Ricky Garduno has passed away at age 35, Dumm Comics and the world has lost one of the greatest cartoonists.
He was a genius and a friend.
I knew Ricky for almost 15 years. In 1996 I moved from Pennsylvania to California to start a career in the animation industry. I started attending a school called Bridges, it was a small short-lived animation school in Santa Monica. The first day I was there, I met a weird guy, a mexican heavy metal dude with long hair, a bandage on his nose, and a chip on his shoulder. He was rebellious, cool, abrasive, but sweet. He also loved all the same cartoons as I did–we immediately hit it off.
We bonded not only over cartoons, but because we were both dumped around the same time. He was down and out and I was on the upturn. We helped each other out of it, and grew into brothers. We chased girls, fought, swam, travelled, created, dressed up, drank, and stayed up late and drew the stupidest stuff until we laughed until we cried. Our friendship was like every friendship: it had its ups and downs, highs and lows, fights and hugs, name calling and ignoring, but still a friendship.
Through our careers, we rose up together. We boarded next to each other, pitched 4 shows together, and work on 2 pilots together, I mean we boarded the Catscratch pilot together!
Ricky was there the day I met John K., the day I got a job, the day sold a show, the day I got married, the day we launched Dumm, but he hasn’t been around lately.
In recent times were grew apart. We really couldn’t see eye to eye and our lives drifted apart. We had opposing ideas and butted heads a lot, but I have, and always will, respect him. He was and will always be an inspiration to me. He taught me how to let down my guard, be a better person, open up and stand up in front of the world naked, and be a true artist–which he always was.
Ever since I knew him, all of his work was rough around the edges, blunt, poised, rebellious, backwards, heartfelt, and soulful. He was a boundless font of ideas. They would come pouring out of him like he was made of them. His jokes were always a level above everything else he saw around him. He was formed by his opinions, passions, and fears. He was those characters and they were him. He was searching for meaning in himself, his life, and the world, and took us along every step on that journey.
He was an exhibitionist, a iconoclast, a pervert, and a friend and above anyone else I will ever know, a genius.
I remember it was a cold winter night in Santa Monica in 1996. We were walking around the streets very late, bummed out and came to a graveyard. We looked around and we jumped the fence. Cautiously, we walked around to make sure there was no night watchman. We weren’t there to be cool or be scared, we went there to get away. We felt like invaders of a sacred place, but also deeply respectful.
We sat on a cold crypt in the middle of the graveyard and talked for almost 3 hours. We talked until it started to get brighter. We spewed all of our ideas, our ghost stories, our dreams, our loves, and our futures. We wanted the world, and we planned on taking it. In all of that, that’s when I realized that I would never be Ricky. I could never be anything close to what he was. I told him. I told him that I never met anyone like him. He was a level above. It was the way he was wired. He was the perfect combination of insight and passion to drive him to produce some of the strangest ideas, the ones you watch them unfold right in front of you, but you just can’t figure out how or where they came from. Sometimes to piss you off, sometimes to surprise you, but always to amaze and move you. They are things that you want to show everyone around you, because they are just so uncommon. There just aren’t many people like that.
I told him that night that he was a genius.
That’s why this is a true tragedy. He left this world way before he had the chance to really shine. He had so much more to do, to give, so much to show us, so much to teach us, so much more to love, not just comics, but life.
He is a huge part of my creative life that feels like it was ripped out of me, and from this day foward I will always want it back.
Please, if you have any favorite stories or links to your favorite Ricky strip, please don’t hesitate to do so below: