Before I get started, I wanted to say I hope you enjoyed or are continuing to enjoy every Holiday you may have or are celebrating. I had a merry Christmas myself despite some people simply wishing me a “happy holidays!” I don’t know how I got through it either. And since this is my last column of 2016, a preemptive happy new year to you all as well.
Now that we got that out of the way, these last few days or so have been rough for science fiction, comic book, and music fans. Carrie Fisher, who has been enjoying a career renaissance, had suffered a massive heart attack and as of the time I’m writing this is in stable condition, but is still in intensive care. We wish her a full and speedy recovery.
Peter David, one of my favorite comic book writers as well as a seasoned novelist and TV writer who co-created a favorite TV show of mine as a kid, had a fall in his home last week. While we weren’t sure exactly what was causing his health issues, he has since been released from the hospital and just in time to celebrate Christmas with his family. Again we all wish Peter David a full and speedy recovery.
As far as music goes, 2016 has been devastating. David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, George Martin, Phife Dawg, Merle Haggard, Vanity, Prince, Maurice White, Joey Feek, Dale Griffin, Pete Huttlinger, Sharon Jones, John Berry, Leon Russell, Frank Sinatra Jr., Greg Lake, Alan Thicke, Rick Parfitt and more were joined by George Michael on Christmas day. His passing was not only that of an incredibly talented musician who sold over 100 million records in his lifetime between Wham! and his solo work, but of an unapologetically gay icon.
Both Carrie Fisher and Peter David have a lot of work in comics. Though Carrie Fisher isn’t in comics herself, her likeness as Princess Leia has appeared in hundreds of comic books for nearly four decades. George Michael doesn’t have much of a connection to the world of comics outside of some spoofs in Mad Magazine. That’s soon to change as Valiant Entertainment is planning a variant cover based on the album jacket for George Michael’s hit album Faith for the first issue of their new ongoing comic of the same name. The proceeds will go to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an important protector of first amendment rights for comics and their creators. I’m encouraging everyone to pick up that cover. If that’s not your thing, but you still want to support the CBLDF click here to learn more.
While looking up instances of George Michael appearing in comics, I uncovered a comic series I was unfamiliar with called Wham!. The comic was created by Leo Baxendale and published by Odhams Press in Britain between 1963 and 1968. It ran for 187 weekly issues. Leo Baxendale created strips for Wham! that were seen as rip-offs of his work-for-hire strips back at The Beano which he wrote for year beforehand and is still being published to this day. In a way, Wham! was kind of the Image Comics of British children’s comic strips in the 60s.
It’s funny what you accidentally learn sometimes doing research. That said, I’ll be mourning the loss of George Michael this week while trying to hold out hope for a better 2017. It’s not looking too promising right now, but I’ve got to try to be positive to get through it. I gotta have faith.