The chill is setting in, guys so I figured this week you could do with something to warm up the old heart-cockles (whatever the heck they turn out to be!).

Not a day goes by that I don’t spare a thought to Ray Bradbury and his work . . . but then, that’s not just as a result of his departure to that big mid-west in the sky. Nope, not a bit. My mind has wandered of its own accord into all things Bradburian pretty much every day since I discovered THE ILLUSTRATED MAN aged 11.

So it was a great surprise when Michael Bishop drew my attention to news from the Los Angeles Times that the intersection of 5th and Flower streets in downtown LA had been designated Ray Bradbury Square. The location, near the front entrance to the Central Library, is a fitting place to honor the author who was, after all, a lifelong supporter of libraries and wrote his early short stories and novels on library typewriters that were available to the public.,0,7487265.story

The photo shows Ray’s daughters Alexandra Bradbury, left, Sue Bradbury Nixon, center, and Ramona Ostergren, right, celebrating with others. (Photo by Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2012)

Ray Bradbury's writing career began at age 12 when he met a carnival magician called Mr. Electrico, who touched him with his "electric sword" and caused his hair to stand on end (an event the author later described as an epiphany).

Well, here’s potentially another one . . . and this time to a lad who’s even younger!

You don’t need to be a sharp-eyed sleuth to have spotted our announcement that we were withdrawing from the shelves copies of the first volume in our run of PLANET COMICS. Not one to dwell on disappointments (nor, indeed, on the cost involved—sob!), I soldiered on with only a couple of extra visits to my therapist. But then, with Paul having bitten the bullet (which, for a time, he had considered firing into his temple) and shelled out for a full run of the beloved comic, we discovered a wonderful provenance. Here’s the story, pretty much word for word, from Louis, the comics’ seller.

“In the summer of 2011 my eight-year old grandson became fascinated with a cable TV show called Auction Hunters,” Louis tells us. “It’s about a bunch of guys who buy storage units and what they find in them.

“My grandson talked me into taking him to some here in Topeka Kansas. I’ve done this kind of thing before and it’s a lot of work . . . as he would soon find out. But he was a real hard worker: he had his flashlight and several paddle locks, and he would look in and then tell me where to start bidding and the max to bid.”

Louis and his son and grandson ended up with four units in the first two auctions. Three of them were nothing special but the fourth one paid dividends with a full run of one of comicdom’s most revered and loved SF titles.

“As you can imagine, he was very excited about the whole thing,” Louis says. “He scored just like the big guys.”

And gramps aims to make sure his grandson profits like the big guys, too. “I’ll make sure he receives half of the money minus expenses,” he says. “I’m not sure what he’ll do with the money but his parents will save most of it for his college expenses.”

Who’d have thought that the funny pages from some 70 years ago—and which the likes of Dr. Wertham and his Seduction of the Innocent book campaigned against so vigorously—would one day serve in at least one case to provide a springboard for the very thing they had been accused of eroding: education.

And as to the history of the comics themselves, from what Louis learned from the folks at the storage unit that the guy who collected them was a 1950 graduate from Topeka High. “Turns out he made a career of the military in the Air Force,” Louis says, picking up the story as he heard it. “It’s just a shame that all the personal papers that were originally in the unit were destroyed.”

Well, at least we can imagine him putting together his collection. And that’s what we’re about here: imagining. And who knows . . . maybe Louis’s grandson will become similarly inspired to Ray Bradbury and follow in the footsteps of the great man whose dream, after all, was to have his ashes put in a Campbell's soup can and sent to Mars.

One final thing: I promised (in the PS Newsletter) a piece on the late great Dave Brubeck. Well, it’ll appear next week along with a special story-download for the holidays.

Happy trails!