This morning, one of my best friends of nearly 20 years died. Fuck cancer.
Elizabeth Bramlett Donnell, “Lizz” to most people, is one of the most kind, understanding, considerate, giving, creative, and fun people I’ve ever known. I honestly can’t imagine how my life would have turned out had it not been for her.
One weekend in 1996, I returned from a weekend at my parents’ house in Maine. I had been looking at some of my stuff that was left behind in the basement. Among them was a toy for “Wheeled Warriors”. I remembered there was a cartoon series loosely based on the toys, but wanted to look up more information, so I searched Lycos and found “The Root”, a web site dedicated to the Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors cartoon. It was run by someone calling themselves “Lizzard”. I e-mailed Lizzard with information about the toys which could be added to the site. The e-mails between us didn’t stop for years.
Lizz went off to study in Edinburgh and I kept in touch, relaying information from stateside. After remarking how much I liked the Iria anime I caught on The Sci-Fi Channel, Lizz got me interested in anime again by recommending other shows. We split the costs on Sailor Moon fansubs from VKLL on VHS tape. (I still have the Sailor Moon Stars tapes to this day.) We also co-purchased Transformers comics from the UK. In 1998, she visited and gave me a Chibi Moon toy that she didn’t want…which ended up spawning The Chibi Project, an entire web site and podcast dedicated to destroying it and other toys.
I took the train down to Virginia to visit her in 1999. We went to see Wing Commander just so that we could see the trailer for the amazing new Star Wars movie that was showing before it. As Transformers fans, we went to BotCon ’99 in St. Paul that summer. (It was at this con, she rejected the opportunity to meet voice actor Scott McNeil, whom she would eventually spend many hours hanging out with.)
The following summer, rather than return to a mediocre Transformers convention, we decided to go with her friend Matt Martin to Anime Expo in Anaheim, California. (My first trip to California and my first time in cosplay!) We loved it and would return for many years. In fact, I loved it so much that I started looking for more conventions closer to me. In 2001, I went to a lot more conventions and started keeping track of them on a site that would eventually become AnimeCons.com. In October 2001, I went to an anime convention in Boston that was so disappointing that it prompted Adam Ferraro and I to form Anime Boston.
Like many AnimeOnDVD.com members, Lizz joined us for that first year. …and thanks to an unexpected turnout of over 4,000 anime fans, she (like many others) got drafted into helping us out that weekend. She ended up helping us out with the convention guests and returned several more times in the following years to continue to help.
When I say I can’t imagine how my life would be without Lizz, I’m saying I also can’t imagine how it would have turned out without The Chibi Project, AnimeCons.com, Anime Boston, or all the friends I’ve made there. I probably wouldn’t have gotten into podcasting without The Chibi Project or AnimeCons.com, so I probably wouldn’t be working for TWiT.tv now. I might still be slaving away over the Monster.com ad server.
I most certainly never would have been going to a lot of anime conventions, so I never would have attended Bakuretsu Con 2004 and never would have met the woman who is now my wife.
Lizz, you will be missed and you will always be loved. There are so many wonderful moments that I will cherish. You have been a true friend. Thank you.