Last night, I learned that my friend Gregg Allinson passed away. He evidently died on Saturday, but some e-mail problems prevented me from reading the message his brother was kind enough to send to me until late last night. And the reason why his brother e-mailed instead of called was because that's really the only way I knew Gregg.
Several years ago, I put out a request on my FFPlaza site to try to recruit someone to write issue reviews. Gregg turned in a stellar review, and he started "working" for me soon after. By reading his reviews, it seemed that he and I shared a lot of similar thoughts about comics in general, and we started conversing about the book more informally through e-mail. That eventually moved beyond comics, and we started talking about various other interests and things that were going on in our lives. In short, we were becoming friends.
As a matter of fact, we haven't really discussed the Fantastic Four much the past year or two. He would still review issues for me, but our discussions rarely touched the subject, I suspect, largely because we knew each other well enough that it didn't need to be discussed any more. I would know what Gregg would think of an issue or a story before he'd even read it. So we talked about other things... work, family, friends...
But we never met in person.
Strangely -- probably because our relationship was a virtual one -- I find the sense of loss greatest when I'm sitting at the computer. That weird glow of the monitor is how I communicated with Gregg and, after several years of friendship, there's one less reason for me to go online.
From time to time, I'd read notes on message boards or letters in fanzines or whatnot that mourned the loss of a comic fan. It always struck me as a terrible burden to the person writing the message, because s/he was most likely the closest friend of the deceased within their comic circle and they had to craft a message that would alert other friends of the news, but didn't prove offensive to others who never knew him/her.
Now I find myself in exactly that position, and it curiously doesn't feel as burdensome as I'd imagined it would. There are any number of things I could say about Gregg, but I'm certain he wouldn't want them all divulged in a public forum like this. He enjoyed the Fantastic Four and Dr. Who and Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica; he liked working as a librarian; he was in the midst of developing a class for the library; he never did find the girl of dreams, though he did have a couple of prospects. He was fairly private person, and I'm honored and privledged that he shared as much with me as he did. I can only hope that I was worthy of being privvy to some of his private thoughts, and that he would've considered me as good of a friend as I considered him.
I'm sorry you're not with us any longer, Gregg. You will be missed, even by those of us who never met you.
Visitation will be on Friday, December 22, 2006 from 5 to 9 pm with services starting at 7:30...
Hollowell and James Funeral Home
1025 West 55th Street
Countryside, IL 60525
In lieu of flowers, it's been asked that donations be sent to Mustaches for Kids and the La Grange Park Public Library instead.