"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Artist Earl Norem, remembered for his painted covers for Marvel and his Mars Attacks! cards for Topps, passed away Friday at age 91. Comics fans will most likely recognize his work from the 1978 Silver Surfer graphic novel by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.
“He was a true super hero to me and to all who knew him,” wrote daughter Andrea Norem-Thompson. “A kind gentle, modest soul, his legacy will last a lifetime. We thank all of his fans far and wide who have meant so much to him throughout his career. As the great Jack Benny was quoted to say, Thanks for the memories, Earl, Daddy, Pop and loving. Husband. You were one of a kind.”
Photographer and comics creator Seth Kushner passed away Sunday following a year-long battle with leukemia.
Celebrated for his portraits of actors, musicians and artists, Kushner is widely known for his collaboration with writer Christopher Irving on Graphic NYC, a collection of profiles of comics creators that became the 2012 book Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics.
A comics creator in his own right, Kushner experimented with, and wrote about, photocomics, and collaborated with numerous artists on his semi-autobiographic Schmuck, originally serialized on Trip City, and with George Folz on The Roman Nose. He debuted the anthology Secret Sauce just last month.
Glen Orbik, the illustrator and teacher well known for his pulp-inspired movie posters and book and comic covers, passed away Monday following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 51.
“It is with very sad news to announce the passing of an incredible artist, teacher and friend, Glen Orbik,” his close friend Jennifer Fabos Patton wrote on Facebook. “I have had the privilege and honor to work with this brilliant man for probably 20 years or more. Along with Laurel Blechman we have helped make some amazing artwork for book covers, comic covers, posters and more.”
Francis Tsai, the concept and comic-book artist who continued to draw even after Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis cost him the use of his arms and legs, passed away Thursday.
After word of his death began to spread last night on social media, his wife Linda made the official announcement on his Facebook page, writing, This is all pretty new and I’m still a little in shock. Suddenly there is a big hole in my life. Francis was my soul mate. I loved him for his integrity, his (somewhat warped) sense of humor and his artistic drive. I will miss him like crazy.”
Lobo co-creator Roger Slifer, who was seriously injured in a 2012 hit and run, died this morning while on the way from his nursing home to an emergency room. He was 60 years old.
“It is especially sad because in the last month he was making great progress,” his sister Connie Carlton wrote on Facebook. “He was writing words on his new whiteboard that I bought with money his friend Larry Spears sent for Christmas. He was nodding yes and no to questions. A couple weeks ago they put a passey muir device (speaking valve) in his trach and he said ‘yes, no, and hi.’ They were getting ready to start him on speech therapy and occupational therapy. Things were finally looking up for him. But God needed another angel.”
Artist and cartoonist Irwin Hasen passed away Friday morning at the age of 96. Hasen most famously co-created Wildcat with Bill Finger and the beloved orphan comic strip Dondi with Gus Edson.
“[Hasen] was DC’s last surviving artist from World War II,” comic historian Michael Uslan told the New York Daily News. “So DC’s ‘Golden Age of Comics’ has come to a close, 77 years after it began.”
Terry Pratchett, author of the beloved Discworld series of fantasy novels, passed away today at age 66 following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. According to BBC News, he died at home surrounded by family.
“It is with immeasurable sadness that we announce that author Sir Terry Pratchett has died,” reads a statement on the author’s Facebook page. “The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds. Rest in peace Sir Terry Pratchett.”
Brett Ewins, the influential British artist perhaps best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper, has passed away at age 59.
An early collaborator of Peter Milligan, whom he met at Goldsmiths College, and Brendan McCarthy, Ewins began providing covers for 2000 AD before soon reteaming with McCarthy on Future Shocks and Judge Dredd. His other 2000 AD work included ABC Warriors, Bad Company, Judge Anderson and the aforementioned Rogue Trooper.
Jayden Wilson, the terminally ill boy who became an Internet sensation last month when his father dressed as Spider-Man to surprise him for his fifth birthday, passed away on Christmas Eve. He was diagnosed in September 2013 with a grade 4 brain stem tumor and given about a year to live.
“Jayden fought an amazing battle. By far he was the most bravest person we know,” his father Mike Wilson wrote on the Hope For Jayden Facebook page. “But unfortunately late on Christmas Eve, Jayden died peacefully in his sleep, warm in his bed. He looked so relaxed with a very subtle grin on his face. We believe he waited to be out of hospital to be with his family in the most safest place he knew. Jayden had such a happy life. What an incredible 5 years.”
Author and cartoonist Norman Bridwell, best known for his celebrated Clifford the Big Red Dog books, passed away Dec. 12 in Martha’s Vineyard, the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports. He was 86.
Born in 1928 in Kokomo, Indiana, Bridwell attended art school in Indianapolis and New York City before going to work as a commercial artist. By 1962, with a wife and infant daughter to support, he set out to supplement his income by securing work as a children’s book illustrator; among his portfolio pieces was a painting of what would eventually become Clifford.
“I did about 10 paintings. One was of a little girl standing under the chin of a big red dog and holding out her hand to see if it was still raining,” Bridwell recalled last year to the School Library Journal. “I was rejected everywhere I went. One editor, Susan Hirschman, said that my work was too plain. She said, ‘You may have to write a story, and then if they buy the story, you could do the art. She pointed to the sample of the girl and the dog and said, ‘Maybe that’s a story.’”
The industry learned over the weekend through colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser that flatter Eduardo Navarro Lopez passed away Nov. 27 after a battle with cancer. He was 36 years old. The Guadalajara, Mexico-based color assistant had been undergoing treatment for cancer, but had continued to work until as recently as earlier in November.
Breitweiser has worked with him her entire career, as she noted in her post paying tribute to him:
By all indications, Aaron Purmort was the kind of person most of us wish we knew. Warm and funny, he somehow kept his sense of humor, even while waging a losing battle against cancer. And in the end, it was the Minneapolis art director and comic book fan who got the last laugh.
Before his passing on Thursday, the 35-year-old Purmort sat down with his wife Nora, who chronicled their life and struggles online, to write his obituary, in which he attributes his death to “complications from a radioactive spider bite that led to years of crime-fighting and a years long battle with a nefarious criminal named Cancer.”
“Civilians will recognize him best as Spider-Man,” the obituary states, “and thank him for his many years of service protecting our city.”
Today DC Comics released The Flash #36, an issue that represents the final work of Brazilian artist André Coelho. His death, while not widely reported until today, occurred in mid-October, as noted by this Oct. 20 MeiaLua memorial podcast. DC dedicated the issue of The Flash to the 35-year-old artist.
Co-writer Van Jensen also paid tribute to Coelho on his blog, writing, “He was an incredible artist, able to convey so much emotion into every panel. André also was always as nice as could be, responding to any request with a simple, ‘No problem!'”
The world was saddened to learn of Robin Williams’ passing on Monday, and the circumstances surrounding his death only made it more tragic. Most of us, however, prefer to remember the comedy legend through the times he made us smile.
Perhaps it was his goofy silliness as the alien Mork, or his stellar voice work in Aladdin, or the way he managed to fill out the form of an old lady in Mrs. Doubtfire. He had loads of dramatic roles as well, from The Fisher King to Dead Poets Society. Williams could make you empathize with the hurting soul underneath the clown, the man behind the facade.
For all his versatility — from playing a cartoon bat trying to save the rainforest to a frightening stalker working at a photo booth — it’s a shame Williams was never in a superhero movie, especially in an era when the likes of Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson and Anthony Hopkins have embraced such genre roles.
Oh, wait. Williams did play a superhero, of sorts: He was Popeye the Sailor Man.
Reading and watching some of the countless tributes to Robin Williams, who passed away far too soon on Monday, I was reminded that, in addition to being a father, a husband, a comedian, an actor and a philanthropist, he was also a comics fan.
“I used to get excited emails from comics stores all over America when Robin Williams would drop in to buy Transmetropolitan issues,” Warren Ellis recalled Monday on Twitter.
A semi-regular customer at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles, Williams discussed his love of comics in a video interview we spotlighted in 2010 on ROBOT 6. In the clip, he fondly relates his latest reads: Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ, and Taiyō Matsumoto’s Tekkonkinkreet. Watch the brief interview below.