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KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life - Pierce Askegren, RIP
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Pierce Askegren, RIP
I first came across Pierce Askegren when I was working for Byron Preiss. We had picked up the rights to package a short-story anthology that featured stories about superheroes that was edited by Kurt Busiek & Nathan Archer. One of the stories was by John Garcia & Pierce Askegren. We were never able to find a publisher interested in taking the anthology we were packaging, but Byron had done a deal with Marvel to do books based on their comics, and with Penguin Putnam for them to copublish the books. In addition to novels, we did short-story anthologies, and when I did a call for authors for them, among the many people I solicited were the folks who contributed to that anthology.

I never got anything from John, but Pierce sent along a wonderful story for The Ultimate Silver Surfer. I was impressed with his knowledge of obscure Marvel trivia, his excellent characterizations, and his fine writing style. I also got along with him personally, as dealing with him I quickly learned he had an amazing sense of humor.

I wound up doing a lot of work with Pierce. He was ideally suited to work on the Marvel program, as he had a spectacular feel for the characters and in particular the history. People who like Kurt Busiek's work would probably also like Pierce's writing, as the two writers share an affection for the huge tapestry that has been woven in Marvel's comics since 1961. He did several more short stories, and then later novels.

To start with, he did a terrific job on a trilogy of Spider-Man team-up novels that were plotted by Danny Fingeroth and Eric Fein, and fleshed out into prose by Pierce. While the bylines for the "Doom's Day" trilogy were different for each book--Byron believed that a novel should have no more than two credited authors, and these covers were crowded with just two anyhow--all three wrote all three, as it were. (And I have to tell you, Pierce writes Dr. Doom better than anybody. Seriously.)

I rewarded him with two solo novels that were totally in his wheelhouse. One was a Fantastic Four novel, called Countdown to Chaos. Pierce had a particular affinity for the FF, and this was a story he'd wanted to tell for a long time. He was also the writer I thought would best be able to do justice to a crossover novel that Marvel themselves suggested between the Avengers and the Thunderbolts -- this was to tie in with a crossover the comics were doing (they were both written by Kurt Busiek at the time), and Kurt and editor Tom Brevoort were both incredibly helpful. Pierce did a spectacular job with The Avengers and the Thunderbolts.

Throughout all of this, Pierce maintained his sense of humor (which was prodigious), his enthusiasm, his professionalism, and did I mention his sense of humor? He and I finally got to meet in person for the first time at a convention in the D.C. area, and we just spent about three hours sitting in the bar, drinking beer, and having an absolute blast. Every time I talked to him on the phone, it was about an hour or two right there, as we'd gab about everything from old comics to television to people we both knew to various odd anecdotes....

When I struck out on my own in 1998, I formed Albé-Shiloh Inc. with the intention of getting into book packaging. At that, ASI was something of a bust, but there were two projects that did happen. One was Imaginings, and the other was a trilogy I had Pierce do called The Inconstant Moon. It was an idea I came up with, but had no interest in writing myself, but which I thought Pierce could do justice to. The three books -- Human Resource, Fall Girl, and Exit Strategy -- are all available from Ace Books, and I strongly recommend them. ASI has been a bust, overall, but I'm glad that Pierce has been part of one of its few successes.

Pierce's career continued just fine without my guidance. *laughs* He wrote an Alias novel (Collateral Damage) and a Buffy novel (Afterimage), and short stories for The Chick is in the Mail, Kolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook, and more.

We hadn't worked together in a while, so when I approached him to do a story for Doctor Who: Short Trips: The Quality of Leadership, I was thrilled when he said yes.

Sadly, that won't happen. I never got a proposal from him, and now I know why my e-mailed entreaties for same have gone unanswered.

Assuming Big Finish will let me, I'm going to dedicate the book to him. Whether they do or not, I'm definitely dedicating my next book to him.

He was my friend, and I'll miss him a lot.

Current Mood: sad sad
Current Music: The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines

Comments
scarlettina From: scarlettina Date: December 4th, 2006 07:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Omigod. I mean . . . um, wow. My condolences, Keith. I remember Mike Stackpole talking up Pierce to me about some projects years ago. My few encounters with him were positive ones.

What . . . what happened?
kradical From: kradical Date: December 6th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
All I know right now is that he was found in his apartment with no sign of trauma or foul play. My guess is that it was his heart, since Pierce was a man of some considerable girth, but I honestly have no idea. There's supposed to be an autopsy soon....
From: celticboy Date: December 4th, 2006 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)
As an avid comic book fan (for the past 20 years), I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know the name. Doing a little bit of research, I found that he did stuff for things I didn't read personally, but knew about. That being said, I'm sorry that you've lost a friend, and I'm sorry that the comic world has lost another member of it's brotherhood.

Speaking of that, I was surprised, and overjoyed to find that Smallville paid tribute to Julius Schwartz. If you watch Episode 6 of the latest season (6 - Fallout) One of the newspaper pages shows "Metropolis Mourns loss of architect Julius Schwartz. A nice touch I thought.
kradical From: kradical Date: December 6th, 2006 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Pierce's only actual comics work were stories in Warren's Creepy and Vampirella magazines back in the 70s. All his other work was prose. However, he did quite a number of books and short stories based on Marvel heroes:

"The Broken Land" in The Ultimate Silver Surfer (1995)
"Private Exhibition" in The Ultimate Super-Villains (1996)
(uncredited, w/Danny Fingeroth & Eric Fein) Spider-Man & The Incredible Hulk: Doom's Day Book 1: Rampage (1996)
(w/Danny Fingeroth & an uncredited Eric Fein) Spider-Man & Iron Man: Doom's Day Book 2: Saboage (1997)
(w/Eric Fein & an uncredited Danny Fingeroth) Spider-Man & Fantastic Four: Doom's Day Book 3: Wreckage (1997)
(w/John Garcia) "Better Looting Through Modern Chemistry" in Untold Tales of Spider-Man (1997)
Fantastic Four: Countdown to Chaos (1998)
"Pitfall" in The Ultimate Hulk (1998)
The Avengers and the Thunderbolts (1999)
greeneyedkzin From: greeneyedkzin Date: December 4th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ratz put up the Rose on SFF.NET. Seems as if there are two others who have earned them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 9th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)

IF only

If only Pierce;s history in writing could have been told by you at a time when you just wanted the readers to recognize his work, not at a time of grief. I'm really sorry for your loss, Keith. Keep on keeping on- Buffysmglover
gregmce From: gregmce Date: December 15th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just saw the news from the SFWA Update -- how very sad. Thanks for posting such an eloquent tribute to Pierce; I'd never met him in person but our chatting online on various forums was always a pleasure.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 21st, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Sorry for your loss

Hi - sorry to hear about the passing of Pierce. My condolences to you and Pierce's family. There is a nice article about him on Wikipedia.

I went to high school with him and I ran into him once or twice at area (Northern VA) book stores. He was a great guy and one of the nicest guys I've ever met.

John Boone (jboone@ashtonlabs.com)

From: (Anonymous) Date: December 22nd, 2006 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)

SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT PIERCE

A former co-worker e-mailed me Pierce's obituary. I worked with Pierce for three years and he was kind, funny, and extremely intelligent. I loved visiting his office and just shootin' the breeze. It was a while before I found out he was a writer. I was impressed. He always had something wickedly funny to say about his co-workers or whoever else he felt like talking about. He always made me laugh. Yes, Pierce was a large man and I'm sorry to hear that his health issues may have been his undoing. RIP, Pierce, I will miss you.
livelyvc From: livelyvc Date: December 22nd, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Will Miss Pierce

I worked with Pierce for a couple of years about six years ago. He was truly one of the funniest people I've ever met. I really enjoyed his sense of humor. He also taught me a great deal about writing which has enabled me to further my career as a technical writer. I also read some of his early drafts of one of the Moon Trilogy. Books well worth reading.

I've stayed in touch with Pierce via AIM but haven't seen him personally in years. I considered him a friend and will really miss him.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 2nd, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

In Memorium - Pierce Askegren

Read your thoughtful tribute to Pierce and was qute moved. I worked with him for a couple of years at in Vienna, VA, and was greatly saddened when a mutual friend sent me his obit this morning. The breadth of Pierce's knowledge was truly encyclopedic. No matter what the topic, he seemed to be able to contribute intelligently and knowledgably without shoveling a load of BS. I could walk into his office on with a specific work-related issue to discuss and end up talking to him about jazz, yoga, old Godzilla movies, historically significant breweries, the relative merits of Scotch and Irish whiskeys, and just about anything else that came up. After reading “Human Resource”, I marveled at the level of research that must have gone into his perception of what it must be like to live on the moon. Pierce was a true original. He’ll definitely be missed.
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who is this guy?
Keith R.A. DeCandido
User: kradical
Name: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Website: DeCandido.net
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