Michael Davis is an artist, writer, mentor, entertainment executive, co-founder of Milestone and very much alive. You can read his previous columns for Bleeding Cool here. He writes,
I have a long running tradition of giving my readers a gift on my birthday. That gift was usually a piece about an amazing person. Two days ago was my birthday this was to run then though I wish it would have never run.
It did not post then, because I was killed on my birthday and that noise would have cheapened a very rich legacy.
Batton Lash was among the best the comic book industry had to offer.
As an artist or writer, he could hold his own against anyone and outclassed most. His masterwork Supernatural Law is a rarity in any media, an original concept which maintained its originality from its early beginning as Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre in 1979 until its transition to a web comic in the early 2000s.
In 2019 there are still few ideas as original as Batton's series about the law practice of Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd, whos focus is defending monsters and other supernatural beings in court.
That was a brilliant idea, and almost 40 years since its creation, it's still just as excellent. Batton's career featured many unique ideas I won't go into here just know his body of work would be sufficient enough reason to say Batton Lash was among the best the comic book industry had to offer.
Impressive as his work is it is not the first reason, I think Batton Lash was a shining light in the industry.
That reason is the kind of man Batton Lash was, a brilliant kind and genuine soul. That's rare and hard to believe nowadays even rarer to a man who believes less and less about the milk of human kindness.
Batton passed away last January it's now the last days of April; regrettably, I didn't notice until a few days ago when I tried to call his wife, Jackie Estrada before I could I had to make another call first.
Long story short for well over a year a hacker has disrupted most of my organization with a vicious personal assault. Yeah, someone really hates me that much. As Prince said in his song Let's go crazy; There's something else…and the hacker isn't even a close second of things I worry about. I'd often thought about people who unplug from the world with envy; therefore, I did what some may consider a nuclear option, wiping or replacing all computers cell phones tablets, and no social networking.
I left it up to a tech company to make sure vital files and contacts was purged, that meant I no longer have my contact info readily available; moreover, no one has my new information, not even my management.
A smart BRILLIANT move…for an idiot.
Batton helped me realize just what an idiot I was, and that's not the first time. The first time was 2 decades ago during a 'elevate the industry' discussion at Pro Con.
The audience of creators, publishers, and vendors were debating ways to elevate the comic business to bring in more women readers. To some that meant less superpowered plotlines, women characters drawn and written without the mandatory T&A 15-year-old boys crave. Lastly the curtailing of needless violence.
I agreed with all that.
In fact, I stood and agreed with a short but elegant (so I thought) speech. That way the entire audience would know what a forward-thinking man about town I was. "We need less superpowered plotlines, women characters drawn and written without the mandatory T&A 15-year-old boys crave and a curtailing of needless violence."
When I sat down, Batton got up turned towards me (no doubt to co-sign my greatness) and said, something like "Michael, with all due respect your new line of books are filled with superpowered plotlines, women characters drawn and written with T&A 15-year-old boys crave and plenty of needless violence!"
Yeah. I'd forgotten about that tiny bit of truth.
I'd met Batton, but we were far from friends at the time and LIGHT YEARS from 'let me school you in front of everybody' terms. I was pissed and knew I'd stay pissed forever.
Took about 10 minutes for my fury to flutter away.
I caved because Batton came over after the panel with that copyrighted Lash grin, that smile was so sincere I could not stay mad, and I knew when he spoke to me "with all due respect" wasn't just lip service. Batton defended his point of view without insult while respecting mine which he knew differed in my work at the time. In short, he was a throwback to a time when integrity was commonplace.
Years ago, I received a call from an African American website asking me to comment on a 'racist' cartoon on a far-right website featuring our last President and his wife.
I'd take a bullet for the Obama's faster than the Secret Service could yell "gun", so I was ready to get my " OH NO THEY DID-ANT" on. After looking at the cartoon, my quote for the website was; "The cartoon was silly satire not racist" because that's what it was.
The website didn't use my quote.
Batton co-created the cartoon. I'm Black and there was a better chance of me becoming Grand Wizard of the KKK than of Batton Lash being racist.
I've been in no hurry to reconnect with the world so instead of re-joining my network if I needed a contact, I'd call my manager when I called to get Jackie's number my rep told me Batton was gone.
To show my appreciation for people who have shown me kindness I often gift them a painting. It's the greatest show of love and respect I can give a person. I've lost all my immediate family learning the hard way to let people know you care as soon as possible. A few years ago, to celebrate Batton's and Jackie's anniversary I did a painting for them.
Fed-Ex delivered to the wrong address and took months to find it. Once found it was sent back to me damaged. I'd just finished reworking it thus the call to Jackie to get the correct address.
Batton's death and the amount of time passed before I was aware was an agonizing ordeal for me. So determined was my desire to avoid any life occurrences I purposely made it impossible to reach me.
Batton made me realize what a self-centered thing I did.
Batton Lash was significant, he mattered I should have known and paid my respect to his memory and condolences to Jackie long before this.
I really liked and admired Batton for sure as a creator but suffering from depression, my focus was his humanity.
In my opinion, Batton Lash was the best of us.
Jackie, I don't have the words to convey how sorry I am for your loss. Please know I will honor Batton's memory and value the friendship of you both for the rest of my life.