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As seen on Facebook this morning, and confirmed by Newsarama, former Caliber publisher Gary Reed has passed away suddenly after suffering a heart attack.

As recently as this weekend, Reed attended the Monroe Comic Con and posted about it happily.

Reed was one of the foundational publishers of indie comics, with Caliber, launched in 1989, promoting the work (and in many cases discovering) of Brian Michael Bendis, James O’Barr, Jill Thompson, Guy Davis, Joe Pruett and many more. 

According to Newsarama:

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Born in Detroit, Michigan, Reed first entered the comic book industry as a retailer – at one point owning a chain of four stores in Michigan. While working full-time as a retailer, Reed ran his own King Kin Comic & Fantasy convention for three years while also balancing a weekly radio show and public-access television program.

Recently, Reed had been promoting a line of sodas. I spoke to him in July about rumors that he was planning a “Trickster” type off site at the San Diego Comic Con, but it turned out he was saving the launch for 2017. He was as full of enthusiasm and energy as ever, and whatever he was planning would have been a lot of fun.

Reed’s FB page has become a memorial with tributes from the industry flooding in. Here’s a particularly heartfelt one from Jason Moore.


(Photo credit: Amber Masters)

7 COMMENTS

  1. He kept the rebel spirit of comics alive during a time dominated by slick, vacuous comics. Thanks for giving me my start, Gary.

  2. His retailing spirit is still alive. My wife Katie and I purchased Gary’s last existing store Comics Plus. And we still run it with the same support for the small press, and creator owned comics.

  3. I guess this means no seconds for STORYVILLE (review), his FROM HELL-like historical fiction and maybe best graphic novel. His graphic nonfiction ZULUNATION was interesting, too. (I think both are still available from bookstores. And there are harder ways to help a widow than getting some good books.)

    “Now when I die, I want you to dress me in straight-laced shoes,”
    “A box-back coat, and a Stetson hat;”
    “Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain,”
    “So’s the boys will know I died standin’ pat.”

    (“St. James Infirmary”, Louis Armstrong’s 1947 version)

  4. He was my mentor and my long-time friend. I don’t believe that he has been given the proper credit for all of the careers that he jump-started from his first release in 1989 with Caliber Presents. The list of names of creators that began at Caliber is too long for me to go into here. Not only is the comics industry going to be missing one of its brightest visionaries, but the world is going to be missing one of the greatest men I have been blessed to know.

  5. Gary gave many of us our first break. Always there to offer guidance and suggestions on how to improve and when we learned and got better and moved on he wished us luck. He was a giant in the indie scene, he loved the medium and it showed. He will be missed.

  6. I don’t think I can add anything more to what has already been posted in these comments except to second them. I can however relate a story of three young artists (myself, Guy Davis and Vince Locke) in the late ’80’s, their previous publisher having gone out of business and still having pages ready and the fire to make comics and hone their craft, were contacted by Gary and he told them all “What ever you wish to create, I’ll publish it.” He gave us hope and direction when we need it the most.

  7. Thanks for sharing my Facebook post. I tried to find the correct words to express the importance of Gary and what he did for me as a very young artist but I still don’t feel as though any words could truly capture my feelings and respect for Gary.
    There are all of the creators that helped Caliber in it’s beginnings such as Mark Bloodworth, Vince Locke, Guy Davis, James O’Barr and the list goes on and on….but when you worked for Gary and Caliber there seems to be a deep sense of brotherhood for ALL the creators who ever worked at Caliber…I feel a sense on kinship with creators that came after my time with Caliber that I don’t even personally know and I think that’s a large part of what Gary cultivated that with his company….I feel like I could walk up to any creator who worked for Caliber….current big name creator or small indie creator….. mention that I used to work for Caliber and we would have an instant bond and certain sort of friendship with each other because of that connection to that company and Gary himself.
    I truly believe that there will never be another person so influential in this industry ever again. Countless careers are owed to the generosity, honesty and influence of Gary Reed and I personally feel that something needs to be done within our industry to honor Gary and all of his contributions to this industry.
    Believe me, I’m fully aware that Gary would be looking at me like I’m crazy right now, throwing his hands in the air and shaking his head at me telling me I’m crazy for even thinking of such things…. but I think most influential people deny their contributions to whatever medium they are part of and Gary was no different. He never took credit for the important things that he accomplished in this industry or the important things that he helped to bring to fruition in this industry.
    I don’t quite know what could be done to make his contributions known on a wide scale in our industry, but I think it’s very very very important that something be done in his honor.

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