Monday, January 14, 2019

Remembering Batton Lash

I was extremely saddened to hear about the passing of cartoonist Batton Lash on January 12. Although I've posted my thoughts about him on Facebook and Twitter, I thought I'd post something for posterity here as well....

Being a fellow self-publisher, he and his wife (and business partner) Jackie Estrada were among the first people in the industry to make me feel welcome as a professional and like I belonged. As all the comments made by people in the industry show in response to his passing, Batton was well-respected and liked throughout the field at many levels, by fellow pros both in mainstream and alternative comics, as well as retailers, fans, and many others. Of course, some of this was just smart business sense and promotion, but it also was part and parcel of Batton's gregarious, positive personality. Like many creative fields, cartooning is a tough way to make a living and requires a lot of hard work and hustle (and I mean that in a positive way), and Batton's determination and resilience as a cartoonist, and his ability to straddle a variety of styles and comics, made him a throwback to "old school" cartoonists. Batton often liked to tell the anecdote about how he took a cartooning class with comics legend Will Eisner, who pretty much advised him not to quite his day job. They joked about it in later years, but Batton's subsequent success was as much the result of talent as sheer determination, which is essential to this business.

I often made it a point to stop by to say hi to Batton and Jackie at the San Diego Comic-Con—where he was a fixture with a booth at a prime location on the main floor—and had the pleasure of being at smaller shows and book signings with him, where we often talked shop and business. Given the number of people he knew, our relationship was more professional than personal, but he was always warm and open with whoever he spoke with and being fellow self-publishers certainly made it a special bond. Batton and Jackie were great supporters and role models, and happy to share information and advice. (I don't have concrete evidence, but I also think Batton and Jackie both had some hand in the recognition I received at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con as a special guest.)

Batton's illness was fairly public knowledge and I made it a special point to visit him at his booth the past few years. He was always his usual upbeat and cheerful self—though I wasn't completely aware of his progress, his passing was nevertheless a bit of a surprise.

I was privileged to have our two characters—Rob Hanes and Wolff & Byrd—play together in a pinup for his series, which appeared in issue 7 of Wolff & Byrd, reproduced below. It remains one of my personal favorite such pinups I've done and I'm glad to share it in Batton's memory.

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