I didn’t know Drew Hayes very well when we shared a table at a small Dallas comic convention many years ago. He was big, loud and generally a happy guy and you knew if he was in the room, if for no other reason but the fact that his hair was always a different, bright color and, because Drew was tall, you could see that head coming at you through a crowd.
We were both struggling self-publishers that weekend in Dallas. We shared a table and spent Saturday morning meeting the 5 or 6 fans who knew us, and tried to bribe the rest of the crowd’s interest with cheap sketches. A con host offered to take us out to lunch and we readily accepted because “self-publisher” is Klingon for “broke”. Teri Wood joined us—remember Wandering Star?—and the 3 of us piled into this guy’s little commuter car. Drew filled the little back seat, so I called shotgun and let Teri sit next to him. As we rode to the restaurant, the car was quiet because it was full of lone-wolf cartoonists who didn’t get out much and didn’t know each very well. Not exactly a Kappa Kappa meeting. Only a car full of emoesque Fantagraphics cartoonists could have been quieter. But the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I saw a bird. It was a Disney day. In my best teenage-whatever voice I drawled a line Katchoo had already muttered in print, “Pretty day……. if you’re into that shit.” When Drew heard that he laughed and laughed. It broke the ice and we all started talking and had a great time at lunch. We became friends.
Back at the con, Drew and I resumed drawing anything for anybody and cracked jokes. After awhile, Drew stood and wandered off to take a break. About 15 minutes later he returned with a massive, elaborately decorated bowie knife—the chromed kind they sell cheap at the goth and fantasy tables, with a couple of holes in the blade and a wicked notch in the spine. I saw it gleaming in his hand as he walked up and before I could say anything he SLAM!ed it into the table. It quivered there as he sat down and smiled broadly at the people who’d stopped dead in their tracks to watch him. He bellowed like a stage actor, “Who wants a sketch?”
That was Drew. You just wanted to hug him for delighting you so.
Drew passed away 6 years ago, a victim of his own size, and I miss him. When you lose a friend you always have a hole in your life where that friend was. Nobody comes along and replaces them, they can’t. Today we can only appreciate the man and the labor of love he left behind, Poison Elves.
After the Dallas show, I later drew a pinup for Drew and included the super-sized knife in the girl’s hand, the weapon of choice for my girl elf to teach his main character a lesson for beheading his own creator. It was an in-joke and Drew got a kick out of it.
I heard Drew’s friends and family were resuming production of Poison Elves, creating new stories from Drew’s own notes and outlines. When I was contacted about drawing a cover, I immediately thought of the pinup and they agreed to use it. My cover will be extremely limited—the C cover of three variants—so if somebody wants this specific cover they’re going to have to hunt for it. Unless they read this blog. I got my copies today—a dozen or so. I only need 3 for my archive, so I will sell the rest in a few weeks when I know what the price should be. I promise it will be less than eBay.
Oh, and yep, that’s a page from Rachel Rising 16 underneath. That is not included.