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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.”
Creators | Daniel Clowes talks about Eightball, his hate mail, and the Shia LaBeouf affair: “I mean, I don’t hold a grudge. I don’t think about it that much. But I don’t think what he did was really forgivable. I don’t know that it matters that much if he’s apologizing or whatever. I just hate the idea of anybody doing that to some young artist who couldn’t hire legal representation. I’m sort of the one guy who could deal with something like that, and it would be really possible for somebody with his amount of money and power to just crush some poor young artist if that happened to them, and I would hate to see that. So I don’t think it’s something that needs to be forgiven; I think it’s something that always needs to be thought of as just a horrible thing to do.” [Vulture]
Comics | More than 3,000 copies of the comic book Brink City Special Edition: Kids Lives Matter will be distributed to children in Cleveland to promote gun safety and encourage toy gun buy-back programs. Just last November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland by a police officer who mistook his airsoft pistol for a real one. Funded by private foundations, the comic was produced by the Rid-All Green Partnership. [Fox 8]
Passings | Mennonite cartoonist Joel Kauffmann, creator of the religious-humor strip Pontius’ Puddle, died last week at age 64. The son of a Mennonite pastor, Kauffmann grew up on a farm in Hopedale, Illinois, and started drawing early: “He was always drawing wherever he was, including the many hours he spent in church,” said his sister, Mary Kauffmann-Kanel. Pontius’ Puddle ran for over 30 years in over 200 publications; Kauffmann also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Radicals, which told the story of two early leaders of the Anabaptist movement, and he was producing content for the Museum of the Bible project funded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. [Mennonite World Review]
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.”
Passings | Inker Rick Ketcham has passed away. Details are sparse, but Ketcham’s Facebook quickly filled with tributes from friends and colleagues who hailed his kindness, his professionalism, and his willingness to mentor others. Ketcham worked on a number of titles for DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image Comics and other publishers, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, G.I. Joe, New X-Men, Runaways and Venom. [Tsunami Studios Facebook]
Passings | Dexter Taylor, the longtime writer and artist of The Adventures of Little Archie, has died at age 84. He began working for Archie Comics in the 1950s, first in the production department and then as an assistant to artist Bob Bolling on Little Archie before taking the reins on the title in 1965. His run continued until the series ended in 1983. “The first day I came to work at Archie Comics I met the nicest, most helpful, friendliest and honest person: Dexter Taylor,” Victor Gorelick, Archie’s longtime editor-in-chief and co-president, said in a statement. [Archie Comics, Den of Geek]
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.”
Passings | Cartoonist and illustrator Roy Doty, best known for his long-running Wordless Workshop cartoon, has died at age 92. Wordless Workshop, which ran in Family Handyman and other similar publications, featured a pipe-smoking handyman who, when faced with a domestic problem of some sort, would immediately visualize something he could build, including a simple set of plans. Doty also illustrated over 100 children’s books, including several by Judy Blume, and drew a syndicated Laugh-In comic based on the television show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. He had a short-lived show of his own on the Dumont Network in 1953, in which he told stories and drew cartoons. He won 10 awards from the National Cartoonists Society, including their Gold Key Hall of Fame Award, and continued to be an active cartoonist until last year. [Mike Lynch Cartoons]
Publishing | Papercutz, which has had an extremely successful program of LEGO graphic novels based on the Bionicle, Ninjago and Legends of Chima properties, is losing that license to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which will have its own graphic novels in bookstores by the end of this year. Papercutz reveals it will continue to publish Bionicle and Ninjago through the end of this year, and Legends of Chima through mid-2016. [Publishers Weekly, ICv2]
Passings | Fred Fredericks, who drew the Mandrake the Magician comic strip from 1965 to 2013, has died. In addition to his daily newspaper work, Fredericks drew comics for Western Publishing and Marvel. [ComicMix]
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.”
Legal | Matthew O. Pocci Jr., who in July drove into the crowd of ZombieWalk: San Diego, held annually during Comic-Con International, will be charged with felony reckless driving resulting in serious injuries. Pocci, who is deaf, was in the car with his children, waiting for the Zombie Walk to pass, but he started moving forward before the crowd had cleared the area. According to Pocci, the walkers attacked the car and he feared for his safety. He accelerated and the car struck a 64-year-old woman; two other people were injured as well. Pocci will be arraigned on March 9. [NBC 7 San Diego]
Awards | Six graphic novels are finalists for the eighth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza, Happy Birthday Babymouse, Sisters, The Dumbest Idea Ever, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl and El Deafo. This is the largest number of graphic novels to make the cut; the previous high was three. Children and teens can vote for the winners, which will be announced during Children’s Book Week, which starts this year with Free Comic Book Day. [Children’s Book Council, via ICv2]
Retailing | When water got into the stock room of Blockbuster Comics in Brandon, Florida, it destroyed a number of valuable comics, including a 1956-vintage Superman comic and a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed by the late Dick Giordano. Rather than just toss them, however, owner William Insignares is using them to redecorate his store, starting by decoupaging some of them to his front door using a Mod Podge-like substance. [Bradenton Herald]
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.
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]