He was only 49. Jaysus.
I was working at The Bee when Rex came to work in 1999, following in the shoes of cartoonist who had been there many years, Dennis Renault. It was clear from the beginning that Rex was going wear his own shoes, set his own pace, draw his own work, and make his own mark.
That he died so young - and left his wife and 10-year-old son behind - is beyond tragic.
Rex skewered the right and the left, though the right seemed a much easier target for him. He had a great sense of humor, much better than the handful of people who have posted negative comments on his obituary in The Bee.
Negative comments! Following the man's obituary.
What assholes. And what a great cartoon he would have drawn making fun of their cruelty.
The last time I saw Rex in the flesh was five years ago when I walked into an editorial board meeting at The Bee. I was going in as Faculty Senate Chair of CSU, Sacramento and thought I had been invited to offer some insight into the squabble between the faculty of the university and university president Alex Gonzalez over his taking money from the academic budget and putting it into public relations.
It was an ambush. For an hour, I debated with several ill-informed Bee staff members who had spent an hour earlier with the president himself, swallowing his version of events.
Rex stood against the wall where I could see him, looking somewhat embarrassed. And on several occasions, when one staff member kept asking particularly inane and inappropriate questions, he looked me in the eye and shook his head as if to say, 'Sorry buddy.'
While I worked at The Bee, editing the Forum section occasionally or filling in somewhere else, we crossed paths and chatted often. He flirted with the idea of becoming a university professor but was addicted to his near-daily editorial cartooning.
It's a good thing he was, because he was very good at it.
RIP Rex Babin. Those original signed cartoons you gave me - all CSU, Sacramento-related - are hanging in my office.
They still make me smile.
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