I barely knew Alvin, and he barely knew me. We first met more than 20 years ago, when we were both teenagers. I was a comics retailer who sold at all the shows, big and small, in Southern California, and I was one of the few who carried a wide variety of independent comics and undergrounds. He would occasionally shop with me. I recognized a kindred spirit, and we would talk briefly about what we enjoyed.
I was a relatively withdrawn kid, who loved comics more than anything, and never felt more comfortable talking to strangers than at a comics show. Even still, I probably never even shook his hand or properly introduced myself until nearly decade later. When I saw him again I saw that he was publishing books by and with some artists that I admired most in the world. I asked him if he recognized me from those Los Angeles comics shows. When he said yes, I felt like the world was a little smaller and more accessible. Here, now, another decade later, it still makes me feel less alone in the world, even learning that he’s gone.
I recognize that this remembrance is self-serving. However, as I sit here in sadness processing this loss to the comics world, I am grateful that I know Alvin and people like him. The small world of comics has always been a welcoming community for me. I hope that it gave Alvin some sense of peace in his, by all accounts, tumultuous life.
In my own life I learned only a few years ago that love is an action, not a feeling. Alvin demonstrated as clear a love for comics and artists through his work as anyone I’ve ever met.