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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Tribute To Brian "Bib" Edwards by John Schiltz



This will be extremely difficult . To put together a summation of such a multi-faceted being as Bib . I think the more people who can contribute the better , because I hardly saw him in the circumstance of conventions , others will know that side of him better .

The irony of this little ode is , in the parallel in which he bounced back from the various setbacks of his declining health , he would flake out ,and then there would be a phone call or an e-mail and Bib's back again .

The Come Back King !

Our quorum of book enthusiasts would meet at his house in a little village in Suffolk , where with his wife , Lynne , an internationally acclaimed quilter and teacher had lived and worked and raised their two sons ; Dickon - the eldest - who is now a diarist and Thomas , a musician . 

No longer , sadly , able to get to his loft studio , due to the effects of Pulmonary Fibrosis , a gradual scarring up of the lungs , we met for some weeks in his sitting room , where a little hospital had been set up , complete with home oxygen concentrators , that Bib , ever the film buff , called Huey and Dewey , after the robot Drones in the SF film , " Silent Running " .

Bib , a great fan of Dan Dare and The Spirit and the Goons ; creator of Captain Biplane Interplanetary Airman and his adventures in the Solar Bubble would hold court , and ensure tea , biscuits and enjoyment of conversation ranging from the diversity of literature . Comics , the latest in science , space , exo-planets ; his favourite , parallel universes - the what-if scenarios of many SF authors , through to history , radio comedy and his favourite of all , flying machines of all manner of descriptions , factual or fanciful .


His A1 originals of Captain Biplane are a joyful expression of his boyhood annuals , where his hero and his ever morphable Biplane face down the Boarmen in defense of Queen Ennyl and her realm. Originally Bib and Lynne were models for both . His comics' style was resplendent in pen , punch graphics and coloured inks .

His sitting room , with it's shelves gleaned from postal sorting antiquity with their compartments filled with an array of memorabilia and models , colourful toys and assortments of "founds " , collected over many years of being an artist and enthusiast of the young and inventive and shelves of books , meticulously in order , on art , quilting , superheroes of the Golden Age , side by side with W H Robinson , L Baum and books of the pioneers of aviation and invariably airships .

Our meetings became , inevitably , braver on his part . He would , at times , remove the oxygen , and give full voice , if he wanted to share with us  a passage from a book he was enjoying reading . The progression of the Pulmonary Fibrosis , however , meant that he grew breathless and although he didn't show frustration , we could see the effort for him was great . A few weeks ago a room was set up in a nursing home , after spending a while at St Elizabeth's Hospice in Ipswich , where we all visited . A
pleasant room had been set up and a small sampling of his collection was on sills and on a bedside cupboard and set of drawers , a corkboard full of pictures , postcards and greetings dominated a wall .

A carer , who turned out to be a fellow film buff was looking after him when we visited , helped him sit up in bed . We talked and amused ourselves with the usual , occasionally a carer would come in , with
his medication , and he would make all efforts to be the host , introducing us , as always , maintaining his interests , outside himself , an essential for a creative artist who has a talent ,seemingly effortlessly for communicating creativity with everybody . We left after an hour .

He would spend time with Rod Taylor and his time machine , one of his favourites and his family were coming later .

We all found out the following morning that nothing , absolutely nothing , can prepare you for the loss of a dear friend .  I had known Bib for over thirty years , drawn with him , jammed on underground comics
with him and shared enthusiasms , started a cartoon club with him , shared our love of the countryside and water colours , of which he was an enthusiastic master of the unusual view , sometimes of man's technologies being returned to nature .

Bib was an true friend , a teacher communicator and a like I shall never meet again .

John "Sepp" Schiltz


2 comments:

  1. Bib's series of comic-strip paintings, 'Captain Biplane', were a great influence on everyone that saw them. At the time, they seemed so radical, adopting the conventions we now know as 'Steampunk', twisting around the 'Dan Dare' themes and countless ww1 and ww2 flying ace comics. By projecting it all into a bizzarre P K Dick dreamlike future that was crystal sharp in its detail, and consistent, it produced a classic that, because of the inadequacy of contemporary printing techniques, remained relatively obscure. It never got made into a book.
    Bib was a friend who was a huge influence on me, particularly in art and literature. He was shy of revealing his broad knowledge and his immense inventiveness, but very generous and a natural teacher.

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  2. The 'Ode' in question is missing. However, it is here as follows: My dear friend Bib, once recalled to me this tale of a little jollity, of an accidental trip he made whilst in the school refectory. Once recovered his balance, he tip-tapped a little dance, and the children cried out and laughed and his colleagues said, " We must do something you know, about this happy doodler fellow ". And so ,the Captain leaps into his biplane, flies the field and heads off into the sunset. The World spins on and now read on .

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