Like many people, I was stunned to see friends on Facebook talking about the unexpected death of Andy Copp last night.  He was a regular presence in online horror/exploitation film cult circles, a mainstay of the convention circuit, a prolific blogger and a proud member of the underground horror filmmaking community, with several features and short films to his credit.  He had some health problems as of late but still found the energy to work tirelessly on a feature entitled Church Of The Eyes.  How could someone with that sort of drive and dedication leave us so soon?

Sources close to Andy confirmed he had committed suicide.  I was not close enough to him to know what led him to that terrible choice – but it hurt me to hear this news.  Even though I’d never met him in person, he’d been an active and always welcome presence in my online life for many years.  We’d traded movies, discussed films on message boards and Facebook and I had happily promoted his work via this blog.

And I wasn’t alone in feeling this pain.  Almost immediately, there was outpouring of love on Andy’s Facebook page.  There are a lot of people who loved and admired him during his short time in this world – and their words make it obvious that they will carry him in their hearts for a long time to come.  Whether it was a long-time collaborator commenting or just a fellow fan he’d met at a convention, everyone was hurting because they’d lost a major source of support and kindness in a corner of fandom where those qualities are often in short supply.

That was always my experience with Andy.  He was a reliable reader of Schlockmania and never hesitated to offer an encouraging comment when we had similar assessments of a particular film. He always made me feel welcome to express my thoughts; that someone not only read my online scribblings but cared enough to let me know.  Similarly, I could always count on him to express himself in a thoughtful manner when we’d trade comments on Facebook – no matter what the topic of discussion was, he’d be happy to discuss things with people of all viewpoints.

My last major interaction with Andy was when he asked me to review his short film, Consumption Of The Heart, at Schlockmania.  It was my first exposure to his work and I was impressed: despite the rough edges inherent to no-budget filmmaking, he dealt with edgy subject matter in a head-on style and found the humanity lurking beneath its surface.  That is how I’ll choose to remember Andy: someone who had the courage to shine a light on the darkness and make heartfelt art out of what he found.

Rest in peace, Andy.  I hope you’ve found the peace that this world could never provide.