death of Jens Altmann

edited October 2011 in Site Related
Dwight Williams just reported on Facebook that Jens Altmann has died. No details.
Jens hasn't posted here in a few months, but has been a regular both here and on P&P (maybe going back to The Engine). More recently I've seen him on the Bleeding Cool forum, which he posted to most recently a few days ago.
I'll refrain from saying more until I know more.


  • It's been confirmed from a few sources (indirectly from his wife Akiko) that Jens took his own life.

    He'd spoken about considering suicide in the past and I think it was pretty clear he suffered from depression, but the most recent things I'd seen from him (four days ago, on BC) didn't suggest anything was wrong. I wish I'd known where his mind was at, and that I could've tried to talk him out of it. I got lucky and saved a friend's life once, but not this time. In the abstract, I support a person's right to do what he did, to choose their own fate. But in specific, I think he made a big mistake. I know I'm not the person who's hurt the most by this; I was just one of the many people who knew him online. But even so I'm a bit angry at him for doing it. He was a friend, and my life – and the lives of others – are a bit emptier without him.
  • Yeah, saw this a minute ago on Facebook. Really shitty.
  • Oh my. The day just got a little sadder. Rest in peace.
  • So, this is what gets me to come to this forum...

    I just saw someone post this news on Facebook and wanted to come and see if it was true or not. I can't believe it. Jens was always a little tightly wound - reasonably as a still "unestablished" creator and being a bit older than most of the people running around on these kinds of forums.

    I worked with him a number of times on smaller projects - title/logo design, lettered a couple of his stories, and even began an actual project with him only to have it stall out. Anyway, he was a talented writer and I enjoyed his correspondence.

    Sad, sad news.
  • I saw Dwight's post on Facebook, and looked around some more. I believe Laura Martin posted the initial report on FB:

    "Found out a few hours ago that a longtime online friend, Jens Altmann, took his own life. I don't really know what to say, other than Jens, you will be missed, even if you thought you wouldn't be."

    So far the best remembrance that I've seen is from one his LiveJournal friends, Box-in-the-box .

    And Jason Q. has posted on BleedingCool.

  • I feel like shit about this, that I hadn't communicated with him for a while, that his script for Work! was the only one that didn't find an artist - and that was only because the one I found who would have been perfect got busy and I didn't want to send it to a lesser artist - and above all I feel guilty.

    I feel guilty and angry at myself that I let numerous projects we'd discussed fall onto the furthest back boiler, almost but not quite on the wayside. Projects that could have been awesome. That I didn't follow through on these things, that I got busy with more immediate, shinier projects. I feel bad because he produced 'Made Of Fail' without any sense of sarcasm, or irony, and I didn't get that that was what he was manifesting about himself. And I feel bad because all this was bubbling under his surface, and I had no idea what had been going on with him for months.

    And I also feel bad because I know that this will spur some of us to re-examine ourselves briefly, produce brief spurts of work out our own angers and guilt, and then let that sputter out as time progresses.

    And I feel bad because he's gone and I barely knew him.
  • RIP Jens. He was always so down on himself and his work ... but he could translate Japanese into German or English, which I thought was an amazing talent. It's awful that he left his wife behind, and I wish someone could have intervened.
  • I sent him an email a month back (10-18-11). He wanted to know which people wanted to stay on his contact list -- since he wasn't posting as much online / forum anymore. He also sent me his work.

    But even more, I used photos that Jens sent me in my LAST trade of Bomb Queen (August). My book started coming out in Germany and Jens took pictures of it on the stands and pictures of his fav comic shop owner holding my book. I used the photos in the trade and credited his name, too. I sent signed copies for him and the store owner. He got them and was pleased.

    But to hear this now... it wrecks my heart.
  • As Jason said, it's a death that Jens foretold many times. Which I think makes it all the sadder.
  • Yeah, that's one of the things that bothers me so much about this. When it honestly comes out of nowhere it's easier for me to deal with but with Jen's many of us have tried to talk him down from this sort of action a number of times. Honestly, there was a period there where it happened in so many threads that I wasn't sure if he honestly felt that way or was just using it as a way to get attention with no real intent; I always hoped it was just the latter.
  • I've got mixed feelings about this. Jens will be missed, of course, there's no arguing that. I'm one of, as it seems, many who thought he was doing better because the last couple of things of his I'd read were more upbeat than the very depressive streaks he showed about a year or tow ago in P&P.

    Could we have done more? Should we have done more? Should we have been more alert to signs of any kind? I don't know. I like to believe each and every one of us did everything we felt able or entitled to.

    That's why I can't really sympathize with suicides. They tend to leave an unfair amount of doubts, guilt and questions for everybody who cares. Makes me sad & angry where I should just be sad.

    Either way, this thread is for paying respects.

    Sad to see him go. Again, no arguing that
  • Just back to the world and found this news, very sad. My condolences to his wife. 
  • Very shocked to see Tony Lee tweet about this today. In retrospect... yeah, Jens clearly had some ongoing shit he was dealing with. I'm sorry he chose this way out; I'm especially sorry for his wife and family.

    Whether any of us here could have done something... my impression of these things is that, you know, it's either acute or chronic. Either suicidal thoughts and tendencies are something you have briefly at one time in your life, or they're something that are with you for a long time. It sounds like people here talked Jens down at least once in the past; if one of us had known he was having problems recently and had talked him down again, would it have lasted? The only life you can control is your own. The only person who could really keep Jens from killing himself was Jens. So, I hope nobody here blames themselves more than they should. 
  • This is just so sad. Don't know what else to say.
  • Shit.

    Rather than add yet another voice to the 'shoulda-woulda-coulda' echo chamber, I'm just going to remind myself that Jens was a smart guy, and he tolerated my attempts to correspond in broken German. 

    He'll be missed.

  • @JasonAQuest "Take This Job And Stick It" - I almost had Gerry Alanguilan as artist but he got swamped. 
  • I've been refraining from contributing to this discussion as I never knew Jens, but at the same time I don't want to appear as a heartless prick, so I'll offer my condolences and add only this.  As someone who has been touched by mental illness in my extended family, as much as I don't understand the impulse to self-harm, I know it's a legitimate and devastating problem for those who suffer from it.  I hope his family has ample support at this time and are coping ok with it.  And I hope that anyone else who may read this and has those thoughts or feelings from time to time can seek whatever help there is available to them and continue to create and share their passion.  It is always a terrible blow when society loses its artists.  To Jens, in our thoughts.
  • That's horrible news. My condolences to his wife and family.

    Shawn's comment was well said. Depression is a complex issue, and mental illness is something we tend to avoid talking about in our culture. There is too much of a stigma attached; no one wants to stand up and be counted. And I'd guess that in creative communities it strikes on a slightly higher rate than others.

    I've struggled with depression a lot  though I've never had the impulse to self harm, unless you count eating yourself to death which I was well on my way to doing 7 years ago. I pulled my self out of it eventually. Meeting a good woman and developing a decent career in animation has kept me pretty stable and happy over the past few years, but it's something I'm ever vigilant about. 

    That aside, going by what you read on a forum, it's pretty hard to judge whether someone is a negative curmudgeon, an Eeyore, or has lost all hope. Frankly, there have been one or two people in this communities various form's who had me more worried than Jens ever did. 

    For those who had noticed how bad it had got for him and tried to help, what he was struggling with was a disease, and none of us are medical professionals. You tried, and in the end that's all any one can do.
  • edited October 2011
    Saw the post on Bleeding Cool, and it led me here.  Had to pay my respects.

    I remember some discussions on Panel and Pixel that I had with him that made me profoundly change some of my attitudes about comics and work in general. 

    Rest in peace, Jens. 
  • When I read the title of this thread, I HOPED it was just Jens posting about some sort of career rebooting.

    I hate that I was wrong.
  • Prayers to his family and friends. I remember him posting all the time over at Panel n' Pixel, and he always seemed like a great guy.
  • I've been away, and now I come back to this horrible news.
    I didnt' know Jens particularly well but he sometimes complemented me on my work, so I will always think fondly of him.

    This brings back memories of a good friend who suicided back in 2003. He wasn't a comics creator, simply a friend who had been in the software business, and his business had collapsed in the dot-com bust and he was never able to recover. He left behind a wife and three children. The last time I spoke with him was when he called me on the phone to vent his frustrations -- and I'm afraid I wasn't very supportive because at the time I was rushing to complete my first graphic novel. I brushed him off, and never got a chance to talk to him again.

    My sympathies to his widow, and any of his friends left wondering if they could have done or said anything to prevent his death. 

  • By the way, Craig, I'm glad to hear things are going better for you these days. I'd been a bit worried about you too, buddy.
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