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December 4, 2007

John Garcia, 1954-2007


Dirk Deppey brings word from Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth that John Garcia, a Boston-based illustrator who worked in a variety of comics venues over the last three decades, has passed away. This is confirmed by a brief note on the contact page of his web site, that puts the date of his passing at November 30. He died at his home in Randolph, Massachusetts. A funeral mass was performed on December 5 at St. Mary's Church in Randolph.

Garcia drew as a child inspired by Harvey Kurtzman; the obituary provided by the family says he inspired by his father's military service in Vietnam. He was educated at Northern Arizona University, skills he would use in work as a storyboard and magazine advertisement artist.

Garcia's collaborators included Nic Cuti (at Warren), James Vance (on the Kitchen Sink western Owlhoots), Craig Shaw Gardener (on The Big Whosis), Harvey Kurtzman (on the Byron Preiss revival of Two-Fisted Tales) and Neil Barret (on an adaptation of a Joe Lansdale short for the Atomic Chili collection). He worked briefly at DC in the early 1980s on a few short comics that appeared in non-superhero anthologies. He was also a contributor to the EC-focused historical magazine Squa Tront.

Larry Young and Steven Grant confirmed that Garcia was currently working on a comics project called Red Sunset, from a script by Grant, to be published by Young's AiT/Planet Lar. Young told CR about his dealing with Garcia:
image"I'd never met John Garcia, and only corresponded with him. But in addition to the various business issues we would discuss, it seemed that John always had a pithy comment on the state of affairs in the comic book industry, an observation on pop culture I'd enjoy, or a sage bit of wisdom for me, speaking, as he was, as an old hand in the advertising trade. I remember a vivid exchange where I was extolling the virtues of my old paste-up job in the early 80s, at the swap-over from waxers and lightboards to the Macintosh and its awesome eight fonts you could output yourself, without waiting for the Linotype jobber to get your copy to you.

"'Old ways are tried-and-true,' he'd responded, and as I grow older I certainly see the appeal of the remark. He seemed the sort of guy who'd have a story to tell you, that'd sneak up on you and deliver its insight when you weren't really paying attention. I'd looked forward to grabbing a
cup of coffee with him when Red Sunset was completed, and I regret I won't have the chance."
The writer James Vance recalls working with Garcia on Owlhoots, and remembers a nice man even if their creative partnership wasn't exactly a hugely fruitful one.
image"If I had been a tepid partner, John made up for it with his own ebullience. Hardly a day went by when he didn't call, and I frequently received long handwritten letters filled with character sketches, bits of Western trivia, nice words about the scripts and more general cheerleading than I've ever gotten from any other artist. Long after the series died, he continued to send me letters filled with artwork, chatty news about his upcoming projects and encouragement to come up with something else that we could work on together. I still have the hand-drawn wedding announcement he sent me several years ago, its familiar rough-hewn linework all but bursting with joyful exuberance. Maybe we weren't a good fit in storytelling terms, but I suspect that I would have liked John Garcia in person very much."
Very little continues to be known about Garcia beyond his few professional gigs. A mention in the Washington Post indicates he was a friend of the late writer Pierce Askegren.

Mr. Garcia is survived by a wife, Cecile, his parents, three brothers, a sister, and several nieces and nephews.


* from Garcia's web site
* from Red Sunset
* cover to Owlhoots #2

posted 1:14 am PST | Permalink

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