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There are days when I wish I hadn’t suggested to Rick that we model “Digger” McCrae visually on the actor Lee Marvin.

It all started because I didn’t want McCrae to look like a clichéd comic book hardcase: a massive, muscled brute with an inhumanly square jaw, shadowed eyes, a scar or stubble for generic “tough guy” texture…. I suggested that he be hard, but a little offbeat looking, like Marvin, and Rick obliged.

Maybe too well.

Because every time I read a Facebook or Twitter post that reads: “Hey, it looks just like Lee Marvin!” as if we didn’t know that, or when the resemblance seems to distract people from actually recognizing that we’ve tried to create a character here – one that Marvin could have played, maybe, but not one based specifically on the actor or any of his roles… I roll my eyes, sigh, and momentarily regret that decision.

Lee Marvin Point BlankBut honestly, now I can’t imagine “Digger” looking any other way. Rick and I are both big fans of the late actor – the tall, slender, white-haired ex-Marine with the gravel-over-broken glass voice, sly, dry humor and quick wit, who passed away in 1987. We both love his tough guy movie roles (which should be evident to anyone who reads this strip), from Point Blank and The Killers to Prime Cut and The Professionals to The Dirty Dozen and, yeah, even The Delta Force. They simply don’t make screen actors like Lee Marvin today, and that’s a shame.

I don’t know as much about the man as I’d like, but there’s a new biography that came out this week, Lee Marvin: Point Blank, by Dwayne Epstein, that’s been garnering some good reviews, so I’m hoping to pick the book up and find out more.

If anyone else is interested, here’s the Amazon listing: Lee Marvin: Point Blank

So, today the Gravedigger team remembers and pays tribute to our model and inspiration on the anniversary of his birth… happy birthday, sir – wherever you may be!

– Chris