his plan was, Grayson does have one shred of decency—he does not want anyone else to be arrested in his place, either.  This eventually proves to be his undoing, as his desperation to clear names ends up with him falling right into Ironside’s hands.

However, my favorite kind of villain/antagonist characters that Simon plays are the ones that eventually redeem themselves—or, at least, are well on the road to doing so.  An interesting example here is Stawski, from The Sand Pebbles.  When sober, Stawski is, in fact, a reasonably amiable and decent man—welcoming Steve McQueen’s character, Holman, aboard and later coming to the aid of a Chinese worker who ends up badly injured in an engine room accident.  Unfortunately, those good traits seem to vanish once alcohol hits his bloodstream, leaving behind an obnoxious and almost primal man.  He shamelessly chases after the local girls, and while some of them return his affections, he still insists on chasing after the one girl who wants nothing to do with him.  When Stawski ends up antagonizing another one of the workers, Po-Han, who happens to be a friend of Holman’s, it ends with a boxing match between Stawski and Po-Han.  Stawski acts horribly towards Po-Han as the fight begins, taunting and intimidating him—and then unleashing the no-holds-barred beatdown once Po-Han tries fighting back.  Po-Han does, eventually, emerge victorious, and Stawski retreats to the background.  It’s here that Stawski appears to be on the road to redemption.  He’s noticeably less boisterous; when a fight breaks out feet away from where he’s standing, rather than joining it, he merely looks away, as though he’s disgusted with the whole thing.  And though he initially is among the group of sailors who insist that Holman should turn himself in to a mob that’s after him, he eventually relents with the rest of them.  And when Holman attempts to single-handedly run the engine room to try to get them out of the river, Stawski is the first one to go and help him, taking orders from Holman without complaint and apparently letting go of their feud.

Simon plays both sides of Stawski amazing well.  Decent-Stawski made me almost cheer.  Obnoxious-Stawski made me visibly cringe.  They almost seem like two different characters; it’s absolutely amazing.

Another antagonistic character with redeemable qualities that Simon played is Adam Howard, from “The Secret” episode of The Big Valley.  Adam is very vengeful and spiteful, determined to drive a group of ranchers to ruin because he believes one of them to have had an affair with his wife—and that the son he has been raising isn’t really his.  The actions Adam takes detestable—having the man in question beaten up, and then cutting off the ranchers’ water supply.  The latter action absolutely infuriated me, as it resulted in the death of a calf.  And yet, Adam’s interaction with the son-that-may-not-be-his is too poignant for words—that, in spite of his suspicions, he unconditionally cares for this child.  And Adam’s heartbreaking confession that he had wanted a son so badly—and that he’s devastated that this dream he thought had come true may in fact be all a lie—moved me to tears.  As the episode’s events draw to a close, Adam heads down the road of redemption, as well—traversing it at a fairly quick pace, I’m pleased to say.

It’s simply amazing how one man can bring to life so many antagonistic characters that draw a variety of emotions.  Nick made me laugh.  Adam made me cry.  Stawski made me cringe and fume.  And William Poole made me stare in shock.  All of these varied antagonists are once again proof of Simon’s incredible acting talent.

~Crystal Rose

Friday, August 12, 2011

Colonel Vasily: A Two-Faced Scoundrel or a Victim of Bad Writing?

While Simon has always been marvelous and magnificent at stepping into his roles, I suppose I do have to admit that there was one villain that I didn’t quite find believable. However, the reason for that was because Simon played him so believably before the sudden reveal that he was a villain!

I am speaking of Colonel Vasily from the Wagon Train episode The Countess Baronoff Story. For the first half of the episode, Colonel Vasily is a very loyal servant of the Countess, growing absolutely incensed when others don’t seem to pay her the proper respect. His inability to understand that things are done differently in the United States, and his blustering as a result, is somehow adorably sweet and endearing. He also finally admits that he loves the Countess, but she rejects him, saying that she doesn’t love any man yet. Of course, they also feel that getting together would be impossible anyway, due to their different social stations.

About halfway through the episode, Vasily abruptly changes gears once it looks as though the Countess is coming to care for Flint McCullough, one of the show’s main characters. He storms into the Countess’s wagon with a weapon and threatens her, revealing himself to be a revolutionary who wants the money she is traveling to get hold of in Alaska. He also says that he had hoped to get her to care about him rather than to have to go about his plans in this way. Hence, it seems he never loved her at all.

The rest of the episode plays out in that manner, with Vasily as a very dangerous, merciless force with which to be reckoned. Eventually he leads the protagonists into a situation where there is no choice but to shoot him down.

The switch was so jarring that I had a difficult time accepting it. By the episode’s end, I still hadn’t fully done so. He came across as so very sincere in the first half. His longing looks at the Countess all but broke my heart. It was very hard to comprehend that it was all a fraud.

I’m still not sure I have determined that. No one saw him looking at the Countess those times, and no one but she knew his feelings for her, anyway; he wouldn’t have needed to keep up appearances. Part of me continues trying to decide whether he did love her and her rejection made him snap and decide to enact his dark motives, which he might not have otherwise done. The other part wonders if it was just bad writing that caused the switch to him being a villain. A third part wonders if it is just the silly fantasies of an enamored fangirl that makes it so hard to accept that Colonel Vasily was intended to be a villain all along.

Perhaps I never shall know the answer. I only know that, even after the reveal in the middle, cynical, romance-scoffing me kept longing for something to work out so that he and the Countess could be together. It was quite disheartening when things worked out so completely opposite.

~Lucky Ladybug

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Still Relevant in the 21st Century: Another Appealing Aspect of Simon Oakland's Characters

One of the intriguing elements to Simon Oakland’s characters is how they are still relevant here in the 21st century.  Both the good and the malevolent characters could easily find a place in the modern world, even the ones from period pieces.  The realization came to me when I was musing over how, after a few tweaks, it could be possible to apply the translated lyrics of “Dastaan-e Om Shanti Om” (from the 2007 Bollywood/Hindi movie Om Shanti Om) to the story of William Poole from the Thunder Man” episode of Bonanza (for it is, as the song says, “A story of broken dreams” for everyone involved).  The fact that that a song from a movie from 2007 could apply to characters in a 1963 episode of a TV show set in the Old West speaks volumes to the relevancy of the characters and the story.  And it isn’t just here…

Take the case of the Empryian, from The Outer Limits episode “Second Chance.”  Is the Empyiran’s view on humans any less applicable in 2011 than it was in 1964?  Not at all; for all we complain about our world and our lives, we still are very reluctant to leave our comfort zones, as the Empyrian so glibly stated. 

And what of Lieutenant Schrank and his jaded view on the direction the youths of our world seem to be taking?  A look at any local news station will tell you that West Side Stories still happen worldwide.  Suddenly, Schrank’s cynicism seems more and more understandable.

Of course, it isn’t just the cruel or cynical characters that are applicable to our modern age; Simon’s nicer characters are also relevant.  A character like Jim Nation, from the “Overland Express” episode of Gunsmoke is a reminder that there are some people who are good deep down in spite of initial appearances, and if you give them the benefit of the doubt, they’ll come through for you when you need them most.

Also included in the list of relevant characters are those characters who are nothing but good and loveable, like Tony Vincenzo—gruff on the outside, but with a caring heart of gold on the inside.  Don’t we all know a Tony Vincenzo somewhere in our lives—someone who, despite any and all disagreements they may have with us, can’t help but be concerned for our problems to the extent that they start worrying for us, despite the headaches?  Everything about Tony is believable: his attempts to resist the temptation of junk food in favor of healthier practices like yoga (and, in addition, his failure at both), his bark being worse than his bite, and the sheer pity and sympathy he has for his unfortunate employee and friend, Carl Kolchak, no matter what troubles he brings upon him.

And, sometimes, it’s not just what the characters represent that is still relevant to our time; sometimes, the characters themselves have a place in our world.  Tony Vincenzo is the best example of this yet again; the Kolchak saga continues on in the form of Moonstone’s comics, which are not only still being published, but take place in the present day.  Tony and Carl don’t look or feel out of place at all among the tech age we live in; they continue on with their bantering like they always did.

Perhaps it was Simon’s ability to bring to life characters that are still relevant to the 21st century that ended up being one of the many contributing factors as to why a modern-day young lady ended up being so enamored by the characters—and the man behind them.  Though the man may be gone, the characters live on.  And perhaps, a hundred years from now, they’ll still be just as relevant.
~Crystal Rose