John Landis a Surprise Guest at Eaton Conference

The veteran Hollywood director accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of Raymond Harryhausen at the UC Riverside science fiction event

John Landis

Director John Landis accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of Raymond Harryhausen at the Eaton Science Fiction Conference.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. —Raymond F. Harryhausen was unique in the history of film, an artist whose hand-crafted puppets created fantastic characters long before the age of digitally generated special effects, veteran film director and producer John Landis told science fiction fans and scholars attending the Eaton Science Fiction Conference banquet on Saturday, April 13.

Landis — known for his direction of hit films such as “Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Trading Places,” and Michael Jackson’s revolutionary “Thriller” music video — surprised banquet attendees when he accepted the J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award on Harryhausen’s behalf.

Harryhausen was one of three recipients of the annual award. Also recognized in absentia were award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin and Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. Lee’s acceptance of the honor was recorded and played at the banquet.

Le Guin, the honoree for 2012, has written 20 science fiction and fantasy novels, among them “The Left Hand of Darkness” and “The Dispossessed,” each of which won Hugo and Nebula awards. She is the author of many short stories, six volumes of poetry, 13 books for children, as well as criticisms, collections of essays and screenplays.

Harryhausen and Lee were the honorees for 2013. Harryhausen, who created a type of stop-motion model animation known as Dynamation, was recognized for his groundbreaking contributions to science fiction film. Among his best-known productions are “Mighty Joe Young,” for which the ARKO team won an Oscar for special effects in 1949; “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”; and “Jason and the Argonauts,” which included a swordfight against skeleton warriors.

Lee, former president of Marvel Comics, also was honored for 2013 for his various contributions in the realm of comic books. He began as a comic-book writer at age 19 and moved on to become editor, producer, publisher, and president and chairman of Marvel Comics.  The co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and other superheroes was also recognized for his successful challenge to the Comics Code Authority.

Previous recipients of the award are Ray Bradbury (2008), Frederik Pohl (2009), Samuel R. Delany (2010) and Harlan Ellison (2011).

Landis told a packed ballroom at the Marriott Hotel that he first encountered the magic of Harryhausen’s special effects when he viewed “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” at the age of 8. “I had suspension of disbelief,” Landis said. The film “did everything it was supposed to. It transported me and I adored it.”

Couple with 3D glasses reading a poster

Whitni Watkins, a systems analyst for UCR Libraries, and her husband, Buck, wear 3D glasses to read the daily schedule at the Eaton Science Fiction Conference.

With seven concurrent tracks for attendees to choose from, the 2013 Eaton Science Fiction Conference was the largest in the 34-year history of the event, said Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections and Archives of the UCR Libraries and conference co-organizer. The event drew nearly 300 participants from North America.

The 2013 conference also marked the first time the UCR Libraries and College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences partnered with the Science Fiction Research Association, the largest and most prestigious scholarly organization in the field, to present the event. The Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) hosted three panels of top production designers and other art department members. The conference theme, “Science Fiction Media,” reflected a focus on science fiction as a multimedia phenomenon.

UCR is the home of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the largest publicly accessible collection of its kind in the world. The collection embraces every branch of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian/dystopian fiction.

The collection, which attracts scholars from around the world, holds more than 300,000 items including English-language science fiction, fantasy and horror published in the 20th century and a wide range of works in Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, German, and a dozen other languages; fanzines; comic books; anime; manga; science fiction films and television series; shooting scripts; archives of science fiction writers; and science fiction collectibles and memorabilia.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Archived under: Arts/Culture, , , , , , , , ,

Top of Page