This morning we got word that John Simpson, a ComicBase customer who had become a family friend had died. In Spring, when he knew his illness was incurable, he gave Peter a letter to publish upon his death, which Peter did. I didn’t know him as well as Peter did, but Peter’s description of him as a gentleman is accurate. I rarely meet anyone so mannered it pleasantly surprises me. For instance, he always remembered all of our birthdays with a card. Most of my close friends don’t know my birthday, and I’m ashamed to say I can name few of theirs, unless they make a point of reminding me of it regularly.
When I heard of his death, I was surprised how many memories I had with him. There was my final (ok, not so final, but originally meant to be final) birthday during the San Diego Comic-Con, when he was stuffed in a car with me, Peter, Neil, Maggie Thompson, and British journalist Joel Meadows as we drove desperately around a typical So-Cal ueber-mall trying to find the oh-so-elusive Dave & Buster’s, where my party was. Another year, when Wonder-Con had moved to San Francisco, I picked him up from the Nob Hill hotel he was staying at, and we all went to see the Charles Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa for the first time. That same year, for Christmas, we received a mysterious gift box of Wisconsin cheeses, complete with a Bucky Badger cheese (the mascot of Peter’s alma mater.) It had no information on who had given it to us, and all likely candidates denied the sending of the cheese; it was only the next year that we found out John had sent it to us, although I don’t think it was meant to be anonymous. He even flew out to help Human Computing move into its Santa Clara offices, an event that was part crazy chaos (the van we were scheduled to rent got totalled the night before), part amusement (we never did hear of Shiaw-Ling’s friend Mark again), and mostly a whole lot of work. It’s been a long time since Peter and I have had to move anywhere, but we used to move a lot, and we could always identify our most loyal friends of the moment as those who showed up to help us move.
I still can’t believe he’s gone, or that at the next comic book show we go to, he won’t be there. It’s like he was too much of a presence to disappear. He may be gone, but he certainly won’t be forgotten.