It is with a heavy heart that I have to write that my good friend David Kraus passed away last night. He was 49.

Like many people I know these days, I first met Dave at Buried Under Comics. He came in a few times with a friend of his, then started coming in on his own and quickly became a regular on Saturdays. Dave was a pop culture aficionado like few others I knew. He was a huge fan of old monster movies like Godzilla, Gamera, and the Universal monsters, as well as the more obscure ones. He loved the old Saturday-morning horror movie shows from back in the day, when local TV stations had their own hosts, like western Massachusetts’ Bob Macabre, who became a friend of his. He loved Gerry Anderson shows like Space: 1999, a love he shared with many people. He loved Silver Age comics and pulp characters like Hellboy. He would crack us up as he would tell us about some of the stranger terrible movies he knew of, especially one called The Sinful Dwarf. We always talked about watching that one someday as a group, and I’m sorry we never did.

Dave loved plenty of modern pop culture, too, and we had common ground in our love of Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and The Big Bang Theory. We were always quoting lines back and forth that only the two of us knew, sometimes to the confusion of others and the amusement of us.

That’s one thing about Dave. There was always plenty of laughter to be had when he was around, whether it was from popular culture, someone pranking someone else, or us skewering something ridiculous someone in our group had said or done.

Dave was also an incredibly generous man, whether he was spotting someone money for lunch or giving away DVDs in his collection. The first time we went to New York Comic Con as a group, he bought all our tickets. He was a generous man because it never occurred to him to act any other way.

And then there’s Kathy. One Saturday Dave started telling us about this woman he had started seeing. You could tell there was something special about her. She started visiting the store with him, too, and it was no surprise to any of us when they told us they were going to get married. They were exactly the right person for the other, they were crazy in love with one another, and they made each other so very, very happy. It’s not right that their time together was far too short.

People will often tell you that you don’t have to be a famous movie star or world-class surgeon to be an influence on people’s lives, and it’s true. Sometimes it’s the small things we do that can have the biggest impact on someone’s life, and that’s the case with Dave and me.

Dave really wanted to do a podcast about comic books and pop culture, so he came down to the comic store one day and asked if people would be interested. Of course we were, so a few weeks later Dave, myself, and our friends Scott, Marc, and Brian Kozicki (another friend we lost far too soon last summer) recorded the first episode of Nine Panel Nerds, a show that would grow to include three more members and last two years. More importantly, it gave us all a reason to get together every other Sunday night to record a show and hang out, helping our already friendly group grow even tighter.

But on top of that, people would recommend other podcasts to me after hearing NPN, so I started listening to those shows, then started talking with those podcasters and became friends with them – some of whom I now count as some of my best friends – and it’s all because of Dave. I can sincerely say that I would not have met some of the people I love most in this world had Dave not given me the opportunity to do so. Not a bad outcome from asking the simple question, “Would any of you be interested in recording a podcast?” I’m glad you did, Dave, and I’ll always thank you.

The last time I saw Dave was in November, the night of the grand opening of A Hero’s Legacy, the comic store that replaced Buried Under Comics. Everyone was in an incredibly good mood from the day, trading stories and laughing our heads off and promising to see each other again soon. Not long after, Dave was hospitalized.

Rest in Peace, Yog. I’ll watch a terrible monster movie in your honor tonight. I think you would have liked that.