Longtime comics industry professional Rob Samsel died unexpectedly at MidState Medical Center in Meriden, CT on February 18 at the age of 46. Samsel ran comic shops such as Fantasy Comics and Fantastic Cards and Comics in Connecticut in recent years, but he is perhaps best known for being one of Wizard Magazine’s earliest writers and editors.
Rob was someone I got to know relatively well while freelancing for Wizard and he was a brash, funny guy who was definitely part of the madcap chemistry that made Wizard what it was in the early days. He always had some hilarious story or bit of industry skuttlebutt that he couldn’t wait to pull you aside and tell you. Rob was just about the most well-connected guy I knew in comics in those days, 20 years ago now. Or so it seemed to me at the time. The guy knew everybody.
I first saw the news from another of his friends Jimmy Palmiotti earlier today. Palmiotti posted on facebook:
I am truly heartbroken/ shocked to hear this sad news…Rob was one hell of a great guy and one of the funniest people I knew. I consider myself sooo lucky to have known him.
This is a loss to everyone that knew him and all those who followed his excellent articles he did for Wizard magazine years ago. Rest in Peace brother…you are missed and never forgotten.
The thing I always remember about Rob is visiting the Wizard offices one day shortly after he’d interviewed then rising-star-artist Joe Quesada. Rob had kicked off the interview with a joke question, which I’m not going to mention here, to get a reaction out of Joe. And here’s Rob playing the tape of Joe’s response for a group of us and giggling like a madman the whole time. But that was very much Rob, and it was also part of the tone of the magazine — both taking it seriously and having fun with it at the same time.
Rob still enjoyed comics and the business of it immensely in more recent years, and was a frequent poster in the forums here. He was someone who liked to know what was going on with every part of comics and let people know what he thought about it. Sometimes he’d email me to share an old-school behind the scenes tidbit about some Bleeding Cool story he’d just read.
Responding to a story last year that he had some inside knowledge of, he mentioned to me via email that he always made a point of remembering who the good people in the business were. Rob was one of those people — A man who loved and supported comics of all kinds, a devoted family man, and someone who never failed to bring some humor to the sometimes-too-serious business of comics.