Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Rusty


Goodbye Rusty Haller
(August 12, 1964 – September 29, 2009)

Yesterday would have Rusty’s 48th Birthday. Unfortunately it wasn’t because Rusty passed away in 2009 too soon at the age of 45. Rusty, in spite of his near anonymity, in the field of comics was a truly monstrously gifted individual and towering talent, he was a cartoonist, a writer, and perhaps one of the nicest guys that ever lived, and I feel personally privileged for having know him.

As it turns out, Rusty and I both came of age in this industry alongside each other, during the early ‘80s and — although we really didn’t know each other personally until recently, we lived amazingly near to each other. Both of us hail from Connecticut (me by the coast near NYC, and him more centrally located in the state), and we both initially got published by some of the same folks (including Marvel Comics). Unfortunately, Rusty had serious medical issues that took him from us way too soon.
Spanning his career, Rusty worked for several major comic publishers, including Marvel’s Star line, DC, Disney, Harvey, and Archie. He was also the creator, writer, and illustrator of the wonderful anthropomorphic romantic espionage and adventure series, Ace and Queenie. Self-taught, Rusty’s first published work was back in 1987 for a small Connecticut-based publisher, Spotlight Comics on a Deputy Dog story for Mighty Mouse Holiday Special #1.
He is best remembered for his work for numerous independent and small press publishers including (but not limited to) Radio Comix, Atlas Unleashed, and the Comicbook Artists Guild. Rusty created, wrote and illustrated Ace and Queenie, which first appeared in print as a feature in 2005 in the monthly anthology comic Furrlough. Ace and Queenie appeared in 13 issues of Furrlough from 2005 until the magazine ended its run in 2009 generating over 150 pages of printed art (not counting several online pages).
I really wish that I could say something of value or comfort, but this all feels hollow and useless. Rusty passed away, slipped through our fingers as it were, and I keep thinking that there was something more we all should have done to help him, though I’m not sure of that either. Still I morn for my, for our collective loss. Rusty we still miss you. There was so much more for you to give, and for us to get, and because that opportunity is now gone, we’re the poorer.

But Rusty is gone, and I almost missed his birthday. Sorry, pal, Happy Birthday, and we all still miss you.

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