Valiant editor James Perham passes away

Mon, June 16th, 2008 at 6:49am PDT

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

Official Press Release

Some news has come to our attention that we believe fans of the original Valiant Universe would be saddened to hear. On May 31, former Valiant editor and writer, James Perham, passed away of heart failure. He was 43. All of us at Valiant Entertainment send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. James was a vital part of Valiant from the first days until the very last. Below is a tribute from former co-worker and friend, Jeff Gomez.

Jim Perham was a wildly imaginative and passion-driven man. I spent many hours listening to his ideas and watching him evolve into a published comic book storyteller.

With a little help from his friends, particularly Kevin VanHook, Jim overcame a troubled childhood and struggled to realize the kind of dreams that often never come true for impoverished Midwestern kids. Not happy to settle for the pure escapism of tabletop adventure games, he would write and publish his own. Later, Kevin would convince him to come to New York City, where he would become the office manager at Valiant Comics.

Despite his sometimes blustery exterior, Jim had a huge heart and he allowed himself to fall in love with the innovative and unique Valiant superhero universe. He adored those characters and, lording it over a squad of Valiant interns, taught them to appreciate the fiction. He encouraged their own creativity, critiquing their drawings and writings, bringing the best of what he found to the attention of sometimes hard to approach editors.

Determined to touch the canon that he so admired, Jim wrote and rewrote and eventually would land his first professional comic book work in an issue of Archer & Armstrong. He would go on to do fill-in issues for other titles, but he will be best known for his hilarious and touching five-issue run on The Second Life of Dr. Mirage. It would be one of the highlights of his life, perhaps topped only by his epic attempt to relaunch Harbinger under Fabian Nicieza's Acclaim Universe.

Remarkably, Jim would become the very last Valiant employee, editing a small handful of comic books from a small office at video game company Acclaim Entertainment. He would make the four-hour round trip from his New Jersey home to Glen Cove, Long Island every day in an attempt to salvage and rekindle a world destroyed by corporate bungling. It was not meant to be.

I hired Jim a few times after Acclaim, small projects, a chance to bounce some ideas off his smart creative thinking, but nothing matched our collaboration on "The Final Solution." I'll always appreciate Fabian and editor Evan Skolnick for pairing me, a hotshot editor at the time, with Valiant's office manager in order to come up with a storyline that would pull of the amazing double-duty of ultimately realizing the prophecies of Rai #0 and fusing together the best of the Valiant and Acclaim super hero universes.

Jim worked nights and weekends with me piecing together smashed bits of continuity, incorporating fan feedback on the company's flagging titles, racking our brains to tell the most epic story imaginable with the tools at hand. Jim matched me idea for idea, the story would have rocked!

Unfortunately, it was a tale that would never be told. Acclaim would shut down Valiant's Manhattan offices even as the seeds of our story were being planted in the comics. Jim was heartbroken, but he forged on.

But perhaps more than his creations, I'll remember Jim for his ability to make a stand, even against incredible odds. You couldn't have a better friend. He pulled me aside one day and told me that his friend and co-worker Alex Glass deserved to be an assistant editor, when most people in the office may not have thought he was ready. I joined Jim in appealing to Fabian on Alex's behalf and wound up "stuck" with the guy myself! Ha! It would be a blessing, since Alex wound up doing a bang up job, virtually editing titles like Trinity Angels and Ninjak.

Jim hollered at Hassan Godwin to write his epic science fiction, Michael Vacarro to write his screenplays, Scott Klein to make his films. He reveled in the success of his friends, even though he was sometimes left behind.

In recent years, Jim returned to his family home, now in Arizona. We spoke and corresponded a few times. I asked him why he left the city, stopped attempting to write professionally. In so many words he told me that it was important to him that he come to terms with his past. His voice was calmer, more mature than I'd remembered. It seemed that after a long, difficult and in some small way triumphant journey, he'd found peace.

I think I can speak on behalf of all Valiant and Acclaim alumni in expressing our love for James Perham, who passed yesterday of heart failure, and deep sympathies for the family he leaves behind.

Yabba yabba, rusty James!

Jeff Gomez

TAGS:  valiant entertainment, james perham

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