Gareth Black: Remembering A Comic/Magic Master Part 1

Legendary as the pits of Tartarus where hellish nightmares became the world of eternal torment was the Necropalace. Here the lord of the Necropalace sat surrounded by screams of the souls he had stolen from those whom had betrayed him, whom had lied to him and those whom had hurt him. Here in the heart of the void, an opening only accessible in the 6th minute of every 11th hour is the Necropalace, a temple built by a man with the powers to stare down death and laugh, marry death and then divorce after 15 years. It is now in 2011 that we are allowed entry due to the death of the Necropalace Lord, Gareth Black. Death, once a mistress, then a wife, then a memory became his final confidant and his pilot to the true abyss.
In the comics work Gareth Black’s work is remember among the other greats, Hergé, Moore, Morrison, Kirby, Mignola and others yet none were able to match his skill of art and writing. While Black’s work may lie forgotten like the great temple of Ozymandias, the King of the Comics stands the only force that preserved the art for the past 80 years. To the average comics fan though, this loss means nothing – the value of the work, the comics themselves turned into ephemera, vaporous memories recorded in only a handful of books.

The Early Days:

Black began his career as a stage magician in 1902 at the young age of 8 where he had thrilled the crowds of London’s lower east end by summoning dread beasts tamed only by his stare – those eyes that would soon burn into pen the dark ideas from his mind.
After a Faustian bargain on his 10th birthday though Black, born Gareth Ballycastle traded his heritage and hair for the ability to cast the greatest spells become immediately bearded and bestowed with the power of prose. Within hours had had won 5 writing championships and was able to live off of the earnings which was important as his former parents were sentenced to Hell.
The only guardian who stayed was his new uncle, Scratch, a highly intelligent flame red tomcat who was granted the ability to speak in a voice like crackling embers. The tom passed away on Gareth’s 18th birthday leaving Gareth with a small fortune of 13 dead mice, 18 birds and 666 pounds in a bank account.

As A Young Master:

5 days later Gareth published his first 200 page comic created in 3 days on in a 72 hour Power Fest wherein he had consumed the milk of a team of succubi and then had himself sequested in a padded cell with only paper and pencils. That first comic, “Krakatoa – The Mountain,” received near unanimous commendation and set forth the path that he followed for the next 10 years.
After the publication of his 5th book 4 weeks later, Gareth met with Death for the first time. The two saw each other as symbiotic beings and in the course of 8 hours, he created the new 20 page book “The Great Gatsby” which was adapted into a full length novel later by F. Scott Fitzgerald who ended up being allowed full credit for the writing.

Join Us Next Monday When We Continue Our Memorial Article On The Life Of This Comic Icon.

Salad Days: Warren Ellis

[What follows is an excerpt from a lost interview conducted for a 1997 Holiday Special issue of Wizard Magazine. When pressed about the miniseries discussed in this piece, Warren Ellis declined comment, mustering only to shrug his shoulders shamefully while dramatically exhaling cigarette smoke. He appeared particularly morose.]

Warren Ellis, the brilliant Brit scribe behind the twisted companion piece to Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ MARVELS called RUINS, has a new miniseries shedding light on another dark corner of the Marvel universe he wants you to read.

“I honestly don’t care if you read it or not. The check already cleared.” Warren Ellis sits in an Irish pub down the street from his New York City hotel, jotting the occasional note into the frayed pages of his well worn moleskine. Beginning in February, Ellis and artist Mark Buckingham will be releasing a six issue miniseries starring New Warriors founder Night Thrasher, giving the notoriously controversial writer a new canvas to brutally paint his harsh interpretations of the superhero genre.

Wizard: Well, what drew you to Night Thrasher as a character?
Ellis: Tom DeFalco had read RUINS and some of my Vertigo stuff and was quite the fan and asked if I’d fancy taking a stab. I’ve never read an issue of NEW WARRIORS in my life, nor did I know anything about the character.
Wizard: So, how did you end up getting the gig?
Ellis: DeFalco sent me copies of some pertinent storylines and they were just awful. He’s basically a black version of Batman, if instead of a bat, a methed up Rocket Racer had crashed through the window. I about pissed myself from crude laughter.
Wizard: …but, you agreed to do the series?
Ellis: Of course, I did! It’s a check. I told them I’d write THREE THE HARD WAY, but with Night Thrasher, Blade and Cloak from Cloak and Dagger and they agreed to pay my rent anyway! Do you think DC would ever let me do this with Cyborg? Fuck no!
Wizard: Will any of Night Thrasher’s comrades from New Warriors be making any cameo appearances?
Ellis: Well, Speedball shows up as kind of a Jimmy Olsen type assistant, but he’s coked to the gills and ends up being kind of a damsel in distress. He’s basically the well meaning friend who wants to join in on the cool black guy party, but fucks it all up because he’s off his tits.
Wizard: Was there anything editorial wouldn’t let you get away with?
Ellis: I did have a scene where Luke Cage calls Thrasher an Uncle Tom and they settle their dispute with a malt liquor drinking contest, and that was denied. It was really for a bet with Ian Edington, though, so no real loss.
Wizard: So, is the miniseries largely parody?
Ellis: Well, I’m pitching it more as a satirical urban jungle espionage thriller, but that may be the gin talking.