Writer Richmond Clements, co-editor of FutureQuake, pays tribute to an unsung hero of British comics – and particularly 2000AD – fandom, whose death was announced at the weekend…
There has been a running black joke this year about the innumerable number of good people who’ve been dying.
In our nerd culture, the many fandoms have their own leaders, their own personalities. Sometimes there’ll be more than one person vying for the position of Fan Number One. In the world of 2000AD fandom this was not the case. There was one uncontested holder of that title, and his name was Stewart Perkins, who also went by the online name of WR Logan.
It’s hard to overestimate Stewart’s influence on 2000AD and British comics fandom as a whole.
Back in the old days, when all this was just fields, Stewart started a 2000AD newsgroup, the Class of ’79. From that came a fanzine of the same name, which in turn inspired others to do the same. PJ Holden, the artist on the current “Judge Dredd” strip in 2000AD, credits Stewart with giving him the push to start his comics career.
I very much doubt that books like FutureQuake, Zarjaz or the much-missed Solar Wind would have existed without the inspiration provided by WR Logan.
But it’s not just his inspiration to others, it was his quiet generosity. I have read the comments of many people online mentioning how, when they mentioned a comic they’d like to read on a forum, having Stewart send it to them, free of charge and with no fuss. I have been on the receiving end of this selfless action myself.
This generosity and warmth was hidden behind an online façade of a grumpy old man, but he was anything but.
And of course, we cannot let the moment pass without a word about his encyclopaedic knowledge of Judge Dredd – and it’s fair to say he has a head start on the rest of us, being that he was actually a character in the strip. Judge Logan is a semi-regular character, and one that Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner takes delicious pleasure in writing about in delightfully twisted ways.
Just how knowledgeable was he, I hear you ask? Well, put it this way: when John Wagner wrote the seminal Dredd strip “Origins”, it was to Stewart he turned to check the facts. This in turn spins into another story of Stewart’s modesty and generosity. When John decided to bring Johnny Alpha back, he again turned to Stewart for fact checking. But Stewart, thinking himself not up to the task (and I have no doubt he was) instead recommended John bring along my comics life-partner in crime, Bolt-01.
It is fair to say that the 2000AD community has been in shock this weekend. Writing an obituary for someone your own age, someone who was a friend, is a horrible thing. But people have been supporting each other with tales of good times and sunny moment.
A lot of us were invited to a secret preview screening of Dredd a few years back. Being comic fans, we had arranged to meet up in a nearby pub first. Me being me, I arrived first.
While I was having a warm-up pint, my phone buzzed. A Facebook message. From Stewart. Damn, was he not able to come? I opened the message. It had just two words: turn around.
I obeyed the instruction, and spotted a figure alone at a table. It was Stewart. Of course I wasn’t first. He raised his pint and grinned me that wide grin of his. I joined him for another warm-up pint before the rest arrived…
RIP, my friend.
With thanks to PJ Holden, John Burdis and Tony Richards for photographs