Michael Dougan Obituary, Death – Michael Dougan, the great cartoonist, died unexpectedly this month. I wrote a brief tribute to him, which the people at posted this morning. His work should be remembered. I was (and continue to be) shocked to learn of the death of my friend, cartoonist Michael Dougan. He was a wonderful person as well as a fantastic writer and cartoonist. He was the first professional cartoonist I ever met who rented his own studio space outside of where he lived (in a historic building on Seattle’s old Ballard Ave., no less)! He was also intelligent, charming, funny, and attractive – a true inkstand! (He was even named one of comics’ most eligible bachelors in Peter Bagge and Helena Harvilicz’s 1990s fanzine, I Like Comics.)
Michael was a multi-talented individual who worked as a cartoonist, a newspaperman, a barista, a restauranteur, a television writer, and a great conversationalist, to name a few. His work is not as well-known as it should be, despite the fact that his best book, I Can’t Tell You Anything, was published by Penguin in 1993 and remains some of the best autobiographical work of its era. Part of Michael’s obscurity stems from a fire that destroyed his Seattle home in 2006, destroying all of his art and archives—and, in some ways, his comics career. He seemed to process what was essentially a cartoonist’s worst-case scenario better than most, but it also seemed to fuel a desire to move forward rather than look back.
He spent a few years in Los Angeles writing for television. When I mentioned doing a collection of his work, he was interested but eventually dismissed it as too much of an “epic undertaking” to find the time for. I regret not pressing him harder, but when he and his wife Chizuko moved to Tno, Japan, around 2018, and opened a coffee roasting business and café, we agreed to put the discussion on hold until he felt more grounded there. Unfortunately, the pandemic began, and we lost contact for the next three or four years. My family and I had just returned from our first trip to Japan a few weeks ago, and Michael had been on my mind as we prepared.
I knew we wouldn’t be anywhere close to where he lived, so I messaged him on Facebook in late November to let him know I was thinking of him and wished we could meet up. He didn’t respond, so I assumed he was busy and that I’d hear from him eventually. But now I realize that we had always communicated via email prior to this, and I’m kicking myself for using Facebook despite neither of us being particularly active on it because I believe it cost me one last chance to hear from him.