Having celebrated Christmas, we all now stagger towards the New Year. There’s no inherent meaning or importance to the fates of December 31 and January 1; nothing save what we invest in it. Part of the meaning is to look forward, to imagine what will be. The other is to look back and to remember what has happened in the past year especially if someone you know has died.
I experienced that late this year. On Saturday, November 17th, I received word from Phillip Grant that his father, Paul, has suffered a major heart attack and was not expected to live. Paul Grant died the following Tuesday.
I’d gotten to know Paul in my early Internet days online at the old Compuserve Information Services site, in their Comics and Animation Forum. I knew him at the time by his handle, Zeus, and his were the first online reviews that I read – Notes from Olympus, if I recall correctly. Paul, as Zeus, covered a wide range of comics and, while economical in length, each review was well written and well thought out. Paul could write. He was also an early and vocal supporter of GrimJack, for which I was and am extremely grateful.
Kim and I met Paul at conventions and discovered him to be blonde, of large build, with a terrific beard and mustache and a mellifluous baritone voice. He was, in the best sense of the word, “grand.” We shared some meals, some panels, and a bit about each other. Paul was an attorney with the Ford Motor Company and very good at his job. He was also very good company himself.
Paul was invariably accompanied at the Cons by his son, Phillip. Phillip was the apple of Paul’s eye, no question about it, and they had a father-son bond in a mutual love of comics. As I understand it from talking with Phillip (and, Phillip, if you’re reading this, please forgive me if I get some details wrong), they had moved to a new town and were exploring a bit. There was a movie they decided they wanted to see but they arrived at the movie theater a half hour early.
As luck would have it, there was a comic book store across the street and they decided to investigate it. If I understand correctly, this was their first comic specialty store. They each found one or two comics they thought might be interesting and bought them. They also discovered that new comics came out every week on Thursday. It became part of a weekly ritual – except they were soon buying bunches of comics. It was something they shared together – a love of reading and a love of comics.
That love of reading eventually became, as these things sometimes do, an interest in writing as well. Reading is what brought me to writing so I understand the impulse. Paul and Phillip had decided to try their own hand at writing and, at the time of Paul’s death, were working on an ambitious series of fantasy novels featuring a minstrel as the hero. That choice reflected Paul’s love of music – Phillip said he has thousands of CDs. That, too, it’s a passion I know and share – another common bond that not only Paul and I shared but that Kim shared as well.
Paul was not someone who I was in constant contact with but, nonetheless, he was my friend. I have a number of other friends like that; just before I wrote this, I heard from the real Gordon Munden for whom the character and the bar were named. I don’t think we had talked since Kim died almost eleven years ago. It didn’t matter. From the moment we started talking, there it was, our old friendship. We didn’t take up from where we were but from where we are. The same was true with Paul. He was always Paul, he was always Zeus – true to himself. That’s always where we were.
Paul’s death was not expected. He had been living in Florida on medical disability leave from his company; he had gout and diabetes and had trouble with his eyes. The last two were among things we shared as well. His heart attack was sudden. Paul wasn’t an old man, certainly no older than I. His death is unfair but death often is. He was a good man.
Paul Grant – Zeus – was a member of our community, our Internet community, and an early pioneer in his own way. Here, at the turning of the year, he should be remembered.
Ave, Zeus. Good-bye, Paul. Farewell, my friend.
John Ostrander writes GrimJack: The Manx Cat, new installments of which appear every Tuesday here on ComicMix, and much of Munden’s Bar, new installments of which will reappear anon here on ComicMix. Both for free. His new Suicide Squadmini-series is out there from DC Comics, and his Star Wars: Legacy is out there from Dark Horse, both at finer comics shops across the galaxy.