Chris Reilly was my Quint. If you have never seen Jaws, Quint is the salty old New England fisherman who lived a life of unbelievable stories. Along with Chief Brody and Hooper, he was out to catch the great white shark that terrorized Long Island.
One story that really sticks out to me was in 2010, I was meeting up with Chris in New York to pitch our book to my agent at the time. He showed up late in a trench coat with a black eye, explaining to us that he defended a woman’s honor at a bar in Rhode Island a few nights before. He hadn’t slept in 2 days. He then told us he was late getting to the meeting because he was at Katz Deli, waiting in line to get a sandwich. He was stampeded by a large group of folks and dropped his tray. He turned around to see Paul Reubens dressed full on as Pee Wee Herman, randomly showing up to promote his comeback. After the meeting didn’t go so well, Chris and I were hanging out in lower Manhattan. He was telling me about the time his old band was playing a show at CBGBs. After the show, they saw this crate opening in the streets with no locks. He opened it up and wandered the underground of New York like a Ninja Turtle. He stopped in mid story and looked up. He realized he was under the CBGB sign and was standing on the opening of the underground entrance he had gone into 20 years ago.
When Chris died, we were finishing up a comic book about a mysterious fisherman, a carnival of circus freaks, vampires and an unsolved murder among other things. I’m still piecing together how the story is supposed to end. I met Chris a few years back at Comic Con in San Diego. That was when he asked me if I wanted to do the art for a very personal book he was working on called Fish Tent, later renamed Josh Lobster. As things go in comics, life got in the way for both of us and I am only now finishing up the final art for the book. The last conversation we had, he was telling me about the crappy day he was having but some local Crips had given him a ride home and they were really a bunch of sweet guys. At the end of the conversation he had me laughing and he was laughing. We once again talked about our love of Jaws and how excited he was for San Diego Comic Con next month.
I always felt a little like Hooper or Chief Brody keeping up with Chris, decoding and making sense of his stories. Chris made everyone’s life a bit more interesting and fun, kind of like an old movie. I will remember him for the big heart he had and his loyalty to his friends and family. Along with being a talented writer, he was a hospice worker and had a great love for animals. I’m not even sure of how many animals he was taking care of when he passed. We miss you more than you would have ever known. I only wish you could see all the tributes and love you are receiving when you were still here. Lots of love my brother
June 16, 2014