When I heard the news that legendary children’s book author Maurice Sendak had passed away in Connecticut yesterday at age 83 due to complications from a stroke, I was very sad and disappointed because the world of literature had lost one of the modern greats.
Yes, Sendak’s work redefined the boundaries of kid lit; his 1963 classic, Where the Wild Things Are, literally rewrote the book on so-called “children’s books.” And yes, be brought joy to countless children and consternation to quite a number of parents who were unsure if letting a “wild rumpus begin” was such a good idea. But my special connection to Sendak was professional.
In 1998, Rob’t Snyder, a cartoonist friend of mine, and I created a comic book called Kid Terrific that followed the adventures of a small heroic child and his huge monster sidekick. We named that huge purple beast “Sendak” as a tribute to the writer whose big furry beasts had made huge impressions on us as kids. (By the time the comic went on sale, Sendak had become “Maurice,” but still acknowledged the same genius.)
The publication of Kid Terrific by Image Comics represented the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for my buddy and I, and we owed Maurice Sendak — and Where the Wild Things Are, in particular — a great debt for showing us how much fun dark and twisted tales for kids can be.
Thanks for all the great reading material, Maurice. And thanks for your inspiration.