Richard Kyle, The Man Who Named The Graphic Novel, Died This Weekend

15391137_10208260790453532_4792852142308789952_nAlan Brennert posted to Facebook on Saturday, 10th December 2016,

My friend Richard Kyle passed away this morning, after the latest in a long series of aftereffects from a stroke in 2014. He was 87 years old. He had been living in a nursing home in Long Beach, California, which is where I met him back in 1974. I was a recent immigrant to California and knew virtually no one on this coast; I walked into what was then called Graphic Story Bookshop, began talking with the jovial, smart, funny man behind the counter, and we kept talking for most of the following 42 years. In addition to owning a successful bookstore for over 20 years, Richard was a brilliant writer and critic and a founding member of comic book fandom. It was he who coined the term "graphic novel" that we now see labeling bookshelves at Barnes & Noble. He and Dennis Wheary published George Metzger's BEYOND TIME & AGAIN, which was the first self-labeled graphic novel, and as publisher of the revived ARGOSY he solicited and published Jack Kirby's famous story "Street Code." I will leave it to others more knowledgeable than I to talk about his seminal work in comics fandom. Personally, I can't begin to say how much Richard meant to me–from giving me a job at his bookshop when I was a college student to letting me type up the manuscript of my first book on the Selectric typewriter in his office, to simply being a friend to me and to so many creative types who wandered into Wonderworld Books (later Richard Kyle, Books) in the 1970s. It was a magnet that attracted talented people like Phillip Dana Yeh, Glen Murakami, Roberta Gregory, Greg Bear, Herb Patterson, LeClair Pearson, and many others I'm probably too scattered to recall just now. Richard encouraged all of us to pursue our dreams and always had something fascinating and illuminating to say on almost every subject. He was a kind, generous, deeply honest man, and I will always treasure his friendship. Goodbye, Richard; goodbye my old friend. Thank you for welcoming the 19-year-old me into your bookstore. My life has been the richer for it.

He talks more about the man in a subsequent post. Here are a few other memories of the man.


And a long article by Mark Evanier, including the memory,

Richard had become friends with Jack Kirby and had heard Jack tell long, wondrous tales of his childhood and of his service in World War II. For Argosy, he went to Jack and offered him a modest fee (though still a lot of money for Richard at the time) to draw a short story for the magazine — but he didn't want super-heroes or monsters. In fact, he didn't want to tell Jack at all what to draw. He said, approximately, "Just do something like one of those great stories you tell people."

What Jack produced was a tale called "Street Code," which a lot of people thought was the best thing he did late in his career. They also wished he'd done more like that and I still kick myself that I didn't arrange something like that. But Richard did. He was also wise enough to insist that he printed from Jack's pencil art instead of having someone else render it in ink.

All of us who enjoy the comic book medium, and appreciate its current regard, owe him much.


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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