Stu Shiffman (1954-2014)

Stu Shiffman (middle) in 1981.

Stu Shiffman (middle) in 1981.

Stu Shiffman died November 26, almost two-and-a-half years after suffering a stroke; he was 60. The renowned fan artist, who generously shared his talents in fanzines, apas and convention publications, received the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 and the Rotsler Award in 2010.

Stu was a native New Yorker but moved to Seattle about 20 years ago with his partner Andi Shechter.

Stu always was fascinated by the traditions and in-references of science fiction fandom and loved to incorporate them in unexpected settings that might involve anything from cartoons of talking animals to intricately rendered Egyptian tomb art and hieroglyphs.

When he got into fandom in the 1970s mimeographed fanzines were still quite common. Taral Wayne admired that Stu “was as much a master of pen and ink as he was of stylus and stencil.”

Stu also had a special interest in drawing literary characters like Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Burrough’s John Carter (interests which sometimes merged, as in his ERBzine contribution Adventure of the Martian Hegira: fragments from the Barsoomian Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes.)

In fact, one of his earliest contributions to a fanzine appeared in the sword-and-sorcery oriented Amra (October 1975) — “Goric & Other Limericks” co-authored with NY fan John Boardman.

Stu’s own publications, such as Raffles, co-edited with Larry Carmody, began appearing around 1977.

He became a leader in New York’s faannish fandom when he hosted Fanoclasts. He also chaired the Flushing in ’80 hoax Worldcon bid committee composed of Moshe Feder, Joe Siclari, Gary Farber, Hank Davis, Elliot Shorter, and Jon Singer.

Stu’s soaring popularity led to him being voted the 1981 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. The following year he began his TAFF report, A Raffles Lad Abroad or The Road to Yorcon. (See Chapters 1 and 2 here.)

Stu ordinarily enjoyed his fannish accolades as much as anyone, but he did become frustrated that during the 1980s he established a record for the most fan Hugo nominations without winning. Everyone was gratified when he broke through at last in 1990.

All this productivity happened despite a medical condition Stu was coping with at the time. The symptoms became apparent when he was invited by fellow artists Schirmeister and Taral to join them hiking on Mt. Wilson in 1984 and he had difficulty keeping up. Taral explained in The Slan of Baker Street, “Stu will have to forgive me if I relate this imperfectly, but he had an abnormal connection between the blood vessels of his brain that allowed venous blood to mingle with arterial blood. The intermixing robbed his bloodstream of oxygen, and he tired easily.” Doctors corrected this by performing brain surgery in 1985 – an operation lasting 12 hours according to Ansible.

Stu’s interest in mysteries was strong enough to fuel three fandoms with art and articles. He was a Sherlockian (Sound of the Baskervilles, Hounds of the Internet) who contributed to publications like Baker Street Journal, and a Wodehouse enthusiast who sent material to such journals as Plum Lines and Wooster Sauce. And Stu was just as likely to write something about them for an sf fanzine. For example, a 1999 issue of Mainstream featured his “Adventures of the Danzig Mien,” the script of a Sherlockian parody: Stu had a great time festoon­ing a Conan Doyle-esque plot with ridiculous references and in-jokes.

He also produced some similarly-inspired short stories for an anthology series. In “The Milkman Cometh” (Tales of the Shadowmen 5: Vampires of Paris) Tevye meets Sherlock Holmes and confronts Boris Badenov. In “Grim Days” (Tales of the Shadowmen 7) Lord Peter Wimsey and Colonel Haki meet in Istanbul.

He drew a backup feature for Captain Confederacy, the black-and-white comic produced by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone (published by Steeldragon Press), involving two steampunkish characters named Saks & Violet.

So it is not surprising that Stu was attracted to alternate history and for many years was a member of the judging panel for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

His convention guest of honor stints included Hexacon (1980), Minicon XX, Wiscon XII, Corflu 6 (1989) and Lunacon 2000.

At Corflu 5 (1988) he was named a Past President of Fan Writers of America (fwa).

He had a recipe in the Tiptree fundraiser The Bakery Men Don’t See (1991) – “Grandma Ethel Katz’s Noodle Kugel.” Stu co-edited the 1986 issue of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly with the Nielsen Haydens and Lee Hoffman. He illustrated the 1991 edition of Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator…To the Enchanted Convention by Walt Willis and James White.

On June 14, 2012 Stu suffered a stroke. Two brain surgeries followed. For several months he went back and forth between ICU and acute care, depending on his breathing and heartbeat. Eventually he was reported to be on a gradual upswing and thereafter, though he periodically had serious setbacks, Stu enjoyed sustained improvement.

Andi Shecter visited constantly. Tom Whitmore maintained a CaringBridge online journal that let Stu’s friends keep abreast of important changes in his status.

Andi Shechter and Stu Shiffman on their wedding day, June 18, 2014,

Andi Shechter and Stu Shiffman on their wedding day, June 18, 2014,

In 2013 Andi and Stu, who had been together for 25 years, announced their engagement. On June 18, 2014 they married in a ceremony at University of Washington’s Burke Museum with nearly 100 in attendance.

By October, Stu had recovered to the point that he’d been able to use a powered wheelchair for the first time since his stroke. However, only a week later, he had a fall and required surgery from which he did not regain consciousness.

Then, this afternoon, he died after his heart stopped. Tom Whitmore explained: “Aides found him when they went to prepare him for a shower. He was given CPR and 911 was called. The EMTs were able to get a heartbeat and pulse back and he was being readied to go to Harborview Emergency Department when he heart stopped again. They were unable to get him back. They tried for about 40 minutes.”

I am so sad that Stu wasn’t able to make the recovery we all hoped he would have, and am very sorry for Andi’s loss.

Stu Shiffman and Mike Glyer in 2004. Photo by Rich Coad.

Stu Shiffman and Mike Glyer in 2004. Photo by Rich Coad.

19 thoughts on “Stu Shiffman (1954-2014)

  1. Such a terrific guy, and I was so chuffed to finally hang out with him at Andy Hooper’s birthday party during my 2008 TAFF trip. My heart goes out to Andi and their respective families.

  2. I’m deeply saddened by Stu’s loss, and I trust he is off on a great adventure that will enable him to once again put pen to paper in some better place, for the enrichment and amusement of those around him. Because, you know, he’ll always be surrounded by good souls. I am fortunate to have been a fannish peer and to have collaborated with him a few times to produce cartoons and drawings. I liked Stu personally, and was very happy to see him in Seattle this past September after a gap of many years. All my deepest condolences to Andi. We will remember Stu fondly. He was one of the best.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful obituary, Mike. A terrible loss. I am grateful for having met him, pubbed his artwork in my early fanzines, and send all of my love to Andi.

  4. We are all the poorer for losing him, with so much to be hoped for from that brilliant mind and pen.

  5. We who knew him – even if only through his art – are with a heavy heart today. At dinner, I shall toast him with a shot of bourbon then curse such a cruel Universe as ours exists: Stu and Andi should have been together forever and the rest of us are lessened by his absence.

  6. Great obituary, Mike. Stu will be missed. I still have many good memories of the Fanoclasts meetings here in New York. When I invited him to be Fan Guest of Honor at Lunacon 2000, I could not think of anyone better. I knew that there were many, many people besides myself who wanted to see him. I was hoping that he would recover enough that we could all see him again. This is a sad Thanksgiving.

  7. I “hung out” with Andi and Stu at many conferences. Stu was incredibly talented and one of the nicest, gentlest souls I’ve ever met. I shall miss him terribly but treasure every moment we spent together.

  8. Thank you for such a well-written memorial Mike. Stu will be remembered and celebrated as a fannish legend and a good and generous friend to us all.

  9. A wonderful obit which would have been even better if it had been delayed for another 20 years. I saw him infrequently but he was definitely a good guy who will be missed.
    Even though I will not be at Sasquan, I would hope that they do something special in honor of his memory.

  10. Thanks so much. Mike. Losing Stu really hurts. I was so hoping there would be more cartoons and those wry little mutters of his over dinner….

  11. Thanks for this summing up, Mike. A fine job as usual.

    Although we saw each other less after he moved west, Stu remained a special friend with common fannish roots and our memories of all the good times we shared. Like everyone else, I was hoping he would rally once more. I wanted to be able to visit him next year when in Washington state for Sasquan. Fandom, and my personal world, were both enriched by him for four decades. Both are poorer for his loss.

    For anyone who’s curious about the photo at the top of the article, it was taken at a party I organized to honor James and Peggy White after they were guests of honor at Lunacon. The party was held at the Manhattan apartment of Peter De Jong and Norma Auer Adams who were then married. That’s Norma on the left. On the right is another trufan and good friend we lost much too soon, Jon White.

  12. Thanks Mike for the news of Stu’s passing and the comprehensive bio/eulogy. Another master of SF fandom lost and a great illustrator whose many fanzine covers stood out from the crowd in the Murdoch University Collection that I was Librarian to from 1974 – 2010. Spent time with Cliff Wind and Marilyn Holt on their farm in 2012 unawares of Stu’s medical condition and my proximity to a hero.

  13. I have known very few people in my life as kind, compassionate, and warm as Stu. When that package also includes talented and funny, it’s even better. Stu’s death is a great loss.

    Thanks for writing about him.

  14. Knew him slightly from the Innewood gatherings. He was quiet and polite and talented and interested in a number of things. I guess I never did get that video tape to him of Windsor McCay’s animation. We had seen “The Flying House” at a Lunacon and we knew there were other films McCay had done. He was missed when he moved to the West Coast, and now, missed even more.

  15. One of the many who I lost track of when I gafiated back in the late 1980s, but Stu was one I would liked to have kept up with. I spent a few months in New York in 1982 (I think), and he and Carmody and Alina Chu were great friends and companions of mine during that period. A great mind, a warm and friendly guy.

  16. Tom Whitmore has posted at CaringBridge the guide Andi sent him for those who wish to make donations in Stu’s honor. Tom adds, “Feel free to pick another charity if you want, using the reasons here as guidance for finding something Stu would have valued.”


    Treehouse: This nonprofit supports foster kids in Washington state, providing academic support, free tickets to great events, support for extracurricular activities, including sports, music and dance and more. Stu started supporting this great organization years ago. We have our own webpage:

    Harborview Hospital’s Mission of Caring Fund: From the minute Stu was brought into Harborview’s Emergency Department in 2012, this amazing trauma hospital treated him very well. Andi believes that they saved his life, from his initial stay in the ICU for 60 days to his evaluations for rehab, cardiac care, the shunt, all the tests and support he received, as well as the emotional and moral support they provided to her in every aspect of Stu’s care. As the webpage about this program states “UW Medicine physicians and staff who work at Harborview provide the best in care for everyone who walks through the medical center’s doors, whether or not they can afford to pay. This fund supports programs and services that help medically underserved patients.” Stu had no insurance when he had his stroke in 2012. We wish to pay forward for the next person who might benefit.

    The donation goes through the University of Washington Foundation. Online at You can also send a check to the UW Foundation, indicate”Mission of Caring Fund” in memory of Stu Shiffman, and mail it to UW Medicine Advancement, Box 358045, Seattle, WA 98195-8045.

    These two organizations will provide Andi with regular updates on donations.

    If you’d rather choose another way to honor Stu, a number of progressive causes would be appropriate. These might include the ACLU, ( or

    Southern Poverty Law Center which currently has a program to match donations (through December 31).

    Or by mail at Southern Poverty Law Center
    400 Washington Avenue
    Montgomery, AL 36104

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