Barry Blair’s Death

March 2, 2010 at 6:56 am (Uncategorized)

Dear Abby, sign me “Always the Last to Know.”

I just found out that Barry Blair, Canadian-born entrepeneur of the independent comix and erotic elf scene died 3 Jan 2010. It’s a shame–misdiagnosed aneyurism–and Barry never got his due.

Some of you may recall that Blair created the first thriving independent comics group, Aircel, during the eighties boom; and he broke a great deal of new talent, including Dale Keown. “Aircel” was originally an insulation company; when it went belly-up, Blair convinced his boss to start publishing comics.

Before Aircel, Blair had been publishing his own comics as a kid of fifteen. Even at that young age, he had a flair for light and shadow and cute ambisexual elves. Those old issues cost a fortune if you can find a devotee willing to part with them. Blair also did precocious Gilliam-flavored animation for the beloved classic You Can’t Do That On Television. I loved that crazyass show–it used to run on Nickelodeon when I was fourteen.

Blair inspired a lot of underground artists. This includes Drew Hayes, whose I, Lusiphur often ridiculed Blair–but the artist was working in Blair’s Nightwynd I-era visual imagery. It was like if John Buscema was ridiculing Kirby, really. Some of these artists however may have been pseudonymous for Blair himself; I’ve long suspected the gay porn artist “Julius” was Blair, or one of his studio grads. Blair became more identified with porn work as he went along, which he felt had kind of trapped him. I always thought there was a bizarre synergy between himself and his idol, Wally Wood.

In 1993, I had a correspondance with Blair during his second Nightwynd years. He showed some real interest in publishing Danny Dare, but it was fatal timing–the bottom dropped out of Nightwynd II and we never did more than talk. There was a time when I could frighteningly ape his style, and I used it to push my Danny Dare samples. Imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of opportunism.

Blair told me some stories about the downfall of Aircel, bad blood that resulted from initially paying out small fortunes to talent, and the rancor that resulted when wages were cut. He wasn’t too happy either with Malibu (which had purchased Aircel), which had tried to retain his properties.

In my twenties, I went on a trip to New York City to try and locate Blair (I had a reliable bead on his locale) to personally pitch my creation. I didn’t find him, but had other experiences. I ended up writing a novel about this, which I may do something with someday.

Years ago, I wrote an article on Barry for Wikipedia. That’s when I learned what an institution of busybodies that farago is. Late last year, some hater deleted the page on some bullshit basis; they also deleted my personal biography page, which only took them, like, FIVE YEARS to sniff out. (I’ll explain more about that some day.) I see Blair’s death, however, has returned him to significant-enough status for Wickerdoodle…isn’t that just the way it works with artists?

I often think how cool it might have been if I had gotten Danny Dare Comics published with Nightwynd. Blair was certainly a square-dealer from what I took away. Sad to hear about his death. He died in the saddle, and off to Greenhaven goes he, to receive his reward of forty elfin skaterboys.

Gore bless, Barry: the best.

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