Judy Renee Pope, 1960-2007.

Of complications following coronary bypass surgery.
4:15 PM, Thursday, September 6th 2007--two days before her 47th birthday.

Her family and friends request that no flowers be sent.

Instead, please consider donating to one of Judy's favorite charities:

Alley Cat Allies of MD/DC, a feral cat rescue
City Kitties, Philadelphia's famous feral cat rescue
Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Lisbon, MD--an excellent rescue and re-adoption farm
The National Trust for Historic Preservation helps to save fine old architecture.

Judy was born in Los Angeles, California, but moved to Missouri with her family when she was three. She grew up in Kirksville, a college town in the northeast part of the state, where she spent much of her time on friends' farms and ranches, riding and helping with their Appaloosas and Quarter Horses. She began collecting Breyer models and other horse figures, and drawing horses, at a very young age and never stopped. Most of these drawings had elaborate stories to go with them, a second life that was never far from her mind.

Much too bright for Missouri's arid intellectual environment, Judy retreated--like most intelligent, imaginative small-town kids in the years before the Internet-- into the local libraries, bookstores, radio and late-night television. She had a life-long love of cartoons, screwball British comedies, vampire movies, and rock music from all eras. In more recent years, she collected the books of "magic realist" writers like Jonathan Carroll and Haruki Murakami. She wandered the length and width of Adair County with her camera. She collected HEAVY METAL magazine, the Warren horror mags CREEPY, EERIE and VAMPIRELLA, and rock magazines by the carload. These were a major influence on her art: impressed by the ornate illustrative style of the Warren artists and the dramatic visuals of the glitter-era rockers, she began drawing vampires, rock bands and exotic aliens, all with names, histories and plotlines to match.

One of Judy's most-loved original characters, Ginger Valquez, telepathic bassist for Nosferatu. Watercolor with added glitter; painted (I think) 1989.

She loved history, from ancient times up to the Industrial Revolution, and was passionate about historic preservation of old structures, especially bridges and classic movie theatres. In fact, she loved just about anything old: she was adamant that old craftsmanship was superior to new nearly every time, and she could pretty much be counted on to prefer the antique and original form of anything, from art, furniture and jewelry designs to horse breeds and architecture. She was endlessly curious about unexplained phenomena of all kinds, collected old and new books on all sorts of weird topics, and loved "Fortean Times" and "The X-Files". Especially, she loved to do research. When she became interested in anything she plunged into it and produced reams of paper--notes, pedigrees, maps, charts, all of it done in technical pen in her tiny, flowing handwriting. Her memory was closer to photographic than anyone's I've ever met: once she'd studied a thing she never forgot it, whether it was the release dates of movies or the pedigrees of early Arabian horse imports to the USA. I'm going to be totally lost without access to those wonderful files, which were literally a working encyclopedia.

Eventually, of course, Judy came in contact with fandom. The earliest fan-related influence she's mentioned was reading the Star Trek fanzine collection of her collie-breeding friend Che're Anesi. The idea that such things existed was a revelation to her. She traveled to several Kansas City area SF and comics conventions with Che're and other friends, always with her sketchbook in tow, and was encouraged to begin selling her watercolors at convention art auctions (which, despite her mother's scorn, she continued doing for years). It was at one of these cons that she met long-time New York comics fan fixture Ken Gale. Ken (who stopped to talk to her because she was wearing a t-shirt with the logo of The Who, Ken's rock heroes) looked through her sketchbook and said, "Y'know, I know someone you really ought to meet, I'll give her your address." That was me. =)

Judy and I corresponded for three years--longer and longer letters packed with drawings and bits of writing, in illustrated envelopes that astonished my local postmistress--and eventually, despite tremendous cases of nerves on both sides, arranged to meet. I took the train to Missouri and stayed a week at Judy's house. It was, simply, love at first sight. When my father died a year later, in 1977, Judy and her school friend Nancy Goeke had already arranged to take an apartment in Kirksville together while attending university there. They invited me to come out, find work in town and be their third roommate. She and I have lived together, from state to state, ever since.

It was during that first visit that we discovered the model horse hobby. Talking about how we had both collected Breyers as kids, Judy mentioned that she was sure a lot of her collection was still boxed-up in the attic. We found it, and spent a happy several hours in the dust with her old friends. Gee, we asked, I wonder if they still make these horses?...in short order we discovered new Breyers, JUST ABOUT HORSES, and the fascinating new world of model showing, remaking and repainting. Judy created her first repaints the summer that I moved out to Kirksville (a Classic Arab family--I wonder where they are now?), and her career in the hobby was born.

A big day for us: the 1992 MAR Maryland All-Halter Classic, when horses made and owned by us went Grand and Reserve Grand Champion. On the right, me with Grand Champion Penitente; on the left, Judy with Res. Grand Champion Phases of Gravity
(a/k/a/ Shenandoah).

We moved to Boulder, Colorado, where we made and sold remakes (I had been dragooned into doing sanding and prepping, which remains my job =), photo-showed extensively, met other horse hobbyists, and (thanks to Bonnie Driver) attended our first live show: Rocky Mountain High, whose name was changed the next year because someone thought it sounded drug-related =). Grand of Show was a Kathy Maestas remake called VLR Reflections in Diamond. We also became passionate MTV fans, watching the brand-new-phenomenon of music videos many hours a day, and began picking up the UK music weeklies at local shops to catch up on the rock updates we'd missed.

When we were forced to return to Kirksville, we became even more active in the hobby (there's not much else to do in Missouri!) and showed some of Judy's most successful remakes, including Nova Heart, Anshukurra, and her most beloved of all, *Joujouka++. We still had MTV, but no music papers, and that's where Elizabeth Bouras--long-established horse hobbyist and photographer + major anime fan, who we'd become penpals with when she attended several of our photo shows in Boulder--comes into the tale. Liz, a rock fanatic virtually from birth (ask her to tell you the "David Bowie or God" story sometime), took pity on us and offered to ship us the much-missed British press. We also, through her, became friends with legendary remaker Julie Froelich, also a rock and fantasy fan, who helped Liz introduce us to Japanese anime (by sending us what was then the only medium for such, namely VHS copies of episodes taped raw off Japanese TV!)--a love that developed deep roots. --Eventually, Liz moved from her home near Philly to a group house with friends here in MD, and, in 1987, invited us to leave Missouri and join them. That didn't last, and we two plus Liz took a new apartment, where we've been for twenty years now.

Judy was so shy that you could only persuade her to pose for a pic by putting a rock star next to her.
Left, Judy with Glenn Danzig; right, with drummer Ginger of Marilyn Manson.

In her decades in the horse hobby, Judy created hundreds of remakes (she hated the terms "custom" and "customizing", saying they applied to cars, not horses), both solo and in collaboration with Liz. She restored many valuable vintage chinas to show quality, sculpted and co-sculpted a number of successful resins, and had two original sculptures--"Lal-i-Abdar"(run of only 20 pieces) and "Endemoniada" (run of 100 pieces)--issued in china. She painted more resins than either of us has any records of, and sadly planned --but left unpainted-- a good many more. But she remained most proud of the medium in which she began: her drawings and flat art. It speaks volumes that when I set about posting links here to her galleries on this site, I found none of them still working except this one. (I will rebuild the model horse gallery she had here at Spookhouse.net.)

I believe, though, that she was most happy in the online world of anime and animation fandom. Animation forums gave her the freedom to discuss the things she loved with other fans at her own pace, without being self-conscious of her appearance or her lifelong shyness. In that environment her wonderful nature and qualities--her patience, her tireless kindness, her thoughtful and diplomatic approach to any conflict, her scholarship and remarkable memory, and her desire to teach and share--shone their very brightest, and she was honestly loved by the members of the forums in which she most often took part. She'll leave an empty space there that no one can fill. As she will here.

There's just about nothing she couldn't do calmly and capably. Not only a painter, sculptor, artist, and photographer, she could repair toasters and lamps; she was a terrific cook; she added every single program on this computer; she could clip the cats' claws without freaking them out; she designed and cultivated a balcony garden complete with fishpond, where she raised roses and old rare bulbs; she traced her family history back four centuries. For 30 years I was in constant awe and admiration of her. I'll always appreciate the privilege of having had such a remarkable creature for the love of my life.

She is survived by her mother, Peggy Starbuck; her widow, me; and the lifetime's worth of characters, locations, stories and adventures that we've always called the Invisible Circus. We promised each other long ago that if one of us died before the other, the survivor would adopt all the other's characters and give them a good home.

--or if no rock star was available, me. Us in Feb. 1988, heading out to see Gene Loves Jezebel.

So rest in peace, princess. Don't worry. They're all mine now, and we'll do our best to take care of each other.

Judy's gallery at the Model Horse Gallery--includes all seven of her resincasts.

Judy's obituary from the burial service. (It was nice of her mom to mention us.)

...go back to Amalgam main page.