As promised when we announced the 2021 Broken Frontier Awards results last week at BF today we’re celebrating the comics activism of the latest inductee into our Hall of Fame here on the site. Customers of Gosh! Comics will know Steve Walsh as a long-standing team member at central London’s premier comics store and the friendly face who ran numerous regular evening events there like the comics networking Process group, the book club Reads, and the super-hero discussion meet-up Capers. Others may know him from his time as part of the multiple award-winning Avery Hill Publishing crew. Or it’s even possible that you may never have met him in person but have heard his welcoming voice from his many podcasting endeavours, most recently talking comics on Signals from the Hill.
However you’ve come to know Steve, though, the one undeniable commonality linking all those experiences will be an appreciation of his immense contribution to comics community, something that we are celebrating today at BF with some shared stories from across the UK indie scene. There are tales of how Steve inspired comics we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, how friendships were forged through his efforts, and how people were made to feel a part of something greater through his affable presence on the scene.
We don’t want to stop there though. There are more contributions to this article incoming and we are considering it a work-in-progress, open to all. So if you would like to contribute please e-mail us here and we will continue adding stories to this page and reposting the link on social media. Whether you’re a Gosh customer, a comics creator, a podcast enthusiast or know Steve from some other area of comics standard-bearing all are welcome!
Andrew Salmond (Gosh! Comics)
There’s an awful lot said about Steve’s community building and advocacy for small press creators (all of it true). But what many people might not know is that, in the beginning at least, all of that work creating various community groups (Reads, Process and Capers) and doing things like getting the Small Press Day booklet together, all of that was done on his own time. Despite working with comics all through his working day, Steve poured a tonne of energy and enthusiasm into comics at day’s end all because he passionately believes in comics as a shared experience that should be accessible to all.
What you might also not know about Steve is that, from an employers point of view, he’s an absolutely gold standard employee. Hard working, level-headed, intelligent, fair-minded and brimming with common sense (not to mention his qualities as a warm, positive, gold-hearted human being). There’s a reason we nominated him for the Best Individual Bookseller in the 2017 British Book Awards (where he made the finals). So we’re very happy to see him gain the recognition of being entered into Broken Frontier’s Hall of Fame. An honour well deserved. Congratulations Steve!
Katriona Chapman (Avery Hill Publishing)
As a London-based comics-creator it was almost inevitable that I would run into Steve at some point, he was such a staple of the community. His work championing small press comics and creators at Gosh meant a lot to so many people. He helped me to organise my first ever small press event at Gosh, and he interviewed me in my first ever podcast appearance… both things that were very scary for me and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer person to help me through those experiences.
When Steve left London and subsequently joined the Avery Hill Publishing team, I couldn’t have been happier to learn that he was still going to be involved with comics and to have the opportunity to work with him as a colleague. His warmth and his dedication to indie comics have made a huge impact on so many people, and I’m so happy to see him getting the recognition he deserves.
Sajan Rai (Illustrated Haiku)
I was recently invited to deliver a lecture about my art and career path to university students, and at some point found myself name-dropping Steve Walsh. He came up when I was talking about the importance of community and peers. I was introduced to the thriving community at Gosh Comics from an event he encouraged me to attend called ‘Process’ – which ended up being completely invaluable to my career and artistic practice. ‘Process’ platformed creators big and small, and gave them space (and confidence!) to discuss their process/work/career, sharing insights and advice. It was an opportunity for the practising and hopeful comic artists attending to learn, not only from the guest but also each other when mingling afterwards. I met many collaborators and friends through this.
Simply creating this space and opportunity would have had a massive positive impact on so many people – but I often think about how it was infinitely superior for having been steered by Steve’s care and winning personality. He platformed artists without bias and moderated the talks with such expert consideration and attention to detail. Part of this is down to his encyclopedic knowledge and genuine passion for comics, another is down to the charisma that makes him so delightful to talk to. Thanks for everything Steve!
(Art right – Steve Walsh by Sajan Rai)
Corinne Pearlman (Commissioning Editor, Myriad Editions)
Steve has been such a mainstay of the comics world for as long as I can remember, and I still feel he will be popping up at GOSH! every time I go in. His enthusiasm, support for creators and all aspects of the comics publishing world, and communicating his love of comics is indeed priceless! Thank you, Steve, for everything you do. Chuffed to be in this very same Hall with you!
Gareth Brookes (The Black Project, The Dancing Plague)
When I organised the first South London Comic and Zine Fair, Steve was first through the door to help me set up, and stuck around to help me pack away at the end. He ran the communal table that year alongside Hannah Lee Miller, and I’m pretty sure he read every comic that was dropped off. I never asked him to do any of this, he offered to do it because he wanted to, for the love of comics and finding new creators and he was a big part of the success of the fair that year. The comics-love ‘R’ number was exponentially increased by his super-spreading enthusiasm.
Tim Bird (Grey Area, The Great North Wood)
Episode 33 of the South London Hardcore podcast, which Steve co-presents, was all about comics. I was inspired when he talked about The Books Of Magic, and how the story opens in the underpass beneath the old Elephant and Castle roundabout. At the time I’d been reading lots of Ian Sinclair books and getting interested in psychogeography, and when I heard Steve’s enthusiasm for depicting south London in comics form, a switch clicked in my brain. I realised I could combine my interests in exploring the hidden mysteries of south London and creating comics. The result was Grey Area, and Steve’s support of the comic meant a great deal to me.
Ricky Miller (Avery Hill Publishing)
I’ve had the privilege to be interviewed by, be in an audience for, sell comics to, buy comics from, drink with, work with and be friends with Steve Walsh. Aside from his importance to the London comics scene, if you walk into a room and Steve is there, he’s the person you most want to spend your time with. I honestly can’t think of anyone I’d rather talk about comics, or anything else with.
Ricky (left) with Steve (right) at Thought Bubble
Joe Stone (WIP Comics, Hackney Comic + Zine Fair)
When I self-published my first comic I honestly didn’t know what to do with it. I’d made it, printed it, and now had a big stack of them taking up space in my bedroom without a plan of how to get them into the hands of the public. I’d never had a table at a comic fair or even knew how to get one. My only idea was to go to Gosh to see if they would be interested in taking any, without a clue of what their small press policy was. Steve was behind the counter and couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive. He flicked through it and gladly took some stock from me, and added them to the small press section on the shelves immediately.
Even that simple gesture was such a huge confidence boost, taking a chance on a totally unknown artist, and was exactly what I needed at that point in my comic-making career. He carried on supporting my work and helping to highlight it on the community table at SLCZF a few months later, which led to me getting my first table at a fair later that year. That first year was so important in shaping my work and realising the importance of community in the small press scene, and Steve’s support was essential and gave me the push I needed to take it all more seriously.
RAMZEE (LDN, Cat-Girl)
Steve becoming a Hall of Fame inductee is so cool and incredibly well deserved because I feel that despite being someone well known and loved in the London comics scene – his importance is quite unsung. He’s the MF DOOM of U.K. comics 😂
His curatorship of the Gosh comics small press section was hugely influential to me as that’s where I went to find artists to collaborate with but the huge range of comics there has never been matched. But it was the events that he hosted such as Process, where seasoned as well as up-and-coming comics creators would share their insights and creative journeys which really lit a fire under me and made me want to make my comics creating dream a reality.
He also hosted the Gosh comics book club and Capers – which was a night that was a deep dive into a particular superhero character for people who wanted a way into Marvel and DC but didn’t know where to start. He was a funny and approachable person and his enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the comics medium was encouraging instead of snooty, and made you want to check out the stuff he talked about. He opened up worlds for comic fans and empowered comics creators.
Karrie Fransman (Death of the Artist)
Steve is hands down the nicest bloke in comics. Always modest when sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things sequential art. He’s the guy I’ll email when I’m looking for a comic artist in Burkina Faso!
Wallis Eates (Like an Orange)
It was with astonishment that I twigged I could make zines and Gosh! would sell them! Steve totally welcomed me to this knowledge, and he was one of the first people I met on the scene as he went about ringing them through the till and being jolly friendly. A whole new world was opening up for me and Steve was right there, holding open that door.
Paul Shinn (Uncanny X-Puns, I Am Not a Dog!)
I always remember one evening during Capers, the superhero comics discussion group at Gosh! Comics when we were talking about the New Mutants series. Steve had bought along issues from his own collection and was just chucking them across the table for people to look at. This always felt like the perfect encapsulation of someone who wanted to be able to share the stories he enjoys with other people.
It seems only right that Steve Walsh is inducted into Broken Frontier’s Hall of Fame as he’s been so instrumental in bringing people into Comics, both as readers and creators, which feels comparable to Broken Frontier’s own mission statement.
Paul’s art for Steve’s leaving present from the Gosh! Reads book club
As well as the aforementioned Capers event, Steve was also at the forefront of various other events held at Gosh! Comics during his time working there, all of which I regularly attended, including Reads: the monthly comic book reading group, and Process: a series of workshops, discussions, interviews and presentations showcasing creators and their work, as well as various aspects of the process of making comics.
As well as being informative and entertaining, Process was pivotal in forging new comics collaborations and ideas among those who attended, and helping to expand the voices expressed through comics. Steve’s amiable nature and infectious love for Comics was a large part of why these events worked so well. It even inspired me to start producing my own self-published comics, after taking part in a zine-making workshop, as well as collaborating with other creators on anthologies and projects born out of the Process group and I know quite a few people who could say the same thing.
Joe Decie (Collecting Sticks, No Comply)
I talk a lot about comics being a community. A friendly, welcoming place of shared interest, friendship and encouragement. Steve embodies that sense of community for me. He’s made me and my family feel very welcome, that we belong here. Champion.
Danny Noble (Shame Pudding)
Steve is one of those warm and welcoming presences, whenever I’d see his face in a London crowd, I’d know everything would be ok, and when I’d hand him over my grubby little comics in Gosh! he’d make me feel like they belonged there. Since he moved away that same warmth and welcome, combined with his oceans of comics knowledge and curiosity made for brilliant interviews and a real comforting listen on the Signals From the Hill podcast. Hope he knows how much he’s helped so many of us.
Steve (background) at Gosh with the original Avery Hill team
Josh Hicks (Glorious Wrestling Alliance)
Aside from the countless things Steve has done to help the UK comics community as a whole, he has also been a huge boon to my own comics practice. It was through Steve that my work first got stocked in Gosh! comics back in 2016, and this simple gesture of support from him made me feel a bit more legitimate in my own mind. It also helped me sell a few books, obviously. His enthusiasm about the work really lifted me up, and it’s always been a treat to catch him at comic shows.
His influence is such that I drew him into the audience in a GWA panel, because I thought he might enjoy that — it’s a bad drawing and doesn’t really look anything like him, but the intent was there. Even up to the middle of last year he’d been helping me out – he’d kindly got in touch to offer to playtest a game project I’m working on, and his enthusiasm for it again sort of propelled me forward. Being based in Wales means that aside from the odd show and event I’m kept away from the London comic scene a bit, but the fact that Steve’s influence profoundly affected me across this distance should speak volumes about what he’s done for British comics over the last decade. Cheers Steve!!
Andy Poyiadgi (Lost Property)
Steve’s influence in the comics community can’t be overstated, however his greatest achievement took place in the summer of 1989, when he convinced a fellow comics reader and pupil of St. Joseph’s College in south London, that The Joker was none other than Batman’s father. Revealed in issue 600 of Detective Comics, Steve had naturally managed to read this landmark comic before anyone else. When I finally got my hands on the issue, I was totally gutted. Cheers, Steve.
Hannah Lee Miller (Dementia Dad)
I am really pleased to see Steve Walsh in the Broken Frontier Hall of Fame. Everyone who’s made their own comic to sell knows how terrifying it is to approach any shop. I remember approaching Steve at Gosh and the anxiety melting off, as he was so relaxed and supportive. Of course it blew my mind when he asked me to do a little presentation at Process. Much like many of us I have heaps of imposter syndrome but Steve makes you feel like you belong.
Sometimes cool niche places like comic shops can have frosty vibes, places where you feel you don’t fit in or are unwelcome. Steve at Gosh was not only welcoming, he held the door open, making Gosh a place I would go to just to say hi to Steve and then of course buy a stack of comics.
Andy Oliver (Broken Frontier Editor-in-Chief)
There are people in comics whose very presence reverberates across our community, indelibly changing it forever. Steve is one of those pivotal figures; his championing of not just the form and the scene but most importantly the creators within it sets a standard we should all be aspiring to. His time at Gosh! and the groups he led there represent the benchmark for all comics stores looking to position themselves as community hubs and I am always hugely in envy of his silky smooth presenting skills chairing discussions and speaking at events. It’s a pleasure, a privilege and indeed an honour for us at BF to be able to welcome Steve Walsh into the Hall of Fame this year!
Launch drinks at Gosh!
Henry and Stanley Miller (Corbyn, Typical Worm)
Words are not our strong point and we have found it incredibly difficult to articulate the effect Steve Walsh’s his presence in the world of small press has had on us. Without Steve I doubt very much whether either Stanley or I would have found the confidence to ever make a zine or comic.
Stanley was 11 years old when Steve praised and warmly welcomed his first zine, Typical Worm and it gained access to the hallowed shelves at Gosh!. Stan is 20 next year and standing in Gosh! chatting to Steve, seeing his zine on the shelf had a profound effect on him. Steve told me he kept a pile of my zine Corbyn by the till and gently pressed customers to take a peek. At the last Catford Comic and Zine Fair back in 2019 we named the freezing cold outdoor marquee the “Steve Walsh Arena” in his honour.
Steve’s enthusiasm, approachability and taste for chequered short sleeved shirts were fundamental in our development as artists. A nicer man, full of open-minded human kindness you could not hope to meet.
Dave White (Avery Hill Publishing)
There’s only one thing that exceeds Steve’s vast, vast knowledge of comics, and that’s his passion for both the medium and the community around it. I’m just one of the hundreds, more likely thousands, of people to receive the benefit of that, of being welcomed into a community that in a whole host of ways simply wouldn’t exist without him.
He gives so much of his time, his energy, and his passion, because he loves comics and he wants everyone else to get the opportunity to love them in the same way – whether that be as a creator, or a reader, or anything else vaguely connected or tangential to sequential art.
But comics is only a small part of Steve – his unwavering commitment and support to so many is a perfect encapsulation of the excellent, wonderful person he is, and can be seen in every facet of his life. There aren’t many people I consider to be a true inspiration, but Steve Walsh is absolutely one of them.
Owen D. Pomery (Victory Point, British Ice)
It’s no secret that Steve Walsh is the nicest man in comics, but on top of that, he’s also the best. Over ten years ago, he welcomed me into a world in which I had no connection or clue, was patient of my ignorance and pointed me in all the right directions to make the work I wanted to make in the best possible way.
He has interviewed me and promoted my endeavours on multiple occasions, and is one of the only people I have ever collaborated with. Twice. I can’t think of anyone more instrumental in my comics life, and I know I will not be the only one who feels this, so I couldn’t be prouder of Steve for making it into the Broken Frontier Hall of Fame.
April 2022 update – Since this article was originally published the world of comics has lost the irreplaceable Steve Walsh. We have been approached recently by other creators whose lives were touched by Steve’s generosity about the possibility of adding their own tributes, and we’re more than happy to oblige. Please get in touch if you would also like to submit something in Steve’s memory.
About 10 years ago I frequented the London comic scene which was basically the following on any given night – Gosh! and then a local pub or the Phoenix for drinks. It was while I was part of the scene that I quickly befriended the amazing Mr. Steven Walsh.
I remembered Steve telling me once about how he had greatly impressed his nephew when the two of them were together and saw a large poster full of superheroes. Steve’s nephew asked if Steve knew all of the characters depicted on the poster. Steve said “yes” which dazzled his nephew but not only did Steve know each character on the poster he also knew each character’s real name. “What even their surnames?!” Steve’s nephew asked in astonishment! “Yes even their surnames” replied Steve, and with such vast comic knowledge Steve blew his nephew’s mind!
Before Steve moved to Ireland he said that he was thinking of opening a comic shop there. All I can say is if Steve had gotten the chance to opened a shop there it would likely have become the best comic shop in Ireland – if not the whole of the UK! Steve was the linchpin to so many interesting and friendly groups and projects to which he carried the same enthusiasm and vast comic knowledge that he blew everybody’s minds!
I feel very lucky to have known Steve and to have collaborated with him on a few short stories.
Rest in peace buddy.
Many of the photos here are the work of the ever wonderful Mauricio Molizane De Souza