Pretty much everyone who was part of Marvel UK in the 1990s knew Edmund Bagwell (aka Edmund Perryman) and would call him a friend too. He had a charm that made it impossible not to like him. I’d met him a few times before moving down to London to work at Marvel. The first time was when he was living with Michael Wiessmuller and Andrew Currie. We had a few drinks and stayed up late watching an advanced copy of the first episode of Deep Space Nine. Drink and Star Trek turned out to be reoccurring themes of our friendship. It was only when I started at Marvel that we really became friends – especially when we moved into a shared house in South London with Marvel designer Ed Lawrance, Marco and Glenn Dakin.
Soon after Glenn moved in, Glenn, Edmund and myself realised we’d all been in Deadline at the same time but somehow hadn’t met until the Marvel days. That shared house is still one of the best times I’ve ever had. Sometimes house shares can be hell but this wasn’t. We watched out for each other, helped each other, drank down the Greyhound together, watched a lot of Star Trek together. Edmund was working on a few different projects at the time. One of the best was a never published Ghost Rider 2099 story. The art on that blew me away. He did some work for me on Overkill (an old Marvel UK anthology). When I took over the title, one of the first decisions I made was to give Black Axe (the series he’d done with Simon Jowett) a slot in it. Black Axe was one of my favourite Marvel UK books and one of the characters they created in the series – Afrikaa – should really have gone on to greater things. And would have if Marvel UK hadn’t collapsed.
Edmund was one of those artists who just had to draw and create. It was a compulsion. It was what he did, whether he got paid for it or not. As Si Spencer mentioned on Facebook earlier, not many artists can create a page that works as a piece of art and as part of a strip – but Edmund could. For me though the friendship we enjoyed is the most important thing. Back in the days of the house in Streatham Vale we were all going through crazy relationship stuff and Edmund was there for us all. Stumble in at two in the morning, a little bit broken, and he’d get up and chat until the small hours making the world seem a better place. I lost my job back then and Edmund was one of the most supportive friends I could have had. His help and friendship kept me creating when I could have easily given it all up. When I started back at Marvel UK he was also good for sticking a jacket potato in the oven when I was on the way home or persuading me to give Babylon 5’s second season a chance… yeah we were all big geeks in that house. It came with the territory. While we all eventually got our own places, our friendship remained strong. For a while four of us – Ed Lawrance, Jan, Edmund and myself – would meet up in an O’Neil’s in Crystal Palace every Friday night for a catch up. Jan, who worked as a nurse in A&E, was always bemused as Edmund and myself would inevitably geek out about the latest Trek or some other Sci-Fi thing. Some nights other Marvel folk like Gary and Aletia Gilbert and Kev Hopgood would join us. That’s another time I’ll treasure. I’d love to go back and buy him a Guinness.
In time, Edmund met his wife, the wonderful and talented Hae Sook and moved to Angouleme. In some cases, time and distance can make old friendships awkward but it never did with Edmund. I was lucky enough to stay with them a few times, Edmund buying me drinks in the Château Noir and La Girafe as we put the world (both real and comic book) to rights again. There was a great Angouleme where both Nick Abadzis and myself stayed at Edmund’s and another where, after staggering in drunk my first night there, Edmund and myself promised Hae Sook we’d be in early the following night. And we nearly were. Only we got distracted by a hotel bar and chatting to David Lloyd. It was only when Hae Sook phoned Edmund up to check we were okay we realised it was five in the morning. Time can pass quickly when you’re with friends.
One of the sad things is how much good work the world’s going miss out on. The last few years have seen his art go from strength to strength on projects like Cradlegrave (still one of the most brilliantly disturbing strips ever to appear in 2000AD), Indigo Prime and the Ten Seconders. We always inevitably talked about working together on something… He called me last year to let me know what was happening. It was one of the most heart-breaking conversations I’ve ever had. Not that Edmund was down. Despite what he was facing, he was upbeat and positive. I’m lucky enough to have some of his original artwork at home. A page from Cradlegrave and a wonderful cosmic spread he did for the Jack Kirby exhibition Orbital put on a few years ago. It hangs proudly in my study, a cosmic masterpiece. That’s how I’ll remember Edmund – as one the best friends I’ll ever have and one who was (and always will be) a little bit cosmic.
• Edmund’s family have asked that donations be made to Pancreatic Cancer UK in Edmund’s memory. www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk