MJ Hibbett & The Validators

Blog: Martin Skidmore

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I'd just like to take a moment to pay tribute to the mighty Martin Skidmore, who passed away yesterday, aged just 52.

The name "Martin Skidmore" was a LEGEND throughout my teenage years, appearing under numerous articles and as editor of the comics fanzine Fantasy Advertiser. Every month or so a new issue would arrive at The House On The Borderland, the only comics shop in Peterborough, and the three or four of us still reading comics in my school year would DEVOUR it, angrily discussing the articles, mocking or stealing ideas as we saw fit, and marvelling at the idea that somehow, somewhere, there was a community of people who also read comics, who not only knew the creators, but had informed and intellectual opinions about them. As many people have said, it was kind of like an internet message board in paper form, and it blew our tiny minds.

I stopped reading comics in the early 90s, when Martin started up his own comics company (which featured very early comics work by Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and Mark Millar - clearly he knew his stuff!) but the idea he'd put in my brain, that comics and science fiction COULD be something Proper and Worthwhile, stayed with me. When I moved on to reading the NME and especially Melody Maker their attempts to analyse pop music in the same way Martin and co had analysed comics seemed ridiculously childish and show-offy in comparison. I always got the feeling that when FA contributors were conducting feminist marxist critiques of Silver Ages comics they actually knew what they were talking about, and thought it might be a good idea to try.

Many years later I found myself living in London, reading Freaky Trigger and occasionally meeting contributors when in the pub with Mr S Hewitt. One day I was AMAZED to find that a "Martin Skidmore" was a regular writer of articles - I asked Steve if he could possibly be the same Martin Skidmore who'd inspired me so many years ago, and Steve said yes, yes he was. Over the next few months I was incrediby AFEARED of bumping into him - clearly I owed a huge amount of my continuing and open love of science fiction to him (and therefore an awful lot of FUN) but I didn't know if I dared to ever actually SPEAK to him.

When i DID finally actually meet him he was LOVELY, and took me BLURTING "I spent all my pocket money on you!" as my opening conversational gambit very kindly. I bumped into him several times over the next few years - most often on New Comics Day when I'd see him on his way back from Gosh as I was heading in, and he'd always have bought something interesting and have something to say about it. The GRATE thing about these meetings was that he'd ALSO have bought something ridiculously populist (i.e. the sort of thing that I buy) by one of the Big Two and be excited about THAT too. It's a rare gift in any field to meet someone who is secure enough in their own BRAINPOWER to be able to apply Intellectual Rigour to the POP stuff, and LOVE it honestly at the same time.

He came to see Dinosaur Planet at one of the previews, and much to my immense relief LARFED and, at the end, said how much he'd enjoyed it. I was overjoyed - if it wasn't for Martin and a very few other people I'd never have even considered doing stuff like this, and the fact that he'd come out to see it meant the world to me.

I didn't actually SAY that at the time - I felt that my somewhat over-excited babbling about how much he'd meant to me as a teenager was probably enough for anyone to put up with- but I know he meant an awful lot to a huge amount of other people in that and the various other fields in which he spread his enthusiasm. It's all we can really hope for in life to make a positive difference to other people, and goodness knows he did that A LOT. I hope he knew it - RIP Martin, you were GRATE!

posted 28/7/2011 by MJ Hibbett

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