On the day Rutland’s “Mr. Halloween” was laid to rest, Tom Fagan’s friends talked about the far-flung influence that his life and his Halloween Parade have had.
“I tracked him down when I was 11 years old because he had written letters to Batman Comics and I was a big fan,” Latino said. “And that’s when I learned my first lesson about Tom — he was willing to open his world to anyone and he was interested in the world of others.”
Fagan’s thirst for “knowledge and hopes and dreams” led him on journeys to conventions around the country. Wherever fans of comics, collectibles or James Dean memorabilia gathered, Latino said, Fagan was held in high regard.
After the service was over, Latino said that during a trip with Fagan to Fairmount, Ind., where actor James Dean was raised and is buried, residents in the community knew Fagan by name. Some of the biggest names in the comics industry, including Frank Miller and Stan Lee, also knew Fagan.
Rutland, its parade and Fagan himself appeared in more than 20 comics during the 1970s and 1980s. One of those writers was a man who was a comics fan himself when he first met Fagan.
“I met him at a convention. I was a member of ISOS (Illegitimate Sons of Superman) and so was Tom, sort of,” longtime comic book writer and editor Len Wein said during a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Wein, who was writing “Justice League of America” during his first trip to Rutland, said he watched the parade alongside two other writers who were penning pages for Marvel Comics and DC Comics at the time.
After seeing the parade — and attending some of Fagan’s famous parties at a mansion he oversaw on Grove Street — Wein said, he returned to DC Comics where he wrote the Rutland Parade, Fagan, himself and his two colleagues into the issue of “Justice League of America” No. 103.
“That was a legendary issue because you could see all of us standing along the parade route,” Wein said.