BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Chris Companik, an Atlanta illustrator and comic book artist who documented his fight with HIV and AIDS, has died.
"My prayers for your family and the multitudes you've touched," wrote one friend on Companik's Facebook wall.
"I knew that his health was declining," said Mark S. King of Atlanta, formerly of Fort Lauderdale, who knew Companik since about 1993. "The subject matter of his strips did not reveal that."
This is how Companik described himself on his personal website:
"I'm a published cartoonist, a romantic at heart, a soap opera addict, a semi-average bowler, the former Advertising Director for the country's largest packaged concrete mix company ("Hey, don't you know how to patch that sidewalk?"), a die-hard B-52's fan, lives for the Atlanta Braves..."
Companik also maintained a comic strip site about living with his AIDS: HIV + Me.
From that website:
When I first got the diagnosis, I remember complaining to a fellow friends (also HIV+) "Why don't they hand you something when you get news like this?" A subsequent therapy session, general b.s..-ing with friends, a reminder I wasn't doing "How to build a sidewalk" brochures any longer, and soon, "HIV + Me" was evolved.
Said King, who also has HIV and blogs at MyFabulousDisease.com:
"The man was talented. He was a talented artist, first and foremost. He used that talent to describe his life with HIV. Those strips were personal to him. They often reflected actual episodes of his life.
"The other thing about Chris that I admired: he was a very kind, very chill kind of guy. Very kind and very sweet. That did not mean he couldn't be a ferocious advocate," King said Thursday. "He addressed homophobia, stigma of people with HIV and had a lot to say about the drug companies and medication over the years. he was able to get away with really strong messages because it was in the from of this charming little comic strip."