Disney artist Del Connell, who received the Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award during this year’s Eisner Award ceremonies just three weeks ago, has died at the age of 93. The Bakersfield Californian has a nice article about Connell, who could not attend the ceremony due to failing health, and Glen Weldon posts an appreciation at NPR’s Monkey See blog describing how Connell’s creation, Goofy’s alter ego Super Goof, changed his life. Mark Evanier, who worked down the hall from Connell for a while and was instrumental in getting him the award, adds his own memories of Connell.
Working at a time when artists and writers seldom signed their work, Connell wrote Disney, Dell, and Gold Key comics for 30 years but is still an unfamiliar name to most comics readers. “He did a three-panel gag for Mickey Mouse every day of his life, including Sundays, for 20 years,” his wife Ruth told the Californian. In addition to Super Goof, he came up with Space Family Robinson, which became the television series Lost in Space, as well as Wacky Witch. Yet few people (including the Eisner judges) knew his name, partly because his work was unsigned, and perhaps also because he was humble about it anyway—and when he retired from comics, he stepped away from the industry entirely.
Retailing | More than 1 million customers visited participating stores on Free Comic Book Day, according to a survey conducted by Diamond Comic Distributors. More than 2.4 million of the record 2.7 million comics ordered by retailers were handed out. What’s more, nearly 54 percent of stores saw higher profits than usual for a Saturday, while more than 37 percent reported higher profits than on a typical Wednesday. [ICv2.com]
Awards | Bob Haney and Del Connell will receive the 2011 Bill Finger Award for Achievement in Comic Book Writing, established in honor of the late writer, considered the “unsung hero” of Batman. Haney, who passed away, in 2004, is best remembered as co-creator of the Doom Patrol and Metamorpho and for his work on DC titles like The Brave and the Bold, Teen Titans and Aquaman. Connell, who began his career at Disney Studios working on such animated projects as Alice in Wonderland and The Three Caballeros, became a prolific writer and, eventually, editor-in-chief at Western Publishing. He also wrote the Mickey Mouse comic strips for more than 20 years. Connell, 94, will accept his award July 22 during the Eisner Awards ceremony at Comic-Con International. [Comic-Con]