That’s Tragic Exhibits Rare Jim Konya T-Shirt Collection In Memoriam for Charity

Jim ‘Sadist’ Konya was a beloved staple of the Cleveland metal community, tragically passing in October 2015 at the age of 44. His longstanding musical legacy stretches as deep as the list of his nicknames: 9 Shocks Terror, Apartment 213, the Spawn of Satan, Nordic Mist, Nunslaughter, Schnauzer, Gravewürm, Minch… Jim Lasagna, Jim Satanic, Goatslaughter, Lord Mazillion, Sadist, Jimmy.

A die-hard fan and enthusiastic ambassador for both the punk and metal scenes, the proud Parma resident was renowned for his generosity and for paying-forward the music that he cherished. His affinity for gifting merch in the name of musical solidarity is now the stuff of legend, and his passing affected countless friends and fans worldwide who shared personal bonds with him that live on through these treasured items.

“I met Jim in the 9th grade. There was always metal for us to latch onto, and form that common bond that never changed,” said longtime friend and fellow percussionist Chris Dora. “If you were involved in metal he knew you were on the same level. He would walk over to his bag in his Kreator shirt and would pull out whatever he had to give away and connect with others—I always called him the “Metal Phantom.”

In a fitting remembrance of Jim’s life and passion for extreme music, the thread collectors at Tragic Cat have labored for the last 3 years to acquire a portion of his personal T-shirt collection, and for each day in the month of May they will be posting another unique piece from the opulent assortment to raise donations for his namesake scholarship fund.

The James Konya Scholarship in Music is awarded annually to a student pursuing ethnomusicology at Kent state, Jim’s alma mater. For the privilege of perusing the treasure trove of Tees, Tragic Cat is requesting that fans fork over a minimum dollar donation to the fund through paypal at [email protected] (larger contributions are of course encouraged).

Previous fundraising efforts for the Scholarship have included an annual ‘Konyafest’ in Cleveland, which has seen sets from Nunslaughter, Schnauzer, Fuck You Pay Me and an Escalation Anger reunion, among many others. Unfortunately, this years Konyafest had to be postponed due to the current restrictions on gatherings. The initial plans to host the shirt collection in a gallery space had to be scrapped as well, so the decision was made to pivot to Instagram.

Konyafest photo courtesy of Joe Gaal

Matt Izzi (Scorched, Homewrecker) and Tragic Cat partner Ashley Krantz have assembled the rare assortment of t-shirts for exhibition with assistance from Chris Dora (Soulless, Terror). Terror made their live return to the stage in tribute at the inaugural Konyafest.

An immense stash in its own right, the pieces on display here represent only a portion of Konya’s overall collection which “took him a lifetime of making connections to amass,” notes Kristy Jenkins of Metal Illness. She worked alongside the Konya family with Dora and Duane Morris to facilitate the acquisition of the cherished shirts. “We are honored that the Konya family entrusted us with the opportunity to make this happen.”

Heralded for his enthusiasm and selfless encouragement, Jim was also hailed for being as avid of a fan as he was a performer. His memorial zine and online tribute page, the We Love Jim Konya fan club, are packed with stories illuminating his benevolent spirit and love for extreme music.

“It was comforting to have a friend that you knew, when no one gave a shit about metal, you could call Jim up—he’d care. We always connected on that true passion—always did, always would, always will,” says Dora.

Dora (left) pictured with Konya.

As with all good rare and coveted band merch, each shirt from the collection posted on the Tragic Cat account comes with its own unique back story. Like a 1988 Martha Sucks Brains Accüsed artifact obtained at Cleveland-venue Sabers. Or an Into the Pandemonium-era Celtic Frost Tee copped at Parma record outlet Perry’s Rockpile. How about a late ’80s bone-white Napalm Death 2xl rarity that Konya and his friends wrote to the band personally to acquire?

The origin stories are equally as fun as the images, which despite Jim’s punishing nicknames have held up beautifully and are sure to have your inner metal maniac salivating.

Matt and Ash note that they are personally honored to have obtained these items for display, and they appreciate the kind sentiment that has been coming in since the homage launched on May 1st. “We both identify as collectors who are here to preserve a subculture and underground scene in the Midwest. This isn’t a fleeting fad, this isn’t ephemeral, it’s indelible.”

The deathly dynamic duo behind the @thatstragic_cat handle, Izzi and Krantz met at Black Market Record Store while thrifting for shirts before a Dying Fetus show. Bred on metal (Matt) and punk (Ashley), they joined forces resulting in the birth of the hybrid fetus: tragiccat (no, this wasn’t planned) and have been hounding and hosting their pooled bounty of graphic goods online ever since.

“Our collection consists of t-shirts we have acquired from local Cleveland musicians whom embody the grit and nature of the Great Lakes Region as well as the metal scene. We have been fortunate enough to become the recipients, serving as a time capsule, a historic cache, of their possessions: stories, demos, film to accompany the shirts. It’s the highest honor.”

Current shirts on view from Konya’s iconic collection include: Morbid Angel, Death, Darkthrone, Napalm Death, Pestilence, Venom, Sadus, Celtic Frost and the Accüsed. The account will be posting a new tee for you to freak out over every day for the month of May, and they encourage everyone to keep the stories (and contributions) coming. Matt and Ash will be matching every dollar raised, so dig as deep as you can. (Once again, those donations can be sent via paypal to [email protected])

And in addition to donating directly for the honor of drooling over the captivating stash, true supporters can also snag a myriad of merchandise emblazoned by the Konya logo (and mug) via Metal Illness. Offerings include posters, patches, keychains and more. In true Sadist spirit, you should grab one of everything and then a few extras to give away!!

Merch nerds take note: if you are in the market for wearable metal relics, peruse the current spread at @thatstragic_cat and put that stimulus check to good work. Shirts like these truly come around once in a lifetime.

“We are far from done and it has been amazing to see what has been accomplished with everyone’s support thus far,” remarked Jenkins, regarding future plans for Jim’s acclaimed collection and memorial. “A variety of approaches are in the works, to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to acquire a treasure from Konya’s ‘metal room.’”

To stay current on future projects commemorating Jim, join the mailing list by emailing: [email protected]