Remembering Our Friend Jeff Worman

One of the aspects of reaching old age is watching family and friends — some of them long-time friends — shuffle off this mortal coil. I have four brothers and three sisters. Now there are only four of us: my older sister and two younger brothers. I think about them and meditate on my gratitude for having all of them in my life, along with our extended family and all the friends who have played a part, small or large, in my life.

This morning I just received the news that my friend Jeff Worman has passed away. I’ve known Jeff for about 41 years. We met at the Crazy Shepherd in 1982. He and I, along with many others, were featured in the inaugural edition of that paper. It was a monthly at first, but then morphed into a weekly and became the Shepherd Express once the Shepherd and The Express merged.

I thought his art, cartoons, were strange. Actually, they remained strange — and funny. They fall under the title “Zeal at Zero.” He also wrote an off-kilter commentary about life on this planet, in this solar system, in this galaxy, and in this universe, reminding us of our small, somewhat inconsequential place in the possibly infinite expanse of this universe. I shouldn’t overlook his radio personality: Deke Marler.

Thankfully we can derive small satisfaction knowing we had some impact and influence on the people, places, and things that make up our individual and social circles. Jeff certainly felt that in his life. The times he and I spoke with each other, by phone, we took great pleasure in discussing his latest creations, be they cartoons, literary posts, or his radio show featuring Deke Marler.

The “Zeal at Zero” cartoons are great, but his written posts are exquisite literature, exploring our world and universe from the eye of an explorer who cast off conventions to come to a conclusion, or at least an ending that made sense somehow, in a very individual style.

That all is fitting. If you look at his Facebook page, he lists himself as a “Citizen at Earth.”

His cartoons and posts were always enjoyable (and still are), and are very inspirational as well as informational. He wrote about his time at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and flipping into a new year, Or his take on the Milwaukee Bucks winning their second NBA Championship in 2021.

We never knew what to expect when Jeff started tapping away at his computer keyboard or sketching out a cartoon. On occasion, he would ponder the pros and cons of making a single frame ’toon or multi-frame. Jeff thought he should do more multi-frame cartoons. What do I know? Whether a single illustration or a multi-variety, they were going to be funny.

Zeal at Zero … The Hourly Why … Deke Marler … The not-so-random thoughts of Jeff Worman. The ‘toons were always worth a view or two and the literature was (is) always a good read. His Hourly Why posts were just on a different level, as if they were from another dimension that is just around the corner.

He was different — I keep thinking we should still consider Jeff in the present tense.

Jeff Worman in Antarctica, with McMurdo Station in the distance (Jeff Worman)

Jeff and I got to know each other because of the great 1982 cult film, Blade Runner. It was directed by Ridley Scott, from a novel by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. It starred Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, William Sanderson, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James and others.

We saw a couple of midnight showings of the film at the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee. We also saw the David Lynch classic, Eraserhead at an Oriental midnight showing.

Just an aside: I didn’t see the midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show until the late 1980s, long after it became a cult hit with the rice and pieces of toast being tossed about.

If you haven’t seen any of those three cult films, you really should. Find a midnight showing of Rocky Horror though so you can experience the audience participation.

But back to Jeff. We talked about the sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, which is just as good as the first one.

Yeah, Jeff Worman … He is a character. I enjoyed our phone conversations as we talked about our latest writing projects or, in his case, the ’toons; and we also talked about his bicycle and motorcycle adventures because he always put a lot of photos on his Facebook page.

The Yahara River (Jeff Worman)

For the longest time, he lived in rural Walworth County, WI, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Eventually, the disease he lived with for the past year or more, required him to be in an assisted living facility. He had his friends and sister around him. Because he was such a friendly and interesting person, Jeff didn’t lack for friends and I am so very grateful he is my friend.

Jeff Worman selfie

Click Here for the complete catalog of Jeff’s contributions to the Post-Examiner.