Ink Man Leaves Mark -- Erik CagleJuly 2001
Bob Gans is a crackpot. I say this with the utmost level of respect, in deference to his years on this earth, his service to our country during the war, his experience in the industry as founder/owner of Gans Ink, and his multitude of columns, titled Ink Stains, which have appeared in industry trade papers over the years.
But he is still a crackpot.
I not only say this with the utmost level of respect, but with also a tinge of jealousy and a huge helping of admiration. Mr. Gans recently published a book of his memoirs, "This Is It," that reveals much about the owner of the Los Angeles-based ink company—some good, some bad, all a bit to the left of center. And he packed more living in his first 30 years than some of us will in a lifetime.
For starters, ink is somewhat dull. Not a knock against the ink industry—as printing consumables go, it is no smaller in stature than paper and certainly a notch above chemicals—but it doesn't exactly rile up the blood, either.
This book isn't about ink, per se, nor is it about the printing industry specifically or in general. It is a people book, about the sometimes wonderful and titillating, occasionally horrifying and tragic, often ironic and coincidental circumstances of life that thrust us into the position we currently find ourselves in. After all, everyone has a story. Be it the manner in which he tells it or the fortunes/misfortunes that befell him, Gans' story is just a little more colorful than most. And after all, color is right up his alley.
The book picks up steam with Gans' induction into World War II and his experiences in the European theatre. His slightly loopy, but highly appreciative, view of women first comes out here—he becomes involved with women in Italy and France, and nearly marries a second Italian woman before getting shipped out for a stretch of duty that tears them apart. He warmed up to the task, before shipping out for duty, by climbing into bed with his bunkmate's girlfriend while the roomie was in the bathroom. Oops!
War can do funny things to people, I guess. Anyone who returned to the States with their bodies and heads intact must have had something on the ball, suffice to say, especially a guy who was wounded three times, even left for dead once, before returning home for good. His staying power earned him the nickname, "The Inevitable Gans."