I AM now the proud owner of my very first adult colouring book and I couldn't be happier. It is a fitting tribute to the very talented Tom Crites who tragically took his own life in 2013.
I'd known Crites on a casual basis for more than 20 years. I sent him copies of my zine BETTY PAGINATED, which he reviewed in his excellent review zine PANISCUS REVUE (it later moved exclusively online where people from around the world could now read Tom's glowing reviews of my publication).
Crites also sent me copies of his dark-but-brilliant comics/art anthology MALEFACT, equal parts awesome and disturbing.
Over the years, I'd irregularly write to Crites (later we exchanged emails and later still PMs on Facebook). I'd send him my zines and, occasionally, Australian-made bags of pork rinds (he was a pork rinds aficionado and his reviews were both entertaining and comprehensive).
We had what was, to me, a perfect "ziney" friendship, similar to dozens of other overseas/interstate friendships I've built up over the decades with artists and zinesters. Maybe it wasn't exactly friendship, but I liked and respected Crites and I hope he felt the same way about me.
News of his death shocked and saddened me - as did finding out that he'd had mental health issues for many years. It also hit home how superficial our relationship had been. He was a nice guy, a supporter of my work and yet we knew so little about each other's personal lives.
That's how the zine community works, I guess.
That said, I miss Tom and I miss the fact he's not there anymore to talk to or to send him my zines for feedback.
I'm happy that Crites' incredible body of artwork is being celebrated and brought to the attention of a larger audience courtesy of this new book from Headpress (purchase it HERE).
Crites never produced his work to be coloured in, I imagine, but his clean, crisp artwork suits the new craze perfectly.
Not that I'm colouring any of the drawings myself. This will take pride of place in my bookcase, a fantastic tribute to a wonderful, sorely missed creator.
To read more about Crites the man, read an interview with one of his friends HERE.