ALERT: I have been contacted by the family; this will be nipped in the bud here and now. Hereafter any posts I make will only be to further bring attention to Steve Perry’s creative life. My apologies for any further pain I’ve caused; my concerns and intentions were honorable and I only had Steve and Leo first and foremost in my mind.  

When the time is appropriate — after the police have opened up about their investigation — I will redirect my efforts that were going to Steve toward some sort of fundraising and/or trust fund for Leo’s future, and ask that anyone who has felt anything positive for Steve and Leo or is interested do the same.

_________

My Friend Steve Perry:

Remembering the Man & His Work, Part 3

Though the Zephyrhills, Florida police still haven’t said anything conclusive, the headlines continue.

  • Howard Altman in The Tampa Tribune: “Friend: Missing comic book writer was on downward spiral”
  • More to come…
    _________________________________

    An excerpt from the introduction I wrote for the forthcoming Timespirits collected edition:

    [Left: My design for the Spurting Duyvel for Timespirits; compliments of Tom Yeates. That's Steve Perry's handwriting identifying the creature.]

    Most intros would talk about the book, the characters, the story — but I’m not going to do that. You’ll meet Cusick the Tuscarora and Doot of the Wawenoc soon enough; they’re in all the pages that follow. Cusick is the shaman teacher, Doot the fledgling student wrestling with his nascent mystical powers. They barter their way through time, tangling with the parasitic Chupa and the Biblical floods, a sorrowful alien unable to return home, and even covert imperialistic intrigue in Central America. It meshes high adventure with mysticism, Carlos Casteneda with Stephen King, Firehair with David Cronenberg, Ollie North with Jimi Hendrix; it speed-blenders the Burroughs not-brothers (Edgar Rice and William) with Roy Krenkel and Burne Hogarth — and it’s as engaging, unsettling and heady a reading experience now as it was when if first hit the comicshop racks between 1984 and ‘86.

    At that time, Marvel Comics was still experimenting with its creator-owned Epic Comics imprint (spawn of Marvel’s Epic magazine, their newsstand retaliation to Heavy Metal) under the steady hand of the late, great Archie Goodwin (thankfully, this volume retains eight pages of Archie’s very own and amusing artwork(not sure about this). Like Epic’s other Native American-themed title Coyote (home of Todd McFarlane’s debut published comic gig), Timespirits enjoyed a too-short life in a turbulent marketplace, its lifespan abbreviated by friction between work-for-hire Marvel management and the progressive Epic Comics imperative, and the troubled collaborative nature of Timespirits’s own creative team. Subsequently published in Germany and Italy in the graphic novel format, Timespirits was otherwise relegated to the limbo of back issue bins and fond fan memories among the devoted few who had savored Cusick and Doot’s sojourn through the ages and the mid-’80s comics landscape.

    No, I’m going to talk about the creators, the folks who created that which you now hold in your hand, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do so.

    [Dibden Stage, Johnson State College, Johnson, VT; Steve Perry's science-fiction plays "Muties" and "Spindlewheel" were performed on this stage in 1973 or so.]

    I met Steve Perry on the Johnson State College campus (in upstate Johnson, VT) back in 1974. He was the first diehard comicbook fan and comics creator I’d ever met. This lanky, soft-spoken Maine native was also the first serious writer I’d ever come to know. While I was still a lowly high school freshman, Steve had already enjoyed the publication of his first short story (in a Maine literary magazine, circa 1970). While I was pumping gas at Bissette’s Market in Colbyville, VT, Steve’s short fiction continued to appear in literary zines and he scribed two original plays (“Muties” and “Spindlewheel”) which were performed on Johnson State College’s Dibden Auditorium stage. By the time I met Steve, he’d completed two novels (unpublished), over a dozen short stories, had authored a plethora of letters to various Marvel Comics titles (many published) and was already submitting scripts to Marvel in hopes of breaking into mainstream comics writing. Though he was my senior by a couple of years, we were inevitably drawn together and it was with Steve that I collaborated on my first serious stab at creating comics (the story “Not Yeti” in Abyss, 1976). Steve was the first writer I worked with collaboratively in comics, the first to push me to more earnest explorations of what the medium was capable of, what I was capable of.

    Along with fellow JSC cronies Mark ‘Sparky’ Whitcomb, Jack Venooker, and Tim ‘Doc Ersatz’ Viereck, Steve was instrumental in my decision to leave my home state of Vermont and risk being part of the first class ever of North America’s first college dedicated solely to comics, The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc. It was in fact Steve who showed me Joe Kubert’s first announcement for his soon-to-open school in the “Beautiful Balloons” column in Alan Light’s The Comic Buyer’s Guide newspaper of yore. “This is where you belong, Bissette,” Perry told me. “Not here. You have to apply to this school.”

    Despite many misgivings, fears and concerns, I indeed made the plunge, and lo and behold I was accepted. Thanks, Steve, I’ll forever owe you for that one.

    It was at the Kubert School that I met Tom Yeates, aka ‘Korak,’ with whom I also felt a strong and lasting bond. Tom was an outspoken California radical devoted to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jimi Hendrix and changing the world for the better, one drawing and good vibe at a time. We shared limbs on the majestic trees behind the Baker Mansion (the Kubert School’s main building back in ‘76-78) and talked about our mutual passion for vintage 1930s and ‘40s adventure movies, though Tom was a far more avid Errol Flynn fan than I’ll ever be. We also harbored a mutual loathing for destructive right-wing political extremists like — well, Ronald Reagan, whom Tom tore into often enough when Reagan was governor of his home state to prepare me for the coming late-night telephone rants against Reagan’s Presidential dynasty. Our drawing styles were light years apart — Tom’s clean precision of light, shadow and line meshed uneasily with my spastic ink-slashing brushwork — but we occasionally indulged the urge to play together on the page. We jammed on a cover for a Burroughs fanzine — I inked a pile of Neanderthal bodies lying at a triumphant Yeates Tarzan’s feet — and I scripted my first published comics script for Tom (“Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword” for Sgt. Rock) before we began our second year at Kubert School. Thanks to Tom, I met Roy Krenkel and Al Williamson (who Tom bore an uncanny physical resemblance to: seeing the two men in profile, face to face, was like seeing each looking into some sort of “time mirror”), among others, and emulating Tom’s easy-going bohemian comfort with comic conventions helped me overcome my own country-boy timidity amid the madness of big city comicons. I soon learned the ropes, and I’ll forever be in Tom’s debt for that.

    Timespirits co-created by Stephen Perry and Tom Yeates, © and TM 1984, 1985, 1986, 2010 Tom Yeates, by contractual arrangment with Stephen Perry, all rights reserved. Spurtin Duyvel art ©1984, 2010 Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved. “Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword” splash page ©1977, 1978 DC Comics Inc./DC Entertainment Inc., posted for archival and entertainment purposes only. Johnson State College Dibden State photograph © 2010 Johnson State College, posted for archival purposes only.

    __________________

    Added for archival purposes: The first local Tampa Fox News report on this case:


    Discussion (6) ¬

    1. Meredith Randazzo

      I am looking forward to reading Timespirits for the first time…and I’m sorry that its writer never got to see it return to print. Any estimate of a release date?

    2. Mark Masztal

      This is just getting nuttier by the day.

    3. markfdavis

      Awesome to hear there’s going to be a Timespirits Collected Edition!

    4. srbissette

      It’s been in the works for some time — years, actually — and I’ve no idea when it will see light of day. But it will.

    5. Barry Deutsch

      Damn, I loved Timespirits when I was a kid. I must have read those issues 20 times each.

    6. Rich Arndt

      I met Tom Yeates and Al Gordon (the editor of the Image reprint) and they sounded hopeful that the reprint may come out this year. Hoe so.

    Comment ¬

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