Raise a glass, lads.
We lost two of our own in the past seven days. I was saddened to hear of the loss of two of our elder geeks. You won’t see trending #RIP hashtags on Twitter for them. They won’t make the Oscar’s ‘In Memoriam’ reel either. Yet, their contribution to science fiction is both significant and enduring. These two geeks’ names are unknown except to a precious few, but their achievement is immortal. Like Steve Jobs said, they put a dent in the universe.
To me, it’s infuriating that two celebrities and their personal lives dominate the public consciousness. It shouldn’t be that way. Perhaps things can change. Let’s bypass that debate. Instead, let’s simply remember our friends for the amazing people they were. C. Martin Croker and David Kyle changed the way you see science fiction. Let’s take a moment to examine why that is:
C. Martin Croker
You didn’t know him but you loved him. Clay Martin Croker was both an animator and a voice actor. You enjoyed his work on the seminal Space Ghost show … he was the voice of Zorak and Moltar. It didn’t stop there: Croker was also an animator for the show. That made him a bit of a unicorn: animators rarely do voice work.
Croker lent his talents elsewhere, but Space Ghost – Coast to Coast could not have existed without him. Here’s why that matters: back in 1994, shows like SGC2C did not exist. They used a tired comic book character to create, not just a new show but an entirely new genre of shows: cringe comedy. SGC2C paved the way for Adult Swim. IO9 explains why this matters:
“Space Ghost: Coast to Coast is responsible for the existence of Adult Swim itself, which in turn broughtFamily Guy and Futurama back from the dead. It launched the career of Adam Reed and producer Matt Thompson, who are currently makingArcher. Adult Swim is responsible for the majority of modern TV animation, and Space Ghost is responsible for Adult Swim.”
According to Io9, ‘Space Ghost changed the landscape of animation.’ That would not have happened without Clay Martin Croker.
David Kyle was a sci-fi fan before there were sci-fi fans. He was there at the beginning; he helped define us. According to Wikipedia, David Kyle was an American science fiction writer and member of science fiction fandom.’ However, when we peel back the layers, we realize that there is so much more to the story.
Like Forrest J Ackerman, David Kyle was a staunch spokesman and promoter of science fiction. He was at the first Worldcon in 1939 and as you can see in the picture on the right, he’s been right there with us every step of the way. Until last week, David wasn’t just one of our own, we were one of his. He made us who we are. Right now, tributes to David are all over Facebook. What’s interesting about it is how everyone knew him. Nobody talked about ‘the great David Kyle,’ they talk about their ‘dear friend David Kyle.’ He was a nice guy, a decent man and a quiet pillar of the sci-fi community.
Why They Matter
In order for any community to flourish, there has to be a basic level of human decency. Science fiction has had it share of conflict, but at the bottom line, it’s thrived because there were people who were, and are, decent human beings. It’s easy to forget that, sometimes. It reminds me of those WWII soldiers who won battles, or the Medal of Honor, and came home to live quiet lives. They weren’t trying to be heroes, they weren’t trying to be recognized. They were just doing what they they had to do.
I can think of no more appropriate tribute to these fine people than the eulogy of Spock by Captain Kirk at the end of Star Trek II. I’ll re-write it here in honor of Mr. Croker and Mr. Kyle … I’d like to think they’d get a kick out of it:
“We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted, in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life in science fiction, the sunrise of new worlds; worlds that our beloved comrades gave their lives to protect and nourish. They did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate their profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of our friends, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, theirs were among the most…. human.”
Godspeed, gents – we hope the story is as interesting on the other side.