In Memory of Harlan Ellison: Michael Davis's 'The City on the Edge of Forever, Whitney, Martha & Apple Sauce – Straight No Chaser #339'

Michael Davis wrote the following in 2014. We publish it now on the eve of San Diego Comic-Con, in memory of the late Harlan Ellison. Michael Davis, comic book creator, mentor, and publisher wrote:

I've been told to take it easy for a while, so except for posting my articles, I'm staying off Facebook, not watching the news, and frankly doing nothing that causes my blood pressure to rise.

Sooooo, I'm going to write about a really nice memory that will put a smile on my face, and hopefully yours as well.

I've only attended MegaCon once. I don't even know if MegaCon still exists, nor do I care enough to Google it.

I was running Magic Johnson's animation company at the time, and Magic was to make an appearance to promote the animated series we were doing.

Magic's advanced security team and one of his personal assistants came in a day early.

Magic missed his flight the next day and as such would miss his appearance. The then-owner of MegaCon lost his fucking mind.

He called me a liar (among other things), said Magic was never going to appear, and that he would see to it everyone knows I'm just a con man etc., etc.

Now, MegaCon lobbied for Magic HARD, and I was swayed by how they were so excited.

The only thing I really asked them for was Magic's first class (fully refundable) ticket. They were just getting into the convention game and if you know how I work — I simply don't (even to this day) look for everything I could get out of someone just because I could.

I'm not that guy.

Case in point — all of Magic's advance team came out of MY budget, and that's a given for anybody who wants Magic Johnson showing up, and everyone wants Magic Johnson to show up. I have always been about building relationships.

Back to the guy who was screaming bloody murder — he was putting his fingers in my face and really looked like he was going to hit me.

We were in Florida, and white men hitting Black men was something he may have thought he could do…

The day before all this drama happened I was walking into the convention when I hear (loudly) "Davis! Davis! Are you going to at least SAY HELLO?"

I turned around, and screaming at me was no other than one of the greatest writers EVER and my dear friend, Harlan Ellison.

You have not lived until a living ICON yells your name — at a comic convention, no less!

"I didn't see you!"

"Because I'm so short? Is that what you are saying?"

"Because your greatness blinds me."

"You're fucking right it does, come here you."

Look — I'm quick, I'm witty, but he's Harlan Ellison and I'm no fool. I gave up even thinking I could go toe to toe with who is most likely the only man (besides Dean Martin) to tell Frank Sinatra to pretty much fuck off.

"You couldn't let me know you were coming?"

I had no idea Harlan would be there, but again — I'm not stupid.

"Blindness, greatness."

Just then a fan asks Harlan for an autograph and Harlan looks at this guy and says, "This is Michael Davis, the most original voice in comics, you should get his autograph."

"Yeah, right," I say.

"Meant every word. You remind me of myself when I was younger, not afraid to tell it like it is."

And I knew by the look in his eyes he did mean it.

Damn. Wow. I could have died right there.

Fast forward to a few months before when I meet someone who would become like family to me: Whitney Farmer. Whiney had just bested me in some Star Trek trivia. I mean she cleaned my clock. About what, I can't recall, but I recall she wouldn't shut up about it.

"OK! OK! OK! You got me — I stand corrected."

"I told you I know my Star Trek!"

"Who wrote "City On The Edge Of Forever?""

"PLEASE! Give me something hard. Harlan Ellison!"

"You like Harlan Ellison?"


"Harlan's a friend of mind."

The look on her face was so in awe of what I just said, I almost felt sorry for the amount of sucking up she would have to do to meet him.


Yeah, I rode that pony up until, like an idiot, I introduced her to Harlan at a Len Wein party, where she charmed him so fast and so well. I think it was Harlan's wife that suggested she have his number.

No more sucking up to meet Harlan, no more automatic win of any argument even if I'm wrong. SHIT!

I'm just kidding of course, I'm glad they became friends.

But she is NEVER, EVER meeting George Clooney.

Having Harlan Ellison say the things he said to me was one of the greatest moments of my life.

If that was all it was to the story, that's a GREAT story.

But it's not the end of the story.


Soooooooooo…back to the MegaCon guy, who now has an audience watching him scream at me like I'm his little bitch. After a few moments of this I explain to him that Mr. Johnson had every intention of showing up. I say to him I understand, and he has every right to be angry, but if his finger as much as creates a breeze on my face I would fuck his shit up.

I left the convention, went to the airport, and swore never to go near MegaCon again and I have not.

The next day I got a call from a friend of mine who happened to go see Harlan speak at the convention the day I left. I was going to go also but I thought it best to get outta Dodge.

"I didn't know you were at MegaCon."

"I was. I left. Who told you?"

"Harlan Ellison. He told quite a few people — when he told some guy who worked for the convention."

Turns out the MegaCon guy had continued to talk shit about me and made the mistake of telling Harlan, right before Harlan took the stage.

"Say another unkind goddamn word about Michael Davis and I'm walking right out of here." Harlan told me he said that when I called him later.

I was moved to tears.


This was meant to be a no-longer-than-a-couple-paragraphs, quick-and-out article about Harlan's wonderful gift of friendship to me. I always feel great when I write about my friends. I don't have many, but those I have complete me. Then I told the Whitney story, then I had to mention how much (I call her) the Whitster means to me.

Then I got a package.

Within that package was one of the greatest gifts from one of my most cherished friends, Martha Thomases. What gift is one of the greatest I've ever been given (and I've been given great gifts)?

Apple Sauce.

It's a long story.

Thank You Martha!

In Memory of Harlan Ellison: Michael Davis's 'The City on the Edge of Forever, Whitney, Martha & Apple Sauce – Straight No Chaser #339'

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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