In Memoriam: Comics Writer and Editor Brian Augustyn

Brian Augustyn, via his social media
Brian Augustyn, via his social media

We’re sorry to report the passing of award-winning American comic writer and editor Brian Augustyn, who has died of a stroke, aged 67, perhaps best known for his much-loved Batman Elseworlds book, Gotham by Gaslight and his work with Mark Waid on The Flash – but who created so much more, and was much admired for his work by many comics professionals.

His death was announced on behalf of Brian’s family by fellow editor and writer Mark Waid. “This one really hurts,” he said. “…Comics has lost a very kind, very talented man who has been my big brother and one of my very best friends for nearly 35 years.

Brian first made his debut in the American comics industry in 1986, as an editor for Tru StudiosTrollords, then edited Syphons and Speed Racer for NOW Comics in 1987, joining DC Comics in 1988, initially as a co-editor on Action Comics during its period as a weekly title, and, later, The Flash, Justice League, and the company’s Impact Comics line.

He hired Mark Waid while editor of The Flash, leading to an impressive eight year run, beginning in 1989, which led to other editor/writer partnerships, including The Comet (DC/Impact, 1992) and Flash spin-off Impulse (DC, 1995–1996). He won the Wizard Fan Award for Favourite Editor in 1994.

As a solo writer, Brian’s credits include DC’s brilliant Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, drawn by Mike Mignola, inked by P. Craig Russell, the very first ‘Elseworlds’ title from DC’s former alt-reality-focused line, released in 1989, still highly regarded, rightfully, to this day. He also penned its its sequel Batman: Master of the Future, and titles such as Black Condor, Marvel’s Imperial Guard, and Dreamwave Productions’s Mega Man.

As co-writers, Brian and Mark Waid scripted The Crusaders for DC/Impact in 1992, and, after leaving his position as editor in 1996, they co-wrote The Flash in 1996 – 1997 and 1998 – 2000. They also collaborated on The Life Story of the Flash graphic novel, released in 1998, pencilled by Gil Kane and Joe Staton, and worked together on Painkiller Jane and Ash: Cinder & Smoke for Event Comics in 1997, X-O Manowar, Volume 2, for Valiant Comics in 1997–1998, and JLA: Year One for DC in 1998 – 1999.

Brian later served as the managing editor of Visionary Comics Studio, and worked as story editor for publisher Red Giant Entertainment and their Giant-Size Comics line of free print comic book titles, which debuted in 2014. He also wrote the 2014 Amped comic for the company.

Fellow writer and friend Mark Waid, who joined American comics publisher DC Comics as associate editor around the same time as Brian has posted a heartfelt tribute to Brian on Facebook, noting a shared love “for old comics, the shows of writer David E. Kelley, old television programs, and murder mysteries.

“We had similar thoughts about what a story was, and we were both heavily invested in bringing new talent and new voices into the company,” he notes, charting how their friendship developed, and his unwavering support for him, as his writing career developed.”

That view of him was shared by writer/ artist Jamal Yaseem Igle on Twitter, who shared “When I was an intern at DC, Brian did the thing that meant the world to me. He was one three editors who took me seriously when I said I wanted to be in comics.”

“Brian Augustyn was my very first editor at DC, on my first ever pro-work for them, when I squeaked in as fill-in artist on the Flash TV Special in 1991 with Mark Waid,” recalled comic artist Darrick Robertson, another creator who gained from Brian’s openness to new talent. “Brian was tough on me, but a great editor that knew his stuff. Shocked and saddened to hear that he’s gone.”

“Brian was great that way when it came to recruiting and working with others,” Mark Waid notes. “he saw talented people and knew what they should be doing. A bunch of people owed their success to Brian: Humberto Ramos, Mike Wieringo, Travis Charest, Ethan Van Sciver, Mike Parobeck, and so many others – but certainly no one owed him more than I did. Than I do. At a time when I’d gone freelance and couldn’t get arrested at DC, Brian – and only Brian – was interested in keeping me employed. He went to bat for me when everyone at the company – everyone – was discouraging him, telling him I was just a fanboy who didn’t have anything to bring to the table, and when Brian decided to assign me The Flash, upper management made it abundantly clear they disapproved. He didn’t care. He gave me the gig. It seems to have worked out.”

“Brian was loved and admired by so many, and for good reason,” he also notes. “There were certainly people he didn’t care for, but he made no enemies so far as I know – I can’t remember anyone ever saying anything about him that wasn’t complimentary. He was kind, he was thoughtful, he was charming and funny and witty, with a laugh that would fill a room. He was a loyal friend, wise counsel, and he wholeheartedly embodied the character trait that I most admire in people: the inability to simply sit back and watch whenever something unfair was unfolding in front of him. I looked up to him and admired him.

“In all my life, I have never known anyone better than Brian Augustyn, and I know that I will miss him every day.”

Mark’s admiration for Brian has been echoed by many other comic creators across social media, including publisher Patrick Gerard, who, like many others, responded to Mark’s tribute.

“When I hired him as a writer, he was so incredibly easy to work with. He edited himself and produced a fine finished project,” he said. “ We talked about collaborating multiple times, trading notes on a super-hero we ‘cast’ Kumail Nanjiani, as that was a love letter to Lois Lane comics, while being thoroughly modern.

“Just last week, we were planning a new book we were going to shop with a publisher and Kickstarter if need be. I took a nap earlier today and was just about to send him my latest notes when I saw your post.
He was so effortless to collaborate with, so full of the perfect idea that would bring things together and yet generous enough to take notes from anybody, even me.

“What a talent, what a gift, what a loss.”

“The loss of Brian Augustyn floored me,” Mike Collins told downthetubes. “He was one of my main editors at DC but was also one of the guys you just enjoyed hanging out with. He was always there for a phonecall about the scuttlebutt of the day, old movies and old comics. He had an easy, friendly manner which made you feel one of the team even if you were just working on a fill in. He was generous with his work and attention, and a damn fine writer in his own right.

“Over the last few years, we’ve occasionally exchanged emails and nattered mainly about nothing and everything. Gutted that that moment, and this fine man, has passed.”

“I had a brief but positive experience with Brian when we were both working for a short-lived publisher,” said Christopher Allen. “Brian had written a bible for the shared universe of characters and was writing one of the handful of series that would come out first. His was a solo character and I was to write a team book featuring Brian’s character as a member of the team. Brian was very helpful and accommodating.

“I’m sure he could have said, ‘Hey, don’t use my guy at all’, but he shared a couple scripts so I could see what he was doing with him, and even better, he changed part of one so one of my characters got a cameo, which actually ended up being the only time that character saw print, as the company folded within six months or so and the second wave of series never happened. I can’t say we had long discussions, but he was certainly kinder and more encouraging to a presumptuous young man than he needed to be, and it meant a lot.”

“I was lucky enough to work with Brian on The Phantom”, noted Mark Verheiden, “and I remember our story discussions with great fondness… Brian will be greatly missed.”

“Last message I received from him was about how satisfying his life had become,” said artist Peter Krause on Twitter, who worked with Brian in ARCHIE 1941. “I feel he had more stories to tell. My condolences to his family and all his fans.”

“Brian Augustyn was a very good man, a very good writer, and a very good editor,” noted writer Ron Marz. “Terrible loss for all of us.”

“I Hadn’t seen him in years, but always a hell of a nice guy,” acknowledged artist Cully Hammer, “And such a good writer – Gotham by Gaslight alone is required comics reading, in my opinion.”

“To say Brian Augustyn helped me become a better comic writer is an understatement!” acknowledged writer Jimmy Palmiotti.”Mark and Brian were our go-to-guys at Event Comics.

“When my dad passed away, it was Mark and Brian’s comics that gave me comfort and reignited my love for The Flash,” said comic writer Sterling Gates. “Basically, I wouldn’t be me without the work of Brian Augustyn.”

“Brian was so patient with me, always had a kind word and was always helpful and full of advice. This is heartbreaking. Rest in Peace, my friend.”

“If you knew my dad, he could be a big pain in the ass,” his daughter, Carolyn Augustyn, noted in her tribute on Facebook. “But he was our pain in the ass and we’re going to miss the daily sarcasm, snark, and witty comments. And as much of a grouch as he could be, he deeply loved all of his friends, family, and the comic book community.

We’re so sad he is gone so soon, sad he’s going to miss seeing his grandson walk (he asked every time we talked – ‘Is the boy walking yet?!’), sad he’ll miss out on future Italian beef sandwiches and slices of Chicago pizza, sad we won’t get more texts asking for pictures of his fur-grandchildren. Sad, a little mad, but so glad he went peacefully and surrounded by love.

“If you would like want to honour his memory, really enjoy your day. It’s what he would want. Eat a really good meal, pet a fuzzy friend, watch your favorite TV show, wear your most comfy sweats.

“You can also consider donating to one of his favourite charities: Hero Initiative or World Central Kitchen.”

Our sympathies to Brian’s family and many friends at this time.

Brian Augustyn, 2nd November 1954 – 1st February 2022, survived by his wife, Nadine, and daughters Carrie and Allie | Condolences to Mark Waid for the Augustyns, c/o Humanoids, 6464 Sunset Blvd, Suite 1180
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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

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