Just because you know it’s coming…

… doesn’t leave you any less sad. George Perez, comic book artist of great reknown, repute and influence, and a man nobody had a bad word to say about, died yesterday, aged 67, of cancer. The artist of The Avengers, The Justice League of America, Crisis on Infinite Earths and above all The New Teen Titans, without which there may well not have been a DC Comics for the last forty years, died without pain, in the midst of his family, or should I say the family related to him by blood and marriage: the whole damn comic book industry and its fans were his family and we all mourn our loss.

The Ultimate Artist: Neal Adams R.I.P.

Very little comes as a shock any more. I woke up late, checked my e-mails and found an alert from downthe tubes: In Memorium, Neal Adams. Another of the ‘gods’ of my youth goes from us. It’s only to be expected: I am now 66, and the men and women whose worl stirred me were all older. They will go before.

I asume I don’t need to explain Neal Adams for you. He was comics’ premier artist, drawing the most real and dynamic of scenes, in demand from the fans. He took Batman back to the night. He redesigned Green Arrow. Dealers in back issues would flag comics he’d drawn and these would be more expensive, often twice as much as the issues either side of a guest pencilling. I remember finding two Adams’ Batman or Detective in Dave Britton’s comics shop on Peter Street whose name I’ve forgotten, at 45p each, buying them, and walking down Deansgate almost trebling at my audacity in buying two comics that were 45p. Each.

Adams was a fan favourite alright but only to the fans. The general audience comics then had were less enthused. Adams only drew a dozen issues of Green Lantern/Green Arrow and it was cancelled for low sales (admittedly, the comic was in trouble before he and Denny O’Neill took it over).

The run is probably the most famous run of Adams’ career. The art’s superb but the comics haven’t weathered well, their earnestness too blatant. Now we have neither of the creators, nor its editor, Julius Schwartz.

I’m not the person to speak of Adams’ career. After those days at DC in the Seventies, and some memorable work at Marvel on The Avengers and X-Men he took advantage of the independent boom of the Eighties to take control of his work, most of which he also wrote. He wasn’t half the writer as he was the artist.

But he was yet one more who was there when I needed stimulation, and my head expanding, and my eagerness satisfying. He is, once again, another good one gone.

P.S. Reading other’s tributes has reminded me of one thing on Neal Adams’ list of credits that I should not have forgotten. In 1978, he went in to bat for Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, the creators of Superman but then two old men, living in impoverishment and virtually forgot. Thanks to Adams’ energy, determination and advocacy, there is now and for over forty years never has been an interation of Superman that does not have his creator’s names indelibly applied, and whilst they were still not party to the uncountable billions their character has earned, Adams’ efforts secured for them an easeful and comfortable old age. Without him… it doesn’t bear thinking about, and I should have said that without needing to be prodded.

Crap Lawyers

Read this.

This arrogant, puffed up, snobby, supercilious twat thinks he knows better than an inquest and a jury. He can’r resist slandering Liverpool on top of that. And his profession clears him of breaching Professional Standards. If I were still, in any way, connected with the Law, I would be quitting on the spot.

The utter shit.

Where Praise Is Due

Those of you who follow football, and many who don’t, will know that Manchester United’s Christiano Ronaldo, and his partner Georgina Rodriguez, lost a baby at the weekend. Ms Rodriguez was pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. The boy baby died in childbirth.

Tonight, United are playing our bitterest rivals, Liverpool, in Liverpool. The rivalry between the clubs, the fans the cities is bitter and ancient. We may not be a match for them any more, that role has gone to our noisy neighbours. But they still have us more than they hate the Bitters.

I am following the game via the Guardian‘s Minute-by-Minute online commentary. In the seventh minute, seven being Ronaldo’s shirt number, the whole ground broke out into applause, and a chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone. Not for anything happening on the pitch. But in sympathy to Ronnie, Georgina and the baby boy that didn’t live.

Our hated rivals.

Marvels and Miracles Gone: Garry Leach R.I.P.

It was over forty years ago that I bought the first issue of this new, unheralded and unusual magazine called Warrior, back in Odyssey 7, when it udsed to operate from the University Precinct. I discovered so much in that, most notably the existence of Alan Moore, and V for Vendetta, which I’ve treasured ever since. I still have my complete set of all 26 issues, with autographs of several creators on the strips they contributed. One of them was Garry Leach, who drew that fantastic first chapter of Marvelman, written by Moore. Now I learn that he’s died aged 67, only a year older than me. So many of these people, gone, irreplaceable. There never seem to be any equivalents of them to fill in the gaps. If you had a God, Garry, I hope he cherishes you as we of those times did on Earth.

Crap BTL Non-journalism

A comment from the Guardian‘s thread beneath the article on the long overdue release of Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe from Iran, the writer’s nom-de-BTL left out:

I so hope that the media will give this family space to reconnect and allow privacy.

Including writers at certain newspapers for whom beating up Johnson is the only reason they struggle out of bed and start hitting the keyboard !
They should learn that their attitudes are well known and hence their articles are predictable and boring.
Look how there is often no sense of joy about her deserved good fortune because the grim faced writers just see it as another stick with which to beat Johnson.
And also it is self-defeating for without a certain amount of balance and selectivity in what they write then in reality none of the mud they throw actually sticks and his major failings are not made prominent.’

Listen sunshine, the only reason any of those articles appear to be ‘predictable and boring’ is that your shiftless, useless, lying, self-centred, careless, inane, inadequate, amoral and disgusting hero is predictable and boring to the nth degree in everything he says and does (I exclude ‘thinks’ because there is no evidence he ever has). Are you mendacious, getting paid or just stupid?

Oh my God, No! Shane Warne R.I.P.

Not one Australian legend but two in the same day and this the one that spears me through the stomach. Not Shane Warne. Please no, not at only 52. This is too cruel. I was there at Old Trafford, I saw him bowl that ball to Mike Gatting, the one delivery that changed cricket forever. Since that day, as I said many years ago, we have living in a Shane Warne World, and it is grossly wrong that he doesn’t any longer.

Iron Gloves, you beaut!: Rodney Marsh R.I.P.

It’s becoming a regular thing now, to wake up uin the morning, scan a newspaper website to see what you’ve missed in eight hours sleep and see a name, a name that means something to you. Straightway you know that someone else has died.

I’ve been a great cricket fan since the Ashes series in England in 1968. That’s very apprpriate. The great Rodney Marsh wasn’t the Aussie wicketkeeper that year but he was behind the stumps in 1972, when they were next back. And I saw him for myself, both behind the wicket and batting, at Old Trafford in 1981, the first experience of Test Cricket live and in the flesh. By then, he was an iconic name. And despite the fact that he was a bloody Aussie, with all that implies for the intense rivalry with the bastards that comes with following the England cricket team, his is one of the legendary names, alongside his mate Dennis Lillee that I am so glad I got to see play. Lucky, lucky me.

He was 74. He loved the game and stayed with it all his life. Rodney Marsh was a giant. Once again, we shrink with his passing.

Long ago and far away: Sonny Ramadhin R.I.P.

It was before me and my time, and there is no adequate television or film footage to give me some idea for myself, but Sonny Ramadhin was a giant and a legend for how he bowled for the West Indies in the Fifties, and I have only ever heard both praise and awe for his abilities, and his partnership with his brother in spin, Alf Valentine. How strange to think of a West indies team carried on slow bowling? In truth, I didn’t know that he was still alive but now he has left us, aged 92. Never will his like be seen again, not even by those of us who never saw the original, but know when to revere the greats of the beautiful game.

On Writing: Endings

I don’t know how general this feeling is, though I’ve heard other authors speak of it, but there comes a moment in writing a novel when you realise that all the work has been done, and all you need now is let the words flow along the channel that is waiting for them, that the end has already been defined in your head and all you have to do from here is let it happen. It doesn’t matter how near or far you are from that final line, it’s set, and the shifts and swings of what is left are no more than a familiar landscape across which you are walking, your feet performing steps you no longer have to work out. And then it’s done. That’s not to say that clean-up work isn’t still necessary, but the job is done. The characters you’ve lived with have done everything that was asked of them, and once those last lines have been recorded, they can get on with whatever else they’re going to do, free from your oversight. And you, instinctively, start looking for the next group of characters that you will, very quietly, slip into the middle of, to watch and take notes as you discover what happens to them, whilst the other lot recede from view, unobserved.

Tonight I finished another book.