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March 26, 2007

Drew Hayes, 1969/70-2007

Lawrence Andrew (Drew) Hayes, the creator of the Poison Elves comic book, died last Wednesday in his hometown in Bellingham, Washington. According to his publisher, the cause of death was a heart attack brought on as a complication during a bout of pneumonia. Although this latest bout of sickness followed years of health problems related to cardiac issues, the end came suddenly and surprised those close to the artist.

Hayes first made his appearance on the comics scene in 1991 by self-publishing I, Lusiphur through his own Mulehide Graphics. He would eventually change the size from magazine-sized to standard comic book and the title from I, Lusiphur to Poison Elves. Like many of the independent comics of its era, Poison Elves afforded Hayes a personal vehicle through which to tell stories as well as a platform for supplementary writing and more direct interaction with fans through letters and responses to same. My memory is that the book itself was a dark fantasy with a few contemporary trappings that blended a lot of genres, that it was intended for adult audiences, that it contained a significant and rough humor element, and that it was perhaps best known for the frequent, anti-heroic actions of its lead.

imageHayes was part of two larger comics trends -- the first towards self-publishing in the early 1990s, and the second a move by many self-publishers into publishing arrangements with established publishers as the industry entered choppy waters at mid-decade. Hayes moved Poison Elves to Sirius Entertainment in June 1995, ending the Mulehide run at issue #20. (If I remember correctly, Hayes had promised to return to the Mulehide run and finish out a story there over four issues, but never got back to it).

For Sirius, Hayes would create 79 issues of the black and white Poison Elves comic and one color special, reaching a wider audience during a rough sales period of comic books generally and black and white efforts specifically. There were also a number of supplementary items created in the 1990s. Hayes and Sirius put together an aggressive trade program featuring books from the Mulehide and the Sirius runs; Hayes was one of the first cartoonists who repeatedly worked in small arcs of the kind that allowed for easy collection into trade paperback form. With Hayes' help, Sirius became an established presence for its creator-driven, black and white fantasy and science fantasy comics.

The final Hayes effort for Sirius was issue 2004's #79. According to Sirius publisher Robb Horan, Hayes planned on a return to his series starting with issue #80, and resuming a quarterly schedule.

Hayes had in recent years faced a number of health problems, up to and including those that required hospitalization.

Drew Hayes is survived by his mother and a daughter. He was 37 years old.
posted 4:35 am PST | Permalink

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