I never met Blair Reynolds, and I believe we never exchanged more than a few words on a mailing list that’s long been lost in the dark alleys of the web, far from the glitter and bustle of social media.
And yet, I owe Blair Reynolds much of what I am today.
Let me tell you.
It was more or less twenty-five years ago that I was browsing the stacks of my friendly local game shop (that was not that local, nor that friendly) when I spotted a magazine with a sepia cardboard cover, and on that cover there was an image.
This image, on this magazine.
That cover had been drawn by Blair Reynolds, that was not just an excellent artist, but also a superb writer, as I discovered digging into the magazine.
I bought that magazine, and then tried to track down every other issue.
And because we had this hot new thing called the internet in those days, I looked around, and I found a community of people that shared my interests in roleplaying games, Lovecraftian fiction and other assorted weirdness.
We started chatting.
Four or five years later, because I had bought that mag and started that conversation, I made my first professional sale – and my stuff was published in a book that featured a bunch of Nazis and a swastika on the cover.
I got a lot of strange looks because of that.
That cover had been painted by Blair Reynolds.
Flash forward twenty years, and I still get the weird looks, and I make my living writing in English.
And it all goes back to that weird, disturbing cover on the 6th issue of The Unspeakable Oath.
Because of it I met people that shared my interests.
Because of it I found the courage to start writing in English.
Because of it I made my first professional sale as a writer.
Because of it, in the long run, I am earning my keep.
We never met, and we barely ever spoke to each other, but Blair Reynolds is one of the handful of people I can truly say made me what I am.
Blair Reynolds died a few hours ago, and I will never meet him, and I will never speak with him.
But I owe him a fair share of my life.
He will be missed.