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first of many (uk comics scene death)

Got a phish this morning from someone who wants to fraudulently give me half of $50m. Riiight. More significantly, I scarfed through Bugpowder to see what's happened since Caption and discovered that something very important happened in another town on the Sunday of Caption (July 31): Mark Simpson of Page 45, my official favourite comics shop, unexpectedly died.

After I'd stopped swearing, I sent the shop an email:

condolences

From the blue-haired comics crazy who could never get herself organised to produce more than 50 comics at a time. It's a few years back now, so I don't know how well (or if) you'll remember me, but I remember Page 45 alright -- home of Independents Day, the coolest shop signings ever -- it's Jeremy Dennis here, writing to say how sad I was to hear the news about Mark.

So, back around 1994/5-ish I was regularly producing very short-run comics, sending them up to Page 45, always appreciating the enthusiastic encouragement I received from Mark and Steve, it was an exciting time for small press comics everywhere and Page 45, the best shop in the country.

I finally got to see it when I was invited up for Independents Day -- a beautiful place, gorgeously innovative displays and windows, cunning comics stands made out of cardboard, and a quite unique stylishness. And there I was in the upstairs room, doing a signing alongside Roberta Gregory and Donna Barr! ... it was a dream come true, an awesome day, and I was stunned, star-struck, impressed and very, very grateful.

It's time I remember with great fondness -- experimentation with format, content, story-telling, even the concept of comics; seeing how small, short, strange and extreme I could make the packaging, and the content. Mark and Steve bore it all patiently, and without complaint! (Though I am left wondering just how some of it was displayed ...)

But things come to an end; what I was doing began to feel repetitive and stale, and I stopped sending Page 45 my packages. I doubt I ever even explained why; other things were beginning to consume my time, and with the wealth of awesome talent out there I didn't doubt for an instant Mark and Steve would find other creators to sponsor with the same enthusiasm and fervour.

My last contact with Page 45 was in 1998, when (I think it was) Dominique ran into me at the last UKCAC -- immortalised in a comic strip here http://www.alleged.org.uk/jrd/2004/20040310.html -- my first experimentation in the style that was to become my standard come 2001.

I've not been to Page 45 in years, now, but I still recommend it to anyone who's after a comics shop that'll supply the unusual and the extraordinary. It's the very least I can do.

Sorry this came through a bit late -- I took some time to discover the news, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am, and all those usual things. You know.

all the best,

Jeremy

While googling to see if I could find a picture (no luck -- anyone have one?) I found that Steve Holland (co-runner of Page 45) is a regular contributor to Silverbullet's The Panel, which, a little over a year ago, was answering the question, “You're dying, you only have one year left to live – it’s your last chance to achieve immortality via the comics medium – what do you do to achieve this?” You'll have to scroll down a bit to read Steve's answer, but the last paragraph begins like this: If Mark dies, many creators who have little access to the public at the moment will suffer...

One of those creators was me, for a while. I always felt like I'd let them down; not worked hard enough to repay their faith in me; so you don't keep in touch, because you feel you've not done enough. And it's too late, now.

Comments

( 2 worms — Feed the birds )
kookymojito
9th Aug, 2005 16:31 (UTC)
Oh, shit :(
grocko
10th Aug, 2005 20:33 (UTC)
oh no - poor Mark
that's a downer - and I for one can vouch that they both were big fans of all your comics. But then, you know, who isn't?
( 2 worms — Feed the birds )