Above: Painting by James C. Christensen.

One of the many truths that they often neglect to tell anyone in art school is that being an illustrator or sculptor or comic artist or painter is largely a solitary career.

Naturally we have friends and family; of course we enjoy being with others. But no one—not our closest confidants, not even our fellow artists—knows what it takes for us personally to wrestle with a blank sketchbook page or piece of illustration board or canvas or an empty computer screen and fill them with the wonders dancing around in our heads. Even when we seek advice or help, even when we send out frustrated (or exultant) tweets or make discouraged posts on Facebook, at the end of the day the fight is still ours alone to win. Or lose.

And because no one can ever know exactly what it takes for us to see things as we do, to create things as we create them, in a sense we’re all outsiders, we’re all rebels and loners. But being loners doesn’t mean we’re hermits; it’s obvious that we’re some of the most sociable outsiders anyone will ever meet. We appreciate each others’ quirks and idiosyncrasies (usually). We like to “belong,” to be a part of a movement or run with a pack—just as long as we don’t have to follow someone else’s rules. As long as we don’t have to think the same way someone else thinks or create art the way others think we should in order to be respected.

We live in fractious, incredibly contentious, occasionally frightening times—which is why we should take every opportunity, as the rebels we are, to recognize and embrace our diversity as a strength while simultaneously celebrating our sense of unity and community.

Above: Painting by James C. Christensen.

And one of the things we can do—should do—as a community is honor the lives of our friends that have left us in the past year. About artists Longfellow wrote, “Dead he is not, but departed, for the artist never dies.” Comforting, if true. I certainly hope it is, anyway—but I worry that in this lightning-paced, technologically-driven, social media-addicted world…memory is fleeting. It’s easy to get distracted by the crush of the new, painfully easy for creators and their works to get lost in the cacophony of the crowd. It’s easy to forget and gets easier every day.

The saying is that there are three stages of death. The first, of course, is when we draw our last breath. The second is when our body is put in the earth or turned to ash and someone says some—hopefully—nice things about us. But the third…it is the third that is the most absolute, the most heartbreaking, the most…infinitely final…

The third stage is when someone speaks our name for the last time.

We have no say over Death, over when it comes and who it takes, but today on Muddy Colors we can use the opportunity to join together as a community and deny that third stage. And it’s extremely simple to do: let’s take a few moments to think of our colleagues, our friends, our mentors, of our family who left us in 2017. To speak their names and keep them alive, in our hearts and minds, for just a little while longer.

Above: Painting by Alan Aldridge.
Alan Aldridge [b 1943] artist
Xavier Atencio [b 1919] animator

Alfonso Azpiri (Mejia) [b 1947] comic artist

Edmund Bagwell [b 1967] comic artist
Above: Magdalena A. Bakanowicz.
Jim Baikie [b 1940] comic artist

Magdalena A. Bakanowicz [b 1930] sculptor

Jill Barklem [b 1951] artist
Leo Baxendale [b 1930] cartoonist
Rebecca Bond [b 1972] artist
Dick Bruna [b 1927] artist
Rich Buckler [b 1949] comic artist
Above: Tommy Castillo.
Tommy Castillo [b 1971] comic artist
Ivan Chermayeff [b 1932] graphic artist
Above: James C. Christensen.
James C. Christensen [b 1942] artist/educator
José Luis Cuevas [b 1934] artist
Nathan David [b 1930] sculptor
Eduardo del Rio [b 1934] cartoonist
Jay E. Disbrow [b 1926] comic artist
Above: Greg Escalante was the co-founder of Juxtapoz magazine and the Copro Nason Gallery.
He curated the very first “Outsider Art” exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum in 1993.
Greg Escalante [b 1955] gallery owner/curator/publisher
Chiara Fumai [b 1978] artist
Pascal Garray [b 1965] cartoonist
Above: Robert Givens worked as an animator for Disney, DePatie-Freleng, and Hanna-Barbera,
but he is best remembered as the designer of Bugs Bunny for Warner Bros.
Robert Givens [b 1918] animator
Sam Glanzman [b 1924] comic artist
Paul Goble [b 1933] artist
Brooke Goffstein [b 1940] artist/author
Top: Basil Gogos. Bottom: One of Basil’s cover paintings for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
Basil Gogos [b 1939] artist
Karl Otto Götz [b 1914] artist
Annie Goetzinger [b 1951] comic artist
Top: Mary Hamilton. Bottom: One of the thousands of pieces Mary created for Hallmark Cards.
Mary Hamilton [b 1936] artist
Joe Harris [b 1928] animator
Above: A portrait of Hugh Hefner by Bill Sienkiewicz.
Hugh Hefner [b 1926] cartoonist/publisher
Barkley L. Hendricks [b 1945] artist
Sir Howard Hodgkin [b 1932] artist
Masatoyo Kishi [b 1924] artist
Jan Kruis [b 1933] comic artist
Dick Locher [b 1929] cartoonist
Bob Lubbers [b 1922] cartoonist
Above: Jay Lynch.
Jay Lynch [b1945] comix artist
Arthur Mather [b 1925] comic artist
Jill McElmurry [b 1955] artist
Gustav Metzger [b 1926] artist
Kate Millett [b 1934] artist/activist
John Mollo [b 1931] costume designer
Angel Mora [b 1925] cartoonist
Above: Alan Pekolick and several of his logo designs.
Alan Peckolick [b 1940] designer
Kim Poor [b 1952] artist
Keith Robinson [b 1955] cartoonist
Tim Rollins [b 1955] artist/educator
Above: Pierre Seron.
Pierre Seron [b 1942] comic artist
Dan Spiegle [b 1920] comic artist
James Stevenson [b 1929] cartoonist
Niro Taniguchi [b 1948] manga artist
Valton Tyler [b 1944] artist
Above: A mural by John Watkiss.
John Watkiss [b 1961] artist
Skip Williamson [b 1944] comix artist

Top: Bernie Wrightson. Bottom: One of Bernie’s memorable pages from DC’s
fourth issue of the Swamp Thing comic. 
Bernie Wrightson [b 1948] artist
Jack Ziegler [b 1942] cartoonist

This list will be included in the 25th anniversary volume of Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art in the Fall. If I’ve missed anyone (as I’m sure I have, particularly in mentioning overseas Fantastic Artists) please let me know in the comments section and I’ll add them.