Posted by: Jordan Smith on July 23, 2013
((As ever and always my own opinions and speculation follow))
(J_Smitty_ enters a small and darkened room. The feeling is almost claustrophobic. He twitches, nervously, almost reflexively as a panel slides back to reveal a small figure barely perceptible and perched on the sill of the opening – cloaked in darkness)
“What have you come to confess?”
“Sir, I only just picked up my first Fantagraphics book at the tender age of 33.”
(The little figure sighs deeply and shifts its weight – testing the heft of something)
“10 hail Kim’s and take this brick with you!”
First, you should probably all take the time to read Tom Spurgeon’s detailed and wonderfully complete obit over at the Comics Reporter:
Second, in that wonderfully complete obit there is only one mention in passing of George Herriman.
Herriman’s Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse, are how I came to know Kim Thompson and more importantly how I choose to believe K.T. (as he often signed) viewed death and its power – or lack thereof.
In the final volume of Fantagraphics odyssey effort to reprint every available Krazy Kat work we find a one page tribute – written by Thompson – in memory of series editor Bill Blackbeard. You can find a more comprehensive look at Blackbeard here:
He was an amazing man – his quest was beyond tilting at windmills and yet, he’s very nearly pulled it off and I am PROUD to live in Columbus, Ohio where the majority of his collection has come to rest at The Ohio State University.
But, back to Thompson. I’ve scanned the page because you need to see it.
Thompson shines here as everything he’s been made out to be over the course of his monumental career:
A sharp editor (Three paragraphs to sum up a man’s life with love and affection)
A skilled translator (How to see the utter beauty in what many saw as obsession)
An unparalleled publisher (Who often and seemingly chose projects he believed in would succeed through the cumulative will of the people involved more than any “commercial appeal.”)
In a time when things come and go – when the news cycle is faster and more than anything a hungry beast waiting (impatiently) to be fed – it’s important to remember that a legend has passed and little more than a month ago.
It’s important to remember how he viewed death and what he may well have hoped would be his legacy.
I believe Thompson didn’t place these works in front of us because they were important or the best. A publishing strategy so laborious and fraught with peril couldn’t come from such a conceited place. He published them, translated them, labored over them and dedicated his life’s work to them because he wanted us to enjoy them. He wanted it to be perfectly fine for an avowed comics fan to pick up one of these things 25 years into his comics reading life and be changed by them.
And, in a good world, our continued enjoyment and love of his work will be his reward.
(I first saw this picture in Joe Hughes’ obit over at Comics Alliance. I have no idea where it first appeared. No idea of its context or origin. I include it here because it’s true…and damn funny)