Since the first issue of Glebe's illustrious entertainment rag I mean mag hit the stands less than two
weeks ago, I have been inundated with queries as to the origin of Ash, my mysterious 'nom-de-plum'. And
by inundated of course I mean one person asked me, and I desperately needed something to fill up half a
page in this issue. Well, dear reader, that is certainly a valid question, for there is a deeper meaning
aside from the obvious, which is that it's a pretty cool name. I'm going to assume that you, like most
normal people, own at least one copy of Sam Raimi's 1987 classic Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, and watch
it regularly on special occasions such as Halloween, Christmas, and Thursdays, and are therefore well
aware of the unbelievably cool main character, one Ashley J. Williams (played by the great Bruce Campbell),
known to his friends as Ash. "Aha!" you say, no doubt with a smug expression on your otherwise blank
and vapid face, "So that's where he got it from! He thinks he's as cool as Ash!" Well, it is and I do,
but that's not the whole story.
For example, one need look no farther than the illuminating world of literature to find another piece
of the Ash puzzle. The fact that I am a big fan of the graphic novella, or 'comic book' as the kids are
calling them these days, should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well. For I am a connoisseur
of all forms of art, and what better middle ground is there between the great literary works of Shakespeare
and the stunning visual imagery of Picasso or Degas than the latest issue of Warrior Nun Areala.
Also, comic books tend to involve very few actual words, a big plus if the word polysyllabic hurts
your head. Now, those of you familiar with the wild world of funny books may remember a series a few
years back called Ash, which featured the wacky misadventures of smarmy, ass-kicking firefighter
Ash, who incidentally had a haircut very similar to the real Ash's at the very end of Evil Dead II.
Granted, this animated Ash never got anywhere near as cool as the real Ash, but he got points for trying.
But perhaps comic books aren't quite your thing. Perhaps you're far too hoity-toity to read books that
run about 22 pages every month and have less words than an exit sign on the Queensway. And perhaps you
utterly disdain horror movies and refuse to watch Evil Dead, because your film-going tastes run more
towards the science-fiction end of the spectrum. Well, you're in luck, because as you'll no doubt
remember, there happened to be a little sci-fi movie a few years ago that also had a character named
Ash in it. Perhaps you've seen it. It's the heart-warming story of a small, brown little alien who
gets accidentally left behind on Earth by his spaceship and ends up staying with a human family,
teaching the three children about life, love, and what happens when a carnivorous creature bursts
out of John Hurt's chest and starts eating people's heads. Yes, that little film was Alien: The
Extra-Terrestrial, and it starred Ian Holm as Ash, the crew science officer who actually turns out
to be a murderous android who must teach Sigourney Weaver about life, love, and the importance of
staying away from movies starring Sarah Polley.
But what's that you say? You suffer from some strange taste deficiency and don't like Alien? Try
eating more fibre. Also, try watching 1940's movie serial The Crimson Ghost. Starring Charles
Quigley as Duncan, a brilliant criminologist who moonlights as a physicist and is completely
incapable of going through 5 minutes of screen time without punching somebody, The Crimson Ghost
tells the story of a mad criminal genius who for some baffling reason wants to destroy the world,
and he must do this by obtaining the 'atomic cyclotrode', a device with the ability to halt all
electrical activity, which somehow blows cars up. Aside from providing the symbol for rock 'n'
roll greats The Misfits, The Crimson Ghost also contains tough-talkin', hard-hittin' crook-for-hire
Ash, the Ghost's right hand man.
So the answer you sought was not quite so simple as it seemed, was it, dear reader? Ash is not
quite the two-dimensional character you assumed him to be, a name pulled from thin air just because
it sounded cool. No, Ash is in fact a creation spawned from a childhood spent hunched in front
of a television, soaking up cathode rays like a sponge. Wasted youth, you say? Shut up. Nobody
asked you. I prefer to think of it as a willing full-body-and-soul immersion into the fetid pool
of raw sewage we call pop-culture. And I can't swim.