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Comics A.M. | Duo jailed for trying to sell $9,000 in stolen comics

Crime

Crime

Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]

Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]

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Comics A.M. | Longtime retailer Steve Koch passes away

Steve Koch

Steve Koch

Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]

Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]

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Comics A.M. | Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Tony Auth passes away

Tony Auth

Tony Auth

Passings | Tony Auth, editorial cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1971 to 2012, died Sunday at age 72. Auth, who won both the Pulitzer and Herblock prizes during his lengthy career with the newspaper, began drawing as a child, when a lengthy illness confined him to bed for a year and a half. He graduated from UCLA in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in biological illustration, and worked as a medical illustrator for a time. He began his cartooning career doing a weekly cartoon for a local alternative newspaper and then started drawing a thrice-weekly cartoon for the UCLA Daily Bruin. He left the Inquirer in 2012 to pursue digital cartooning and became the Digital Artist in Residence for WHYY’s News Works. In addition to his cartooning work, he illustrated 11 children’s books. His editorial cartoons have been collected into two books, and Temple University has begun fund-raising for an archive of his work. Michael Cavna has a roundup of tributes from Auth’s colleagues at Comic Riffs. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

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Stan Goldberg ‘had a joy for comics and cartooning that was infectious’

archie-goldbergAs Comic Book Resources reported Monday, longtime Marvel colorist and Archie Comics artist Stan Goldberg passed away Sunday at age 82 following a recent stroke. The obituary recounts much of his lengthy and prolific career — it spanned six decades, from the Golden Age of comics to the birth of the Marvel Age to the wedding of Archie Andrews — so we won’t recount the details here.

Instead, we’ve rounded up statements about Goldberg, his impact and his influence, from Marvel, Archie Comics, the National Cartoonists Society and more:

“No less than Stan Lee, Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko, Stan Goldberg was one of the pioneers of the Marvel Age of Comics. As Marvel’s one-man coloring department, it was Stan G who determined that Iron Man would be red and gold, that the Thing would be orange, and that Spider-Man would be red and blue-black. He was also a talented cartoonist specializing in teen humor strips such as Millie the Model and Kathy the Teen-Age Tornado, which led him to become one of the mainstays of the Archie Comics line for decades. Stan was a gregarious and upbeat individual who was always a pleasure to work with.”

Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s executive editor and senior vice president of publishing, in a statement to ROBOT 6

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Comics A.M. | Egyptian cartoonist Mostafa Hussein passes away

Mostafa Hussein

Mostafa Hussein

Passings | Egyptian cartoonist Mostafa Hussein died Saturday following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 79. Hussein had been a cartoonist for the state-owned Al Akbar newspaper since 1974, and was often accused of being sympathetic to those in power. His final cartoon, published in Al Akbar two days before he died, was inscribed “I ??don’t have time to finish this cartoon, forgive me. I will miss you.” [Ahram Online]

Awards | The Cartoonist Rights Network International (CRNI) has announced the winners of this year’s Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, and for the first time in the history of the award they are women: Indian cartoonist Kanika Mishra and Palestinian cartoonist Majda Shaheen. Mishra faced death threats for her cartoons about a religious leader who raped a 16-year-old (and eventually went to prison); Shaheen also was threatened with violence after she drew a cartoon depicting the Al-Quds Brigades as a dog in a cartoon critiquing Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s relationship with the organization. [Comic Riffs]

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Reflecting on Robin Williams and the weird, underrated ‘Popeye’

MCDPOPE EC001The 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.

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Remembering Robin Williams, comic book fan

robin-williams-comics

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.

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Comics A.M. | Disney layoffs hit DisneyToon Studios

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Business | Marvel parent company Disney has reportedly laid off as many as 17 of the 60 full-time employees at DisneyToon Studio, the Glendale, California-based division that produces animated direct-to-video sequels and prequels, such as The Lion King 1 1/2 and Mulan II, the Disney Fairies releases and the occasional feature film, most recently Planes: Fire & Rescue. While Disney has been cutting positions throughout the company for the past few years — dating back to 2011 with the elimination of 200 jobs in its interactive division and about a dozen at Marvel — Variety chalks up these layoffs to the declining home-video market. [Variety, Deadline]

Passings | Dan Lynch, former editorial cartoonist for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, died Sunday at age 67. Lynch also worked for the Kansas City Times, and his cartoons were syndicated nationally and appeared in Time and Newsweek. However, his career was cut short by a debilitating stroke in 2001. “Dan had (what I thought was) a fabulous drawing style,” said Julie Inskeep, publisher and president of The Journal Gazette. “And, in the 20-plus years he worked at the JG, he provided a vast array of cartoon topics – always welcome, though not always in agreement with our editorial board. But he got people to think and react in his special and powerful way.” [Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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Comics A.M. | Ex-intern hits Marvel with class-action wage suit

Marvel

Marvel

Legal | A former Marvel intern has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging he was incorrectly classified and unfairly denied “minimum wages.” Kenneth Jackson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, claims he’s owed back pay for the work he performed for Marvel from August 2008 to December 2008, and seeks to include in his motion “all similarly situated persons who are presently or formerly employed by Marvel Entertainment, LLC.” [TheWrap]

Passings | Pran Sharma, the creator of the Indian comics character Chacha Chaudhary, died late Tuesday of complications from cancer. He was 75. The first comic featuring Chacha, “a wise old man who solves problems with his sharp intellect,” was published in 1971, and the character went on to star in his own comics and animated series. Sharma also created the teenage character Billoo. “If I could put a smile on the face of the poor, I would consider my life successful,” he once said. [The Wall Street Journal]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Annie’ writer Jay Maeder passes away

Jay Maeder

Jay Maeder

Passings | Jay Maeder, who was the last writer for the comic strip Annie (formerly Little Orphan Annie), passed away Tuesday at age 67. A former New York Daily News columnist and editor who authored Dick Tracy: The Official Biography and contributed to The Encyclopedia of American Comics, Maeder worked on Annie, together with artist Andrew Pepoy, from 2000 its cancellation 2010. He created Amelia Santiago, a pilot and CIA agent, and once said of the strip, “I tell people it’s Indiana Jones with chicks.” [The New York Times]

Manga | Deb Aoki rounds up the manga news from Comic-Con International, including UDON’s license of Kill la Kill and Drawn and Quarterly’s plans to publish Shigeru Mizuki’s biography of Hitler. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Blondie’ artist Frank Cummings passes away

Frank Cummings

Frank Cummings

Passings | Frank Cummings, an artist for the comic strip Blondie, has died at age 55, according to a posting on Blondie.com. No cause of death is given, but this obituary (in Italian) states he had a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Cummings started his career as a commercial artist and self-published his own satire magazine, JAB. Later on he illustrated the newsletter of diet and exercise guru Richard Simmons and did movie parodies for Cracked. He joined Blondie in 2004 as an assistant to head artist John Marshall. [The Daily Cartoonist]

Publishing | Former DC Comics President and Publisher Paul Levitz has debuted an “occasional” column on the retail news and analysis site ICv2. [ICv2.com]

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Comics A.M. | Asbury Park Comicon changes cities, name

East Coast Comicon

East Coast Comicon

Conventions | Organizers of the growing Asbury Park Comicon have announced that, after three years, they’re relocating the New Jersey convention to the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus and renaming it East Coast Comicon. Founders Cliff Galbraith and Robert Bruce say the nearly 40-mile move was triggered by a sharp increase in rates at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park, but the hotel’s manager thinks it’s because the venue couldn’t accommodate the dates requested by organizers. The inaugural East Coast Comicon will be held April 11-12, 2015. [Asbury Park Press]

Passings | Amadee Wohlschlaeger, who drew the comic strip Weatherbird for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 70 years, has died at age 102. Weatherbird, which debuted in 1901, is the oldest continuously published comic in the United States, and Wohlschlaeger (who went by just his first name) is one of just four cartoonists to draw it. He was named one of the top 10 sports cartoonists in the country, and his drawing of Stan Musial inspired the statue at Busch Stadium. [KSDK]

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Comics A.M. | Judge lifts order blocking Hastings sale

Hastings

Hastings

Retailing | A federal judge has lifted a temporary restraining order blocking the $21.4 million sale of retail chain Hastings Entertainment to Joel Weinshanker, president and sole shareholder of Wizkids parent National Entertainment Collectibles Association. Two Hastings shareholders had sued to stop the sale, insisting the price paid for the retailer is too low; however, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson found, in part, that they failed to prove they would be irreparably harmed if the sale were completed before they could have their day in court (Texas law permits dissenting stockholders to seek monetary damages after a merger). Hastings, which operates 149 stores that sell books, comics, video games and more, has called a special shareholder meeting for July 15, during which the sale is expected to be approved. [Amarillo Globe-News, ICv2.com]

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‘Strange Eggs,’ ‘Punch and Judy’ writer Chris Reilly passes away

sejts_coverChris Reilly, the Harvey- and Ignatz-nominated writer of such comics as Punch and Judy and The Trouble With Igor, passed away June 9 at his home in Rhode Island, according to USA Today’s Whitney Matheson. He was 46.

Reilly had a long relationship with SLG Publishing, where he contributed to its Haunted Mansion anthology series, and wrote for and edited Strange Eggs, working with Steve Ahlquist, Ben Towle, Derf, Jhonen Vasquez and other creators. He also penned a Gumby one-shot for Gumby Comics, and contributed to The Tick 20th Anniversary Special published by New England Comics Press.

“Chris’s writing was as manic and unpredictable as he was,” Towle wrote in remembrance of his friend. “’Madcap’ is an overused term, but his writing was indeed madcap: sometimes dark, always funny – in a way that used to be a lot more commonplace during the ‘black and white boom’ than what followed. Beyond his actual comics storytelling, though, Chris was a consummate storyteller of all varieties. Answering a call from Chris entailed an hour-long commitment at a minimum. Get a few beers into Chris at a con hotel bar and he’d regale you with stories about being bitten by a rabid raccoon (he thought it was a cat and tried to pet it), playing in a band with Cheetah Chrome (‘Gothic Snowtire’) or trying Flaming Carrot-style to read every single submitted single issue comic in one sitting the year he was an Eisner Awards judge.”

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Famed ‘New Yorker’ cartoonist Charles Barsotti passes away

charles barsotti

Longtime New Yorker cartoonist Charles Barsotti, famed for his dog cartoons, passed away late Monday at his home in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 80 years old.

According to the Kansas City Star, he had undergone undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation following a March 2013 brain cancer diagnosis, and spent several weeks in hospice care.

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