Tribute to David Bull By János Wimpffen
Phoenix, AZ — Last weekend the world of automotive publishing lost its greatest stalwart, David Bull. To all who knew him he was far, far more than merely the creator of some of the best works of art between book covers. He was a friend, a caring family man, a great intellect, and wicked fun.
We should all be grateful that we had 10 more years of him by our side than anyone expected. In 2011 David suffered devastating injuries in a near fatal motorcycle crash. Indeed, his heart stopped twice and he was not expected to make it through the night. He not only survived but he persevered and even thrived when others would have given up. Though paralyzed, he made a life for himself so that he could continue his passions, being there for his two growing children and continuing to produce some of the finest books in the genre. However, the complications from those injuries finally caught up to him and with his family by his side at his Phoenix home, the struggle came to an end.
You could always spot them when browsing the shelves of an automotive bookstore or most enjoyably at some great venue like Goodwood or Monterey. There was always that special presentation of a David Bull book. There was meticulous attention to every detail. Many of the several hundred books released by his firm won major awards around the world.
A native of Boston, David learned his craft with Bentley Publishers but soon struck out on his own, founding Bull Publishing in the mid-1990s. It was soon afterward that he and I met and began a fruitful collaboration that resulted in five of my six major books. He exuded a measured calm in managing the sometimes irascible nature of this author, and no doubt the others in his stable. There was no one with whom I enjoyed arguing professional points with more than David. His broad knowledge of racing and automotive history, keen business acumen, and precise sense of the literary and visual meant that he usually won the argument — and I was the better for it.
Indeed, saying “measured calm” does not do justice, as anyone who has conversed with David can attest. He spoke with the cadence of a monk. Each word was retrieved from deep within a lexicon that he possessed which rivaled that of any bard of the English language. Then with the careful crafting of a five-star chef he would blend each adjective, noun and verb into a soufflé that was every bit as aesthetically pleasing as were his books.
Over the years the various designers and authors working with him became a bit of a family, swapping affectionate David stories. Whenever we met it was realized that while we were proud of our association with such a fine enterprise, we all had a relationship with David that was far, far deeper. In my case, we shared common interests in art, sports, travel, music, politics, and good beer. But we also had many a deep conversation into the realms of the personal and philosophical. During his dark days I counseled him, having conveyed the experience and inspiration of my sister, who was disabled for nearly her whole adult life. The more we shared, the closer David and I got — to where we unabashedly told of our love for one another. I am certain that all those who were touched by David have similar yet unique tales to tell.
His legacy lives on through his wonderful family, who I have been honored to have met. To the world at large he will be remembered every time you look on a shelf and are immediately drawn to that most exquisite book that only he could produce. The books of David Bull Publishing will be cherished keepsakes for generations.