It has been a terrible year for families and friends across the globe. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc, not just directly but through its impact to many as governments battled the Pandemic, all trying different ways to battle it, some more successfully than others.
The creative community was not immune to loss, and as the year progressed we lost others, too, to other causes. Here, we pay tribute to those comic creators – and some comics-connected celebrities in other fields – who have passed in early 2020.
Mike Resnick, American science fiction writer and editor
Born 5th March 1941, died 9th January 2020
A much-loved creator, Mike Resnick won five Hugo awards, a Nebula award, and was also executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe. He was the author of the Starship series, the John Justin Mallory series, the Eli Paxton Mysteries, and four Weird West Tales, who sold 69 science fiction novels and more than 250 short stories and edited forty anthologies. His Kirinyaga series, with over 60 major and minor awards and nominations to date, is the most honoured series of stories in the history of science fiction.
Steve Stiles – American Cartoonist and SF Writer
Born 12th January 1943, died 11th January 2020
Artist and writer Steve Stiles died shortly after announcing a diagnosis of terminal cancer, aged 76. One of SF fandom’s best-known artists, he was first nominated for a Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1967, and winning in 2016; he received 17 nominations in all.
Steve’s first professional sale was in 1961, a cartoon for Paul Krassner’s counterculture magazine The Realist. He is perhaps best known to comic fans for his work on the post-apocalyptic dinosaur series Xenozoic Tales from the 1980s, but also worked on projects ranging from the kid-friendly Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Royal Roy to more adult titles like Death Rattle, Bizarre Sex and Anarchy Comics.
Krupp Comic Works founder Denis Kitchen called Steve “one of the funniest and cleverest goddamn cartoonists on the planet.”
“It was a joy to collaborate with him,” Mark Schultz recalled of his time working with Steve on Xenozoic Tales. “He knew how to tell a story with clarity, humor and impact. If he made any adjustments to my directions, they were invariably improvements.”
His final book, The Return of Hyper Comics, was published posthumously by Thintwhistle Books, a company formed by Steve’s widow, Elaine Stiles, in August. Packed with more than 150 pages of Steve’s classic work from Hyper Comics, Heavy Metal, Stardate and a host of other publications, it’s an essential part of any cartoon collector’s library.
• Official Web Site: www.stevestiles.com
John Harvey – British Comics Editor
Died 15th January 2020, aged 89
Polystyle Publications staff member John Harvey, whose duties included editor of Pippin in Playland, and who also wrote the title’s “Sooty and Sweep” stories.
Alan Pattillo – British television director
Born 17th July 1929, died 16th January 2020
The British writer and director who worked on Gerry Anderson’s Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, and Thunderbirds television series.. He won an Emmy in 1979 alongside Bill Blunden for his film editing on All Quiet on the Western Front.
Christopher Tolkien – British academic and editor
Born 21st November 1924, died 16th January 2020
English and French academic editor, the son of author J. R. R. Tolkien and the editor of much of his father’s posthumously published work. Tolkien drew the original maps for his father’s The Lord of the Rings.
He worked hard on his d=father’s many manuscripts for The Silmarillion and was able to produce an edition of for publication in 1977. This was followed by Unfinished Tales in 1980, and The History of Middle-earth in 12 volumes between 1983 and 1996. In April 2007, Tolkien published The Children of Húrin, whose story his father had brought to a relatively complete stage between 1951 and 1957 before abandoning it.
Terry Jones – Welsh actor, writer director, medieval historian
Born 1st February 1942, died 21st January 2020
A member of the Monty Python comedy team, Jones is considered largely responsible for the programme’s innovative, surreal structure, where sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed the subsequent films Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also co-created and co-wrote with Palin the anthology series Ripping Yarns.
Philippe Adamov – French Comic Artist
Born 27th June 1956, died 3rd February 2020
Philippe grew up reading the classic comics by Paul Cuvelier, Hal Foster and Jijé, but Moebius eventually had the most lasting impact on his own art. He was also strongly influenced by science fiction authors like Robert Silverberg, Philip Farmer and Frank Herbert, and by films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
He was author of the Eaux de Mortelune (Waters of Deathmoon) and la Malédiction de Zener (The Curse of Zener), Adamov’s many SF comic credits included Dayak (the latter published by Heavy Metal) and, more recently, Dakota, published by Glenat.
Paul Barnett – British SF author and editor
Born 22nd November 1949, Died 3rd February 2020
Scottish author and editor Paul Banett, wrote SF mostly as John Grant. In addition to his extensive writing career, he worked in publishing, serving as a commissioning editor at art book publisher Paper Tiger from 1997-2004; for his work there, he won a Chesley Award for best art director in 2002, and received a World Fantasy Award nomination the following year.
Earl Kemp – Americann SF publisher, editor, critic, and fan
Born 24th November 1929, died 6th February 2020
Finis Earl Kemp won a Hugo Award for Best Fanzine in 1961 for Who Killed Science Fiction, a collection of questions and answers with top writers in the field. He also helped found Advent:Publishers, a small publishing house focused on science fiction criticism, history, and bibliography, and served as chairman of the 20th World Science Fiction Convention.
Victor Gorelick – American Comic Publisher
Born 5th April 1941, died 9th February 2020
Working in a variety of roles for Archie Comics for over 60 years, Victor Gorelick rose to the position of editor-in-chief in 2007.
“For more than six decades, Victor has been with Archie Comics Publications. His loyalty to Archie was unquestionable,” noted Nancy Silberkleit in her tribute. “A man of many skills, he did lettering, colouring, whatever needed to be done. For most of that time, as Archie’s iconic editor-in-chief, Victor was the face of Archie to several generations of fans and collectors at conventions and trade shows and other public appearances where he spent the grueling hours with humour in his heart and a smile on his face, always connecting our brand to the people.
Claire Bretécher – French Comic Artist and Writer
Born 17th April 1940, died 10th February 2020
Claire Bretécher joined Pilote in 1969 and then co-founded L’Écho des savanes in 1972, thus contributing to the development of Franco-Belgian comics as we know it today. Her career took off in the 1970s, when editor Jean Daniel, who ran the left-wing weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, gave her a weekly page to “poke fun at us and our readers.” The result, “La Page des frustrés” (“A Page for the frustrated), a place where hippies, yuppies and punks ran wild, was a huge hit and encouraged both the paper and its competitors to hire more cartoonists to capture the spirit of the times.
Bretécher won a special prize for all of her work at the Angoulême festival in 1982, one of only three women on the list of 48 grand prize winners, along with Florence Cestac and Rumiko Takahashi.
She also created the anti-heroine Agrippine, a perpetually spoiled and resentful teenager who appeared in eight award-winning albums between 1988 and 2009. The strip was also adapted into a 26-episode animated series produced for Canal+ in 2001.
Her last published album was a collection of press cartoons, Petits Travers, by Dargaud in 2018.
Nicola “Nick” Cuti – American animator, artist, writer, editor, designer, novelist, screenwriter
Born 29th October 1944, died 21st February 2020
Cuti’s comics career began in the 1960s self-publishing three underground comix featuring his first original character, Moonchild. He went on to become Wood’s assistant at his Long Island studio, working on the strips Cannon and Sally Forth.
Next came Charlton, which he joined as an assistant editor in 1972, writing horror and fantasy scripts for talents like Don Newton and Tom Sutton to draw, and recruiting artists such as Mike Zeck, Alan Kupperberg and John Byrne their first professional work. He also created the superhero E-Man there. He began working in animation in 1986 as a background artist on shows such as Defenders of the Earth, BraveStarr, Gargoyles and more.
He also produced films and wrote novels starring Starflake the Cosmic Sprite, a sci-fi heroine for young girls who could survive in space.
Russ Cochran – American Comics Publisher
Born 3rd July 1937, died 2rd February 2020
Russ Cochran was a publisher of EC Comics reprints, Disney comics and books on Hopalong Cassidy, Chet Atkins, Les Paul and vacuum tubes. He was also a publisher for over 30 years, after quitting his job as a physics professor.
His EC Comics reprints include the black-and-white The Complete EC Library, the four-color EC Annuals, and the full-colour hardcover EC Archives.
“Russ forgot more about EC than most of us will ever know,” said Steve Geppi, President and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors. “But the fact that so many people today are aware of that decades-old line of comics is due in no small part to his persistence.”
• Web Site: www.russcochran.com
Frank McLaughlin – American Comic inker/artist
Born 18th March 1935, died 4th March 2020
The American artist who co-created the comic book character Judomaster, drew the comic strip Gil Thorp, and assisted on such strips as Brenda Starr, Reporter and The Heart of Juliet Jones. He also wrote and illustrated books about cartooning and comic art.
Allen Bellman – American Comic Artist
Born 5th June 1924, died 9th March 2020
Allen Bellman was born in Manhattan and studied at the High School of Industrial Arts. He eventually became a staff artist at Timely during the Golden Age of comics. While still a teenager, he did the backgrounds for Syd Shores’ Captain America in 1942, and eventually worked on titles such as The Patriot, The Destroyer, The Human Torch, Jap Buster Johnson and Jet Dixon of the Space Squadron, All Winners Comics, Marvel Mystery, Sub Mariner Comics, Young Allies and so much more.
He also self-created the back-up crime feature “Let’s Play Detective” and contributed to pre-Code horror, crime, war and western tales for Atlas.
Allen worked in the comics field until the early 1950s, but after 18 years he moved to South Florida where he joined the art department of a major daily newspaper, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. After that he went into photography, winning many nationwide photography contests, winning out more than 20,000 entries. Hundreds of his photos have appeared in hardcover books, have been on exhibit in museums in Florida and received great reviews in numerous newspapers.
He still attended many comic books shows into his nineties, and wrote a history of Timely, posted to his official site.
Roman Arámbula – Mexican comic artist and animator
Born 18th 1936, died 19th March 2020
Román Arámbula was a Mexican cartoonist, best known as the successor of Floyd Gottfredson on the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic (1975-1989). He assisted some Mexican cartoonists in the 1950s, drew several Disney adventure comics in the early 1970s, but the majority of his career was spent as an animator for various TV productions.
Arambula was a remarkably prolific artist. Cartoon Brew notes he claimed to have illustrated ten children’s books in one three-month period. Even during his time on Mickey Mouse, he remained active on other projects, including Marvel comics based on Hanna-Barbera properties like Laff-a-Lympics. According to Mark Evanier, who wrote many of these comics, “[Arambula] would draw two weeks worth of the strip every other week and in the weeks he wasn’t working on that, he drew comics for me.”
Giovanni Romanini – Italian artist and cartoonist
Born 27th December 1945, died 20th March 2020
Both cartoonist and comic artist, Romanini’s career began in animated cinema, making his debut in the world of comics in the late 1960s. His early comics work include Satanik and Kriminal. He cooperated with the artist Magnus on several episodes of the series Alan Ford, as well as La Valle del Terrore in Special Tex and La Compagnia della Forca. Romanini also created horror and erotic comics for Edifumetto, and cooperated with several foreign publishers.
Anne T. Murphy-Goodwin – American Artist
Died 27th March 2020
The wife of the late US comics professional Archie Goodwin, Anne was an artist and advocate for equality and women’s rights.
Juan Gimenez – Argentinian Comic Creator
Born 26th November 1943, died 2nd April 2020
Trail-blazing Argentinian comic creator Juan Giménez, who specialised in science fiction comics for Les Humanoïdes Associés, is best known as the writer, artist, and genre trailblazer behind The Metabarons, The Fourth Power, and Leo Roa.
The much-loved artist died after contracting COVID-19, having recently returned from a trip to Spain.
Official web site: www.juangimenez.com
Logan Williams – American Actor
Died 2nd April 2020
Actor Logan Williams, who played young Barry Allen on The CW’s The Flash, passed away at the age of just 16, his death caused by a fentanyl overdose.
In an interview with the New York Post, his mother Marlyse Williams revealed he had struggled with his addiction for three years.
Tim White – British SF artist
Born 4th April 1952, died 6th April 2020
Tim White is best known for his science fiction and fantasy book covers, record covers and magazine illustrations. He also designed jewellery to complement some of his paintings.
A prolific SF cover artist from the 1970s, debuting in 1974 with a cover on the cover of Arthur C. Clarke‘s The Other Side of the Sky, through the 1990s, White’s career as an SF artist followed a two-year stint working in advertising.
His early credits include cover paintings for publisher New English Library and their fondly-remembered Science Fiction Monthly.
Mort Drucker – American Comic Artist and Writer
Born 22nd March 1929, died 9th April 2020
American caricaturist and comics artist best known as a contributor for over five decades in MAD, where he specialised in satires on the leading feature films and television series.
“The World has lost a not just an extraordinary talent but a shining example of kindness, humility and humour,” a spokesperson for the National Cartoonist Society commented said in a comment on Twitter. “He was recognised for his work with the NCS Special Features Award, Reuben Award and induction into the Hall of Fame.”
“This man changed my life,” commented artist Bill Sienkiewicz. “He was a true legend, incredible artist and incomparable caricaturist.”
Paul Haddad – Voice Actor
Born 20th May 1963, died 11th April 2020
American Voice actor Paul Haddad, who portrayed Leon Kennedy in 1998’s Resident Evil 2, passed away at the age of 56. He was the first person to portray the game’s now-iconic protagonist.
Gene Deitch – American Animator and Comic Artist
Born 1924, died 16th April 2020
Described by Roger Crumb as “the father of underground cartoonist”, Kim Deitch worked for United Productions of America, a fledgling animation company started by ex-Disney Studio strikers after World War Two. Arriving at Terrytoons in 1955, he became the beleaguered studio’s creative director, where, quite apart from transforming working conditions for staff, he created the popular TV character Tom Terrific, and oversaw a slate of new theatrical cartoon characters, including Sidney the Elephant, Clint Clobber, Flebus and John Doormat.
He won the Oscar for best animated short subject in 1960 when he directed Munro, an animated version of a Jules Feiffer story about a four-year-old who is drafted into the army and tries to convince various authority figures that he is just a child.
Later in his career, he made the animated version of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1975) and adaptations of other well-regarded children’s books.
Hector Garrido – Argentinian Artist
Died 19th April 2020, aged 92
Argentinian by birth, Hector studied art in Buenos Aires but emigrated to the United States when and was professionally active there, beginning in the 1950s. He’s best known to fans of GI Joe for his original artwork that featured on the 1980s-era merchandise packaging.
Alberto Aleandro Uderzo – French comic artist and writer
Born 25th April 1927, died 24th March 2020
Albert Uderzo is best known as the co-creator and illustrator of the Astérix series in collaboration with René Goscinny. He also drew other comics such as Oumpah-pah, again with Goscinny.
Uderzo and Goscinny co-created the French comic series about a small village of ancient Gauls in 1959, who successfully resist a Roman occupation of their country, aided in their battles by both a strength-giving magic potion and, simply, being far cleverer than most of the invaders!
Uderzo was initially the illustrator of the comic strip that first appeared in the magazine, Piloté, written by Goscinny, who died in 1977, and continued to write and illustrate the series until retiring in 2009.
“For more than 60 years, Asterix has aroused in millions of readers around the world, page after page, and with each re-reading, a pleasure and a deep joy. Becoming a real myth, the little Gaul is today part of the universal literary and artistic heritage, and will continue for a long time to carry its values of tolerance and resistance in its adventures.
“Beyond the immense artist that he was, we lose an exceptional man, whom all those who had the chance to meet him cherished.
“We send our sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Albert Uderzo”.
Andrew Christine – British Cartoonist
Died 3rd May 2020
The co-creator of the newspaper comic strips Beau Peep and A Man Called Horace with writer Roger Kettle.
Over a long career that included work for both DC Thomson and IPC, he also drew strips such as “Dopey Joe” and “Top of the Flops” for The Topper, “Tom Thumbscrew” in Monster Fun and “Wonder Wellies” in Cracker (1975-76), and also drew the “Benny Hill” page for Look-In.
Andrew started at DC Thomson in 1965, after being turned down for art school because he didn’t have a Higher English to match his Higher Art qualifications, and was a letterer/illustrator in the art department, as well as producing cartoons and artwork for The Topper letters page. As noted on Beau Peep web site, it was here that he first crossed paths with Roger Kettle.
Juan Vlasco – Mexican Comics Inker
Died 24th April 2020, aged 51
Juan Vlasco’s career began in his native Mexico in the early 1990s, where his work appeared in such books as the independent comic Ransom 4. His work featured in hundreds of comics since his 1990’s US debut, working for DC Comics, Dark Horse, and Marvel Comics.
He was a frequent collaborator with artist Paco Medina on Venom, Nova, Ultimate Comics X-Men, USAvengers, and Avengers No Road Home. One of his final projects was providing inks for The Magnificent Ms. Marvel.
Martin Pasko – American Comic Writer
Born 1954, died 10th May 2020
“I am not a “progressive”. I’m a liberal, goddamit, and I refuse to allow anyone to try to make me ashamed of that”
– Martin Pasko, 8th May 2020
Martin Pasko’s first writing credits appeared in stories in Warren’s black-and-white horror magazines in 1972. His many credits include writing Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the DC stable.
His first published story starring Superman in a 1974 issue of the hero’s self-titled book kicked off his long association with the Man of Steel; he went on to write many stories for Superman, Action Comics, Superman Family, DC Comics Presents, and other super-centric titles, including the newspaper comic strip The World’s Greatest Superheroes that DC launched in 1978.
Frank Bolle – American Comic Artist
Born 1924, died 12th May 2020
A man who loved to make art — and whose art many loved, Bolle (along with an unknown writer) created the Black Phantom for Magazine Enterprises, a Western femme fatale type who opposed and later partnered with the comic book version of Western film star Tim Holt.
He worked for a variety of companies – Western. DC, Dell, Marvel and Warren, but is probably best known for his newspaper strip work, which included his own Children’s Tales (1960 – 69), Prince Valiant, Rip Kirby, Annie, Tarzan. He drew Apartment 3-G from 1989 until 2015, before his retirement at the age of 91.
Richard Sala – American Comic Artist
Born 2nd June 1954, died 7th May 2020
A contributor to independent anthologies RAW and Blab!, Sala’s first published comics work was Night Drive in 1984, described as “more a reflection of his art school education than a typical comic book.”
A prolific illustrator and comic artist, publishing epic thrillers with labyrinthine plots and black humour, he worked on projects with Lemony Snicket, Steve Niles and The Residents, and illustrated Doctor Sax and The Great World Snake, a script written in the 1960s by Jack Kerouac, which, like Sala’s own work, makes use of pulp genre conventions such as vampires and shadowy avengers.
He created the webcomic Super-Enigmatix in 2014, which followed the investigation of a sinister super-criminal, followed by The Bloody Cardinal, published in print form by Fantagraphics in 2017. His last Tumblr post on 29th April this year marked the beginning of a new serialised webcomic, Carlotta Havoc Versus Everybody.
Kelly Asbury – American Author, Director, Voice Actor
Born 15th January 1960, died 26th June 2020
Kelly Asbury, who worked on such films as Toy Story and Shrek 2, died at the age of 60 after a long battle with cancer.
Screenwriter, voice actor, and published children’s book author/illustrator, and non-fiction author, Asbury was best known for directing animated films, including Shrek 2, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Gnomeo & Juliet.
Dennis “Denny” O’Neil – American Comics Writer and editor
Born 3rd May 1939, died 11th June 2020
O’Neill worked principally for Marvel Comics and DC Comics from the 1960s through the 1990s, and was Group Editor for DC Comics Batman family of titles until his retirement.
His best-known works include Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams, co-creating the Batman villains Ra’s al Ghul and Talia al Ghul. His other notable work includes runs on The Shadow with Michael Kaluta and The Question with Denys Cowan. He also sat on the board of directors of the charity The Hero Initiative and served on its Disbursement Committee.
Joel Schumacher – American Director, screenwriter, and producer
Born 29th August 1939, died 22nd June 2020
Schumacher was active from the 1970s to the 2010s, breaking into show business as a costumer designer in the early 1970s. His first theatrically released film was 1981’s The Incredible Shrinking Woman, which met with a lukewarm response, but he would go on to prominence after directing St. Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys. He was selected to replace Tim Burton as director of the Batman franchise and oversaw Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Later, he directed smaller-budgeted films, including Tigerland and Phone Booth, and The Phantom of the Opera, released to mixed-to-negative reviews in 2004. His final directorial work was for two episodes of House of Cards.
Joe Sinnott – American Comic Artist
Born 16th October 1926, died 25th June 2020
Working primarily as an inker, Sinnott is perhaps best known for his long stint on Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four, from 1965 to 1981 (and briefly in the late 1980s), initially over the pencils of Jack Kirby. During his 60 years as a Marvel freelance artist and then salaried artist working from home, Sinnott inked virtually every major title, with notable runs on The Avengers, The Defenders and Thor.
Milton Glaser – American Graphic Designer
Born 26th June 1929, died 26th June 2020
Glaser’s designs include the I Love New York logo, the psychedelic Bob Dylan poster, and the logos for DC Comics, Stony Brook University, and Brooklyn Brewery. In 1954, he also co-founded Push Pin Studios, and co-founded New York magazine with Clay Felker,
John Jackson – British Comics Editor
Died late June 2020
Fleetway art staffer John Jackson, one of the team behind the relaunch of Eagle in 1982, died towards the end of June, after a long illness.
John was part of the art department on Eagle, Girl and Boys’ World in the 1960s, later working on Roy of the Rovers and the relaunched Eagle in the 1980s.
“He was an art man on my titles and came to us from a senior position in another group, which I think was the educational group of titles,” former Fleetway Group Editor Barrie Tomlinson told downthetubes. “He worked on Roy of the Rovers and the new Eagle.