At the age of 17 I began working at an independent comic company in my home town. It was a strange cast of characters. Gary ran the place and had what looked like a combover, only he wasn't bald. Zoe was my editor but couldn't draw nearly as well as me. Andy invented Glo-Flex. There was an inker who brought his girlfriend to all our meetings, and she never spoke. Davit would walk up and down the halls speaking tongues. Then there was Joe. Oh, Joe. He came around the corner wringing his hands once and shaking as though he'd just killed something. I stayed in a hotel with him and witnessed his skidmarked long-johns. Another time he spoke of a dream he had where he fell down a shaft of flesh that eventually turned into penises. But this isn't about Joe.
When Davit, the writer I was paired with was fired (he was always late and never seemed to care), I was partnered with Steve Kendrick. Steve and I hit it off immediately. He began writing with the third issue of my never-to-be-published comic. He had a vivid imagination and a great sense of humor. His stories were compelling, exciting and original. He was easily the best writer at the small company. If I had been a better artist I could have done his stories more justice.
When the company abruptly closed up, almost overnight, Steve was the one to inform me. "Indefinite hiatus," he said. This didn't sound too promising. Despite whate we were told, the company never reopened. And so Steve and I began working on a number of projects together, pitching them to publishers. Our first comic was Main Street, a collection of short stories, each drawn in a different style. Steve had created worlds with Ronald Reagan mask-wearing superheroes, a narcoleptic midget tinsel salesman, one about our old friend Joe, another with a pompous Harlan Ellison type editor, and my favorite, Blenderbrain.
Blenderbrain was part of a band. The rest of the band was mostly human (except Phrutt, I think Steve's favorite character), but Blenderbrain was just that: a blender with a brain stuck to the bottom. Steve and I worked on a number of stories with the Blenderbrain gang as the cast. In one unfinished tale the band was going to travel back in time to kill Superboy. I alway wished we'd finished that story.
Here's Blenderbrain working in an office. (Please try to ignore the horrible lettering and art.)
I had never been a confident writer up to this point, but working with Steve really showed me how flexible the comics medium was. Everything he wrote was injected with a sense of fun not often found in comics. It was around this time I began writing in earnest, and it would be hard not to see Steve's influence on me.
Here are two pages from a short story we did together called Mime Meets Girl. It was part of our Liquid Relax comic.
Today Steve passed away. He'd suffered a number of health problems for as long as I knew him, and especially so lately. He was in and out of the hospital, and I guess it was just too much. I'm left wondering what he could have created if he were offered the life most of us get.