The comics community is an interesting one, one of names, not faces, that flit in and out of our awareness with extreme rapidity. We end up discussing artists and writers and inkers as though we're on a first name basis with them, because, well, we kinda feel that after we read their work enough. How easily the names trip off of my tongue like I know these people! Loved Sam Rosen's lettering in that issue, enjoyed Bill Everett's work on that issue, or Jim Lee's on this issue. And I've met none of those people.
I can say that i worked with Bill Jaaska, but I never met Bill. Did one issue of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and that was that. Bill was doing a rather strange over-rendered pencil style that did not mesh well with my inks at the time. But that was what needed to be done so I did it. Since it was only a single issue I didn't have the editors give me his phone number so that i could call him. I turned it in, submitted my voucher and moved on to an issue Eternal Warrior.
Welcome to the disconnected world of comics. I've inked plenty of people that i've never met, and any one of them could easily be have died, alone, in a rented room like Bill did, and no one in the comics community or myself would ever know. And thats sad.
As artists, much of what we do it solitary. Many of us aren't great socially and so we retreat into the quiet shelter of our drawings. Its part of what makes us artists, being able to visualize alien worlds in our heads and bring that out on the paper. The internet has been a huge boon to us however, allowing us to communicate at 3 in the morning with people around the world via email and become more connected without having to be over connected.
Still, it took a very long time for the comics community to realize that Bill had died. The story, as it is, is in the blog here, and it makes for interesting and sad reading. While I didn't follow his career, it seems that Bill, after working on some fairly high profile gigs with Peter David on The Hulk, dropped off the radar, and stayed off the radar.
And that's pretty easy to do in comics back then. After inking Batman:Outlaws with Gulacy in 2000, I decided to stop inking professionally and do some other art, so it would have appeared that i dropped off the radar as well. But you could have found my graphic design on the web by Google, and then the blog, and then the web comic. Bill didn't do that, not that anyone can find.
And its sad. Go read. And think about all the comics that you've read and re-read, and start to wonder where some of those people are now.