Anime convention to send condolences to surviving members of Satoshi Kon’s family

One of the things I love about the Otakon anime convention is that the people who run it not only have a great love of the medium, they care about people in the industry as well. After director Satoshi Kon’s passing two months ago, the members of the non-profit responsible for running the Baltimore, Md. convention decided to do something for the family members and colleagues he left behind.

“There was such an outpouring of shock when he died, and so many fans expressed appreciation and gratitude—we wanted some way to let his family see, firsthand, how much of an impact Kon had,” wrote former con chair and current Otakorp. member-at-large Jim Vowles in a post to the Anime Cons ML.

Fans can visit the website (located at and they can either send a message to a Gmail account that has been set up for this purpose, send a letter or condolences card to a U.S. physical address, donate money to an accredited charity which helps fight life-threatening cancers—or most importantly, purchase DVDs of works by Satoshi Kon.

From the website:

First, strong sales may increase the likelihood that Kon’s final project [The Dream Machine] will be completed. Second, like most in the animation industry, Satoshi Kon was not a wealthy man, but unlike many, he held some intellectual property that he hoped would continue to provide for his family after his death.

Me, I’m up for purchasing Perfect Blue when payday hits on Saturday, and I urge you to pick something out as well.

RIP: Stuart E. Hample, cartoonist and humorist

Last Sunday, a humorist and cartoonist named Stuart Hample died. He was 84, and according to the obituary that ran in the New York Times, it was due to cancer.

Perusing the obituary, the thing that jumped out at me the most is that Hample collaborated with famed New York director Woody Allen on a comics strip:

From 1976 to 1984 [Hample] wrote and illustrated the syndicated comic strip “Inside Woody Allen,” a series of panels that purported to reveal the mind of that famous comedian and film director in all its self-analytical, overly worried, oversexed, death-obsessed glory. (Early on he used the pen name Joe Marthen.) Mr. Allen gave his permission for the strip and consulted with Mr. Hample frequently. A collection of selected strips was published as a book, Dread & Superficiality, last fall.

I know of Hample’s work through his son Zack who runs a writer’s group in New York City which has a roving meeting location. And all at once, I am saddened that I didn’t know about Stuart Hample’s work sooner. It makes me wonder about all the other cartoonists and “lost” projects out there which didn’t get to be seen by a wider audience or enjoy the kind of fame which comes from having a celebrity tie-in.

A more in-depth explanation of his comics-cred can be found via the Comics Reporter obit.

In any case, rest in peace, Mr. Hample, and my thoughts are with your family right now.

The last words of anime director Satoshi Kon

According to ANN, Japanese anime director Satoshi Kon passed away yesterday at the age of 46 following complications due to pancreatic cancer.

Kon was a part of the Madhouse studio and was responsible for directing some of its more psychologically challenging films and series such as Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent. I personally interviewed him during the North American premiere of his Tokyo Godfathers in 2003 and remember him as being very passionate about his work.

But perhaps most telling about the man are some of the final thoughts he had before dying, partially translated by journalist Fernando Ramos (original link mirrored by ANN, here):

I wish to die in my home. This might be my last great inconvenience to the people around me but, I have been able to be granted that escape home. Thanks to the tireless efforts of my wife, and the “Has he given up?” attitude of the hospital, it has in fact and indeed been helpfully cooperative, along with the enormous support from outside clinics, and many frequent coincidences that I can only think of as blessings from heaven. I can’t believe there are just so many coincidences and inevitabilities in this real life. This isn’t Tokyo Godfathers after all

RIP: American Splendor creator Harvey Pekar (1939-2010)

When news broke on Monday that American Splendor creator Harvey Pekar was found dead in his Cleveland Heights, Ohio home, I wrote via Twitter: “I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him in person, but [Pekar] is and will always be an inspiration to struggling creators.”

Pekar is best-known for the pioneering comics series American Splendor which told the story of Pekar’s own life and the lives of the people around him in his home in Cleveland. It was this series which lead to several guest appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman,” the last of which in 1987 got him banned from the show: Continue reading “RIP: American Splendor creator Harvey Pekar (1939-2010)”