"My favorite things in life (well, aside from my wife and family) are painting toy prototypes and eliminating the zombie scourge…" – Eddie Wires 1972-2010
I’m absolutely devastated at the news that I received this morning that my friend, pioneering prototype painter Ed Wires ("Eddie" to his friends), passed away last night of an apparent heart attack. It’s a shock to all of his friends and family and a huge loss to the industry. I’ve never had to write an tribute like this for the site… for a friend.. so I’m not sure yet how coherent this will all turn out, but I’ve reached out to a lot of Eddie’s friends in the industry as well to share their thoughts, and stories about Eddie.
There’s really too much to say about Eddie in just one posting, so I know I’ll have to break this up into multiple parts. All of us are still reeling from the news, so this will be a bit of a living document that will be updated as contributions come in.
A lot of you know Eddie’s work, so I’d like to talk about about the guy behind the work. Before we talk about Eddie’s incredible talent, I’d like to talk about Eddie the man.
Eddie Wires was maybe the most loyal person I have ever known. After having an incredibly difficult upbringing he made it his life’s work to take care of his family and those close to him. He was a devoted husband, a proud brother, a loving uncle, a respected figure in the industry and the best friend you could have.
Eddie loved his family. He loved his wife and he talked about her all the time. Eddie loved his brother and they were partners in the prototype painting business. Eddie had just recently become an uncle and loved posting pictures of him and the baby on his Facebook page. Eddie loved his brother-in-law and was a father figure to him. If you were his friend, then you were his family too. He called all of his friends "brother" and was always excited for the opportunity to catch up with friends since so much of his time was spent alone in the studio, painting.
Eddie loved his friends. I’ve never heard or read a disparaging word about Eddie from anyone, and I rarely if ever heard him say any about anyone else. He was funny and sometime salty, but always, always a southern gentleman. I had the privilege of introducing other people to Eddie through our friendship and everyone walked away with the same impression: "good grief, he’s a nice guy!"
I don’t think I ever had a short conversation with Eddie. When we would talk on the phone, we would talk for hours. He loved pop culture and loved to talk about it with his friends. It was next to impossible to go to dinner with him and NOT have him secretly pay the check. At comic con he would order room service and always order extra for any friends that my come by his room tired and hungry from the con. You could go months without talking to him (he was always so busy with work) but as soon as you got him on the phone again it was like no time had passed since the last time you spoke.
Eddie loved music. He had just recently rekindled his love of music and had been playing in a local Georgia band with some of his friends. He sang and played guitar. Eddie had a band back in high school called "Tombstone Smile" and he was thrilled at the opportunity to start playing and singing again with his friends.
Eddie loved guns. It was how he relaxed. He loved to go to the shooting range and try out new weapons. It was often a family affair and something that he’d do with his brother Jason and his brother in law D.C and his local friends. He often joked this was one of the ways that he was preparing to survive the coming Zombie apocalypse. Speaking of which…
Eddie LOVED Zombies. He loved all things zombies: movies, books, songs, comic, TV… if it had a Zombie in it Eddie wanted to be a part of it. Several times he told me about the pride he had in his classic "Dawn of the Dead" poster that he stood in line and had George A. Romero sign and the brief conversation they had that led to the personalized signature "To Eddie, Sorry about scaring the shit out of you when you were 9. Stay Scared, George Romero." Two years in a row sitting on the toilet in his hotel bathroom at Comic Con was the book "The Zombie Survival Guide." Eddie was SO excited for "The Walking Dead" to premiere on AMC, and followed the production very closely, devouring every new piece of news about the show. We had made plans for a virtual watch party for the premiere so we could talk about it after we watched the first episode. He really wanted to go down and be part of the filming of the first season as it was shot fairly close to where he lived, but he was always too busy with work and could never slip away for that long.
Eddie loved comic books. Conan was his favorite, but he had an encyclopedic mind for all things comic books. He was a big Marvel fan from when was a kid, but because of his work with DC Direct he started reading and loving a lot of DC titles also. He loved it when companies started doing prop replicas of things like Nick Fury’s gun and S.H.I.E.L.D badge and Captain America’s shield. He was really geeking out over the Avengers movie. And he was loving working on DC Direct’s Blackest Night products because it combined two of his loves, comics and zombies. He relocated to Georgia several years ago and one of his project was renovating the basement into his "man cave" so he could be surrounded by all of his comic book-themed favorite things.
Eddie loved toys. Even before he was a prototype painter he was a fan, back in his bartender days. He loved to collect, he loved to customize, he loved to talk about toys. Last year he started rebuying some things from his youth and was putting together a sizable boxed vintage GI Joe collection. Just two days ago he wrote to me asking if I could help him track down a DCUC Plastic Man, as he had missed getting one at the con. He said he didn’t need the SDCC exclusive suitcase, he just thought the figure was awesome and wanted one for his collection. He loved being a part of Marvel Legends, mostly because that was what he wanted to collect and he was looking forward to their return in 2012.
Eddie loved his job. He knew he was living his dream and he never took that for granted. He enjoyed the people that he worked for and he loved the projects that he got to work on. Most of us that knew him I think would agree that he worked too hard, but he took a lot of pride in his work and believed that a job worth doing was a job worth doing right. He never took notes from the licensor or the companies personally, and he always aimed to please.
That’s just a small glimpse into who Eddie Wires was. Eddie passed away last night in his studio, doing what he loved, painting toys.
Eddie is survived by his wife, his brother. It is my understanding that there will not be a ceremony and his wishes were to have himself cremated… most likely to insure that he wouldn’t rise again and be forced to fight against his friends in the zombie apocalypse.
Rest in peace Eddie. You will be missed more than you could ever know.
If you would like to see more of Eddie’s incredible body of work you can look at his official site.
We will have the industry reaction to Eddie’s passing in part 2.
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