I Can’t Imagine A World Without Kim Thompson

I seriously can’t

I cannot imagine a world that does not have Kim Thompson in it.

One of my longest continuos professional relationships in the strange world of American comic books has suddenly come to an end. Nothing I can do about it. A big cosmic fuck you.

I think I first dealt with Kim as an advertiser in the Comics Journal… just about 20 years ago. Shortly after that… sometime in 1995… I was on the phone with Kim – back when Wow Cool was a distributor of Fantagraphics’ books, and, things were looking a tad grim for us – our biggest distributor was shutting down and one of our larger retail clients had just stiffed us on a very large order… On a whim I asked if they needed a designer. Bizarrely he hired me on the spot. A couple of months later I moved to Seattle to become the art director at Fantagraphics.

What followed was a very intense 17-odd month tenure at Fantagraphics for me as apparently the third to fifth in charge or something. Like most jobs I’ve had, I landed not too sure of my boundaries and just did what I thought I was supposed to. This was a strange and confusing transitional time for Fantagraphics as it was for much of the publishing industry. Many aspects of book production were switching to digital. Kim seemed to be able to keep on top of it. Something that doesn’t get mentioned often is that he was an excellent and very attentive production manager. He was the guy who made sure that the books got printed the way they were intended and made it to press on time.

There were two big projects I worked very closely with Kim on at Fantagraphics – the ten odd issues of Zero Zero that I art directed and the massive overhaul of the Fantagraphics mail-order catalog… a design that they pretty much kept for a decade after I was gone. After a few issues, Zero Zero really became a bonus, after hours, god-I-hope-I-can-squeeze-this-in-before-deadline, project for me. But I loved working on those with Kim. Twisting the layout as far as I could near past the point of readability… doing something different every issue… remixing some new strange Stan Lee artifact from the sixties in with Kim’s text… Whatever it was.

Recently I started assembling the new incarnation of the Alternative Comics anthology, which inescapably felt like a continuation for me of Zero Zero. I had originally put in a little dedication to all the people I’d worked on various comics anthologies with in the past… and then I found out that Kim was sick and I took that out… you know, not to tempt fate or anything.

Now Kim is gone and I just feel ill.

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