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Last year (2013)was the first year I did not attend the SDCC breaking my 9 year streak of attending. And for 4 of those last years I had been going with my dear friend K. Michael Crawford. Last year in July was the first time she attended S...DCC without me. We both thought we'll go together again in 2014, but then 2 months later she lost her battle to cancer and I had no idea she was ill for so long. It caught me and I'm sure other close friends off guard with the sad news. Comic Conventions became such a big part of her life and she loved it and she loved everything about it! Through comic-con she created so many fun original children's books that she was unstoppable on the drawing table. As San Diego Comic-Con approaches just 4 days away, it's hard for me to even think about going without my dear good friend K.M.C. but I made a promise to myself to go without getting a badge and just attend for a day outside to say hello for one last time to all my friends that I met through the years there and also pick up a few program books for K. Michael Crawford's family which my tribute letter was published for this year's program book in the "In Memoriam" section.
Then yesterday my good Rose called me up asking me if I was interested in a one day pass for the Con, that just freaked me out a bit and had me floored! As If K.M.C. had been looking down and saying "go have fun and take me on one last adventure!" So now I wait to see Rose on Wednesday and pick up my pass.
The following is my tribute letter that has been published for the program. I like thank my good friend Randy Abernathy for helping me with the letter. Thanks for reading. ************************************************************************ ************************************************************************
2013 Karen Michael Crawford made her final appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con, selling her whimsical coloring books in the Small Press area, where she had become a well loved staple. Karen and I had made attending the convention a joint effort but in 2013 I could not attend with her, a circumstance I will always regret.
I first met Karen in the early 2000s. She had come to Hollywood to turn her passion for art into a business. She spent hours on end pitching her stories and fanciful designs. However, as is often the case, Hollywood was not kind to her and she made little progress.
Karen had wanted to write and illustrate children’s books from an early age and the child in her did not fade as she got older, she was always a big kid at heart. “I’m a 12 year old in a big person’s body, pretty neat huh?” she would often tell people.
She persevered in California until 2002 when she received news of her father’s condition of Alzheimer's had worsened, returning home to Maryland to be close to her family and help care for her father Cal for the next five years until his passing. Though stricken with grief and feeling sad that she had not found success in California, her spirit was still bright and she would say to me, “life is filled with many adventures, no matter where you land”.
As fate would have it, Maryland was where Karen finally found a way to share her craft with others, working as a freelance illustrator and as a part time art instructor. Karen had a wonderful imagination and loved teaching children how to draw. I recall her telling them that superheroes didn't always need weapons to fight battles, then showing them how to create characters that used their wits to solve problems. She reveled in the work that she had always strived for and began to build a portfolio around her many enchanting fairy tales. Karen and I remained good friends over the years and her new books and art inspired me, I wanted others to have a chance to see her work.
With this in mind I invited her to join me at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con. She had never seen the spectacle that is Comic-Con and when she walked through the doors that first day she was astounded. The variety of artists and artwork, people and personalities, captured her. She took it all in, spending every moment that she could peering over inks, pencils and paintings of every type. Her first Comic-Con filled her creative reservoir to the point of overflowing.
She immediately applied to be an exhibitor but was told that there was a five year waiting list for a booth. Undaunted, she submitted her paperwork and the art that she would be selling. A few short months later she called me with surprising news, she had been accepted for the 2009 Convention. Her enchanting story book art had worked its magic. She was so excited.
Exhibiting drove her to work non-stop on new ideas for stories. Each year she would work tirelessly until she had just the right book to submit to the Comic-Con Small Press committee and each year she produced a new book specifically for the convention. I have fond memories of carrying the many boxes of her newly printed books and imaginative decorations to the booth, though the effort was complicated marginally by my Bob’s Big Boy costume. Anyone wanting to stop me for a photo would be kindly informed by Karen that I was busy and to find me after I had completed my delivery chores. She wanted her booth in perfect condition when the doors opened to the masses.
Karen was wonderful with people and was at home behind her table, with her books and art out on display. She was typically found sketching away, wearing one of her hand painted T-shirts and the Pith hat I had bought for her. She loved that hat. It made her stand out and reminded everyone of one of the characters from her books. The hat became a centerpiece of her look for comic conventions.
Karen, or K. Michael Crawford as she was known in the press, illustrated over 30 children’s books for publishers and educational companies over the years. She made a living doing what she loved and that love showed through in her drawings and everything else that she created. Her books earned several awards, including the Biblio best of the year award for “The Mystery of Journey’s Crown” in 2009. While not as well known as some, those that met Karen at comic conventions were captivated by her remarkable personality and always enjoyed her whimsical outlook on life and art.
It was a sad day when I finally discovered that Karen had been keeping a secret from us all. She had been quietly fighting cancer for several years and was very ill by the time she made her last ComicCon appearance. Only her immediate family was aware of her situation, Karen was the kind of person who did not want to burden others unnecessarily.
I discovered that Karen was sick a few weeks before her passing when she wrote me an email apologizing for not telling me sooner. She had always hoped to beat the cancer, as she had faced down so many other challenges in her life. She fought for 9 years, but on September 13, 2013 Karen Michael Crawford passed away in Columbia, MD. She was 54.
I know Karen would have liked everyone that knew her or knew her work to remember her for the silly, fun, colorful life she lived. In her own words:
"I do not want anyone to mourn the loss of my life, but instead I want everyone to celebrate the life that I had, which means have fun, be silly and wish me well on this great adventure." I miss her every day.
I'm a self taught artist, I do pen and ink drawings and sometime I'll venture to acrylic paintings. I have a full time regular job, so I draw whenever I have free time from work, which is either on my lunch breaks or after work and weekends.
I'm also a novice photographer always looking to capture that perfect moment and to also use as reference for my art when I use human figures in my drawings.
Favorite visual artistAlex RossFavorite moviesLord of the Rings Trilogy, Harry Potter series, Iron-Man, THe Help, All Star Wars filmsFavorite TV showsThe Voice, The Walking Dead, Big Bang TheoryFavorite bands / musical artistsBeatles, Audioslave, Chuck Berry, The Who, Pink Floyd, Gene VincentFavorite booksGoblin QuestFavorite writersMax Brooks, Robert Asprin, Jim C. HinesFavorite gamesDiablo IIIFavorite gaming platformWiiTools of the TradeCopic ink pen and my handsOther InterestsPhotography, cosplay, and youtube videos