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Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
Auctions | A rare drawing of Tintin by Hergé from the 1936 book The Blue Lotus was sold at auction Monday in Hong Kong for $1.2 million. The black-and-white illustration, which depicts Tintin and Snowy being pulled in a rickshaw through the streets of Shanghai, is the only original piece from the book that remains in private hands. [BBC News]
Passings | Jay Scott Pike, well known for his work as a “good girl” artist, died Sept. 13 at age 91. He started out in 1949 at Hillman Comics, and then moved on to Marvel predecessor Atlas, working on action and romance comics, including Jann of the Jungle and Lorna the Jungle Girl. In the 1960s he moved to DC Comics, where he drew mostly romance comics but also created the character Dolphin, who’s resurfaced repeatedly over of the years. Historian Mark Evanier estimates that Pike drew at least 800 comics stories between 1949 and 1973. [News From ME]
Graphic novels | BookScan’s list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in August is an eclectic mix of old and new, superheroes and other genres. The top seller, for the second month in a row, is the deluxe edition of Batman: The Killing Joke, with hardy perennials Fun Home, American Born Chinese and Watchmen all making the charts, probably because of school assignments. Manga does well, with the two most recent volumes of Naruto, two volumes of Attack on Titan, the first two volumes of Tokyo Ghoul and the seventh volume of Monster Musume all making the cut. Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl also charted, as did the first volume of Saga and the 22nd volume of Fables. [ICv2]
Passings| Underground artist Stephen “The Pizz” Pizzuro has died at age 57. Pizzuro, who described his work as “Lowbrow,” started his professional career as an artist for Rat Fink Comics before moving on to do album covers and, later, gallery art. [Hi Fructose]
Passings | Rick Obadiah, one of the founders of First Comics, died Sunday after suffering a massive heart attack while on the treadmill. In its original incarnation, which ran from 1983 to 1991, First was a pioneer in the direct market, publishing works such as American Flagg, Badger and Nexus and selling them outside the confines of the Comics Code. It was also one of the first American publishers to publish manga, bringing out a translated edition of Lone Wolf and Cub in 1987 as a monthly comic with covers by Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz and others. “Last year, Rick reread a lot of the old First titles and was pleased to see how well they held up,” writes his friend and former First Comics colleague Mike Gold. “He took a lot of pride in that, for which I am very grateful.” [ComicMix]
Manga | More than 2.5 million copies of the English-language editions of Attack on Titan in print, Kodansha USA announced earlier this month at Anime Expo. Although that may seem like a lot, there are more than 44 million copies of the same 15 volumes of Hajime Isayama’s post-apocalyptic manga in print in Japan. The Asahi Shimbun estimates the U.S. comics market as one-fifth the size of the Japanese market. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Passings | Bill Garner, the editorial cartoonist for The Washington Times from 1983 to 2009, has died at age 79. Garner was born in Texas and attended the Texas School of Fine Arts, then went to the University of Texas at Austin for one year. He served in the Army from 1956 to 1962, then went to work as an illustrator for The Washington Star. His editor there suggested he try his hand at cartooning, and it took. He moved on to become the editorial cartoonist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, where in 1981 he won a National Headliner Award. His best-known cartoon is one he drew for the Times shortly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, showing a tank with the bumper sticker “Saddam Happens” driving over a sand dune. [The Washington Times]
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]