Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 4

I repeat the initial paragraph here so you do not have to reference it after three prior posts.  I’ve always felt it necessary to look back on what people who had an impact on my pop-culture history and in some cases my real life. In the past I’ve written these obits with the most marginal of information, but I’ve always broken it down by categories. Frequently there would be people I’ve missed people or even complete categories as my heart and soul weakens as I organize this work. This is the first time this type of writing is showing up on Pop-Culture Spectrum. It will appear in approximately five parts and then a final collection post of linking for those who don’t go backward in blog reading. In each category it is broken down alphabetically and the age of the person and their cause is in parentheses after. Each category will have its own specialties.  This time I shall have more than one category as their sections are not long enough for an entire post.  They will have links where available.

AUTHORS/PUBLISHING/BOOKS

Michael S. Hart (64- heart attack): The founder of Project Gutenberg and by extension the e-book, he can be both thanked and blamed for the kindle, the nook, iBooks, comixology and many more. Yet without him, public domain books in easily accessible digital formats, be they .doc, .txt, .pdf, or .epub would not exist so I am eternally thankful.

Christopher Hitchens (62- esophageal cancer): One of the greatest minds of our generation, he wrote what needed to be written and said what needed to be said. Christopher Hitchens chose to be a controversial, derisive figure among analysts, political experts and the such. He was the non comedian version of George Carlin, with more bite, more vitriol and definitely way more to the point. He called a spade a spade and then he beat the shit out of that spade and stuck it up your mom’s bum and called it an idiot for even believing in not believing. Of course he wasn’t a perfect thought maker, like anyone of his measure and opinions, he had to get something wrong one in awhile or “wrong” as the case may be. His words and bravery to spread those words will be truly missed, but luckily he was quite prolific and left behind an amazing legacy.

Brian Jacques (71- heart attack): My bookshelf proudly holds various Redwall books, including an early version of the comic adaptation. These fantasy tales of anthropomorphic mice and more are brilliant and of course had to be a major influence on Scott Petersen’s Mouse Guard. Yet, it is Jacques other series that truly took my fancy and placed him among one of my favorite writers ever. The book, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, was followed by two sequels which I have unfortunately only read one, but it and Angel’s Command are amazing works and cement Jacques.

Anne McCaffrey (85- stroke): The Dragonriders of Pern series was used very often to introduce children to adult science novels, when it was time for them to graduate. Not me in particular, I got started with Douglas Adams and Robert Heinlein between 10-13. Eventually I found my way to McCaffrey, devouring at a young age Dragonflight and such, but for whatever reason I didn’t stick with her completely. I found myself gravitated to Isaac Asmov, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelaney, etc. but I know how amazing the Pern books are and I absolutely adored the Dreamcast/PC game, despite the fact that it was heavily panned.

VIDEO GAMES

Bill Kunkel (61- heart attack): The Godfather of Video Game Journalism, he helped start the engine that has allowed Game Informer, Game Trailers.com, IGN, and even G4 to exist. While video games by their own existence became the phenomenon they did, Kunkel started the ball rolling that made them an excepted concept. So much so that you see video game reviews in GQ, Vanity Fair, Playboy and even The New York Times.

Takeshi Miyaji (45- unspecified): One the true pioneers of console gaming design. He worked on my favorite J-RPG of all time LUNAR as well as the GRANDIA series. While his work on LUNAR is not what turned the game into a forefrunt of love for me. That being the amazing animated sequences done for Silver Story Complete developed by Toshiyuki Kubooka and the amazing story written by Kei Shigema, but Takeshi was the spearhead behind making sure the original product existed and without him, Working Designs would never made the absolutely two thrilling North American Collector’s Editions which I am obscenely proud to own… including my Ghaleon punching doll.

Will Townsend (33- car accident): This young game producer helped on the DJ Hero project as well as other games at Activision.   Gamasutra’s tribute article is a  good read.

PERSONALITIES who don’t fit a single category

Edmund Snow Carpenter (88- natural causes): Visionary and anthropological genius, he opened the doors to the future of documentary work and historical analysis. Without him, visual anthropology and films which explored society through media would’ve never reached it’s pinnacle as both an accepted art form and as accepted academic research tool. He was an amazing writer and documentarian and you can get a feel for his work at this website if you aren’t familiar.

Steve Jobs (56- complications of pancreatic cancer): I was planning to keep this simple and state that I own an iPhone and I’m addicted to the thing, but Steve Jobs was so much more than this. When he left Apple and before he purchased Pixar he started a company which would go on to develop the software used by Apple for most of it’s current OS and digital products. It was his purchase of Pixar and helping steer the Disney deal in place that really cements his legend for me though. While he was only the business end there, it was his clear minded vision to see the future that allowed the future to exist and it is that vision that will continue to steer the future as it comes.

Jack Kevorkian (83 – thrombosis from cancer): If he wasn’t such an amazing presence on screen and speak such an important message which he was wrongly imprisoned for; and they didn’t make a compelling biofilm with Al Pacino (in one of those rare bothering to act roles) and John Goodman, I probably wouldn’t acknowledge his passing, but such as it is.

Jack LaLanne (96- pneumonia): The guru of fitness, the man also has some of the sickest feats of strength in history. Swimming shackled to Alkatraz Island at over 40? Doing it again at 60?  Then something similar including pulling boats at 70? The man was a beast. Not enough of us (myself included) listen to his words of advice. He was a wise man who lived a fulfilled crazy life with a TV show, fame, books, and living legend status. Us stubborn, weak willed individuals (myself included) should have listened to him more. It’s not too late though, not too late.

Don Lapre (47- apparent suicide from cut throat & blood loss) : Con Man and infomercial master! If you never saw this dude growing up or as a teen or who knows how old you are… whatever. This dude sold vitamins, tips on how to make money by BUYING ads in newspapers and even tried to sell his scam skills to help people create infomercials to sell scam products. Man had guts… but the coward couldn’t handle it when the feds decided to throw the book at him. Instead of taking it like a man, he killed himself. Still he didn’t rape anyone, he just robbed them blind. He did it really entertainingly though.

Zoogz Rift (58- health complications): A long time ago in what feels like another galaxy I was very good internet friends with Zoogz Rift. We would e-mail each other back and forth, sharing wrestling theories, musical concepts and artistic visions. I even wrote a comprehensive biography of Bob which sits somewhere in my files. Writer, painter, avante garde musician and professional wrestling manager and booker, Zoogz, was quite the interesting cat. A man with many awesome successes and equally failures, but somehow a man who always bounced back and found a platform and to display his energy and entertainment and who definitely made his mark along the way in many lives. I still treasure my School of the Criminally Insane T-shirt which I will proudly display in any punk rock music video I ever make or any professional wrestling appearance I ever get lucky enough to be involved in again, even one of my own making and money.

Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 3

Here in the third part of tributes to those departed I focus on the people who controlled the radios and soundtracks of our lives.  I have linked to music videos or tracks posted on Youtube and other links where possible.

MUSICIANS

Joseph Brooks (73- suicide by suffocation): Was he possibly evil? Sure…I mean the dude was accused of using his prestige as a musician and producer to rape over 13 girls. He was arrested and had a good case against him, but he was not yet convicted. According to a suicide note he says he killed himself cause his health sucked , so he took the easy way out and killed himself. The Gothamist has pretty good articles about the whole torrid ordeal that you can google. At the same time, artistically he was amazing and for alone creating the Oscar Award winning “Light Up My Life” he gets recognized in my obits.

Clarence Clemons (69- complications from stroke): I had the pleasure and privilege to hear this talented saxophonist, most famous for being a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, at a Book Expo America event a few years ago. He was there promoting his upcoming autobiography. He was also meant to be an opening act for Steven Tyler, who came out with Mark Hudson. Clarence was interviewed by Chuck Klosterman and he was an insightful, endearing, wonderful man who even indulged Chuck and the audience by playing some sax. I have great memories of that time which will stay with me forever. Here is video I shot of the event itself.

Dan Peek (60, unknown/unrevealed causes): A member of the excellent rock band America, Peek, he was with the group for during it’s heyday of 1970-1978, writing and recording for their first seven albums. His most notable songwriting would have to be considered “Lonely People”, while not the best song he wrote while in the group, it is the most famous one he wrote. Their other most famous songs “Ventura Highway” and “Sister Golden Hair” were written by Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Buckley respectively.

Carl Gardner (83- complications of congestive heart failure and vascular dementia): The leader of The Coasters, the band that did the original recordings of many of the Lieber/Stoller songs including “Yakety Yak”, “Searchin'” and “Charlie Brown”.

Andrew Gold (59- cause unknown): The writer of one of the greatest songs of all time “Thank You For Being a Friend”, he created something that has brought a smile to not only me, but millions. Could you imagine Golden Girls without its theme song, which was also a hit without the show? I don’t think you could and for that song alone I shall be eternally grateful to Andrew Gold.

Heavy D (44- pulmonary embolism): My Hip-Hop knowledge is sorely lacking, with only minimum knowledge. Enough to get by when it matters, but not enough to really state much on Heavy D. I never listened to his songs, but I know who he was and I would recognize him when he appeared in a TV show. I also know he was extremely successful as a businessman and music mogul at a certain point, definitely leaving his mark on the industry as a whole and that his death was a shock to many, especially being so young and supposedly as healthy as a man called Heavy D could be.

Gil-Scot Heron (62- undisclosed illness, probably attributed to HIV complications): Truly an amazing poet, writer and visionary, he also had a compelling voice and straight forward presentation. He was the movement, the machine propelling aginst the machine, the person not letting the man get him down, bu working with the man. All you have to do is read his works or listen to them and you’ll understand how great he was.  His best known work is of course “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” but alongside Brian Jackson he came up with amazing songs like “Hello Sunday, Hello Road” as well.

Don Kirshner (76- heart failure): Influential music producer and manager. As head of Aldon Music he has ties to many of the other people lost this year including Lieber, Gardner and Schneider. Lieber wrote the music that Don owned and made sure got out to the public, Bert approached Don to develop the early sound of The Monkees, which was mostly helped by Neil Diamond who Don sort of discovered. Monumentally he changed the music landscape and as the head of several labels was definitely a force in his time.

Jani Lane (47-alcohol poisoning): Undoubtedly Warrant was one of my favorite groups growing up. I was with them from day 1 with “Down Boys” and “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” and I stayed with them and Jani all the way through “Indian Giver”. When Warrant gave up on Jani though, I gave up on Warrant. While the members of the band were all talented musicians, Jani Lane was the driving force. I would listen to songs like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” on repeat as a teen along with “April 2031”. His voice and lyrics really resonated with me in ways that I can barely understand and I wish there style of music was still prominent and had a place in everyone’s world, not just those of us who lived through it and keep it alive. Some of my other favorite songs are “I Saw Red” off of Cherry Pie, “Hollywood” off Dog Eat Dog, and what seems a perfect way to say a final goodbye to Jani, “Stronger Now” off of Ultraphobic.

Jerry Leiber (78- cardio-pulmonary failure,): One half of the duo of Leiber and Stoller, Jerry wrote the words to such songs as “Yakety Yak”, “Hound Dog”, “Stand By Me”, “On Broadway”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Charlie Brown”, “Love Potion No. 9”and many more.

Gerard Smith (36- lung cancer): A superb musician, he was the bassist for rock band “TV on the Radio” and would also play keyboards, help compose and create visual conceptions, TVOTR happen to be one of my favorite groups of recent times and the announcement of Gerard’s lung cancer and subsequent passing was very hard to bear, especially for a man so young.

Lee Pockriss (87 – illness): I don’t have anything to say about this song writer, but he co-wrote “Itsy Bitsy Teene Weene Yellow Polkadot Bikini”, one of the silliest songs ever, that was yet super popular at its time and “Catch A Falling Star”, a hit for Perry Como.

Gerry Rafferty (63- liver failure): A successful singer, songwriter, musician, best known for Stealers Wheel “Stuck in the Middle With You” and his solo work “Baker Street” which features one of the greatest sax pieces ever.

Mike Starr (45- prescription drug overdose): Mike Starr unfortunately became more famous in the last year as the EX bassist of Alice in Chains appearing on Celebrity Rehab. On that show it was revealed that instead of dragging him out of drugs, Layne Staley’s accidental overdose pulled him further in, feeling guilt as he blames himself for Layne’s death. Before all that though he provided the bass line to AiC for their first three albums, Fallout, Sap and Dirt. It’s that pounding bass seen and heard in the songs and videos for “Man in a Box”, “Them Bones” and “Rooster” among others. I had hoped somehow Mike would end up in some kind Celeb Rehab supergroup with Binzer and find success and sobriety, but this would not be.

Taiji (45- complications of suicide by hanging): Bass player, song writer, musician of the awesome Japanese rock groups, X, X Japan, Taiji with Heaven’s and more. A very tragic end came to Taiji where after an airplane situation he was subdued. In Japan his crime is considered a capitol offense and he sadly chose to take his life than go to prison. Here’s a good selection of him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKEBMVQ4OAU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACArplq3EWo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbfqgDWuugY

Joe Yamanaka (64- lung cancer): A Japanese actor and musician who was the lead for Flower Travellin’ Band and a solo career. Internationally he is known for appearances in a few Takashi Miike films and as Bob Marley’s replacement as the lead of The Wailers, recording three albums with them. For the super cult, he also plays himself and had three songs in the martial arts flick Ulterior Motives, a vehicle for Karate Kid Part 3’s Thomas Ian Griffith to try and be up there with Seagal, Van Damme and Norris, it was the first production from Direct-To-Video Indie Auteur James Becket. In Japan, Joe had some serious success by the way.

Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 2

Here is the second of my tributes to notable personalities who died in 2011, this time focusing on the art of warfare.  In the cases of Randy Savage and Larry Sweeney choosing just a few matches seemed unfair to their career and in terms of others I chose based on what I knew and could find online that I felt was quality enough to display.

PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS/BOXERS/MMA

(It can be argued that fighting and wrestlers don’t belong each other, but they do call it sports entertainment if its not wrestling, so they fit together)

“Smokin” Joe Frazier (67- cancer): The brazen and boisterous boxer and co star of the three boat Fight of the Century, Part 2 and Thrilla in Manilla turned into a bitter, crazy man whose answering machine recording had him razzing on Mohammed Ali, brought that Ali is now fallen with Parkinson’s Syndrome and feeling as he was the cause of it. The documentary “Thrilla in Manilla” showed the world a very broken, torn, damanged, interesting individual who believed in himself, his skill and his convictions and a man who proved himself in the ring day in and day out. It’s almost shameful that he was the one who passed before Ali. I doubt Ali thinks of it that way. Ali made heavy gestures to seek a kinship and forgiveness from Joe for a long time, and Joe seemed to just ignore it up until 2009 where he finally forgave him and they mended things before the end. His boxing matches will always be something worthy to re-watch and he left a powerful legacy.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (58- massive heart attack): Following this sentence is the wild obituary tribute I wrote for Savage on his passing at the time and it still stands. Savage was easily one of my favorite of all time. He brought everything I liked about wrestling into a secure package. Flamboyancy, technical athletics, insane rumblings, maniacal interviews and a never say die attitude. When everyone went right, he went left. I’d say his promos and raps tell his tale better than anything ever could. Sugar was sweet and so was honey. Macho Man went to the top, fell down, got back up and went to the top again. The mountain was there standing like a pillar of salt and he just tossed it behind his back like a rock, paper, scissors. You don’t see the steamroller coming till it’s ahead of you and you’ve been flattened out. An elbowdrop from the top is what it was all about. Yellow and Pink, Purple and green, red and black, colors bleed and so does blood. Hardcore before there was hardcore, he piledrove Ricky Morton on a table and it didn’t crack in half, it shattered. It wasn’t breakaway, but real furniture. Did he become a joke with his rap album or just cement his legend of insanity and unpredictability? I say the second, you can disagree. It doesn’t matter, because here’s to the Macho Man. Hoping he’s off in some afterlife back together with Miss Elizabeth after their break up almost 20 years ago. Or maybe he’s with Sherri. He has his pick, he’s the Macho Man!

Bison Smith (38-heart complications): A huge wrestler who never really got his chance to prove himself stateside. In both Cuba and Japan, he worked for major markets, including the Colon’s IWC and Misawa’s NOAH. He was as brutal, determined and talented as any hoss currently in WWE or TNA, even better. In this one notable American organization he worked, Ring Of Honor he was brought in as a beast, but quickly became just another dude via bad booking, storylines and wasted potential. He sadly had heart issues and passed away not long after a match with current WWE superstar Primo Colon in Cuba. Sadly and unfortunately he was involvd in the match that took Misawa’s life, although nothing he had done was the cause of it… that was all on Saito and Misawa being too rough. Bison wasn’t too rough, he just made it look that good.  This particular playlist of matches off of Youtube really shows off Bison really well.

Larry Sweeney (30- suicide by hanging): This indie wrestler and manager was a modern day Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart and Paul Dangerously all rolled into one. He was manic, frenetic and truly could raise a crowd. I had the pleasure of experiencing him at Ring of Honor in 2008 in Florida during a Wrestlemania weekend where my highlight was totally the two ROH shows, and also experiencing Universal Studios Florida for the first time in years. Sadly, Larry had many demons, demons he just could not defeat, demons so powerful they caused him to take his own life. The signs and warnings were always there and while he continually would seek help and friends offered a hand, I believe not breaking the bubble of getting further in his career weighed heavily on him. Heavier than it has on others in similar situations as his. He was a pretty formidable talent in the ring as he was in the mic, although only super indie and Chikara fans really got to see that side of him.  Please do yourself a favor and do a Youtube search on Sweeney, choosing just a few moments of his short but awesome career is impossible for me.

Little Tokyo (70- heart attack): Considered by many to be one of the greatest if not THE greatest midget wrestler of all time, Little Tokyo worked in the business for over 25 years and even reached the “pinnacle” of sports entertainment working at Wrestlemania where he teamed with his long time friend Lord Littlebrook and King Kong Bundy against Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver and The Haiti Kid.  I recommend this tribute article by Slam! producer Greg Oliver.  The match I am choosing to link to is from Mid-South Wrestling in 1985, it features Little Tokyo teaming with Littlebrook and Jack Victory against “Iceman” King Parsons, “Cowboy” Lang and “Little Coco”, I chose it because Parsons is awesome.

Shawn Tompkins (37- heart attack): A highly influential and important fight trainer, while unsuccessful in MMA himself, he was a very successful kick boxer and helped coach future up & comers like Sam Stout and Mark Homnicheck, as well as some of greatest fighters ever including Victor Belfort and Wanderlai Silva.

Umanosuke Ueda (71- respiratory failure): Not familiar with his wrestling career as he worked Japan in the 70’s and 80’s a bit before my time with the countries wrestling, but he was in cult Japanese film, Burst City, which I loaned to my best friend and which he never watched and which he still has… “somewhere” as he says. I was able to find Ueda matches on Youtube though. I knew which one he was immediately when I saw the long blond hair. It was kind of his trademark to be a platinum blonde in Japan during a time when that wasn’t normal. Here he is a match against The Funks and another match featuring Stan Hansen, Dick Slater and his main opponent Genichiro Tenryu.

Doctor X (43, gunshot to the head): Never a big fan of CMLL, but this Mexican wrestlers death is even more messed up than one of my favorite Mexican wrestler’s Abismo Negro’s. Dude was a religious party and a fight somehow breaks out. He tries to calm the situation down and gets shot point blank in the head. I know so little of Dr. X as a wrestler/lucha rudo that I don’t even know what match to show you. I know he was working reguarly up until his murder, so if you look up Dr. X and CMLL or Perros Del Mal you’ll find something. Here’s one from August of 2011, where he was now Dr. Xtreme teaming with Peligro and Jigga Ek Boam against Tony Rivera, Zumbi and Black Fire in Perros Del Mal Rebellion.

Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 1

I’ve always felt it necessary to look back on what people who had an impact on my pop-culture history and in some cases my real life. In the past I’ve written these obits with the most marginal of information, but I’ve always broken it down by categories. Frequently there would be people I’ve missed people or even complete categories as my heart and soul weakens as I organize this work. This is the first time this type of writing is showing up on Pop-Culture Spectrum. It will appear in approximately five parts and then a final collection post of linking for those who don’t go backward in blog reading. In each category it is broken down alphabetically and the age of the person and their cause is in parentheses after. Each category will have its own specialties. This first section will have some select images by the creators that show what they are known for or in the least what I appreciated them for.

COMICS and ARTISTS

Mick Anglo (95-natural causes):  Best known as the creator of Marvelman, Mick Anglo took an impossible situation and found a way to make it work creating the cement for building blocks that would not be turned into gold many years later by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. It is wonderful that starting in 2010, Marvel began to reprint the Mick Anglo books which even featured some new artwork from him, he truly got to have his comeuppance before leaving the mortal coil.

 

Eduardo Barreto (57-undisclosed health): Excellent comics and comic strip artist, he made a mark as an artist on Teen Titans in the 80’s after George Perez. He was a mainstay at DC, with runs on Superman and Batman titles, one shots, special, annuals. He was a go to magic genius. He was also a popular comic strip artist, drawing a strip I’m personally unfamiliar with, but supposedly was very popular. I just know during a time when I was a hardcore avid, read almost everything comic reader in the 80’s, Barreto was a hard to ignore artist.  Here’s a longer quality tribute.

Gene Colan (84-various health complications): An amazing illustrator, Gene Colan has at one time drawn almost every major character in Marvel and DC. His best known runs were on Daredevil, his adaptation and reinterpretation of Dracula with Marv Wolfman in Tomb Of. His work for DC on Batman, Wonder Woman and Teen Titans should not be missed, as well as Night Force, which is/was just pure awesomeness. Knowing Gene Colan was the artist on a book, at least guaranteed that visually the ride would be worth the admission price.

Bill Keane(89-congestive heart failure): Creator and artist one of the most successfully parodied strips ever, Family Circus, Bill Keane created a bit of Americana. I’m not sure when Jeff “Jeffy” Keane took over, but I don’t think it was that long ago. I can tell you the following. I had a best friend named “Not Me” growing up and while I didn’t have any siblings, Family Circus sure made me want to. I must say that unfortunately as much as I loved Family Circus, when I think of it I can only think of the amazing parodies done though. It was such a perfect, innocent, well drawn strip it was made for parody and that proved it’s high quality… only really good stuff creates funny parody.

F. Solano Lopez (83, cerebral hemorrhage): A notable comics career, he is best known to me for his erotic series Young Witches and Sexy Symphonies, which feature some of the best art I’ve ever seen, sexually or regular. A true talent who would’ve been awesome if he worked on something like X-Men or Titans.

 

 

 

Dwayne McDuffie (49, during emergency heart surgery): One of truly the greatest under appreciated comic book and animation writers. He equally was a genius editor and supervising producer. When Milestone was first announced and was just starting up I got to meet Dwayne, as well as Chris Cross, Denys Cowans and others. Dwayne was someone who contributed much to many things that I have loved including his first series for Marvel Comics, DAMAGE CONTROL and issues 33-35 of “Firestorm: The Nuclear Man” featuring Jason Rausch. On top of that he spearheaded much of Justice League Unlimited and was in charge of Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, as well as writing and producing the DC Original Animations Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, All-Star Superman and Justice League: Doom. Doom would be Dwayne’s swan song, but also looks like it’ll the best DC Original yet. He had much more to give the world of comics and animation before his untimely demise though and I can only imagine what we are missing out on.

Jerry Robinson (89- natural causes): There is not enough evidence in any direction to say if Jerry Robinson is one of the most inventive creators ever or if he was just an able artist who worked alongside Bill Finger and Bob Kane in helping turned Batman from simple crime fighter and socialite bent on revenge Bruce Wayne into the very fleshed out interesting character with an incredible rogues gallery and supporting cast he has today, either way he stands as one of the most important figures in comics history.

Joe Simon (98- natural causes after short illness): One of the most important comics writers in history, he most famously co-created Captain America with Jack Kirby. With Kirby he also created the original Sandman, Newsboy Legion, the Archie Heroes The Shield and The Fly. Joe Simon also created two of the most incredible cult comic book characters in history in Brother Power, the Geek and PREZ. It is almost amazing to think a writer with such creativity and conception to develop characters and stories of this ilk will not be remembered as fondly as he deserves to be. He was a living, breathing institution and legend and and I hope in years, decades, centuries to come, he is recognized as such. Many luminaries based this year, some young, some old, but Joe Simon deserves to be up there with the best of them.

D.K. Sweet (77- Natural causes): Longtime cover illustrator for lots of notable sci-fiction/fantasy books. Most famously he was the cover artist for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and Piers Anthony’s XANTH, but he also did covers for many a random sorcerer tale, pirate legend, dragon myth, space adventure, ufos in medieval times, random aliens and the like. He had a deft and beautiful painting skill which would easily attract you to the book long before even reading its description.

Tom Wilson, Sr (80- pneumonia related): The creator of the cartoon Ziggy, which since 1987 has actually been the work of his son Tom Wilson. During Senior’s 16 year contribution, he was also at American Greetings where he spearheaded the group collectives that created Strawberry Shortcake. I didn’t get to actually see much of Senior’s Ziggy work, but I’m a fan of Tom Wilson, Jr.