Word circulated this morning via Tom Spurgeon of the sudden passing of acclaimed art comics publisher Alvin Buenaventura. Over the course of the new Millennium, the comics published by his Buenaventura Press and Pigeon Press labels left an indelible mark on the comics art form.
Just last week, Buenaventura was recalling his earliest connection to the comics industry – his time as a teenage Daniel Clowes fan chatting up the artist at San Diego Comic-Con in the late ’90s. From those humble beginnings, Buenaventura Press grew in the mid-2000s to be one of the most forward-thinking comics publishers of the decade with memorable titles like Johnny Ryan’s Comic Book Holocaust and Vanessa Davis’ Spaniel Rage.
But the Press’ best known contribution to the form will likely be the two volumes of Sammy Harkham’s Kramers Ergot anthology it shepherded into being. 2008’s Kramers 7 (pictured above) was literally a massive undertaking with a 16″ by 21″ page size that mimicked the newspaper comics of the early 20th century. The contributor list to the issue included the likes of Clowes, Matt Groening, Seth, Gabrielle Bell and Jaime Hernandez, and Buenaventura’s personal supervision of its overseas printing helped make the book a legitimate cultural event.
Due to a legal and financial emergency, Buenaventura Press was forced to close in 2010, but its publisher continued on undeterred by founding Pigeon Press. In that iteration, Buenaventura continued to publish new works by the likes of Charles Burns, Simon Hanselmann and others while also contribution comics sections to The Believer. The publisher had plans to release Nick Maandag’s The Oaf later this year.
Our thoughts go out to Buenaventura’s family, friends and collaborators. See a brief selection of online tributes below.
I always thought of Alvin as a GIANT and was in awe of his work. When I finally met him he treated me like I was the star. Generous and kind
— Box Brown (@boxbrown) February 13, 2016
Can’t stop thinking about Alvin Buenaventura. Published so many great comics, mentored so many cartoonists. RIP.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) February 13, 2016
My dear friend & the first publisher of my comics, Alvin Buenaventura, has passed away. I can’t find the words. pic.twitter.com/UHin5u0nOw
— Lisa Hanawalt (@lisadraws) February 13, 2016
RIP Alvin Buenaventura. A huge inspiration for Tugboat Press and everything I’ve done. So sad he’s gone.
— Tugboat Press (@TugboatPress) February 13, 2016
Gutted to hear about Alvin Buenaventura. He published of some of America’s most beautiful comics. RIP pic.twitter.com/bnulT111Fb
— Sam Humphries (@samhumphries) February 13, 2016
I remember talking to Alvin Buenaventura about Kramers Ergot #7. He took a huge risk to make it happen, to make a special piece of art. RIP
— Van Jensen (@van_jensen) February 13, 2016
The Alvin Buenaventura news is really sad. Visionary artists who choose to go the publishing route and foster others are rare.
— Robert Venditti (@robertvenditti) February 13, 2016
Alvin gave us gorgeous books that were thoughtfully done, helping to take comics out their ghetto. R.I.P.
— Noah Van Sciver (@NoahVanSciver) February 13, 2016
See you later, Alvin. I know you’ll be missed.
— Jaime Hernandez (@xaimeh) February 13, 2016