Friday, July 05, 2013

Years later, Jim found me...



My apologies to anyone who's been waiting around my blog for me to update it. Life and deadlines have been getting in the way. Rest assured, everything is going great with BODIE TROLL. Issue #2 came out the last week of June, and it's already selling out. I just turned in issue #3, set for an August release, and I'm writing issue #4 right now.



Outside of Bodie, I wanted to report on something very, very special that happened to me. In the early hours of July 4th, I received an unexpected e-mail from Karen Falk, archivist for The Jim Henson company, and the woman responsible for every major book on Jim's life and works produced in the past decade. Here's what it said:


Dear Jay:


I was doing some research in our archives and came across the fan letter you wrote to Jim Henson when you were 11. He was very encouraging in his response so I Googled you to see if you went on to become an artist – and indeed you did. Congratulations on what appears to be a successful career. Thought you’d like to see a copy of your letter and Jim’s response (attached).


Best,


Karen Falk

Archives

The Jim Henson Company


This was the most unexpected and joyful news I'd ever heard. I had indeed written Jim Henson when I was eleven, in January of 1986, and sent him a birthday card for Kermit, who along with the Muppets had just turned 30. A month later, Jim wrote me back. Not a form letter, and not a stamped signature, but a typed letter, signed with a green felt tipped pen. That letter meant the world to me. So when I lost that letter a year or so after Jim died, I was devastated. Twenty-some years of regret, having lost my hero, and then losing one my genuine connection to him--all erased with a simple e-mail that I never, in my wildest imaginings, expected to receive. Here are the scans of my letter to Jim, and Jim's letter to me, courtesy of Karen Falk (click on images to enlarge):


Needless to say, Karen Falk received a glowing message of appreciation from me, and a signed copy of Bodie Troll #1 will find its way to her in the coming week.


Now, those who know me and my work know how Jim has always been my hero, and my work (particularly Bodie) is very reflective of Jim's creative influence. So getting this letter back...man...it's like being reunited with a long lost and beloved relative. And it couldn't have happened at a more desperate time in my life, when I feel like I need Jim the most. I'm not religious, but who knows...maybe he's been watching me and my work all this time. The serendipitous arrival of Karen's e-mail is hard to ignore.


Thanks for listening. And for anyone in my past who doubted me when I said Jim Henson wrote me a letter...well, "told ya so" seems pointless. I probably quit talking to you people years ago. =0)


--Jay  

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Such "coincidences" are the signs of the universe moving to validate your existence and encourage you when you need it.
Your inventive and heartfelt letter must've just leaped out of the mailbag for him back then. And Jim's return letter indicates just how classy that man was.

Rob Mills said...

Awesome. I worked on that 30th anniversary special and it had an impact on all of us, knowing we were part of an established culture of Muppetry and also knowing it would continue to inspire us in all of our individual works to come. So glad you could reconnect with that moment from your past. Thanks for sharing.

Rob Mills

Unknown said...

I had forgotten how great an artist you were even at eleven. Wow, so cool to see this. So cool...

Jeff

Chris Smigliano said...

That was beautiful, Jay. Simply beautiful.

Chris Smigliano said...

That was beautiful, Jay. Simply beautiful.

Anonymous said...

This is incredible, Jay. How heart warming!

<3 Ali

theoriginaledi said...

Oh man, this is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing it. I can 100% understand how you feel because my brother once wrote a letter to Mr Rogers (my #1 favorite person ever) and he responded with a handwritten letter that we cherished for many years until it was destroyed in a house fire.

I'd give just about anything to have that letter back, so when I say how happy I am that you got yours back, I hope you can understand how deep and how sincere my joy really is.

Miguel said...

What a wonderful post! I had to share it with my wife. I am so happy for you Jay!

Galen Fott said...

Wonderful! I have reason to believe that it's pretty unusual that you got such a nice, personalized response in the late 80s. I wrote Jim around 1972 when I was 9, and got back a signed letter with a personalized postcard enclosed. ("Hello Galen — Jim Henson and the Muppets"). I have but to turn my head a few degrees to see it, framed, on my desk as I type this!

I wrote again at some point after the debut of The Muppet Show, and while I received a very nice, personalized response, it was not from Jim (nor did it purport to be). I always figured he just got too busy to personally handle all his mail, and understandably so. If that's true in generality, he clearly made an exception for your wonderful letter. Thanks for sharing it, and Jim's response too!

Anonymous said...

That is indeed awesome, Jay! To this day I don't know what happened to my HA! letter. It was a response to me from Jim's secretary and not Jim himself, but it was on the same letterhead as yours. Funny how great minds think alike!
Super glad to see Bodie Troll doing well in the shops! You deserve the success!

-Gordon

DawgArt said...

Jay, this post made me cry. I wept the day Jim died, as I'm sure may of us did. What a lovely thing for this generous woman to forward your correspondence with this man who inspired you so much. I had a meaningful letter exchange with Ray Bradbury, and that letter is treasured as well, so I know how you feel. Thank you for sharing this, Jay. I'm so happy for you!!

DawgArt said...

Oh, ps, it's Elora.

Rachele said...

Cool!

Gail Ballor said...

I remember when you wrote him! This is so cool!!