Obituary: Don Melia

Don Melia, administrator and publicist, born 25 December 1953, died Liverpool 21 August 1992.

'MELIA? MELIA? Shouldn't that be Media.' This waggish observation came (though not for the first time) at the launch of Strip Aids, in 1987 - one of the many brilliantly conceived and executed projects created by Don Melia that mixed comics, culture and conscience.

Strip Aids, a fund-raising comic and exhibition for the London Lighthouse, featured donated work from nearly 90 artists, including Posy Simmonds, Mel Calman, Jamie Reid, Margi Clarke, Alan Moore, Los Bros Hernandez and Steve Bell. It was a triumphant breakthrough in the battle for Aids awareness and education - a battle which Melia continued to wage even up to the last months of his life, whether at home or in hospital, constantly questioning and campaigning - and it was the finest example of his vision, commitment and grasp of the finer art of public relations.

Though Melia had previously spent some years working in the film industry - which reaped a rich harvest of Warhol-like gossip for which he became infamous - many people came to know him through the pioneering comic publications that he created from the mid-1980s onwards. In 1986, Melia, together with his former long-time partner Lionel Gracey-Whitman, created 'Matt Black', the world's first gay superhero. In 1987 they began Heartbreak Hotel, the brilliantly brash and influential magazine that brought together comic art and music and served as a launch pad for the subsequent success of many new young artists. It was at the centre of the real comic art revolution in this country, the brash, independent underbelly of an industry that has since been embraced by the main stream, but then Melia was also to play a vital role in this.

The energy and skills he brought to Strip Aids did not go unnoticed by Titan Books, then Britain's biggest comics publisher and distributor, and Melia subsequently became their publicity director. Between 1988 and 1990, he generated much of the mainstream media coverage of the 'new comics' revolution.

He had always bemoaned the fact that Britain never had a lesbian and gay comic, and ironically, it was only after failing health forced him to leave Titan that, from out of his council flat and funded from his state benefits, he produced Buddies, perhaps the one that ultimately meant most to him.

Knowing he was dying, he moved back to his home town of Liverpool. For many of us it is almost impossible to comprehend that he is not sitting on a sofa, cigarette in one hand, cup of tea in the other, simultaneously listening to Sixties tapes, watching Divine movies and vexing about the world.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own