I didn’t know Martin Skidmore well. I never met him, I never spoke to him, I just exchanged a few dozen quick emails with him over the last year, when I wrote several small reviews and articles about sequential arts for his comics zine, FA Online.
Of all the publications I’ve written for (in my admittedly low key writing career), Martin was the best editor I’ve ever had. He was passionate and knowledgeable, kind and encouraging, always enthusiastic. Writer himself, he could tackle with great articulation subjects as disparate as soul music, the magic of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat cartoons or Japanese Cinema.
I was very sorry to learn Martin passed away from cancer at the age of 52 yesterday, in London.
More about Martin from Ned Raggett:
Martin Skidmore on Al Green:
“This isn’t an outpouring, it’s a very restrained and subtle performance, especially the very gentle start – it’s a sad and thoughtful mood, dominated by Al’s lovely and light falsetto tones, though he builds to the lower, hoarser tones in places. He almost speaks the first line, quickly and in a near whisper, setting a thoughtful tone from the start. He stays mostly behind the music and even the backing vocals for some while, his voice drifting alongside and behind the tune, carefully synchronising here and there and then going its own way again, a man thinking his way through an impossible problem. The way he breaks up the last word in “How can you mend this broken maa-aa-an?” is perfectly judged, a gentle little example of form and meaning meshing, then the first strain in his voice appears in the next line, “How can a loser ever win?” The hesitancy before the last word in “misty memories of days gone by” is another masterfully modulated touch. By the end he’s bringing it all to bear, the changes of tone, the hesitancies and ad libs, the sweet high voice, the gruffer tones, nearly crying in places, even a strangled scream at 5.26. It’s finally a determined song that looks to a positive future, and he injects real strength and straightforward force into his final “I want to live” as it fades.”
Martin Skidmore on Theodore Sturgeon:
“I respect some writers more than I love them – someone like Cormac McCarthy is a great and powerful novelist, but too aggressively demanding to really be fond of. I wouldn’t wish to imply that Sturgeon doesn’t deserve plenty of respect for his originality, craft and willingness to think beyond easy answers for a lot of fascinating and important questions, but really he has a special place in my heart for the heart he shows, the passionate interest in a diverse humanity, in a genre dominated by lovers of machinery.”
Martin Skidmore on Krazy Kat: