FCBD & Jamie D

So, I think I am going to detour from the planned review (Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 4, look for it next Wednesday), and instead just ramble on about everything swirling around in my head at the moment. Please bear with me; hopefully I can make sense of everything and bring it in for a conclusion shortly.

Not that any reader of this blog needs a reminder, but today is Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). For more than 10 years now, the first Saturday of May has become a geek holiday of sorts. The comic publishers put together a potpourri of comic goodness to retailers, showcasing their best characters or new storylines or just to provide an introduction to what they do. In return, the retailers make this a celebration of comics, with sales, cos-play, and other events. My Local Comic Shop (LCS) of choice is Elite Comics in Overland Park, KS. Elite goes all out for its parties, with cake, give-aways, and other specials. If you are in the Kansas City area, stop by Elite!

Now, as excited as I am about FCBD, my heart is heavy today following the passing of Jamie D. of the Comic Geek Speak (CGS) podcast. For the last eight years, I have been listening to the CGS crew review comics, interview creators, rant about the publishers, and just have a lot of fun being together with like-minded friends. While the voices have changed some over that time, Jamie D. was one of the longest-serving Geeks on the show. I often joked that Jamie D. was my twin brother from another mother – the Avengers was our favorite book and John Byrne was our favorite creator. Many of Jamie’s opinions and rants felt like they were transcribed from my own internal monologues. Jamie’s voice felt like my voice in the recording studio. Jamie even did his own spin-off podcast for a while, titled Jamie’s Essentials. He truly was my comic book twin brother.

Unfortunately, life gets in the way as we are having fun. Several years ago, Jamie was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer and the treatment knocked him down, but he got back up. He fought the cancer, and it went into remission, allowing Jamie to return to the CGS studio, and eventually take over last fall as the producer and driver of the podcast. We all hoped that he had seen the last of the cancer. Sadly, much like a comic book villain, the cancer returned. Despite his valiant efforts, it was just too much, and Jamie passed away yesterday morning at the age of 47.

I will be honest – I never met Jamie in person. I sent him an email or two over the years, and I hope he got a chance to read them. What I know of Jamie comes from hours and hours of podcasts in which he talked about a medium – comic books – that we all love and cherish. I like to think that I knew Jamie, even if he didn’t know me.

From what I do know of him, I don’t believe Jamie would want us to mourn his passing. Instead, Jamie would want us to go out and have fun today at FCBD. Celebrate comics, promote comics, enjoy comics. On countless podcasts, Jamie would encourage listeners to “DO SOMETHING!” in comics. Go talk to the veteran (or new) creators at comic book shows.¬†Everyone has a story to share, and the creators love the chance to interact with their audience. Make your own comics, start your own blog, or record your own podcast. Volunteer to help at a comic book convention. Make a donation of time or money for the Hero Initiative or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Take time to read comics with kids. Give away comics to someone who can’t afford them. Whatever makes you most happy about comics, find some way to share that with others. Just DO SOMETHING!

Last summer, the writing was on the wall that I would be leaving my job. Knowing that I would be having some extra free time on my hands, I launched this blog as a way to share my love for the black & white collections. I know I have a small following at this point, and I so appreciate the Likes and comments I get back! Truthfully, this is a money-losing venture on my part, as I pay for the custom URL and all of the extra Essentials and Showcases I have picked up just in the last nine months. Regardless of how many or how few read this blog, or how much money this costs me, I am committed to do this for myself at least, just to see this through. I hope each of you stays with me for this journey.

So for today, go out and have fun at FCBD. Embrace the community of comic book lovers. Sure, the stores may be crowded and the lines will be long, but that gives you the chance to talk to someone new, find out what they are reading or what makes them excited about comics. When you get home, come back here and share in the comments what you got or who you talked to. Tell me about your FCBD experience. I would love to hear your stories!

And to Jamie D., thank you for your friendship, your voice, and your passion for comics. I look forward to meeting you someday on the other side, brother!