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Comic strip artist and illustrator Chris Companik, who documented his fight with HIV and AIDS, dies

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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.

Companik last posted on Facebook a month ago.

"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:

A graphic rendering (OK, OK, it's a comic-strip) guide to living with HIV and AIDS, by Chris Companik

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."

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Thank you so much for this. Chrisco was my dear friend since 1984 and he will be missed by many of his. I was lucky to have him so long in my life.

A great great guy who will be missed by all who knew him.

One measure of your life is how many people you've touched in positive way. With this in mind, Chrisco was a very rich man indeed. All of us who knew him should be grateful for the many good memories and adventures we got to share with him.

In addition to the above-mentioned, it is worth noting that from 2002 to 2005 Chris hosted a public access cable television show devoted to comic books, called "Giant Size Comic Book Show," broadcast in the greater Atlanta area on People TV Atlanta. More information can be found giantsizecomicbookshow(dot)com. Thanks Steve for recognizing this extraordinary man. Goodbye, Chrisco. You were truly one of a kind.

I was saddened to learn of Chrisco's passing. He was always such a positive person even in the face of adversity. He will be missed by so many.

Thank you for posting this, since had not heard from Chris in a month, looked to see if his strip was up and running. Chris was a Tenderhearted guy, funny witty sharp. Great advocate and always going on about this or that, loved his music film Braves..so much to mention.
I knew when he got back from Italy told me he's lost his ass, ass in lost luggage I said, no my butt.. that his health was declining rapidly. We spoke often visited one anthers homes over the yeas. He will be sorely missed.

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