R.I.P Dean Ruben Hyrapiet.
Today I found out that my good friend Dean passed away in Bangalore due to health complications. It was a double whammy for me; Dean was not only one of my few friends during the torturous years I spent in Bangalore but also an amazing artist and visionary. But you wouldn't know that unless you knew him personally and that seems like a crime. So I'm going to tell you a little something about my friend who was taken off this earth far too young.
The first time I met Dean he was sitting in the waiting room of the studio, I had seen his portfolio earlier and told him that I liked his work: it looked like the bastard child of Bart Sears and Stephen Platt. That was the only time I remember a big guy like Dean blushing (or maybe he got mad, I asked him about it much later, he said he didn't remember). Well the only other time he really was blushing was when he talked about his long time love, Beth, whom he would eventually marry.
I think it was natural for Dean and me to be friends although it didn't happen right away; both of us were anti social as hell. Neither of us had an art background, we just loved comics with a fanatic passion. And as friends we argued and fought but it was always forgotten. We discussed art and geeked out over new comics and collaborated. We even shared the same views on humanity and the mystery of the universe.
I suppose I spoke to him the most in Bangalore. He lived up the road from me and we'd travel together to and fro from office. And in the 40 minute rickshaw ride we'd discuss high brow matters like, well, mysterious forces of the universe and low brow matters like mysterious promotions in office.
Like all geniuses Dean was eccentric. He was the worst drinker I have ever seen. He'd gulp down alcohol and then make twitchy eyes. He had a hell of a temper but he always listened to his mum. He was the smartest person I knew but just when you were in awe of his intellect, he'd tell you he has the ability to kill people by flicking his finger at them. He'd talk about peace and then tell you about the time he fought off 19 people with a switchblade. What can I say? The guy was a born storyteller and much like his artwork, he was a study in contrast.
Dean was the kinda artist you would love to hate if you were an artist yourself. You see, unlike normal artists who spend so much time studying, reading books, making notes, memorizing and so forth, Dean just drew naturally. He used to tell me that he'd close his eyes, imagine something and then draw. Most of the time he didn't bother with circles and cylinders, measurements and thumbnails, he'd just start off. It was that simple for him. And his art grew at a monstrous pace. If you don't believe me just check out his work on Dead Soldier which I think was his last book http://www.liquidcomics.com/digital_comics/deadsoldier.html Dean never was on DA or much on facebook. He didn't have a blog where he talked about his ideas and he didn't twitter. He just did his work. He is India's secret comic genius.
If you want to know the kind of story ideas Dean had I'd say it was like the stuff Jordowsky and Moebieus would do. I mean this dude loved epic space operas that had multiple levels of meaning. He was mad about the European sci fi comics and got me hooked onto them as well. He'd show me comics of Enki Bilal with a big smile on his face, recalling the time he met the artist. That was what he loved. Those were the kind of stories and art that he wanted to do. I would've loved to see him draw in his favorite genre. Hopefully collaborate like we did before. But I guess the both of us figured there was more than enough time to get to those crazy big ideas…
Its funny how sometimes time isn't enough. No…scratch that, there's nothing funny about it.
Dean was one of the few lucky people who ended up marrying their one true love. Beth and he were awesome together. And she made him happier than I had ever seen him. I remember when he talked about Beth his tough guy exterior would melt away and you could see he was actually a softie at heart.
Here's something that he told me that was typically the Dean I knew.
He said that sometimes he would close his eyes and concentrate real hard to send a telepathic message to Beth, willing her to call him. You see back when I met Dean they were apart and had not spoken for a long, long time. He didn't even have her number. And she was in a different part of the country altogether. You can believe this next part or not but as he tells it, pretty soon the telepathy paid off, because she tracked down his number and called him up out of the blue. Within a month they were together.
So, if you believe, send a telepathic message out to Beth, urging her to be strong through this tragedy. I'm sure Dean is doing the same thing right now from a far better place.
--Miss you, man.