Written by: Andrew Bradley
I was lucky enough to know James at Humber’s Copywriting program back in 95. He was always head and shoulders more brilliant than the rest of us — and that drove us crazy — but James was so likable, you couldn’t help but root for him.
I don’t know how it started, but some us started to call James ‘The Ninja’ for a bunch of reasons. First of all, he was Asian (although Ninjas are Japanese and James wasn’t, but as a half-Japanese guy I’ll say that white people group all us ‘orientals’ together anyhow). And most of all, he had this knack for disappearing suddenly. Especially at parties.
Sure, he’d seem to be having a good time whenever we were all out. He’d tell a few jokes, hang out, have a drink in hand. But then just when stuff started to really get going, James would be gone. Poof. And nobody would ever witness him leaving or could recount James saying “Hey guys, I’m taking off”. He’d disappeared into thin air — like, yes, a Ninja. Sans puff of smoke and deadly sharp stars embedded in someone’s forehead of course.
We never took it personally. We always figured James had something better to do — like make another award-worthy ad for his student book (note to therapist: clearly, I’m still in awe of the guy’s talent). But we were always a little disappointed that he didn’t hang around longer for when things really got good.
When I heard of James untimely death last year, I guess that’s one of the first things that came to mind — sadly, but fittingly, our friend ‘The Ninja’ disappeared without warning again. Just as things were getting really good.