This guy had a much bigger impact on my life than he ever would have imagined. His girlfriend had been a friend of mine in the UK, but I didn't meet him while I was living there. He came to New York to play a gig with his band when I was working in music journalism (and simultaneously acting as roadie for a local group, as mentioned in the previous post) and he turned out to be a big comics fan. At that time, I had been totally estranged from anything to do with comics or comics fandom for about five years -- a string of bad experiences had left me feeling the need for a clean break -- but he and I got to talking about then-recent stuff in comics he was enthusiastic about.
One of those things was Alan Moore's 1963 miniseries, which had come and gone while I wasn't looking. He insisted that I was exactly the sort of reader who would best appreciate it, and that I had to check it out. (In the event, I was never quite as enthusiastic about that miniseries as he was, but I've reread it often and it always makes me think of him.)
Armed with a bunch of similar recommendations from him, I set foot in a comics shop for the first time in five years. I didn't find issues of 1963 right away, but I did find several issues of something called The Jack Kirby Collector -- this guy was also a big Kirby fan, and had tipped me off that big things were afoot in fandom following Kirby's passing -- and I bought each issue they had in the store. That plus some other tips from my new friend were my first steps back towards the world of comics and comics people. A lot of stuff I do now, including this blog, came about through a chain of events leading unbroken from that guy prompting me in that direction.
So it's a bummer to learn that he's gone. But what makes it so weird is that I found out today by reading this:
Jenni Scott offers a review of the Andy Roberts Memorial Comics Collection housed at the National Art Library in England’s Victoria and Albert Museum. (Link via Bugpowder’s Pete Ashton.)
...and that's how I learned Andy Roberts died on June 12th 2005 in the Intensive Care Unit at The Royal London Hospital following a road traffic accident on Bethnal Green Road six days earlier. I didn't mistype that. I've just found out he was dead fifteen months after it happened.
Over the years, I'd kept one eye on Caption, the Oxford-based small press/indie comics convention with which Andy was involved -- but apparently I wasn't paying attention over the past year or so, or I'd have noticed that link. But I'd certainly thought of Andy more than once over the past few months, and I'm at a complete loss to explain why it never occurred to me to try and find him online long ago to renew our communication. (Mind you, there are a lot of Andy Robertses out there.) I'm glad I told him several times how much I loved his music, his comics, and chatting with him...but I wish I could tell him again.
To me this is a fresh discovery, but to everyone else who knew Andy it's old news. So in addition to feeling bad about his death, I also feel like a pathetic idiot for being so clueless and out of touch. But, you know, it happens.