We love you, Peter David!

Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day. It is also the 33 Anniversary of the day that I moved from New York City to Atlanta.

It would be another two years before I randomly met Bob and most everyone around here knows what resulted from that particular meeting. But there are other icons of the comic book industry whose paths would cross mine at intervals over the years. And a very special friend and inspiration to me has always been Peter David.

I’m sure that just about everyone reading this knows about the stroke that Peter suffered on December 29, and if you care to help out his family, especially his wife Kathleen, who is also a dear friend, you can do so here: http://www.peterdavid.net/2013/01/16/how-you-can-help-peter-david-recover/comment-page-1/#comment-821798

I met Peter one year at the Atlanta Fantasy Fair. At the time, he was still working in the Sales Department at Marvel under Carol Kalish. He said that he was aspiring to be a writer but there was a “Conflict of Interest” that prevented him from doing so. I had never heard that term uttered by anyone in the comic book business before that, but, believe me, I’ve heard it hundreds of times since.

I found Peter to be hilarious. No matter what banal statement I would throw at him, he would come back with a retort that would have me in stitches! He was really quick, and I thought to myself that he was a far better writer off-the-cuff than a lot of the already established comic book writers that I knew. In conversation, Peter told me that he hoped one day to meet Harlan Ellison, his favorite author. Well, he did meet Harlan Ellison a couple of years later and the two of them became life-long buddies.

Time went on, and Peter DID become a comic book writer. While I was peddling my fonts all over the industry, Peter was hard at work establishing his reputation as a GREAT comic book writer. We corresponded over CompuServe, which was the social media of the day, on the comic book forum. However, we hadn’t seen each other in years.

Then one spring, I ran into Peter at UKAC, the now defunct British convention that used to be held in London every year. At some point, seeing that Peter and I knew each other, a fan asked him who I was, to which Peter replied, “Why, that’s Roxanne Starr…a GIANT in the industry!” Of course begging the question, “A giant WHAT?” J

After the convention was over, we jumped on a train headed to Edinburgh. Peter had never been to Scotland before, and I was determined to show him the sights. We visited the Castle, and then I brought him to St. Giles Cathedral, one of my favorite churches, which he ended up writing about in his column for The Comic Buyers Guide, BUT I DIGRESS. http://www.peterdavid.net/bibliography/but-i-digress-index/ When we were done there, we shopped the Royal Mile until Peter found a gorgeous lace shawl for his wife at the time, Myra.

The next time I ran into Peter was at the Eisner Award presentation, when he received the prize for Best Continuing Series with Dale Keown. This was only the first Eisner that Peter won for his work on The Incredible Hulk, the 1992 Award. Two years later, he won again, this time in the category of Best Writer on the same title. I was sitting next to Peter when his name was announced for that first Hulk Eisner, and I had to literally shove him off his chair to get him to go on stage. He was in such a state of disbelief. This incident became famous and was also chronicled by Peter in BUT I DIGRESS.

Now here comes the really interesting part of this saga. I had a friend here in Atlanta named Kathleen O’Shea. She worked at a place called Oxford Too!, which sold used books and comics. But her reputation around town was chiefly built around the fact that she was a brilliant puppet maker for the Center for Puppetry Arts. Her fandom contributions were her puppets, which she would make and give to comic book writers portraying their characters. I had seen her give at least one if more of her puppets to Neil Gaiman at DragonCon one year. But there were plenty of others.

One day, when I was shopping at Oxford Too!, Kath approached me with a request. Knowing that I spoke to Peter on a daily basis on CompuServe, she said that she wanted me to introduce her to him. She told me that she had made a Hulk puppet that she wanted to give to Peter. I thought to myself that this was odd. I had never taken Kathleen to be a fan of superhero comics in the least. She must have thought that Peter’s take on the character was really good. Anyway, I made the introduction, and the next thing I heard through the grapevine was that Kathy and Peter were dating. Those events occurred in 1998. ‘Nuff said.

So here we are 15 years later. The last time I saw Peter and his family in person was at DragonCon in September. Bob and Tony and I went to Peter’s suite for his usual DragonCon party, and nobody had a care in the world. I don’t know when we’ll see Peter again, but now our industry has changed because Peter has changed. That’s how great his influence is on all of us.