I have been to San Diego Comic Con every year for the past 18 years, and I sold comic books for most of those. In a business like comic book retailing, at an event like San Diego, you meet people that you tend to run into year after year, and if you share a common interest, you tend to continue the same conversation year after year. There are many such people that I see in San Diego, but there are few that I enjoyed speaking with as much as Jay Kennedy.
I first spoke to him about seven or eight years ago, and while I ran into him at a few other comic shows, he and I spoke at every San Diego in recent memory. Our conversation started because of a common interest, independent and underground comic books, and when I realized that I had read and referred to his book regularly, and each year we picked up where we left off until it the conversation continued down other avenues, both personal and professional.
The people that you see, many of them come and go, and you rarely know why the leave or where they go. Many of them you never learn about, and many of them you don't even remember. Jay happened to be famous enough that I heard about his death the day after it happened (on The Beat), and he had made enough of an impression on me that I was struck with sadness. People don't bother writing reminiscences like this if they don't have anything nice to say, and here I have nothing but nice things to say.
Jay was one of the very nicest people that I met thanks to San Diego, and talking with him about comics (books or strips) was always a conversation I looked forward to, and this summer won't be the same without the chance to see him.
(If you would like to read more about Jay, I recommed this or this, care of Tom Spurgeon)