The night of Deb’s passing…

By Rachel Richey

Deb, Joe and Rachel I was at the Comic Book Lounge and Gallery’s quarterly “Ladies’ Night.” An event I regularly co-host with Deb as the Lounge’s official staff women; I work there and Deb Shelly was the long time partner of its owner Kevin Boyd. Deb was supposed to bring water and cups and her grand spirit that night but she never showed up. Her absence was noted. I heard the news of Deb’s passing on my way home from the event, and even though I hadn’t known, I knew.

Deb loved to take a lot of pictures. All the time. Seemingly trivial photos, but there she was snapping away. To her, every moment was precious. Her love for life can be seen by the frozen moments in time that she’s captured. Perhaps I am not the best person to write a memorial or a piece commemorating Debra because I often use simple language, but if we flip the camera and take a look at Debra, this is who you’ll see.

Deb loved comics. I know that in one hand I could see her reading Little Nemo, and in the other Adventure time. She read the best to the worst and everything in between and because of this she was a wealth of information. She was gentle and thoughtful when sharing it with friendships, projects, and events she was a part of which were many. Likewise, comics loved Deb. One needs only glance at the outpouring of regret and sadness from the community to know that the shock waves have a seemingly endless reach.

“Positive Spirit and Determination:
Debra Jane Shelly”

“RIP Debra Jane Shelly:
Yesterday, the Cube lost a good friend.”

Remembering Deb @
“RIP: Debra Jane Shelly: Today, a friend
of mine from the online world passed away”

“Extremely Bad Advice: I’m Sorry”

Deb loved. I have never met someone who took my problems so much to heart. Who so truly wanted to help me fix them. The sincerity was telling in her deep, dark eyes and she would not be told no! She did what she wanted, which was always kind, so no one would really tell her no anyway. She reached into her purse for prints, comics, original art, drinks and snacks or essentially, whatever was needed. I’ll always remember drinking Muscat wine with her which was her favourite and which she selflessly purchased for special occasions and events.

Deb was hopeful. I don’t think I ever saw her otherwise. Maybe once.

Deb was supportive. Anyone who showed any ounce of enthusiasm was met with the strongest showing of encouragement. Her empathy and earnestness was always well received, because I knew if I was sad, she was sad and did everything in her power to change it. If anyone crossed me, no matter how little, she would say things that would make ME blush! Her use of language was stunning and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone able to compete. Isn’t it strange that I would be able to handle this a million times better if she were here to help me. And she would, too.

Deb was always smiling. At launch parties, awards ceremonies, shows, panels, dinners and hanging outs. Tired or no. She was a wonderful bridge of peace between my and Kevin’s stubborn and headstrong ways, and although I love Kevin, I could not have asked for a better support staff and company counsellor than Deb. I will always miss her beautiful face, her comforting smile and her lovely laugh.

Working at the Lounge and the Shusters was always a lot of fun, but Deb always made it easy and wonderful. There are actually few, if any, who could come close to her goodness and it is unreasonable and unacceptable that she is no longer here. The fan and comics community has lost one of the most wonderful people it could boast of and it hurts me. I’m grateful to have known Deb, and to Kevin, a world of sympathy.

To those who didn’t know her,
what you imagine is true and to everyone,
I’m sorry for your loss.


Debra Jane Shelly, aged 39 (April 23, 1974-January 25, 2014) reportedly passed peacefully in her sleep, on a saturday afternoon from  SUDEP–Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy–after an epileptic seizure. [Obituary in the The Toronto Star & official online memorial page]. Her family suggest donations to Epilepsy Toronto in Debbie’s honor here In lieu of flowers.


::Rachel Richey is a Sequential contributor, a Comics historian, blogger, archivist, retailer and publisher. She works at the The Comic Book Lounge & Gallery, and is currently restoring pages of Nelvana of the Northern Lights with Hope L Nicholson for a reprint collection funded by Kickstarter::