||[Feb. 25th, 2011|02:46 pm]
The Million Year Picnic Comic Book Store
To All Picnic Faithful,
Hi, this is Tony. Normally, Kelly handles most of our Internet announcements, but this is one I have to do myself, though I have put it off for weeks.
On January 7, Jerry Weist, beloved founder and original co-owner of the MYP,passed away after an 18-month battle with cancer. Jerry is survived by his wife, Dana Hawkes, and two teenage sons, Ian and Eric. There will be a memorial service for him Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 11AM at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Gloucester (10 Church St., Gloucester, MA) with a reception to follow at the family's home.
Jerry's accomplishments in the fields of science fiction and comics were monumental. He co-founded the legendary EC Comics fanzine "Squatront" when he was still a high school teenager in Wichita, KS. When he opened the Million Year Picnic in 1974, it was the first comics specialty shop in New England. He organized the pioneering first comic book auction at Sotheby's, the first of 10 auctions he oversaw there. In recent years, he authored several books on comics, comic art, and science fiction, earning a Hugo nomination for his book on Ray Bradbury. And, he embraced the Internet age and became a highly successful eBay seller.
To me, Jerry was unquestionably one of the great influences in my life. He was a friend, a mentor, a brother. As a friend, he was passionate, engaging, supportive, funny and fiercely loyal. I have so many wonderful memories of road trips, Celtics games, concerts, wine-soaked conversations, etc. The trust he placed in me as I worked for him or with him for nearly three decades is something I will always treasure.
This place, The Million Year Picnic, is an amalgamation of so many wonderful and gifted people who have worked here during its 37-year history. E.B. Boatner, Craig Gardner, Sally Pasion, Mike Luce, Kelly Cooper, Tom Devlin, Jen Welsing, Rich Titus, Pete Kreitchet, Stacie Dolin, Ian Coleman, Steve Smith, Vince, Mike P., and many others have left their marks on what this store is and how it runs. For example, our foreign comics section (Boatner); the alternative comics/Sim corner (Mike Luce); our renewed commitment to mini comics and undergrounds (Devlin). (Sadly, the clutter is probably mostly me. Sigh.) And, of course, The MYP is also a product of so many wonderful customers who have supported us for 37 years, not only with your commerce but your ideas, your humor, your loyalty, and your fellowship. You bring so much of the life and energy to this little store, and I apologize if we don't acknowledge that as much as we should.
No one, though, has influenced this store more than Jerry, in countless ways great and small. When you walk through our doors, you can't help but feel his influence and presence. He's why we try to cram this tiny space with as many interesting and wildly diverse books and objects as humanly possible. He's why we try to treat the comics medium with respect and intelligence, to represent all its glorious beauty, inventiveness, weirdness, creativity and silliness. And, if you hear me playing jazz in the store - particularly Miles or Trane - that's Jerry too. Most days, I feel less like the owner of this shop than a caretaker of a rich tradition and wonderful institution Jerry put in motion. I hope we can continue to honor his legacy for many years to come.
I'd like to believe that Jerry is out there somewhere, on the other side of the veil. I hope there's a great celestial library, filled with not only all his favorite books but all the classics produced by countless civilizations scattered throughout the cosmos. If so, I know Jerry's already putting his heavenly library card to good use. Then, in the evenings, maybe there's a little cafe where Miles and Trane, Monk & Mingus, Bill Evans, and all the other jazz titans jam til the celestial dawn. If there is such a place, Jerry, grab a good table and save a seat, and I'll see you, my brother, one day on the other side.