Robert Bruce Pop Culture Expert Comic Book Men Fixture Dead At 62
Shortly before going all-in on The Walking Dead and other scripted programs, AMC Networks dabbled in 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 operate the store. One fixture on the show Comic Book Men was pop culture expert Robert Bruce, found dead just shortly after New Year’s. His family and friends are shocked at the sudden loss, and they have reached out to people touched by Robert’s work for help. A link to the family’s funeral fundraising link is below.
Police found Bruce in a basement storage unit he’d converted into an office after family and friends reported him missing. While the circumstances surrounding his passing are being investigated, the Middlesex County Medical Commissioner’s office said the death does not appear to be suspicious. Upon news of his passing, scores of people turned 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 made a statement online offering his condolences and praising his contributions to the show. He said he was “truly” sorry to learn that Robert Bruce was dead and praised the 34 episodes of Comic Book Men the pop culture expert appeared on. Smith also revealed they “shot a sizzle reel” for his own reality series. Yet, AMC’s decision to move away from reality altogether meant both the show for Robert Bruce and Comic Book Men itself was dead.
He also interacted with fans at comics and collectible conventions, as well as flea markets and other places where people try to buy and sell lost or forgotten things.
Robert Bruce Was a Pop Culture Expert Like No Other
As much as we all may recognize Robert Bruce from Comic Book Men, he was an expert in pop culture known to many. Conventions, almost a thing of the past in the COVID era, are a great way to mingle with like-minded fans. However, for Bruce, they were also a place where he could buy and sell collectibles. We’re not talking Amazing Fantasy #15 here or anything like that, but rather things that people may not even realize are rare or noteworthy items. In fact, a number of times on Comic Book Men, Bruce was brought in to help determine the authenticity or provenance of an item.
In the above clip, Bruce is brought in to give his opinion on what look like drafting pages with the panels of Amazing Fantasy #15. It’s a painstaking recreation of the first appearance of Spider-Man, but definitely not one from the desk of the late Steve Ditko. They speculate if this was a fan recreation, but Bruce suspected it was a forgery. Were they real, those pages would likely be priceless. Ironically, the guy who brought in these drawings ended up selling them to the Comic Book Men shop owners for $800.
Yet, Robert didn’t just use his powers for TV or fan conventions. Folks posting remembrances about him online mention that he’d helped some of them find (or at least know what to look for) half-remembered toys or books from their youth. The man should have written a book. Hell, an entire encyclopedia. Since so much of pop and geek culture is seen as kid stuff, there are few true historians. We just lost one of the best.
Robert Bruce Dead at 62 but Also a Little Immortal
Image via Facebook
Even though they try their best, they can’t get everything. While Robert’s loss is an immeasurable one to his friends and family, it’s also a tragic loss for all of us who love whimsy and the trappings of childhood. Thanks to photos at conventions, Comic Book Men, and interviews with the pop culture expert, Robert Bruce may be dead, but he’s not entirely gone. His love of toys and comics and people was captured by many on film and video. Via his social media accounts and his presence on the convention circuit, he shared both his knowledge and love of this stuff far and wide. Spreading joy is not a bad legacy to leave behind.
His passions were not just for comics and toys, but entertainment itself. One of his last Instagram posts talks about how he went as a youngster to see radio legend Jean Shephard perform his classic A Christmas Story live at the (now) Count Basie theater. He extolled how this radio monologue was turned into a film that flopped at the box office. Yet, because good stories always find a way, the film is now a Christmas staple that almost everyone with cable checks in on at least once during the holiday.
The world is lesser 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 expenses on Go Fund Me.
Featured image via AMC
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book of superhero short stories, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.