On the left is Bob Haney (1926-2004), a prolific and wildly creative comic book writer who did a lot of his work for DC Comics in the 1960s and 1970s. On the right is Bob Ross (1942-1995), famed host of "The Joy of Painting" on PBS and art instructor to millions.
Why these two? I couldn't choose just one bearded Bob!
I discovered Bob Ross around 1989, and -- like many others -- found his show to be an oasis of tranquility and optimism in a weary cosmos. "It's your world," he would say, "so you can do whatever you want with it." That was precisely what I needed to hear at the time. His technique was both egalitarian and odd; he'd cover the canvas with a solid coat of paint (a technique he learned from a mentor, Bill Alexander) and use a combination of knives and big 2-inch brushes to blend and scratch for 30 minutes until a magical nature scene appeared. But the real Joy in the Joy of Painting was Bob's soothing voice. There's a kind of trance-out phenomenon that can happen when you're in the presence of someone with this kind of voice... it's no coincidence that Bob seems to be the patron saint of a group of people who aim to study and reproduce this phenomenon at will (Google the acronym "ASMR" if you dare).
On the seemingly opposite end of the spectrum was Bob Haney, who is kind of the patron saint of gonzo craziness when it comes to "Silver Age" superhero stories. He co-created the Teen Titans, Sergeant Rock, and everyone's favorite chemistry-themed superhero, Metamorpho the Element Man...
|You may have thought I was kidding?|
- Did you know that Batman and Wonder Woman once met an army of gorilla surgeons?
- Or that there was an alternate future in which Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne have rebellious Super Sons named, um, Clark Jr. and Bruce Jr.?
- Or that Catwoman was once an ambassador to the United Nations?
- Or that a two-foot tall alien invader elf was once defeated by a guitar that shoots laser beams?
- Of course you knew about the classic comics villains Dick Dragon and Ding Dong Daddy.
Haney did have a serious side, too. His moving, 4-page story Dirty Job won several awards. (You can read it in full at the above link, but scroll slowly to not spoil the ending on the last page.)
In the end, I'm not 100% sure why I paired these two very different Bobs together. Both are known for their words and images, I suppose. Maybe, like pickles and peanut butter, they really DO go well together despite all appearances! :-)