RIP: Batton Lash

One of my best friends passed yesterday. Batton Lash, a talented cartoonist who I collaborated with for during the Obama administration and whom I have known since the early 90s.

Batton was a very nice man, very personable, well dressed in vintage clothes. Everyone liked him. He was married for almost 25 years to Jackie Estrada who runs the Eisner Awards for San Diego Comic Con. Batton was from Brooklyn originally and started out doing comic strips for a legal newspaper. That is where he came up with his Wolff and Byrd strip which he continued until he passed. He also did many other projects including Obama Nation, with me. In the beginning of his career, he was also an assistant to Howard Chaykin.

I don’t remember the exact moment I met Batton but I remember us hitting it off when I had a booth at San Diego con one year while promoting The Age of Heroes and Espers. His booth was on the same row and we talked a bit. That was when I started to get to know him. When I came back from Washington state in 2009, after a failed startup left me impoverished for awhile, Batton and Jackie had me over and I used to go to lunch with him at least once a month for a while. he would buy me lunch and when I got work again I would buy him lunch. We had a lot of fun talking about the industry and politics. Batton was a free thinker like myself and very patriotic. When Andrew Breitbart called me one day and invited me to be part of his new website that was about to launch I asked Batton to join me in a strip mocking the then president who we both we’re critics of. No one at the time was willing to make fun of this president. I felt it was disturbing that everyone was afraid to. And Batton agreed that no politician is above reproach.

One cartoon we did got us in a lot of trouble because it mocked Michelle Obama’s hypocritical policies. It got international attention from the leftist media and we received death threats for a week, all because of this very simple cartoon (which I think is pretty mild).

We did the strip for almost two years and then Andrew died and the site had new management. We ended it then. Batton and I continued to hang out but less and less as our lives took their own path. But we still had lunch together and talked on the phone. And then one day he had a seizure and the doctor found he had a brain tumor. He battled it for almost two years. He seemed to get better for a while because it affected his ability to talk and form sentences. He seemed almost back to normal and then it came back hard a could months ago. The last time we spoke was around the holidays and he seemed ok, relatively. We had a good conversation. I never got to speak to him again but when Jackie told me how serious it had gotten and he couldn’t talk anymore I wrote him an email telling him how much I treasured our friendship and she read it to him.

At least I got to say goodbye. He was a great person. A lover of animals. A gentle soul. And he will always be missed.