Jay Maeder, 1947 – 2014
Little Orphan Annie writer, newspaper columnist and comics historian Jay Maeder died of cancer this morning.
Jay wrote the Annie strip from 2000 to its demise in 2010, working with artists Andrew Pepoy, Alan Kupperberg and Ted Slampyak. He felt it was the crowning achievement of his long career, which included writing columns and features for both the Miami Herald and the New York Daily News after starting off at the Lorain Ohio Morning Journal. His People column was a page-two staple of the Miami Herald for 15 years. He then moved on to the Daily News, where he edited and often wrote the Big Town NYC / Big Town Biography columns as well as the Lounge Lizard column and the NewsReel feature.
In addition to his work on Annie, Jay is best known to the comics community as the author of Dick Tracy: The Official Biography and a contributor to The Encyclopedia of American Comics and to Dean Mullaney’s Library of American Comics.
Shortly before he was diagnosed with cancer, Jay successfully pitched a graphic novel concept to ComicMix. Sadly, this book, a collaboration with Rick Burchett, will not come to pass.
I had known Jay for upwards of 30 years. Influenced by the great newspaper writers of the first half of the 20th Century, in Miami he took the spirit and the energy of Walter Winchell and updated it to both the times and to the Miami environment. We both grew up fascinated by the legends of American newspaper history. Jay’s style was contemporary, but no less identifiable than Winchell’s. Jay often wore a white suit and hat and he could get away with it even in a shit storm.
I think my fondest memory of Jay revolves around a summer day at his home in Greenwood Lake, NY, one shared by ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman and Martha Thomases. His library looked frighteningly like my own, and we each coveted the other’s exclusives. The two of us just sat there discussing pop history, sharing stories about legends like Col. McCormick and the great comics creators… as well as the not-so-great.
Jay Maeder is survived by his companion, Amanda Hass, his sons Jordan and Christopher, four grandchildren, and two former wives. He was 67.
Jay brought new energy to the ANNIE strip when he took over. It was a shame that he didn’t have longer to work on it, as his enjoyment was clear in the strip.
My condolences to his family and many friends.