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Stefano Gaudiano On The Late Gary Reed
posted October 3, 2016
Over the last decades Gary Reed has gotten surprisingly little attention for his contributions to the industry as publisher of Caliber Press. I'd been in contact with him recently as we discussed his publishing of books by a couple of writers whose work we both liked, and in our conversation compared him to a sort of Mary Poppins, steering artists and writers towards successful careers and then exiting the scene to continue his work elsewhere. His response was:
"Thanks, Stefano. I realized early on that Caliber is a transient company for most... a stepping stone. It's just the reality of the market."
Gary knew that some creators would have flourished without him, some might have faltered, and ultimately he cared more about the success of Caliber's alumni than about getting returns for the company or himself -- even providing active help to authors who saw opportunities to leave Caliber for other offers that seemed more profitable.
In navigating the cross-currents of creator rights and publishing needs, he was fundamentally inclined to err on the side of the creator. I suppose he was a writer at a more fundamental level than he was a businessman and publisher (his co-creation with Guy Davis, Baker Street
, is a gem.)
It's honestly hard to imagine the transformation of comics from its niche status in the early eighties to its current status of cultural juggernaut without Gary Reed and Caliber press in the mix. Starting with J'O'Barr's The Crow
, and fostering the professional development of authors like Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker, Caliber's DNA turns up all over the media landscape.
I miss him. His influence persists, and i hope Gary's example and encouragement will also continue to be felt, to guide authors forward even in his absence.