Shortly before going all-in The Walking Dead and other scripted programs, AMC Networks branched out into reality shows. One came from ultimate fanboy Kevin Smith, who owns and operates a comic book store in his native New Jersey. Well, some of his lifelong friends run the store. A match on the show cartoon men was pop culture pundit Robert Bruce, who was found dead shortly after New Years. His family and friends are shocked by the sudden loss and have asked for help from those affected by Robert’s work. A link to the family funeral fundraiser link is below.
Police found Bruce in a basement storage unit that he had converted into an office after family and friends reported him missing. While the circumstances surrounding his death are under investigation, the Middlesex County Medical Commissioner’s Office said the death did not appear suspicious. Upon news of his passing, dozens of people took to his Facebook page, Instagram account and social media to mourn the loss of a man who had an encyclopedic knowledge of collectibles and pop culture.
Smith issued a statement online offering his condolences and praising his contributions to the show. He said he was “really” sorry to hear that Robert Bruce had died and praised the 34 episodes of cartoon men the pop culture expert appeared on. Smith also revealed that they “shot a sizzle reel” for her own reality series. Still, AMC’s decision to stray completely from reality meant both the show for Robert Bruce and cartoon men himself was dead.
He’s also interacted with fans at comic book conventions and collections, as well as at flea markets and other places where people try to buy and sell lost or forgotten items.
Robert Bruce was a pop culture expert like no other
Although we all recognize Robert Bruce from cartoon men, he was a pop culture expert known to many. Conventions, which are almost a thing of the past in the age of COVID, are a great way to mingle with like-minded fans. However, for Bruce, it was also a place where he could buy and sell collectibles. We do not talk Incredible Fantasy #15 here or something, but rather things that people might not even realize are rare or noteworthy items. In fact, several times on cartoon menBruce was brought in to help determine the authenticity or provenance of an item.
In the clip above, Bruce is brought in to give his thoughts on what the write-up pages look like with the control panels. Incredible Fantasy #15. It’s a careful recreation of Spider-Man’s first appearance, but certainly not that of the office of the late Steve Ditko. They speculate if it was a fan recreation, but Bruce suspected it was a fake. If they were real, these pages would probably be invaluable. Ironically, the guy who brought these drawings ended up selling them to the cartoon men traders for $800.
Yet Robert didn’t just use his powers for television or fan conventions. People who post memories of him online mention that he helped some of them find (or at least know what to look for) toys or books they half remember from their youth. The man should have written a book. Hell, an entire encyclopedia. Since so much of pop and geek culture is considered childish stuff, there are few real historians. We just lost one of the best.
Robert Bruce dead at 62 but also a bit immortal
Picture via Facebook
Even if they try their best, they can’t get everything. While Robert’s loss is immeasurable for his friends and family, it is also a tragic loss for all of us who love the fantasy and trappings of childhood. Thanks to photos during congresses, cartoon men, and interviews with pop culture pundit Robert Bruce may be dead, but he’s not completely gone. His love of toys, comics and people has been captured by numerous films and videos. Via his social media accounts and his presence on the convention circuit, he shared both his knowledge and his love of this stuff. Spreading joy is not a bad legacy to leave behind.
His passions weren’t just for comics and toys, but entertainment itself. One of his last Instagram posts recounts how he went as a youngster to see radio legend Jean Shephard perform his classic A Christmas Story live at the (now) Count Basie Theatre. He bragged about how that radio monologue turned into a film that flopped at the box office. Still, because good stories always find a way, the movie is now a Christmas staple that almost everyone with cable checks out at least once during the holidays.
The world is less for the loss of Robert Bruce, may his memory be a blessing to those who knew and loved him.
The family is raising money for Robert Bruce’s funeral costs on Go Fund Me.
Featured image via AMC
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he’s loved the medium ever since. He’s the galaxy’s greatest star pilot, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book “What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More” is available in print from Amazon and all electronic bookstores.