Tim Sale, my tribute to a hero.

Tim Sale is my all-time comics hero, and that will never, ever change.

To say that I am upset and gutted at his passing is an understatement. I vividly remember the first time I saw his art: November 1993, when I purchased Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special #1. As I opened it up, the art looked so different, I wasn’t sure I liked it. At all. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

However, by the time Batman ordered the cop to “get that light out of my eyes” I was fully onboard. This was the version of Batman that I wanted to see, the version from which I would gauge all others moving forwards (Spoiler: nothing else came close to matching up.)

Each year I looked forward to the Halloween specials, as they were an escape from the seemingly never-ending mega crossovers, events and stunts.

By the time 1996 rolled around, I was massive fan of the Loeb/Sale team, who delivered a somber but relatively grounded Batman who was driven and obsessive, yet still a hero.

I bought THE LONG HALLOWEEN #1 knowing I would enjoy it, but not fully realising just how big an impact it would go onto have in shaping my view of Batman, comics storytelling and, truth be told, my entire life since. I can honestly say that during the 12 months that series was being published was the most fun I have ever had as a comic reader. The wait for each issue was intolerable. The story and artwork had me gripped. This was my Batman. Nothing else could touch it.

Then came SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS, possibly the finest Superman story ever. Tim’s art was breathtaking, the level of craft and nuance was like nothing being published in American comics at the time, the level of story telling off the scale. A masterpiece.

Fast forward through the years, Loeb/Sale collaborations, cover art, art books. I remained in awe of his talent as an illustrator and storyteller. He grew with every new project. The storytelling became stronger and stronger with each tale.

Then came Though Bubble 2011 in Leeds, where I had the privilege of meeting Tim for the first time.  They say never meet your heroes – they were wrong. I managed to score his last commission slot of the day, and did my level best to not burst out crying when I got my commission. I had met the man who drew the Long Halloween, and he was cool and kind and an absolute gentleman.

After I had been a  member of the Fans of Tim Sale Facebook group for a couple of years, I was fortunate to meet Tim again at Thought Bubble 2014, but I couldn’t bring myself to properly introduce myself – something that Tim has had fun chiding me for through the many years since.

That group and the community it fostered is the main reason I’ve kept a Facebook account. The man ran a tremendous and fun community, sharing anecdotes and stories of his work through the years, posting cool commissions and turning me on to artists who I would otherwise have missed. The build up to last year’s Halloween Special was simply a joy.

Tim’s death is a massive loss to the comics community. If only he knew the impact and joy he has given me through the years, how his work enriched the life of a geeky Scottish teenager and continued to do so into adulthood.

I got to know Tim a tiny bit via his group and wider Facebook. A more decent, kind person you could not hope to meet. To his family and friends, I offer my most sincere condolences. The comics industry, and the world, is a lot poorer without him in it.

Tim, goodnight mate, you’re going to be sorely missed. Your work has been a massive and joyful part of my life. You are an irreplaceable hero in my house, and you always will be.

The writer of this piece was: Craig Gorman.
Craig Tweets from @Gorminator1979

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