A Four Colour Life: RIP Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

I only met Tom Spurgeon once.

On the Saturday morning of a Toronto Comic Arts Festival show nearly a half-decade ago, Biff Bam Pop’s Editor-In-Chief, Andy Burns and I, met him over bacon and eggs and toast and coffee at a local diner.

Tom was a big man, in reputation, certainly. His online presence saw the long-time comic book and industry journalist, editor, historian and author come off as more than a bit of a curmudgeon. He could be salty with his remarks, and his particular sense of humour could easily fly over the head of a reader who didn’t know better, adding to his grumbler mystique.

People close to him can attest much better to the personality and soul of the man, but over breakfast that one morning, I could see how downright friendly and accessible Tom could be.

And how passionate he was over comic books and sequential art.

In his fifty years life, Tom Spurgeon held many roles, including those with The Comics Journal, where he was Executive Editor. That publication was the first that brought his name and work to my attention, but it was his multiple Eisner Award-winning website, The Comics Reporter, that I frequented regularly.

The Comics Reporter began linking to Biff Bam Pop articles, interviews, reviews and editorials years ago. I always that it was an enormous coup that BBP! and its stable of writers was being taken seriously in industry circles. Back then, I never thought someone of his stature would have the time for an up and comer. The truth is, all we had to do was ask. That was Tom’s generosity.

Spurgeon was a champion of comic book creators: writers and artists who, more often than not, are creating work on this side of mainstream pop culture, or just starting out. He’d give nearly anyone a go and everyone got a fair shake. In his words and reviews, he’d call it like he saw it – good or bad – but creators and readers always knew that his thoughts were honest and that he indeed deeply read the work he was writing about.

Tom cared. And comic books mattered.

In this day and age of dwindling mainstream comic book sales, where superheroes suck up all the air amidst a vibrant backdrop of sequential art from all walks of life, Tom’s pinned Tweet says everything you need to know about his passion, authenticity, sourpuss antics and dry sense of humour:

“I will save this comics industry to the ground”

The Comics Reporter has so much great material published on it. You should go take a look now. It’s a place where you’ll also get a real feel for the man.

I only met Tom Spurgeon once. Along with Andy Burns, we had bacon and eggs and toast and coffee and we talked about comics, the industry, art, film, television, politics, the city of Toronto and writing. He was awesome.

And then he picked up the tab.

Tom Spurgeon will be missed by family and friends and many comic book industry compatriots, like you, the readers of the art form he so loved.

You lived a four-colour life, Tom. Rest in peace.

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