I didn't know his name was Pete the entire time we were friends. I only knew him by the username "Bastard-Bird" on DeviantArt. It was an ironic moniker, because BB (as I usually called him) wasn't a bastard to me, or indeed to anyone as far as I could tell.
We crossed paths in 2015 when he did some fan art of one of my characters. This led to our commenting on each other's work, and eventually he asked for my input on a project that stretched into three weeks. Don't get me wrong - I loved every second of it! Pete's art was quirky and wonderful, but what was truly amazing was how he was able to map out multiple universes inside his head. His talent and creativity were both off the charts. It just seemed like he never quite believed it.
Pete Kowal, aka Bastard-Bird, passed away on July 13, 2016. The last words he wrote on his DeviantArt account were:
I'm leaving the page and entries up in case anyone wants to take a crack at it.
I've thought a lot about that statement. And the truth is, I could never continue BB's stories. My mind doesn’t operate the way his did. "Wayward Earth" was so uniquely his that I could not possibly pick up all the strings it entailed. His detours into other stories and universes were equally colored by his own perspective. That perspective is something no one could duplicate.
But what I can do is make sure that BB's legacy lives on through my own means. You will be seeing a tribute piece based on his work in the very near future. There's already a character in my profiles who owes an enormous debt to his design sense. As long as the Owariverse endures, Pete will be a part of its canon.
There's also the art. BB's fan art will be appearing here beginning in 2020. I also plan to present non-Owariverse art that I either helped facilitate or that I just plain want to include here. It's all fluid, because I often am making this up as I go.
In all honesty, I barely knew him. Yet I still think about him and miss him terribly. All I can do now is honor his memory by making sure his work still has an audience and is not forgotten.
Bastard-Bird Gallery at DeviantArt
Obituary for Peter M. Kowal III
If you need to talk for whatever reason, or just need someone to listen, call 1-800-273-8255.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: The image accompanying this entry is a larger version of the image BB used as an avatar on DeviantArt. The present author has no idea why he chose it, or whether it was supposed to resemble BB in any fashion. It had previously represented a strictly non-autobiographical character at any rate. Art © estate of Pete Kowal.