Sometimes the Fates just hammer you mercilessly. Seems like I'm in one of those phases. Two weeks ago I lost my Dad. He was 93 and died of natural causes. It seems like lots of my time since has been remembering him to family and friends, and sharing the gifts, lessons, and perspectives that he gave me. He was gentle man who always tried to teach me by example, not by lecturing or commanding. While life's demands steered his career on a mundane course by necessity, his passions remained aeronautical design (perfecting the art of hand launch gliders to ascend into the clouds), scale model building (both from kit and more often from scratch), and sailing. There's no way I can understand the scope of his influence on me… but each day I live explores that echo more deeply.
My father's decline was slow and long. We could see it coming, but it's still impactful. I finally got the point where I wasn't thinking of his death every three minutes when I got the news that my friend and art colleague Bryan Gibson (Sabakakrazny sabakakrazny.deviantart.com/ ) died this week. GIVE ME A F**KING BREAK, FATES!!!!!! Bryan was part of an informal brotherhood of artists - all of us working for GDW/DGP and Traveller back in the latter half of the eighties. We spoke on the phone often, back then. Sometimes too often ("Er… Bryan, I've got a deadline here…"). And we'd meet up once or twice a year at the major gaming conventions.
Bryan was a big guy - he looked like a cross between a crazed Cossack and a pirate. In a still image he might look intimidating, but if life he was exuberant and irrepressible. To talk with Bryan about a mutual interest was like sticking your finger in a super-charger. His energy was infectious and would leave you not only inspired, but totally ready to roll. And MAN, THAT GUY COULD DRAW! The first time I sat next him as he doodled I was astounded by how fast he was and how his line and figures just flowed. I don't have half his skill with pen, pencil, and animate forms.
For some Traveller aliens, like the Droyne and Vargr, he was the definitive artist. He breathed amazing life into all his characters, making his non-humans as engagingly emotive as his human characters. I think I heard Marc Miller say, more than once, that Bryan was his favorite Traveller character artist. Bryan brought that universe to life and Traveller art clearly remained a passion to his end.
Bryan was my age - in the first half of his 50's - but had been struggling with Parkinson's for a number of years. It's possible that it was a complicating factor, but it seems like it was viral pneumonia that finally took him down. Damn it. Just damn it. Talented, big-hearted guys like Bryan check out too early while mean, black-hearted bastards like Dick Cheney still walk the earth. TANJ! Bryan is survived by family, friends, and his wonderful creation, Sushi.
I am hoping to organize an online memorial chat for Bryan in the coming week. If you'd like to be made aware of detail, drop me a note. It'd be great to share stories and recollections of the man. I'd always considered him a Force of Nature, but clearly Nature decided to assert her superiority. The margarine ads were true....
Bye Dad. Bye Bryan. I wish you both glorious adventures in the undiscovered country.