Last month, I was shocked to learn of the passing of longtime comics and music collector, writer, journalist and longtime magazine editor Dave Reeder in November 2018 after a long battle with various health issues.
The news had only just broken via Dave’s close friends and his passing came as a surprise to them and his family. As others have said – it’s always sad when someone passes on, but especially when you find out months later.
Dave was in the magazine business for his entire life, his first stint as an amateur fantasy/horror zine called Fantasy Macabre that he started in 1980.
He was also a long-term comics fan, a member of the Q-Collection Comic Book Preservation Project alongside the late Harlan Ellison, Trina Robbins and Dez Skinn, dedicated to preserving key comic books from the 1930s to the 1960s as a reading collection for Children of the World, past, present and future (ages 5 to 115).
There, he described himself as still trying to recover from the losses of his Silver Age DC comics bought on the way home from school and thrown out by his mother when he wasn’t looking.
A degree in philosophy and a librarianship diploma did nothing to discourage his love of the medium, solidified when he worked for a couple of years for Dez Skinn, re-launching Halls of Horror and helping out on Warrior.
It was an experience that led to him becoming a writer and magazine editor, launching, for example BBC Good Food Middle East, mainly working in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
You can find examples of his food writing all over the web, including this piece on the best of African cuisine.
He had his own foodie blog, too noshbygosh.blogspot.com – although it was not a project he had maintained in recent years, moving instead to Facebook to vent his spleen on modern life, bad press releases, publishing and politics, but not without the occasional insight into his own life, health and work.
“So when did you pick on your career?,” he noted in a Facebook post in 2017. “As a kid, I had no real idea what I wanted to do until one day, aged about 12, I was out shopping with my mother when there was this rush of fire engines and ambulances past us in the street. What was happening? It will be in the newspaper tomorrow, I was told, which gave me an idea – I wanted to be the person (I didn’t yet know what a ‘reporter’ was, preferring Batman to Superman comics) who found out and told people.
“Years pass. At University I edit the student newspaper, my baptism of fire since I was greeted with an empty office and no instructions on what to do! In my final year, I somehow got a trainee job with the Liverpool Echo, just before it announced cutbacks! Not sure what to do and not really interested in the traditional route of cub reporter on a local paper, I got a job in a library…
“Years pass. My route home from work in London’s East End to Camberwell in South London takes me past a small comics and SF bookshop and I start popping in realising, after a couple of visits, that it’s run by Dez Skinn, a name I recognise from the House of Hammer magazine I’d collected. One day I ask him why he didn’t revive it, only to be told that he’d like to but didn’t have an editor. An hour later in the pub next door, I was the editor!
“I edited the magazine in my spare time for a while then gave up the library job, becoming a magazine editor for the rest of my career, with dozens of titles and more issues than I can remember to my name.
“All thanks to a couple of fire engines…”
After his mother died, he returned to Devon in 2016 and rather than retiring to his beloved France, became increasingly immersed in trying to sort out his huge collection of comics, books and music.
The transition from Dubai to Devon was not without incident or bemusement…
“I thought I’d done complicated things in my career – editing multiple magazines at the same time, turning out 300 page directories in a couple of weeks and so on – but nothing prepared me to trying to understand the rules of our local rubbish collection!” he decried back inToday was black bag day, so that means household waste as well as the weekly recyclable food waste plus paper. It all went.
“What didn’t go, however, was the paper that had been used to protect items in the move from Dubai to UK. How is white wrapping paper different from newsprint, apart from the fact is has no ink on it? Madness!”
I didn’t know Dave personally – he was better known for his work on food magazines than comics by the time our paths crossed through a small but active and entertaining Yahoo group I belong too, and dropped in the occasional wonderful observation on art and comics on my Facebook page. We also had a few conversations about magazine publishing in general separately on occasion. But I can say that his presence will be missed, both for his humour and in depth knowledge of magazine publishing.
There is a smashing “warts and all” tribute to him here by Georgia Lewis, noting that while his work saw him occasionally mixing with the famous, he was “entirely unimpressed by celebrity for its own sake, he was far happier when interviewing chefs, discussing food and wine, and laughing uproariously with friends.”
“… In the last couple of years of Dave’s life, he was struggling with health issues, with having to put aside plans to retire to France and instead live in his late parents’ house in Devon, and with trying to rationalise his possessions which had filled every room,” Georgia notes. “… a funny, smart, sometimes infuriating presence has gone from our lives.
“But he leaves behind a great legacy as a journalist and editor, as a mentor to many a young hack, as a staunch defender of print journalism.”
My sympathies to Dave’s family and close friends on his tragic passing. I hope this tribute helps mark the memory of a glorious eccentric.