Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Birthdays at Barnaby's

On New Year's Day 2006, in the wee hours of the morning, the South Bend area gaming community lost a dear friend in Barry Winston. Barry, who was taking a shift as a bouncer to pay some bills off, died of a heart attack at age 36. Since then, many of us have met at a local pizza chain called Barnaby's every four weeks or so to celebrate the birthdays that occurred during the previous month. We won't ever take birthdays for granted again.

Barry and I were friends. We were never really that close, but we were friends. We'd been to each other's homes and had lunch together several times. He built the computer I'm using to write this blog entry. We were also art partners for several years, starting in 1988. I was drawing with pencils a lot, but was never comfortable with inking, while Barry was more than proficient with both media. So, Barry more than made up for my lack of talent. He made my pencils look far better than they were.

Our gaming community is a strange one. It has cliques and subgroups, and some of us don't really know others, but we are all connected through mutual friends. Barry was one of the few who knew absolutely everyone, and we all loved Barry. I brought all of my inked sketches to his wake, and was amazed at how many people there were who had not seen our work.
I think the sketch that I will treasure most, though, is the one from which the headshot in this blog's logo comes. Barry did all the work himself, based on my verbal description of my character Domino, when he was just 21 years old. One of my favorite things about it is the way that Barry spotted blacks and this sketch highlights that talent perfectly. The figure has power, gravity, and grace. I liked it so much that I had a copy of it colored by Lurene Haines a few years later.

He had so much talent, and he died far too young. But I can't help thinking that Barry would have enjoyed knowing that we gather in his memory and that he won't ever be forgotten.

Here's to you, Barry.

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