While working at an ad agency in 1974, Steve Mickle and his co-worker Rich Hillman began cracking out one liners like “Death is… being able to thank God face to face.” and “Death is…looking better than anyone else at your 50th class reunion” that ended up becoming a book called Death is….
Mickle and Hillman’s original idea was to write a book on the meaning of life, but that wasn’t exactly what evolved. In 1998 Mickle’s friend, Hillman died. And now a reincarnated book has been published with new illustration done by Mickle’s wife, Kyle Edgell Mickle called Die Laughing! Lighthearted Views of a Grave Situation.
Mickle is a pastel portrait artist who moved to the Roanoke area about five years ago. He was born in St. Louis and grew up in Lynchburg. He was in the service and attended VCU where he studied graphic arts and design.
Mickle has two grown boys and is a grandfather. While in Richmond Mickle worked with an ad agency with Rich Hillman.
“We just hit it off,” Mickle said. “He was naturally funny. We began to anticipate what the other was going to say.”
Mickle and Hillman came up with 30 or so “Death is…” quotes and put them together as a cartoon.
In the 1970s after Mickle moved back to Lynchburg they had the idea to publish their book. And finally in the 1980s Mickle began to inquiry publishers . In 1993 the book was published.
“I never really let it go,” he said. After we (Mickle and Edgell) got married there was a lot going on. I was learning to use the computer…”
“Our courtship was emails. I didn’t know at the time he was a one finger typer,” Edgell joked.
“I found out you could find people on the Internet, so I looked up Bob Reed (with Robert D. Reed Publishers) and I called him and he actually remembered me,” Mickle recalled. “He asked I ever thought of re-doing Death is….”
So Mickle asked his wife, Edgell to illustrate it. It took four years, but it got done.
Kyle Edgell Mickle is caricature entertainer, drawing caricatures of people at events around the Roanoke Valley including corporate and After Prom school events. She has been voted the 2nd best party caricature artist nationally. She grew up in Danville and Pennsylvania and went to Sryacuse University and studied art.
“I call myself a faux artist. It’s fun. I do it on the spot and I give the art away. I base it on the uniqueness of the person,” Edgell said.
Edgell began drawing in 1990 and accidentally stumbled upon drawing caricatures when her roommate asked her to go to Night Lights, a bar where Barnes & Noble currently is. Her roommate asked her if she had ever done caricatures, which Edgell said she hadn’t and a manager overheard her. He asked her to come in and she said yes, in hopes of getting her portfolio seen. Edgell had no choice but to learn. Her first night in Roanoke she made $150 in tips and eventually decided to go into it full-time.
“I found my passion not in caricatures but in people,” she said.
Edgell said it took four years because it was “an interesting 2004/2005″.
“My mother died, we got married, and two weeks later I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “The book is rather flip, but it has a serious side to it. People were getting a lot of out of it. I guess when people are dealing with death there are different ways of dealing with it.”
Edgell is now a five year survivor of cancer.
Mickle said that once they got it together in the 80s a women who read the manuscript let her friend read it after the death of a family member and loved it saying she it really helped her deal with the death.
“People do find it funny, yet it’s about everyday life,” Mickle said. “I think Die Laughing! is for those people that are determined to celebrate life- all of it. It has it’s purpose- but as Steve says, it’s a humor book.”
“You don’t know how hard it is,” Edgell said. “I tell people my husband wrote a book and they say what is it about and i say it’s about death but it’s really funny. I joke that our theme song should be “Staying Alive”.”
Die Laughing! became available on June 10 and can be found anywhere online, at Printer’s Ink, RamsHead, Barnes & Noble, Givens in Lynchburg, Books-A-Million or can be purchased directly from Steve or Kyle Edgell Mickle by calling 774-7399 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Die Laughing! is $11.95. Check out their webiste at dielaughing.us.