Friday, March 21, 2014

Over the years, we have lost people who have written for the magazine. Sadly it's a bit of an occupational hazard. But we have never lost anyone who has also been a close friend. Bill Baker wrote a number of articles for TRIPWIRE, including interviews with Jim Lee and J Michael Straczynski. He hadn't contributed to the magazine since before the Annual launched in 2007. He died back at the end of February this year and I admit that I have been putting off writing something about his passing because subconsciously perhaps if I wrote something, it would be admitting that he is no longer around.  So apologies if this entry is a little longer and a little more maudlin than what you are used to seeing here. I first met Bill at San Diego Comic Con way back in 1999. It was while we were both loitering at a publisher's table, I can't remember which one. It was the first US show I had been to but we just got chatting and we instantly clicked. There are a number of other people who cover comics with intelligence and putting them into the correct cultural context but Bill had a very sharp mind. He was able to bring something new to his coverage of whatever he wrote about. We would see each other at San Diego and then when we both stopped attending that show, we would catch up at other shows like New York Comic Con. We would speak once a week and I would use him as a sounding board sometimes and he would also fill me in on what was happening with him. What is so sad about his untimely passing is that he was about to sort himself out and relocate from his rather bleak location in Michigan to somewhere where he would be closer to the action. His loss is a great one for journalism and for coverage of comics as sadly the internet has meant that we are now drowning in a torrent of ill-conceived and bland corporate coverage, written by people with a poor command of English grammar, who are not interested in putting things into a cultural context. Comic sites, by and large, and there are exceptions like Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter and Milt Griepp's ICV2, are run by fanboys unable to really grasp the bigger issues at play here. Bill Baker was a real journalist, interested in highlighting those creators and creations who weren't getting the coverage they deserved on other sites and in other places. He was ambitious, erudite and he had a very good heart. He will be missed, both on a personal and a professional level. Goodbye, my fellow journalist…
Here's a photo that our mutual friend, Paul Michael Kane, took of Bill…

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