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THE MAN WHO SAVED THE COMICS: BILL BLACKBEARD, R.I.P.

Bill Blackbeard Bill Blackbeard, without question or quibble, is the only absolutely indispensable figure in the history of comics scholarship for the last quarter century — and will undoubtedly retain the title for well into this century and beyond. He died on March 10, sloughing off the mortal coil unnoticed and unheralded; he was 84. His passing was discovered by friends and cartooning aficionadoes by accident.

Publisher Gary Groth, whose Fantagraphics Books has relied upon Blackbeard’s extensive archive of comic strip clippings for many books reprinting vintage comic strips, last week phoned the nursing home where Blackbeard has been living for some time, and when Groth asked for Blackbeard, he was told the iconic collector was deceased. No other information was forthcoming despite Groth’s questions. Not even date of death. I discovered that by googling; the rest, Blackbeard’s benchmark achievements for the history of the medium and an outline of his life, are now presented on the online Comics Journal, tcj.com.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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