Friday, August 31, 2012

Brian and Frank

I lost two friends recently. Both of them within the same week. Both of them way too young. Both of them guys I liked and admired a great deal.

I hadn’t talked directly to either of them in about a year. You always figure you’ll have another chance, right?

Brian.

I knew Brian for well over 20 years. I couldn’t tell you about the first time we met, which is probably a function of having known him as long as I have. He was just this ubiquitous presence in my life. Brian worked at Buried Under Comics (formerly Buried Under Books) in Manchester, Connecticut. He’s owned the store for the past 18 years. Buried Under was my FLCS (Friendly Local Comic Shop) for almost my entire life. I walked into that store the day before I got my tonsils out (I was 9 or 10, maybe?). Before that I didn’t know there were such things as “Comic Book Stores”. All of my comic purchases were made at the 7-11 down the block from my house.

The guy loved comics. I owe Brian for a lot of things that I read and that became big parts of my life. Periodically he would slip a comic in front of me and tell me, “Buy this and read it. If you don’t love it, I’ll buy it back from you.” He did this a lot over the years, and I never once had to ask for my money back. Some of the things he slipped in front of me included Sandman, Preacher, and Bone.

He also introduced me to disc golf. The guy was a huge ambassador for the sport, and would talk about it to anyone who listened. We compared notes a lot, but I never got a chance to actually go out and throw with him. That’s going to be right up there with “See the Ramones live” on my list of things I wish I had done when I had the chance.

Brian’s viewing was last week. I have never seen so many comic book tee-shirts at one wake in my entire life. He would have been proud.

Frank.  

I met Frank, like I met so many amazing people in my life, through the Brian Michael Bendis message boards. He posted there under the name “DaGetHighKnight”. When the New York area board members started getting together for periodic drink-ups, Jenny and I had a chance to meet Frankie face-to-face, and get to know him.

He was, hands-down, one of the coolest fucking people I have ever known. I am not a cool person. I am a dork. But Frankie had a way of making you feel cool even when you weren’t. Hanging out with him, I got to absorb a lot of second-hand cool. And he always made me feel like I deserved to feel as cool as he did.

I was always amazed by how low-bullshit the guy was. He would always tell you exactly what was on his mind, no hesitation. He was honest to a fault, but he was kind as well.

I may get some of the details on this wrong, because Jenny and I can't quite reconcile the times. But it was one of the first years for the New York Comic Con. Jenny and I realized we could no longer get tickets to the show through the website. The only place they were available were at Midtown Comics. I jumped on the Bendis Board and asked if one of the New Yorkers could grab us tickets, and I would pay them when we got to the con. Frank, who worked right at Times Square, immediately said he could grab the tickets for us on his lunch break.

We got there for the con, and Frank gave us the tickets. He wouldn't take a dollar from us, telling us it was a wedding present. That was Frank.

The guy was a ridiculously amazing artist. He was self-taught, and seemed to be influenced by everything that crossed his line of sight. Dude LOVED to draw robots. We talked for a while about doing a comic together, and Frank’s only requirement was that it had to have robots in it. I eventually wrote a story for him to draw, but by the time I got my shit together he had to back out due to his health problems. I would have loved to see that story drawn by him. Maybe someday when I get to heaven we can finally collaborate together.

This video, to me, is the essence of Frank. It reminds me of a lot of conversations we had. “Draw for sanity”. That’s good advice.


Hugs and kisses,
(The)Travis

1 comment:

  1. I remember Brian. He once told me he thought Metallica sucked since ...And Justice For All, and I was incredulous he could say that. I wanted to argue with him (but changed my mind) because I went to see them at the Meadows in 1998 for their ReLoad album.

    I think he was a big Dawn fan, and saw to it there were Image, Chaos, and Dark Horse comics in addition to Marvel and D.C. This was around the time that I moved on from the Age of Apocalypse story line, and the Spider-Man Clone Saga wrapped up. I was getting into Heroes Reborn through the Onslaught tie-in, and it was there at this store I gathered both my Bagley & Romita, Jr. Spider-Man and Thor collections. It is true, the back-issues piled up in the back area. I was grateful for this, because I was able to get almost all of the Maximum Carnage and Separation Anxiety issues in the story line, to go with the video games with Spider-Man and Venom. I moved on from X-Men, to Spider-Man, to Avengers, all in the time I was a regular patron at this store, between 1995-2001.

    Brian always made sure to reserve my favorite titles behind the counter, but, since my want outpaced my income, I had to back off and be a bit more discriminating than blowing every paycheck there, along with the cards I got at the old model and board games store across the street (it's been replaced by the "We Can Clubhouse," but they once had the Enterprise-D and Millennium Falcon models) and bread sticks from Domino's Pizza next door. This was before DuBaldo Music Center next door took over Beller's Music downtown, because at that time I used to be a regular at Beller's as well and remember.

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