In Memoriam: Those We Have Lost in 2019 – Part One

In Memoriam 2019

downthetubes regularly tries to pay tribute to comic creators no longer with us. We list those we have noted who died between January and June 2019, and others reported elsewhere, here.

There have also been major changes in the US comics industry that reflect wider changes in comics publishing, and we have noted some of these, too.

This is Part One (January – June 2019 | Part Two (July – December 2019) is here

JANUARY

John Burningham – Children’s Illustrator
Born 27th April 1936 | Died 4th January 2019

John Burningham was the creator of beloved picture books including Mr Gumpy’s Outing and Avocado Baby. He and his wife and fellow illustrator Helen Oxenbury were given a joint lifetime achievement award from children’s charity Booktrust last year, celebrating their work on books including HusherbyeGranpa and Oi! Get Off Our Train.

Read the downthetubes tribute

Comic Artist Ron Smith. Image courtesy 2000AD

Ron Smith. Image courtesy 2000AD.

Ron Smith – Comics Artist
Born in 1926 | Died 10th January 2019

Judge Dredd artist and former Spitfire pilot Ron Smith passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s. He began his long and much-admired creative career in animation at Gaumont British Animation after World War Two, before moving into comics for Amalgamated Press, then DC Thomson, before moving to 2000AD and “Judge Dredd”.

A hugely talented veteran of the British comics industry, at DC Thomson he brought one of the UK’s few superheroes, King Cobra, for DC Thomson’s Hotspur, to amazing life, drawing almost every episode of the crime fighter’s stories for the weekly comic, and creating unforgettable villains along the way.

Read Colin Noble’s personal tribute on downthetubes | Obituary

Batton Lash – American Comics Artist
Born 23rd October 1953 | Died 12th January 2019

A comics creator described by writer and DC executive Mike Carlin as “simply cool in every way… and one of the nicest and gentlest of men”, Batton Lash came to prominence as part of the 1990s self-publishing boom. Among his recent was “The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse,” an online series published via Aces Weekly.

“Lash will perhaps be best remembered by fans for accomplishing that rare feat,” notes Mitchell Brown, “creating and nurturing an independent comic series, most of it in black and white, that maintained a fan following over more than 30 years.”

Batton’s career is charted here on Exhibit A Press

FEBRUARY

James Lee Rochelle – Games Artist and Comics Colourist
Born 1970 | Died 2nd February 2019

James Rochelle, who died aged just 48, began his career in US comics at Wildstorm in 1994, working on titles such as Gen13, Backlash/Spider-Man and Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty. He left the company in 1997 to pursue work in the video game industry as a texture/shading artist, working on games like 1999’s Star Trek: Hidden Evil and, later in life was Lead Artist at Sony Entertainment Online. But he continued freelancing as a colourist on titles that included Strangers in Paradise, Mage: The Hero Discovered, and more recently, Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Out of Reach, Tales of the Fear Agent: Twelve Steps in One and End League. He also illustrated for the Star Wars Galaxies trading card game.

Jim Lee, the founder of WildStorm, tweeted he was “saddened to hear of the unexpected passing of WildStorm alum color artist James Rochelle. As gifted as he was good natured, kind and brilliant — James was one of the great colourists who defined the look of our studio. No job could properly contain his many talents. RIP, buddy.”

Newsarama reported James’ passing here

Oreo the Raccoon
Born in 2009 | Died 7th February 2019

Oreo was used as the likeness by animators to create the wise-cracking, gun-toting, limb-stealing Guardian of the Galaxy known as Rocket. He also appeared on many British television shows and graced the cover of a nature book.

Rocket the Raccoon was voiced by Bradley Cooper in the 2014 film and its 2017 sequel.

MARCH

Luke Perry – American Riverdale Actor
Born 11th October 1966 | Died 4th March 2019

Well known for his role as bad boy Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210, Luke Perry returned to the teen drama in 2017 with Riverdale, based on the Archie Comics gang, as the doting dad of America’s favourite redhead.

Cristina Morán-Carlos – Comics Retailer and Comics Promoter
Born 1942 | Died 9th March 2019

Members of Puerto Rico’s comics community mourned the loss of Cristina Morán earlier this year. As founder of the Metro Comics store in Guaynabo, she was fondly remembered by local artists as someone who would buy and promote their comics without even stopping to consider how well they would sell.

“Cristina always opened her doors for new local talent,” noted tattoo artist, comic book artist and musician Elias Gambit Meléndez in a tribute. “Always supported them and always had words of encouragement. She always made me feel at home when I walk in the store. She owned this store for 28 years, a woman that owned a comic store in a male dominated industry in a small island in the Caribbean, talk about being a badass. The industry of comics, local comics in PR wouldn’t and won’t be the same anymore.”

Ellen Vartanoff - American Comics Colourist

Ellen Vartanoff

Ellen Vartanoff – American Comics Colourist
Born 1951 | Died 17th March 2019

Colourist, curator, art teacher, amateur Egyptologist: Ellen Vartanoff wore a lot of hats over the years. But she’ll likely be remembered by the people who knew her as one of the most passionate comic fans they’ve ever met, her love of the medium beginning in the late 1960s, when she founded a science fiction club at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD.

Over the years, she would become a longtime member of several fan clubs in the Washington, DC, area, and was an active member in early Marvel fandom and even got to lend her colouring talents to Marvel and DC, including issues of Captain Marvel written by her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman.

“Ellen was a walking Wikipedia of information about DC and Marvel characters,” wrote blogger Martin Morse Wooster in a tribute to Vartanoff on file770. “Every time I saw her at a club meeting, she’d have a sketchbook, and would sketch and listen in the way many other fans knit and listen. She’d organise expeditions to every new Marvel and DC film.”

Ken Bald – American Comic Artist
Born 1st August 1920 | Died 17th March 2019

As a teenager, young “Kenneth B. Bald” of Mount Vernon, New York, won a drawing contest that netted him one whole dollar and his first art credit in 1936’s More Fun Comics #9. In 2017, the Guinness World Records officially declared him the world’s oldest comic book artist as recognised  as the “Oldest Artist to Illustrate a Comic Book Cover,” which he accomplished in 2016 at the age of 96.

He joined Englewood, New Jersey, studio of Jack Binder in 1938, one of the early comic-book packagers who supplied publishers entering the new field with ready-made comic artwork. His first known professional comics work is the story “Justice Laughs Last,” starring the super-speedster Hurricane, in 1941’s Captain America Comics #7. Other early credits include features starring Golden Arrow, Spy Smasher and Bulletman for Fawcett Comics.

After serving in the US Marine Corps during World War Two, enlisting on the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack, he resumed drawing the adventures of Timely characters, including Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, the Blonde Phantom and Millie the Model. He pencilled the first appearance of Namora, the Sub-Mariner’s cousin, in 1947, and co-created the short-lived Sun Girl with an unknown writer in 1948.

Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, Bald also juggled freelancing assignments from Fawcett, American Comics Group and other comic publishers with pulp magazine illustrations and advertising work for clients like Hertz and Xerox. But by 1957, with comic work drying up and many publishers going out of business, he found himself a new vocation, launching the newspaper strip Judd Saxon. Featuring the adventures of a business executive turned detective, it ran until 1963, just a year after Bald launched a second strip, Dr. Kildare, based on NBC’s popular medical drama, which outlasted the TV show it was based on by nearly 18 years. As “K. Bruce”, he also created the comics version of Dark Shadows in 1971, based on the Gothic soap opera, collected by Pomegranate Press in 1996.

Bald retired from the comic-strip business when his Dr. Kildare strip ended, was creative director of Gem Studios from 1981 to 2004, a Manhattan art studio that generated storyboards for TV advertising clients including Coca-Cola and Right Guard. His personal papers, which encompassed more than 2,900 pieces of original art, including art for Dr. Kildare and Judd Saxon, were donated to Syracuse University.

“Because of the many contributions he made to the comics industry, as well as the epic length of his career, Ken Bald deserves to be much better known than he is in the present day,” wrote The Comics Journal‘s Steve Ringgenberg in tribute. “Many comics creators are given legendary status if they hang in there long enough, but Ken Bald really was a legend.”

Read Steve Ringgenberg’s Ken Bald tribute at The Comics Journal

An interview with Ken Bald about his long career with Bryan Stroud was published on the nerdteam30 web site in May 2019

The Amazing Spider-Man Newspaper Strip
Established 3rd January1977 | Final original strip published 23rd March 2019

Stan Lee and John Romita tried to get a syndicated Spider-Man strip back in 1970, but it was the success of the 1970s TV show that led to his newspaper debut in January 1977, running for 42 years, written by Stan Lee and an uncredited Roy Thomas from 2000 to 2019, drawn by artists that included John Romita, Fred Kida, Larry Lieber and, most recently, Alex Saviuk.

As with many adventure strips “The Amazing Spider-Man” storylines ran for anything between eight to 12 weeks in length, surviving as other action adventure strips were dropped as newspaper editorial budgets floundered and savings meant the “funny pages” were no longer seen as part of a publications Unique Selling Point. Its success no doubt helped Marvel sell in other strips starring the Hulk, Howard the Duck and Conan the Barbarian.

In a statement in March, Marvel said it was discontinuing the Spider-Man strip to make way for “great new stories and art to explore even more corners of the Marvel Universe,” suggesting future plans to use newspaper comic pages to promote Marvel’s other heroes. Instead of new strips, King Features and Marvel are re-running some of “Spider-Man’s greatest hits”.

Artist Alex Saviuk confirmed to the Spider-Man Crawl Space web site the Spider-Man strip as we know it had come to an end and “as much as Roy Thomas and I were hoping that the strip would go on to continue Stan Lee’s legacy just as King Features did with ‘The Phantom’ after Lee Falk died 20 years ago, that’s not the case here… It’s news to me that in the statement it mentioned a new strip starting up possibly months down the road after they reprint some classic Lee-Romita stories from 40 years ago or 30 years ago whichever they choose! A strip further exploring the Marvel universe as they say which doesn’t mean it would or wouldn’t be Spider-Man and if they were going to feature new creators or if they would call on Roy and me again to create stories in any universe they desire us to go.

“Time will tell but in the meantime it was glorious fun while it lasted and I learned a huge lesson about not counting any chickens before they hatch. It was difficult inking and sending in my last week of Dailies a few weekends ago ( the Sundays were always done three months ahead of time so I hadn’t drawn one of those in months ). It was like saying goodbye to my old friend all over again.”

The end of the originated strip coincided with inker Joe Sinnott announcing his retirement, as noted in this item on Daily Cartoonist.

When Roy Thomas got news of the strip’s upcoming demise, he had been plotting out a trip to Australia for Parker and MJ, where they were to encounter the villain Kangaroo and have various exploits and adventures. “Marvel decided to kill the script,” said Thomas in March, “and not print the final couple of weeks. And [artist] Alex Saviuk graciously reworked the final strip to show the two of us in it, and to add a ‘Nuff Said!’ headline on the Daily Bugle.”

Mark Alessi – Founder, CrossGen Comics
Born:28th August 1953 | Died 29th March 2019

A millionaire entrepreneur in the early 1990s with his tech start-up Technical Resource Connection, Mark Alessi founded CrossGen in 1998 in Tampa, Florida with an unconventional approach to the industry — the bulk of the company’s writers and artists (many hired away from DC and Marvel) were full-time employees who worked out of an office, complete with health care and steady salaries, instead of freelancers working from home. CrossGen quickly attracted more high-profile talent, including Barbara Kesel as Director of Creative Development (“head writer”) and Ron Marz and Mark Waid as “senior writers.”

The project ran out of steam in 2003 and filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and Alessi returned to the tech industry were he reportedly worked until his death.

Writing on Twitter shortly after his death, Ron Marz commented: “Complex guy, with faults and admirable qualities, like all of us. This isn’t the time to dwell on what happened (and didn’t) at CrossGen. That’s best left for another time. But I do want to say that I think he had the best of intentions, and tried to do what he thought was right. He treated those of us on staff as permanent assets, not replaceable cogs, and for that I thank him.”

Newsarama: CROSSGEN Founder Mark Alessi Dies at 65 (1st April 2019) 

APRIL

James Hudnall

James Hudnall

James Hudnall – Comics Writer and Publisher
Born in 10th April 1957 | Died 9th April 2019

American comics writer and novelist James Hudnall, died aged 61, a day before his 62nd birthday. He had recently been working on a new episode of the fantasy adventure, Age of Heroes, drawn by John Ridgway, but the script, based on James novel of the same name, had not been completed.

Often a controversial figure in the world of comics, noted for his libertarian opinions on both US and international politics (from 2009 to 2012, Hudnall wrote commentaries and cartoons for Breitbart.com), his talent as a writer and his commitment to passing on his thoughts and advice about creating comics, through his web site, YouTube tutorials and Twitter page, should never be disputed.

Read the downthetubes tribute

Monkey Punch. Image By 環境省ホームページ, CC BY 4.0

Monkey Punch. Image By 環境省ホームページ, CC BY 4.0

Monkey Punch (Kazuhiko Kato) – Manga Writer
Born 26th May 1937 | Died 11th April 2019

Katō first started to work as a professional manga artist under the pen name Kazuhiko Katō (加東一彦 Katō Kazuhiko, pronounced the same as his real name, but written with different characters). In 1965, he made his debut with Playboy School, writing under the name of Eiji Gamuta (がむた永二 Gamuta Eiji). The editor of the magazine that “discovered him” then suggested the pen name Monkey Punch. Although he told interviewers he didn’t like it, he kept it after the success of Lupin III, after its debut in the first issue of the Japanese magazine Weekly Manga Action in 1967.

The story of a professional thief who targets the world’s most precious treasures, Lupin III went on to become a phenomenally successful media franchise and many other manga artists and anime directors have cited Monkey Punch as an influence.

Kazuo Koike - Japanese Manga Writer

Kazuo Koike

Kazuo Koike – Japanese Manga Writer
Born 8th May 1936 | Died 17th April 2019

Initially studying law after he failed Japan’s national bar examination Kazuo Koike studied writing with novelist Kiichirō Yamate, but didn’t become part of the massive manga industry until he was in his 30s, arriving into comics via Saitō Production, the studio of popular gekiga artist Takao Saitō.

A manga writer who came from outside the writing business, he quickly made his mark on Saitō’s Muyōnosuke (1967), a period drama about a sword-wielding bounty hunter, and Golgo 13 (1968), the adventures of a professional assassin for which Koike served as founding scriptwriter with Saitō.

But it was Lone Wolf and Cub, which ran from 1970 to 1976, that would cement his reputation as one of Japan’s premier manga writers, working with artist Gōseki Kojima to help him create a new period drama aimed at young male readers. The series follows the story of Ogami Ittō, an executioner in feudal Japan forced to flee with his three-year-old son and become a professional assassin, after a rival clan massacres his entire household and paints him as a traitor to his shogun.

Lone Wolf and Cub sold more than eight million copies in collected form, spawning a series of feature films (Koike wrote many of the screenplays), and was one of the first Japanese comics introduced to English-speaking fans thanks to Dark Horse.

Another series written by Koike, Crying Freeman, illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami, was adapted into a 1995 live-action film by French director Christophe Gans.

Dying just days after the death of Lupin III creator Monkey Punch – the two were rivals in Weekly Manga Action magazine when Lupin III and Koike’s Lone Wolf and Cub manga were running – Koike said that he would miss him.

Read a tribute on Anime News Network

Teva Harrison

Teva Harrison

Teva Harrison – Canadian Comics Writer and Artist
Born 1976 | Died 27th April 2019

A Canadian-American writer and graphic artist, Teva Harrison was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 37, and began to document her experiences with the terminal illness using illustrations and essays, and facing the end of her life in the magazine The Walrus.

Compiled into a graphic memoir called In-Between Days: A Memoir about Living with Cancer in 2016, her darkly funny observations about awkward party conversations and navigating the medical system as a cancer patient won the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Non-Fiction and was a finalist for Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction.

“Shining a light on my experiences takes some of the power away from the bogeyman that is my cancer,” she wrote in the book’s preface. “I’m taking my power back.”

“In the beginning, I was just drawing for myself. It was about having the thoughts and clarifying them by bringing them out in the open,” she said in a CBC interview. “Humour is an excellent coping mechanism when you’re sick. You have to be able to laugh at things.”

Read Teva Harrison’s cartoons and articles on The Walrus | Official Web Site

MAY

Alvin Sargent – American Screenwriter
Born 12th April 1927 | Died 9th May 2019

Academy Award-winning writer Alvin Sargent  wrote screenplays for dozens of movies. After a career that began in television, scripting episodes of shows such as Route 66, Ben Casey and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, he made a success of adapting books and plays for film.

He won two Academy Awards as a writer, for his screenplays of Julia (1977), based on a chapter from Lillian Hellman’s book Pentimento; and Ordinary People (1980), based on the eponymous novel by Judith Guest, which marked the directorial debut of actor Robert Redford; and was also nominated in the category in 1974 for Paper Moon. (He also received Writers Guild awards for all three films.)

He was best known, later in life, for uncredited rewrites on Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002), for his screenplays for Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007), starring Tobey Maguire as the web-slinger;  and did a rewrite on The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), featuring Andrew Garfield in the title role, sharing screenwriting credit with James Vanderbilt and Steve Kloves. His wife, Laura Ziskin, was a producer on all four films.

His advice to aspiring writers is not unsurprising but worth repeating.

“I find something alive, I hope,” Sargent once said of his writing. “I think too many (writers) are too organised, they’ve got it all worked out, instead of hearing their characters. Over a period of time I begin to understand them, to think about them not only in terms of where they are in the story… I think about where these people are today, even when I’m not writing.”

“You must write every day,” he noted. “Free association. An hour alone a day. Blind writing. Write in the dark. Don’t think about what it is you’re writing. Just put a piece of paper in the typewriter, take your clothes off and go! No destination… pay it no attention… it’s pure unconscious exercise. Pages of it. Keep it up until embarrassment disappears. Eliminate resistance. Look at it in the morning. Amazing sometimes. Most of it won’t make any sense. But there’ll always be a small kernel of truth that relates to what you’re working on at the time. You won’t even know you created it. It will appear, and it is yours.”

On the matter of death, he reportedly said “When I die, I’m going to have written on my tombstone, ‘Finally, a plot.'”

The Guardian – Obituary by Ryan Gilbey

Hollywood Reporter: Alvin Sargent Tribute

Remembering Alvin Sargent: Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Shares Essential Writing Advice

Script looks back at the career of the Alvin Sargent, celebrating his life and the essential writing advice he graciously shared

Jordi Longarón – Spanish comic artist and illustrator
Born 29th November 1933 | Died 10th May 2019

Jordi Longarón was co-creator of the ground-breaking newspaper strip “Friday Foster” with writer Jim Lawrence.

Better known, for some, as Jorge Longarón, over a long and much-admired career, his many credits include work not only in his native Spain, but for the US, on titles such as Vampirella and the newspaper strip “Friday Foster“, and for his ground-breaking work for British girls titles in the 1950s and early 1960s.

“Friday Foster” was the first mainstream syndicated comic strip to feature a Black woman in the lead role: prior to this, other than a handful of broadly stereotyped caricatures from the industry’s very early days and a few series aimed solely at Black newspapers, no American comic strip had ever borne the name of a Black lead character.

Read our full tribute to Jordi Longarón here on downthetubes

Tommy Donbavand in 2012

Tommy Donbavand in 2012

Tommy Donbavand – British comic strip writer, author and playwright
Born 28th November 1967 | Died 14th May 2019

The award-winning author of the Scream Street series, Fangs Vampire SpyDoctor Who: Shroud of SorrowHome and My Teacher Ate My Brain, finally lost his long battle with cancer earlier this year, an illness he refused to let beat him. His account of his long battle with the disease is filled with such good humour told with such style through the Tommy Vs. Cancer web site and associated books, earning him even more fans worldwide than he already had through his writing and other pursuits.

Tommy, who lived in Lancashire, was the author of over 90 books for children, including the popular 13-book Scream Street series for 7 to 10 year olds, published by Walker Books in the UK and Candlewick Press in the US, which was adapted as an animated series for CBBC, where his credits also included writing episodes of Planet Cook. His other books include Zombie!, Wolf and Uniform, winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award, Boredom Busters and Quick Fixes For Kids’ Parties, and Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis (Network Continuum).

He was a hugely successful playwright and a veteran of pantomime, portraying just about every comic character from Abanazer to an Ugly Sister; and wrote for numerous comics, including Beano (writing episodes of “Bananaman” and “The Bash Street Kids“, and Doctor Who Adventures, the latter reflecting his huge enthusiasm for the series.

Read our full tribute to Tommy here on downthetubes | Tommy Vs. Cancer web site

Justin Ponsor – American Comics Colourist
Born 20th April 1977 | Died 18th May 2019

Much missed by both fans and the comics community, Justin “J-Po” Ponsor’s professional career began in 1996, working inhouse for WildStorm as an in-house colourist, on the 1996 title Backlash/Spider-Man #1. He went freelance in 2000 and was one of the first creatives at CrossGen in 2002 beginning colouring almost exclusively for Marvel in 2005. His work on Avengers got him nominated for a Golden Issue Award by ComicBook.com in 2018 and many of the titles he worked on were set in Marvel’s Ultimate universe -including the first to introduce future Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse star Miles Morales to the world.

Ponsor, who frequently signed his name as J-Po, went public with the cancer that claimed him after diagnosis in 2017 and continued to work while receiving treatment – even posting pictures of himself earlier this year working on Avengers pages while in his hospital bed.

Read Marvel’s tribute to Justin Ponsor

Original Art for "The Dalton Boys" Inside Front Cover Illustration by Everett Raymond Kinstler (Avon, 1951). Image: Heritage Auctions

Original Art for “The Dalton Boys” Inside Front Cover Illustration by Everett Raymond Kinstler (Avon, 1951). Image: Heritage Auctions

Everett Raymond Kinstler – American Comic Artist
Born 5th August 1926 | Died 26th May 2019

Everett Raymond Kinstler’s official portraits include Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, but he was also a pulp and comic book artist, whose work appeared mainly in the 1940s and 1950s.

He started his career age 16, drawing comic books, paperback book covers, and book and magazine illustrations, citing influences that included Alex Raymond, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Milton Caniff, and Hal Foster. His pulp illustrations number in the hundreds, covering many different genres although in comics, he was particularly known for his western and romance comic work.

Kinstler shifted into the realm of portrait painting in the 1950s, painting over 1200 portraits of leading figures in business, entertainment and government, including official portraits of eight US Presidents.

Official Web Site

CBR.com: Examples of Everett Raymond Kinstler’s Comic Work

JUNE

Keith Birdsong – Star Trek Artist
Born 14th July 1959 | Died 4th June 2019

Acclaimed Star Trek artist Keith Birdsong was renowned for his photorealistic renderings of Star Trek actors. An army veteran, Birdsong created the covers for more than 30 Star Trek novels, including Sarek, All Good Things…, Q-Squared, Time’s Enemy and The Final Fury, as well as for the reference book, Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future.

Read our full tribute to Keith Birdsong here on downthetubes

Cal Massey - American Comic Artist and Fine Artist

Cal Massey

Cal Massey – American Comic Artist and Fine Artist
Born 10th February 1926 | Died 11th June 2019

A fine artist and illustrator, Calvin “Cal” Massey was active in US comics from the late 1940s until the mid 1950s, working on titles such as Perfect Crime and Steve Duncan for Cross Publications, and crime stories for Superior Publishers in the 1940s. His art graced the interior of the first comic book starring Mr. Television himself, Milton Berle.

He began working for Timely/Atlas after his graduation from the Hussain School of Art in Philadelphia in 1950, drawing for the company’s horror, war and crime titles, on titles that included Battle Action, Battle, Marines in Battle, Spellbound and War Comics. He also drew romance stories for St. John Publishing, Little Wise Guys for Lev Gleason Publications and Crimson Avenger and Masked Ranger for Story Comics.

“As a comic book illustrator, I drew blood and guts all the time, but you got to do what you got to do,” Massey, remained active as an artist almost up to his death, once said, joking he got “battle-fatigued” from drawing so many war stories. Still, he credited those early-career strips for making the rest of his art career possible, moving from comics to magazine illustration in the 1950s, and advertising work for agencies in Philadelphia and New York, eventually, joining the Franklin Mint as a designer and sculptor.

His bas-relief showing two French West Indian immigrants arriving at Ellis Island was part of the Statue of Liberty Foundation’s renovation project in the 1980s, and he also created the Patriots of African Descent Monument at Valley Forge, which he designed to honour black soldiers in the American Revolutionary War.

An interview with Cal Massey published in Alter Ego 105 in 2011 is available to read in part on the Twomorrows web site (PDF)

Death: The High Cost of Living

Vertigo
Established 1993 | Imprint “Retirement” announced 21st June 2019

Although the first Vertigo comic was 1993’s three-issue mini-series Death: The High Cost of Living. But the line’s original DC editor, Karen Berger, had been influenced by DC’s older titles, such as House of Mystery, before launching the much-loved imprint that also had its roots in other comics such as Swamp Thing and Sandman.

Re-imagining existing DC properties like Deadman, Kid Eternity and Shade the Changing Man. the Mature Readers imprint also offered numerous brand-new titles including Preacher, Fables and Y: The Last Man.

DC relaunched the line in 2018, rebranding Vertigo as “DC Vertigo”; but a year later announced the Vertigo imprint would be retired in January 2020 as part of a brand consolidation program, along with its DC Zoom and DC Ink imprints for children and younger adolescents. Instead, publications intended for mature audiences will be published under “DC Black Label.”

Saddened by the news, Transmetropolitan and Hellblazer writer Warren Ellis said he always believed that DC Vertigo was central to the health of the American medium.

“Its creation made the medium a better place, and its sunset will make the medium poorer,” he wrote when news broke of Vertigo’s “passing”. Companies like Vault Comics have stepped into the breach, to be sure – their line is very much an early-Vertigo ideal.

“But: a giant media company putting relatively serious resources into serious work that the company would not own but simply believed should be published? That was a major statement about original creator-owned cross-genre/non-genre narrative art and its importance. Something of importance sailed away at sunset tonight, and I suspect we may not see it again.

“Good night, you crooked old house of mystery and secrets. I’ll miss you.”

This is Part One (January – June 2019 | Part Two (July – December 2019) is here

Obituaries on downthetubes

WEB LINKS

Mitchell Brown has posted numerous tributes to comic creators and comics projects on the Facebook Comic Book Historians Group. Mitchell started his tributes when he couldn’t find a comic-specific year-end list of people we’ve lost: past tributes appear on Comic Lists here

Avatar

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let us know what you think about this story

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: