I just found out that Starlen Baxter is dead. I hadn’t seen any press about it on any of the comic sites which isn’t too surprising as Starlen hadn’t been active in comics for a few years. It was sad news as Starlen was a talented writer and creator and somebody I got along with quite well while he was at Caliber.
I can’t give a detailed of Starlen’s accomplishments in comics but I am familiar with his work on Nerve Magazine and of course, the work he did for Caliber which involved Mack the Knife and Suppressed: A History of Violence in America. For the Iconografix line from Caliber, he did a one shot called Channel X. He was also involved in Go-Man, also from Nerve and Caliber plus he did
I first met Starlen at my first Chicago Con as the publisher of Caliber. I had just launched the initial line which included The Crow,
Go-Man became a series from Caliber and I collected the previous material into a graphic novel which was presented in a flip book format with the collected work of Mack the Knife. Mack also came out from Caliber in a one shot. I think both may have appeared in Caliber Presents as well.
Both were, as I said, raw and edgy but I thought both were exceptional and Go-Man, as I have stated many times, was one of my favorite projects ever produced by Caliber. Go-Man got an introduction from Matt Wagner and accolades from the likes of Dave Sim, Chris Gore, Michael Zulli, Matt Howarth, Bob Schreck, and Steve Bissette.
In fact, it was during a podcast interview with Chuck Moore of Comic Related that I mentioned Go-Man that Chuck told me he knew Bill and would get us back in touch. I talked with Bill about bringing Go-Man back into a new collection and that’s when I found out that Starlen had died June 8th of this year and it was apparently listed as a suicide. Someone mentioned that it was two years to the date that artist Jack Jackson, who worked on the
After the Go-Man and Mack the Knife projects, Starlen released two other one shots through Caliber. Channel X was a one shot of his unique style dealing with monsters, both real and perceived. Suppressed: A History of Violence in
Starlen did the
So, I didn’t know him real well but got along with him as much as any other Caliber creator. A publisher and creator have a certain relationship which can be as friends but I also distinguish as a professional friend rather than personal. I’ve read some of his blog writings and knew I didn’t know him that well but I enjoyed the relationship that we had.
I don’t know why it affected me so much, as we weren’t close, but for some reason, it hit me harder than I would’ve expected. Maybe because as you get older you realize just how important life is and to end it on your own just doesn’t make a lot of sense.I don’t know…I guess I thought someone should at least acknowledge his death.
I just got word from a production company that they’re interested in signing up Renfield for a film. Of course, as with any properties being signed up, it’s hard to get too excited but I’ve always had a good feeling about Renfield in that if it found the right place, it could be a very cool movie. It’s not a blood and gore type movie so when I discuss it with someone, their approach is vital to me as then I can see if they “get” it. I still get fan letters on the book even after all this time and of course, as I mentioned before, when it was put into the curriculum at
Another project, Red Diaries, is currently in the Diamond Previews, as Image and Desperado Publishing are making it available again. This is probably one of my most re-ordered books, usually from fans of Marilyn Monroe or JFK conspiracists, so it’s good to see that it is officially relisted.
I hope to have news soon about Deadworld that should be exciting. The comic series, Slaughterhouse, is moving along at a fast clip. The first issue isn’t even due out until next month and the artist, Sami Makkonen, is already hitting the third. It looks great.
I’ve spent my summer working on a number of projects that will be released over the next few months and I’m pretty excited about them. I have A Murder of Scarecrows coming out early next year with artist Wayne Reid and deals with a smuggler in Pre-Revolutionary America. That will be an original graphic novel. Another one I have coming out is a murder mystery set during the turn of the century South (the last turn of the century, not the recent one…). An anthology of spies, traitors, rebels, etc. will also be coming out in early 2009 and there’s a action/adventure thriller that is due out in the middle of the year. Summer time is when I do most of my freelance writing but since artists work slower than I do (wonder why….), it usually ends up spacing along the entire year following.
Outside of comics, the college courses I teach always seem to be a bit over-whelming at first as I have to reign it all in at the beginning of the semester. Even though I have 15 weeks to teach it all, I have to lay it all out, including all the text reading before the semester starts so actually, when school starts, my load lessens. School has started so I expect my workload to settle down to primarily class time from now on.
The political race is now fully steamed and rolling along towards November. That means loads of half-truths and mis-representations on both sides. The whole political process nauseates me but I still vote although it seems I usually vote against someone as opposed to voting for a candidate.
That’s it for now. Remember to vote…and don’t follow blindly any one party or someone else’s belief. Look for the truth which when dealing with politicians, can be very hard, I know. But try.