This week Comics Bulletin says goodbye to our longest-standing contributor, Ray Tate.
Ray has been a member of Comics Bulletin's staff since the day in 2000 that my predecessor, Jason Brice, first turned on the lights for this site and its predecessor, Silver Bullet Comic Books. I mean that literally – Ray was our very first contributor, our very own patient zero, the man who started it all for all the rest of us. (Ray claims he was scooped up in 1998, though my records show the year to be 2000; if it's '98 that makes the run even more remarkable.)
Over the next twelve years Ray was literally our most consistent contributor. I can't recall a time that Ray ever missed a deadline in twelve years – a remarkable record in any medium, but a truly remarkable record for someone who was never paid for his work and who even refused freebie review copies when they were offered to him. Week after week, year after year, Ray delivered solidly consistent material, generally covering ground that few other reviewers covered. Ray is as devoted to Simpsons and Futurama comics as many comics fans are to their Spider-Man or Grant Morrison, and we loved carrying those reviews over the years. And if Ray would sometimes share his – let's just say strong like of Tigra and deep passions about Barbara Gordon, well, that was always just a fun and special thrill of having Ray be part of our writing team.
In fact, that may be the best way of thinking of Ray – he was consistently unpredictable. Just like a baseball pitcher who's described as "wild in the strike zone", Ray's work would end up being autobiographical, self-revealing in the most surprising and interesting ways. We all allow some of ourselves to sneak into our reviews, but Ray always did all of that different from anyone else. He always found his own way to do things. And while those ways would sometimes rankle, they would also often delight.
We're a pretty quirky team around here, filled with some rather unique people. That's no different from any other comics site. But with Ray leaving CB, we lose one of the people who truly made CB what it was, a man whose beliefs were strong, intense, vivid and often fascinating.
I have to share a few of my favorite pieces from Ray on the site: his cute short story about Identity Crisis from 2004; his passionate take on the first Fantastic Four movie from 2005 (dramatically different from my take on the movie); my 2009 chat with Ray about the ongoing Doctor Who series (which was maybe the most interesting contrast of styles I've ever had with a reviewer); his epic essay about Manhunter #36 from 2008; and maybe my favorite of all, the sheer blinding rage that Ray felt about Batgirl in Brave and Bold #33 in 2010.
Please pop over to Ray's new site, Pick of the Brown Bag, and say hello to him. I will truly miss Ray's presence around here and I wish him all the success in the world with his new site.