Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dave Simons: The Tribute I Couldn't Write

Roy Thomas asked me to write about Dave Simons for the next issue of Alter Ego. I think that's the first time I've ever said no to Roy, an editor/writer that I respect immensely...but I told him I'm the wrong guy. I barely knew Dave.

Then, out of nowhere, I received the following from a friend of Dave's--as fitting a tribute as I've seen:

Dave Simons' middle name was Lloyd. It was his grandfather's name...and his grandparents lived up the road from me in Seelyville, Pennsylvania. Dave and I connected somehow in our middle teens, one summer when he was visiting his name-sake. We drew comics together, swam in the river, rode horses, played golf (Dave couldn't hit the doggone thing to save his life!) and dreamed of becoming comic book pros. Dave's dream came true.

I have many wonderful memories from those years which now feel like fantasy. Dave's first printed comic work (that I'm aware of) was a comic strip in his school newspaper called "Night Rider" (I have photocopies of some of them). NR was a motorcycle character, and Dave revisited his love for such characters in his later professional work on Ghost Rider.

His first printed comic work in Fandom (to my knowledge) was in my own fanzine, Comic Courier...and later in a zine that he and I worked on together: The Wonderful World of the Wild and Wicked West. I have that artwork still (and stuff we hoped to publish but never did).
Dave wanted to go to art school after high school, but parental pressure pushed him into the Coast Guard. He was stationed on Governor's Island off Manhatten and fell in love with the Big Apple.

Scientology got a hold of him...and took all his money ( I wrote him a song during that time, reaching out to him when it seemed that he was so lost). He took classes under John Buscema. He lived in a roach-filled apartment in Greenwich Village. He lived in a warehouse at the lower end of Manhattan. He fell in love...wanted to marry... it didn't happen. He was pencilling the first issue of Red Sonja during that time: beautiful pencils (ruined by Vince Coletta's inks!) He lived lots of other places...made new friends...kept drawing. He made his mark in the real comic book world--and beyond.

He and I lost touch. I tracked him down in California. Then back on the East Coast. Then no word. A phone call. A letter. Where was this guy? Then a couple of days ago I found him online! I saw pictures of him. I discovered that he'd been battling cancer. I saw that he had moved to Jersey City. I found his e-mail address...I sent him an e-mail...and then I revisited the site where I found his blog...and discovered my friend had passed from this planet two days earlier!

Dave and I were both born in 1954. I have missed him through the years---I miss him terribly just now.

"Life is a brief minute...eternity follows."

Mark Ammerman


Daniel Best said...

Very touching indeed...

Mike P said...

I know my comments are not allowed here, but maybe you'll read this one. That was a great tribute. Why not send that to Roy, and also why not have Danny write one? That way Roy's readers get a great past and recent portrait of Dave, much fuller than using only one.

Mike "You'll never see this" Pascale


Your paranoia is showing, Mike.

I *did* send that tribute to Roy. Way ahead of you (as usual).

I *did* suggest that Danny write the piece for AlterEgo but was advised there's some politics there.