Below is a column/editorial that I wrote 10 years ago after the sudden passing of my dear friend, prototype painter and pop culture enthusiast Eddie Wires. I’ve tweaked a few things here and there for clarity, and added some additional pictures. Eddie was such a force in the industry. If you own any toys from Toy Biz, Palisades, early DC Direct and countless others then you probably have a little piece of Eddie in your collection. He was self-taught and built his business from the ground up and he ran it with love, passion and integrity. There were several in the industry that screwed him and didn’t pay or shorted him for his work, but he always gave them a second chance to do the right thing. I’ve never met anyone that didn’t LOVE and adore Eddie after meeting him. And even after 10 years I miss him every day.
This is a blog that I started over a month ago, that I keep putting off, because it was just too painful and finishing it would make it all the more real. Tonight at a Dave & Busters in Georgia and in a few weeks at New York Comic Con there will be gatherings of friends and family to celebrate the life of Eddie Wires. I’m not able to attend these because of other family obligations, but still wanted to participate by posting this blog:
THE FIRST AND LAST TIME I SAW EDDIE WIRES
There’s a lot of great stuff in the middle of these events with my friendship to Eddie Wires, but in this blog I’d like to talk about the very first time I met Eddie and the last time I saw Eddie.
I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but it was roughly 10 or 11 years ago, and it was in June. It was Eddie’s birthday. These days there’s always an easy way that I remember when Eddie’s birthday falls. The pants tell me so. You see there’s a little “Easter Egg” on one the Marvel Legends/Hulk Classics figures that Eddie painted. In wave 2 of Hulk classics, if you were one of the people fortunate enough to find one of the Absorbing Man figures in that wave, on his prison pants there are a string of letter and a string of numbers that are supposed to be his prison ID. The letters are “PRJFEW” That stands for “Jesse Falcon, Phil Ramirez and Eddie Wires.” The numbers are “060572” That’s Eddie’s birthday. June 5th, 1972. It’s the day before my youngest daughter’s birthday.
Back to the first time I met Eddie. This was still pretty early in my “toy journalism” career. I was a new friends with Jesse Falcon of Toy Biz (Now Marvel/Disney) and he was in LA for some meetings. I was working for Disney Animation at the time so I had free access to Disneyland for me and 3 friends. I wanted to introduce Jesse to another friend of mine, Chris Tallman, who, like Jesse, was into improvisational comedy. At that time Chris was working for Disneyland as “the Mayor of FrontierLand.” Jesse, Phil Ramirez and I headed out to Anaheim to the“Happiest Place on Earth”.
Fast forwarding past spending the day at the park riding rides, talking nerd-stuff and then having several drinks at the Anaheim House of Blues. Jesse invited Chris and I out that night to celebrate the birthday of one of their friends, who was also a painter for Toy Biz… Mr. Eddie Wires.
Before working in toys, Eddie was a bartender at “Dave &Busters” in several cities. For those of you that might not be familiar with “Dave & Buster’s” it’s like the adult version of Chuck E. Cheese; great food, lots of video games and some VR stuff thrown in.
That’s where he met the love of his life, Jennifer, who would later become his wife. Jennifer still worked for “Dave & Busters,” as a manger and helping new locations open all over the country. That’s where Eddie’s party was, at the “Dave & Busters” in the Block at Orange. That was our night; meeting Eddie and his friends, hanging out with Toy Biz guys, free food and free video games all night long. It was like we had died and gone to heaven. To this day that night is still in my top 5 greatest days of my life. Chris and I couldn’t stop grinning that night.
At the amazing center of it all was Eddie Wires. There was no weirdness about these two goons crashing his party. Any friend of Jess and Phil’s was a friend of his, and he was more than happy to talk toys and shoot the digital undead with these strangers until the sun came up. After 10 minutes it was already like we had known each other 10 years.
At the end of the night he hugged us and we exchanged emails. That was just Eddie. If he knew you, he hugged you. I think all of us have been the recipients of voice mails or emails from Eddie informing us that the next time we saw him that we could expect to have his arms around us. And he was always a man of his word.
That was the first time I saw Eddie Wires.
Now for the last time….
This past July Eddie asked Abby and I if we wanted to share a hotel room with him at Comic Con 2010. Eddie always stayed at the Marriott next door to the con and for the past 5 years he’s always allowed the AFi team to use his room as a hub for dropping stuff off, checking email, uploading stuff or just taking a break. This year he suggested “why not just stay together?” He already had the room booked and it had 2 beds. It would be great to spend the time together. The idea made a lot of sense to us so we did, and it was great. We loved being able to spend 5 days with him, catching up, and talking about what was cool at the show, just being with Eddie for 5 days. This was the year that “The Walking Dead” trailer debuted at the con. Eddie, was a fan of ALL things Zombies, he was already a fan of the comic and he was OVER THE MOON, that it was going to be a weekly TV show. We joked about calling each other after each episode and discussing it… except I don’t think either of us were joking. We would have loved to have done a weekly “watch party” together. I’ve really missed him since he moved to the other side of the country.
We had 5 amazing days, and went out a few nights. Then it was time for the show to end. Anyone that has been to all, 5 days of the con knows that by the end of the show you are ready to go home! It’s fun, but covering the show, the late nights, the early mornings, the crowds, the walking… ugh.
Eddie had mentioned several times in the last 2 days of the con that he really wanted to have diner with us before we got back on the road to drive back to LA. We wanted to as well, but we were tired, we still had to pack the car and unpack when we got home, and we wanted to beat the traffic of the thousands of people leaving the show. We kept debating weather to stay or go. Eddie said he was going to help the guys from Diamond Select break down their booth, so that was going to add even more time before we could go eat. But we had a lot of stuff to pack in the car… and then we came to the decision that it was Eddie. We love Eddie, we miss Eddie and we love spending time with Eddie, so we would stay. We loaded the car. He packed up DST, and then we went to eat… and we had such a lovely time. We were just in the Marriott pub in the south tower,but there was just something so… nice about that dinner. We even commented on it several times on the drive how great that was and how glad we were that we stayed.
Time really seemed to stand still that night. While it was only 2 hours at the restaurant, it seemed like we were there all night. We talked about the con, our families, TV, movies, life, his band, and friends… everything. I’ve known Eddie for about 11 years, but it’s really been the past two years that he has really opened up with Abby and I and really gone beyond “nerdy talk” into a lot of meaty stuff and this dinner continued in that vein.
It really was the perfect evening. Anyone that has ever gone out with Eddie knows that it’s damn near impossible to pay for your own drinks or a meal. Picking up the check was one of Eddie’s superpowers. That night Abby had a plan and she snuck her card to the waitress before she came over to the table so we had the last laugh and did the near impossible… we picked up HIS check!
With the news of Eddie’s passing just a few weeks later,that evening is priceless to us. Thank God we stayed. We wouldn’t trade that for time anything… anything except for the chance to see him and talk to him just one more time.
Eddie really was the nicest person I have ever met. It’s easy to give lip service to a phrase like that, but searching the cobwebs of my mind I really can’t think of a nicer person that I have encountered in my almost 40 years of life. He would give you the shirt off of his back, literally. And then he would secretly sneak away and buy you 10 more shirts.
Like everyone that interacted with him with any frequency we miss him like crazy every day. He’ll never be forgotten.
Call your friends. Chat about the stuff you love. Celebrate your past. And tell them that you love them.
I hope you are all safe and healthy in these trying times.
Thank you for reading this. I love you guys.