The Fantagraphics website looks like it crashed -or slowed to a slug’s pace, at best -around 4:15 Eastern Time on June 19. People across the globe checking to see if it was true, and it’s undoubtably true, that the founder and frontman for the great publisher has passed.
I didn’t know Kim Thompson, never even spoke with him. I’ve had dealings, both passing and substantial with other members of the Fantagraphics team over the years, but never the boss. Here’s a link to the press release announcing his death.
Even so, Mr. Thompson’s work, more accurately, the work that he published (work that no one else would have put in print, let alone printed so beautifully, 25 years ago) had an impact on me equal to Superman’s fist on Lex Luthor’s face or some other hack metaphor from the spandex cartoon lexicon.
I never read comics as a child. I actively disliked them. The first comic I saw was a Richie Rich comic in which the eponymous hero lorded his wealth over his neighbors. The second I saw was Scrooge McDuck. It’s hardly worth explaining how the latent Marxian in my seven year old body responded to this corporatist propaganda.
Deep in the recesses of my mind I thought: “this is a format to celebrate the wealthy.” Even R. Crumb comics which I first saw late in high school were too hippie-bourgeois for me. Then I saw Dan Clowes’ “Eightball”. This was something that spoke to me -pissed off, mysterious, poetic, irreverent. Right next to it was “Love & Rockets”. I may have been a little late to the game on that -the saga was entering its second decade by the time I first read it -but that only cemented my growing interest in the artform.
Fantagraphics books were my introduction to comics, and I truly doubt I would have ever cracked one open if not for Clowes’ Lloyd Llewellyn. And I probably would have never met very many great people and dear friends if not for Fantagraphics.
A few years back they even began reprinting Carl Barks’ Disney comics, so I’ve now come to terms with the despicable Scrooge McDuck.
So thanks, Mr. Thompson.