In my life I've had a couple of friends that really inspired me. One of those friend's was Richard Markle. Richard was my friend through Middle and High School. I lost contact with him during college, but I never forgot how he inspired me to read and imagine. Richard was always reading, drawing or doing something creative (especially with his hair color). He was mostly an outsider who didn't fit into any group or category. He got into trouble with drinking and drugs later on, but he always has a passion for art (especially comic books and science fiction/fantasy).
Recently, I learned that Richard died in a freak accident in 2006. I was completed shocked. First, because Richard was someone who I always remembered fondly, but also because he was working at a CGI studio in Berkeley (Tippet Studios). My dad had taught both Phil Tippet (the founder) and Richard at Palomar College. Phil Tippet is a pioneer in stop-motion and CGI animation who received an Oscar for his work on Jurassic Park. Around 1998 I got a tour of the studio with my dad and mom (who was friend's with Phil too). I thought to myself that it would be my dream come true to work someplace like that. The whole atmosphere was so cool. Models of dinosaurs, Imperial Walkers and other monsters were everywhere.
Richard was the lead rotoscoper/paint artist (rotoscoping is a particular animation technique) at the studio. He worked on a number of movies (Charlotte's Web, Hellboy, The Matrix, etc.) and commercials from 2000 to 2006.
While I'm sad he's not with us anymore, I'm glad he finally found his way and ended up doing something so creative. He was a smart guy.
Here are some pages about his work.