Bill Blackbeard has passed away at age 84. He died on March 10. This man was almost single-handedly responsible for reviving interest in the history of newspaper comic strips in the 1970s. His books were among the first I ever saw, and I suspect that’s true for many of us who picked up the comic strip gene. His love of the material shone like a beacon to guide a whole new generation of fans.
I never met Bill in person, and our occasional correspondences was usually argumentative, though always civil and respectful. I rarely contacted him except to question something he’d said. I can now only regret that I never took the time to write him the gushing fan letter that he deserved. Always too embroiled in trying to get to the bottom of some fine point of comic history, we debated, we argued, we compared notes, but I never did a great job of expressing my deep appreciation for his lynchpin role in researching, archiving, and popularizing this art form that has become a big part of my life.
Goodbye, Bill, and thank you for so ably sharing with us your passion. I can only hope that you got some satisfaction that a new generation of researchers and archivers like myself have tried to take on the mantle and continue the work that you pioneered.
For a much more artfully worded and informative tribute to Blackbeard, please click over to R.C. Harvey’s essay at Comics Journal (from whence I stole the image).