Martin in his prime

Our very dear friend Martin Skidmore died aged 52 and surrounded by friends on 27 July 2011 at University College London Hospital of complications of cancer. This page is devoted to his memory.

Martin was never a man to trumpet the excellence of his own projects. Far from it: he knew he had a good brain and had read and viewed well and wisely, but he was always tentative about his own gifts as a reviewer. In his day he'd been an enormously talented editor, sensitive and acute in advice and encouragement, and this he was perhaps better able to acknowledge. But -- though he ever declined the compliment -- he was an invaluable writer across a wide swathe of subjects, lucid, patient, generous, with a dry sense of humour that was entirely free of self-importance.

In January 2012 some of us gathered at his flat, on a melancholy deadline, to decide what of his vast collection of books, comics, LPs, CDs and DVDs would be kept and which dispersed to who knows where. We were surely many of us torn: it seemed a tragedy to break this magnificent archive up, and little in a heartbreaking task was as poignant as the sight of the gaps in his shelves you yourself had just torn. But this was his wish, and its purpose became not simply memorial, but continuity -- that at least some of his many projects, sedimented as they were in his shelves and their organisation, could continue.

So it is with this page: not only does it provide links to the many tributes and personal memories (and we encourage readers to direct us to any that we've missed); it also gathers together his work on the internet, on comics, music, books, architecture, arts and of course wrestling. Because Martin's is a sensibility we believe we will continue to learn from, and his is a voice it's always a joy to return to, a joy now tinged with great sadness.

Martin on the web

Begun in 2006, and typically directly named, Japanese Arts was to be a "network of connected linked" on topics that interested him in this area, a knowledgeable and unpretentious introduction that was evolving towards an essential guide, for newcomer and expert alike.

Back in the 80s, he had edited FA, a very well respected magazine devoted to comics, popular and obscure. In 2010, he revived it as an on-line zine, and was working to return it to its former vigour when his illness struck.

LiveJournal he intermittently used as a diary -- including a courageous and candid record of his declining health in his final weeks -- but it was also a repository for many capsule reviews of books and comics.

At Freaky Trigger, on soul music, football, crime novels, japanese art, food art, films, porn, Joyce Carol Oates -- and his invaluable Comics: A Beginner's Guide.

At The Singles Jukebox: his last reviews, written the day before he went into hospital for the last time, are as considered as his first.

Personal tributes

Chez Chrissie
Gavin Burrows
Lew Stringer
Martin Hand
MJ Hibbett
Ned Raggett
Tim Purkiss at UCL
Tom Ewing at Freaky Trigger
Tom Murphy
Tony Keen
William Swygart at The Singles Jukebox
Many fond voices at I Love Everything


Comics Reporter
Down The Tubes
Forbidden Planet
Sci-Fi Now


Martin Hand's photos of Martin