I met Graham Joyce in 2000 at the World Fantasy Convention. He was one of my favorite writers. Still is.
I first heard his name four years earlier. It was my first visit to Michael and Linda Moorcock’s house. I was there to meet Mike because I was doing my first book cover gig — for the 30th Anniversary edition of his novel BEHOLD THE MAN. I was sitting in his studio sanctorum with Ben Ostrander and Rick Klaw, and Mike had just finished writing a review for The Guardian. The subject was a novel called REQUIEM by Graham Joyce. Mike had high praise for it, and I remember writing the name down in my sketchbook.
I bought REQUIEM shortly thereafter, and Mike was right. Graham was good. I started collecting Graham’s books. I was a newbie cover artist, in the embryonic stages of building a career. When WFC came to Corpus Christi in 2000, I barely had enough money to attend, but I did, and Graham was one of the first people I wanted to meet.
For those that didn’t see my Facebook post today, here’s a brief recap of what happened — but I also want to share something extraordinary that I haven’t yet shared elsewhere…
Virtually no one knew who I was at that convention. I had never met Graham, and I went to see him talk. I waited until everyone exited, and showed him my portfolio. He took the time to visit with a total stranger like me, and treated me like the center of the world. A few minutes later, a bald man with dark-rimmed glasses ran up to me in a hallway, and said, “Graham Joyce just told me I needed to meet you!” And that was Lou Anders, who has been my best friend since that fateful moment. It was Graham who brought us together.
But that’s not where the extraordinary ends…..
I saw Graham at the end of the con. We were parting ways. I told him about that first time that I heard about him, when Mike was reviewing his book, and when I was working on BEHOLD THE MAN. He said, “BEHOLD THE MAN?? When that one first came out, back in the day……that was the one that made me want to be a writer.”
Graham said, “Did you really mean that you could show me around after the con?” I said, “Sure, man. Where do you want to go?” I figured Graham wanted to find some dinner. He said, “How far away is this place where you live?”
“About three hours,” I said.
“Is Halloween good around San Antonio?”
I said, “It’s alright, but in Austin, it’s bonkers. Sixth Street. You’d love it.”
Thirty minutes later, one of my favorite writers in the world was riding shotgun in my Saturn coupe as I sped us north to my home in San Antonio. Graham stayed at my house for two terrific Fall days, and yeah, we spent a rollicking Halloween night on Sixth Street together. Better than that though — I took him to meet Michael Moorcock that same evening, and Graham was so happy. Mike meant the world to him, and it was one of my favorite Halloweens ever. Linda was there. So were Rick Klaw and Brandy. It was the best of times.
Years went by, and Graham was always the cool rogue and the great statesman, and he did it effortlessly. He was one of those pillars that defined a generation of the fantasy field for me and my friends. He was always there at WFC, with a word of advice about how to handle a tough situation, or a word of encouragement — with a lot of laughs. I can’t think of the World Fantasy Convention without thinking of him.