By Milton Griepp.  It's rare that we depart from the editorial 'we' here at ICv2, but this is one of those times, as we mourn the passing of Jay Kennedy, Editor in Chief at King Features Syndicate, and a friend since the mid-70s.  He died in an accident on vacation in Costa Rica last week.


We met when we were both studying sociology at the University of Wisconsin in the mid-70s, but it wasn't sociology that brought us together, it was comics.  Jay was already hard at work assembling his 'best in the world' collection of underground comics, and I was working at Wisconsin Independent News Distributors, a 'distribution co-op' that distributed underground and mainstream comics, among other pop culture paper products of the day.  He came to W.I.N.D. to find the source of the underground comics that were distributed at record stores, food coops, and head shops in Madison because he wanted to make sure he had them all.  We quickly bonded over our mutual appreciation of the art form, and had many pleasant afternoons trading and discussing the exciting work that we both loved from artists like Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, S. Clay Wilson, Denis Kitchen, and many others. 


Jay turned his love of undergrounds into the Underground Comix Guide, a price guide for undergrounds, in the early 80s.  It was the 'Overstreet' of undergrounds, and contained the results of his encyclopedic research into the medium, and his relentless accumulation of every one he could find. 


His career in comics continued as cartoon editor at Esquire, a position he held from 1983 to 1988. 


In 1988, he joined King Features as deputy comics editor and became comics editor one year later.  He came through Madison around that time on a trip across the country visiting newspapers to learn his new business.  He carried a portfolio of new cartoonists that King Features was selling, and talked about the experience he was gaining in the market for syndicated content. 


He became Editor in Chief of King Features in 1997. 


Jay was a regular fixture at San Diego Comic Con, and was always excited about a new artist he'd found, or some new work he'd seen.  He never lost his love of the underground comic artists or their irreverent exploration of the comic art form. 


His natural expression was a smile, much like the one in the picture that accompanies this obituary.  One of the nicest men we ever met, he will be missed by all who new him.  Our sympathies go out to his family and friends.