Todd Tobias: the legacy

Dateline: Mon 02 Jul 2012

The unexpected death last week of Todd Tobias, a writer, book author and the publisher of the well-respected but short-lived Indy Men's Magazine, has left a void in the creative firmament of central Indiana.

Tobias, 41, died at St. Vincent Hospital Tuesday June 26 after a brief illness, according to his obituary.

What intrigued me about Tobias, besides his talent, is that he came from gobs of money -- his father Randall was once the head of Eli Lilly during the boom Prozac years -- and yet he chose that miserable lot, writing, as his career path. And did a damn fine job of it, too. Many of us first got to know him through his internship at Indianapolis Monthly magazine, where he continued to make contributions, but it was the men's magazine (2002 to 2007) -- which popped with irreverance, smarts and good humor -- that really put him on the map here.

Apparently what was so amazing and endearing about that endeavor is that it was truly a collaboration of a bunch of witty, clever guys. When I first heard about Tobias' passing, I contacted arts and entertainment writer Lou Harry at Indianapolis Business Journal. Would that the Star had hired Harry back in the day, but so it goes....anyhow, Harry was dumbstruck by the death of his friend. He did allow me to quote him about this aspect of their lives:

"He and I worked so closely on that magazine that, when I look at back issues (which I've been doing a lot in the last 24 hours), I don't know which one of us wrote what lines. It was always all about improving the work--making it sharper, funnier, more original, more truthful--then it was about writer ego. We didn't care who got credit. Same when we wrote books together. (Although there's some damn fine writing in Kid Culture that is pure Todd.)

"Writers and editors rarely have the opportunity to create a magazine from scratch based on their own aesthetics and visions. Todd gave us the chance to do that. 

"So this is losing a dear, dear friend and, in a way, losing a part of my writing brain. Just a few weeks ago, we were talking about some future project.

"And my god did Todd love and respect writers. Nobody loved and admired writers the way he did. We had the chance to work with terrific ones because he insisted that the bar stay high--and that they get compensated fairly."

Here is a link to Harry's tribute in IBJ. He's a quicker producer than I am, but then he gets paid:

Finally, here is a link to the Indianapolis Monthly article from February 1995 that looks at the suicide death of Tobias' mother; I always thought it was brave of the family to talk about her depression and frame it in the light of Lilly's work with Prozac.

May all this serve as a reminder that life is short, and we should be as kind to one another as possible on a daily basis....and with thanks to Lou Harry for opening up.


hendy [Member] said:

Life is really short for some. Best to get it done today, as for some, tomorrow never comes. A sad loss, but a legacy lives on.

2012-07-02 16:21:05

Miss Busybody [unverified] said:

Saint Todd? There was that pesky adultery blowup he was involved in that resulted in the messy suicide of the cuckhold. A "surviving fiancée" indeed! Gobs of money buy a lot of coverup.

2012-07-03 16:39:30

ruthholl [Member] said:

I've got some checking to do...

2012-07-03 17:52:29

Joe [unverified] said:

I loved Indy Men's Magazine and was truly sad when it folded...Todd left a great print legacy for many of us here in Indianapolis.

I have looked to see what took a life so young, but nothing has been written...what caused his early death?

2012-07-07 19:44:27

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2012-07-08 17:25:55

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