I first met Adam when I started working at a tiny game development studio in Boulder, Colorado back in 1998 called Devil’s Thumb Entertainment. I walked into the studio on my first day of work and I’m pretty sure The Cramps were playing full blast from his general direction. There he was, sun baked and surrounded with what at the time I assumed were rare Jaimie Hewlett sketches pasted up around him, loads of cds and flyers for rockabilly rollerderby raver chicks with squids on their heads. ‘Welcome to the monster factory!’ he said and I thought instantly ‘Oh hell yeah! I came to the right place!’ It didn’t take long to figure out that what I thought were Jaimie Hewlett drawings were actually his and to be quite honest were 10 times more appealing and hilarious. (No offense Jaimie!)
When I finally got the chance to see his apartment in Denver I realized I was stepping into the mind of a creative genius. His entire apartment from floor to ceiling, front to back was covered with his paintings, massive cardboard sculptural cat like gargoyles, christmas lights, intricate costumes (designed with little more than a leather jacket, cheap sombrero, toys from a thrift shop, black and silver spray paint and hot glue) flyers for previous rent parties from his old warehouse, Tank Girl comics, Low Rider and American Artist magazines, Thomas Pynchon novels and a constant stream of music. Every square inch was interesting and VITAL and ALIVE. This was an intellect far beyond anyone else I’d ever met and there was not a single hint of pretentiousness to him. His entire life was a beautifully structured and disciplined chaos. Even then I began to see that not only was I in the presence of greatness, I was in the presence of one of the more important illustrators of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He just didn’t know it yet and neither did anyone else. Quite frankly he wouldn’t give a shit if someone gave him that label. He simply wanted to come up with more ideas and get better at drawing. Period.
Since then we got into many beer soaked adventures that sometimes included late night bike rides through the city streets of Denver with a boom-box strapped to the back blasting Big Audio Dynamite with sparklers hanging off the handlebars(and some stiches on the scalp of yours truly). Dangerously drunken skateboarding with cap guns, ditching psychedelic parties to go laugh our asses off and throw giant rocks in a frozen river, concerts, weekend long patio surfing tours in the Colorado summers, trips to the reservoir to float around wearing finely crafted and thrilling 12pack headgear, lunchtime bike rides up to our favorite outdoor patio Rhumba in Boulder for $2 Red Stripes and then back to work again, and many hours working close to him and learning as much as I could about being an artist and a better human being. He once said to me “I may not be Mozart, but at least I can try to be the Pixies.” He just wanted to entertain people in any way he could.
In his last few days we spent together in the hospital we sat on his hospital bed listening to music for hours, talking, and drawing in our sketchbooks. Our conversations were tinted with what was happening for him in the moment certainly, but mostly we talked about friends, art, music, and life. We spoke without much nostalgia or finality, just very real and present and forward looking despite the circumstances. He kept drawing until he couldn't possibly draw anymore, squeezing every last ounce he could out of life, just as he always had.
Watch papa go to work.
I love you Adam. You continue to be my friend, mentor, and greatest inspiration.