Barry Blair, a leading figure of the late ’80s black and white comics explosion, has died of a brain aneurysm, Bleeding Cool reports, and Blair’s website backs it up. He was about 56. According to Rich Johnston, “He complained to friends of an ear ache previously and was on medication as a result. However he felt so ill, he was eventually taken to hospital, but it was too late.”

Blair was a prolific writer and artist on B&W titles such as ELFLORD, SAMURAI, and later, ELFQUEST. He was the publisher of Aircel Comics, a briefly successful indie of the 80s which was later absorbed by Malibu Comics; Aircel was the original publisher of MEN IN BLACK, the basis for the movie. Blair had moved mainly into erotica for quite a while, and his work was often criticized for featuring very young looking characters.

Although his passing has been little noted outside of the BC item, Blair was a very well known figure in the growth period of the direct market, and leaves behind a large body of work.


  1. Yeah, it seems the comics industry has a short memory. Or maybe people are too squicked out by the shall-we-say “non-mainstream” elements of his work. But Barry Blair was one of the pioneers of direct-market-era indie comics, turning an insulation company (of all things) into an important publisher, and he introduced a manga influence into western comics long before that was fashionable. Spurgeon promises a full obit for him on TCR this weekend.

  2. Sad when anyone dies that young. Blair deserves a quality obit as he was a pretty important player in our little pond in days gone by. Look forward to Tom Spurgeon’s Obitury.

  3. Aw, man. That’s awful. Barry was a genuinely nice guy, and a real workhorse. The shape of comics publishing in the 80’s would have been very, very different without Barry Blair.

  4. I met Barry in the 1990’s while hitting cons and promoting my various mini-series Swords of Shar-Pei and Guns of Shar-Pei. He was a gentleman and a friend. We spent a lot of time talking about our craft and the market and how to succeed. He had the plan and he was the man. Cheers to Barry Blair.

  5. I came across Barry’s work a long time ago …. and met him years later … he could not have been more kind … always thought his Gun Fury series was great … Rest In Peace Barry … I know you are working on that masterpiece now …

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