A Graveyard for Lunatics Characters
by Ray Bradbury

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A Graveyard for Lunatics Characters

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The unnamed narrator in some ways resembles Bradbury himself. Like the narrator, Bradbury wrote motion picture screenplays in the early 1950s and even worked with director John Huston on Moby Dick (1956). The narrator, a talented writer, is naive, idealistic, and unwilling to let an idea go before he has worked out all of its possibilities. This last factor makes him a dogged investigator; when presented with the mystery of the undead Arbuthnot, he relentlessly tracks down clues. He feels a deep personal need to know the answers to nagging questions.

He is surrounded by a cast of bizarre and eccentric characters. Some of them are based on real-life figures. For instance, Fritz Wong — an imperious director who only respects people if they stand up to him and call him names the way he calls them names — seems to be based on director Fritz Lang, with a dash of the personality of Eric von Stroheim. The novel's special effects wizard, Roy Holdstrom, seems based on the real-life figure, Ray Harryhausen. Roy's imaginary worlds are more real to him than the people around him; he has foregone almost all human relationships in order to devote himself to the creation of dinosaurs and bizarre beasts for motion pictures. When many of his creations are destroyed, he hangs himself and later returns as one of the novel's several undead personalities. Other delightfully strange characters include a make-up artist who made Lenin look better in death than he did in life; a man who has played Jesus Christ in so many motion pictures that he has lost his own identity, becoming a combination of a sinner and a saint; a doctor whose job is cleaning up and moving dead people rather than healing; and the Beast, a man with a hideously deformed face and a depraved nature. Holdovers from Death Is a Lonely Business (1985) are the narrator, the detective and part-time novelist Crumley, and Blind Harry, whose sense of smell is so good that he can tell exactly what has and has not been in Arbuthnot's crypt for twenty years.