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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Edmund Bagwell (1966-2017)

Edmund Bagwell, best know for his work on 2000AD's 'Cradlegrave' and 'Indigo Prime', died on Tuesday, 14 May, at the age of 50. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Born Edmund Richard Bagwell in Preston in 1966, Bagwell studied at Leeds Polytechnic where he was a contemporary of Duncan Fegrado. Two years his junior, Bagwell would later say that it was thanks to Fegrado’s encouragement and support that he found work in comics.

His earliest regular contributions appeared in Deadline in 1988 when he wrote and drew ‘Syd Serene’ as Anonyman. Using the pen-name E. C. Perriman, he contributed ‘A Single English Rose’ to Blaam! (1988-89) and further stories (as Edmund Perryman and Anonyman) to Crisis, The Revolver Horror Special and Speakeasy. After an early contribution to the Judge Dredd Mega-Special (1992) as Edmund Kitsune, Bagwell found work with Marvel UK, drawing ‘Motormouth & Killpower’ for Overkill (1992) and Black Axe (1993). During these few years he worked with Nick Abadzis, D’Israeli, Peter Hogan, Warren Ellis, Graham Marks and Simon Jowett amongst others.

Primarily he worked in animation and computer graphics, living for some time in Angouleme, France, before moving to Seoul in South Korea with his wife Hae Sook to be closer to family. He returned to comics in 2005, contributing to Liam Sharp’s Event Horizon anthology. “Edmund lived with me and Christina in Richmond, just outside London, back in the Marvel UK days,” recalled Sharp. “He also contributed to Mam Tor, drawing ‘Chase Variant’ and illustrating my prose story ‘Jed Lightsear’.”

Sharp remembers him as “Just a brilliant, under-appreciated talent with a unique voice.”

After producing a handful of ‘Tharg’s Future Shocks’, Bagwell returned to mainstream comics with ‘Cradlegrave’ (2009), a horror story set in a sink estate that Ramsey Campbell described as “a fine rich achievement in modern supernatural terror,” whilst also praising the artwork, the story “well served by artist Edmund Bagwell, with his keen eye for the telling detail and his economical, often cinematic, way of conveying it. The Cradlegrave estate seems permanently steeped in dusk – in a light that can’t be bothered to raise itself. You can almost smell the rot in the streets laden with heat and rubbish.”

Bagwell took over ‘Indigo Prime’ for two series (2011), which allowed him to “access his inner Jack Kirby.” “I think you can see his influence in my designs for the series,” he told Matthew Badham in 2012. “Quite a lot of the machinery and vehicles are a bit Kirby-esque, plus I have used a fair amount of ‘Kirby Krackle’ for some sequences.” Chris Weston, the strip’s original artist, has said, “Edmund rebooted one of my old strips … and I’d always tell him that he did a better job than I did, whenever I saw him (a compliment he’d stubbornly refuse to accept, bless him).”

His most recent 2000AD work was ‘The Ten-Seconders’ (2013), written by Rob Williams, who wrote the storyline with Bagwell in mind. “I knew it was going to be big Kirby-esque gods, and when I saw his work on ‘Indigo Prime’, I thought he’d be perfect,” Williams told Mark Kardwell in 2013. Kardwell described the arrival of Bagwell on the strip thus: “It’s great to see Bagwell bring some much-needed clarity to ‘The Ten-Seconders’ after the murkiness of his predecessors; it’s like a new day has dawned on these characters. Unfortunately, it’s a new dawn that’s bringing with it an invasion of gigantic humanoid aliens. Bagwell tends to restrict his most Kirby-influenced drawing to the pieces he produces for his own amusement at his blog, otherwise it affects his published work in more subtle ways – some Kirby krackle in the skies, the occasional squared-off fingertip, a shared sense of cosmic scale, Again, Bagwell is bringing modernity to the strip, too.”

Bagwell was only occasionally active on social media: he ran a blog, Four Colours Good, in 2010-14, and was active on Twitter for some years (@BagG_E).

David Leach recalled on Facebook, “I first met him back in the glory days of Marvel UK and always enjoyed his company. He had an exceedingly dry sense of humour and a style of drawing I found utterly intoxicating.”

His family have asked that donations be made to Pancreatic Cancer UK in Edmund's memory.

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