The sad life of slain Thunder Cat’s co-creator Stephen Perry

Tampa Bay Online (TBO) continues their coverage of the slain Thunder Cats co-creator and writer Stephen Perry with a look back at his sad life.

For years, the only writing Perry had done was rambling e-mails complaining about his failing health, his financial woes, his roommates and the meltdown of his relationship with his ex.

His friends and collaborators, people such as Steve Bissette in Vermont and Tom Yeates in California, gave Perry money and helped him sell the rights to his earlier work. Eventually, Nat Gertler, a comic book and prose writer who owns a small publishing house called About Comics, convinced Perry to return to writing.

To Gertler and Perry, the results were surprising.

Titled “Baby,” the 10,716-word tome, finished on March 9, “was more substantial in length and content than either of us had anticipated,” said Gertler. Featuring characters struggling with drug addiction, disease and taking care of a child, the work seemed quite autobiographical, Gertler said.

“I cannot help but suspect that what we see is Steve’s concern about caring for Leo bubbling through.”

Perry also liked the results.

“I am proud of this work, Nat,” he wrote in an e-mail to Gertler. “Treat it kindly. It is probably my last piece of fiction ever. Cancer has spread badly.”

Stephen Perry’s dream was to write for Marvel Comics. At the height of the success of the Thunder Cats in the mid-1980s, you would think this would be a great time for Stephen with opportunities to achieve his dream and solidify his footing in the comic book business. Sadly, while he accomplished his dream, it was for a fleeting moment.

Perry's work on the Thunder Cats comic

Marvel had a licensing agreement to do a “Thundercats” comic, and Perry wrote for that as well.

It was while writing for the “Thundercats” comic book, said Bissette, that things started to sour for Perry.

In an effort to circumvent what had become a cumbersome creative process trying to write for both the cartoon and the comic book, Perry convinced his comic book editor to streamline the process. It was so efficient, said Bissette, that Perry was cut out of the loop altogether.

Perry was crushed.

“He lived to write for Marvel Comics,” said Bissette. “It was all he wanted to do. He got his foot in the door, got the shaft and gave up on some basic level.”

Alienated from his beloved Marvel and unable to find much work as a freelance writer, Perry turned to an assortment of odd jobs, said Bissette, even delivering milk for WIC, a federal program to support low-income women and children.

For more on TBO’s coverage, visit their site.

Police have yet to provide an update on whether further human remains found last week do indeed belong to Stephen Perry. Their homicide investigation remains ongoing.

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