Thursday, March 07, 2013

Toren Smith Passes Away

Toren Smith has passed away. He was 52 years old.

Toren was one of the original pioneers of the US manga industry, even before there was one. He did translations for Eclipse, Viz, and Dark Horse, and founded Studio Proteus back in 1986. His long term relationship with Dark Horse ran from 1988 until he sold the studio to them in 2004 and retired. He was also responsible for co-creating the Dirty Pair OEL along with Adam Warren (who was his roommate at one time). A lot of you guys probably don't remember Studio Proteus, but before the big boom and all that corporate money poured into the industry, SP was one of the top publishers of manga in North America for many years.

Yasuhiro Takeda of Gainax said of him in his autobiography:

"Not too long after the move, we became acquainted with another otaku who had come from North America (Canada, actually). His name was Toren Smith, and his love of manga had brought him all the way across the ocean to Japan. He'd run out of money somewhere along the way, however, and was having a hard time of it. Apparently, Okada had met Smith during our Osaka days. The Canadian had visited the General Products store in Momodani with sci-fi author J.P. Hogan, who was in Japan for the Sci-Fi Convention. Naturally, after hearing his foreign friend was down on his luck, Okada suggested we put him up at GAINAX House. Toren went on to be a success in his own right, later returning to North America and becoming president of a publishing company in the U.S. He is one shrewd fellow—not only did he make plenty of manga-related connections while he was here, but he snagged himself a beautiful Japanese wife to boot. I still remember one morning, shortly after we all woke up; the door to Toren's room opened and out walked a young lady we'd never seen before!"

Toren was an avid figurine collector and he was a long time regular patron of RACS (which is how I met him) going all the way back to our beginning. Over the years Toren placed dozens of orders with us for everything ranging from Manga to Anime to Figurines, and over that period of time I had the privilege of having several wonderful conversations with him on all sorts of topics. Outside of Anime and Manga, Toren was also an avid diver and shared my love of the outdoors and my passion for motorcycles.

Jonathan Clements tells the whole story here.

Of all the fellow Otaku that I have met over the years, I have always thought that he, above all, lived 'the life style' in a way that most of us could only dream of. He was an inspiration to me, and I always felt it was a privilege to serve him as a collector and fellow Otaku. If any of us could achieve 1/10th the level of success he was able to, we could look back on a life well lived.

Goodbye my friend, you will be missed.

1 comment:

MARl0 said...

The world has lost a good man. May he rest in peace.