Category: Obituaries

Joe Sinnott: 1926-2020

Joe Sinnott: 1926-2020

Joe Sinnott, award winning artist best known for his long stint inking Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four from 1965 to 1981, has died at the age of 93.

During his 60 years as a Marvel freelancer and then salaried artist working from home, Sinnott inked virtually every major Marvel title, with notable runs on The Avengers, The Defenders and Thor. Stan Lee cited Sinnott as the company’s most in-demand inker: “To most pencilers, having Joe Sinnott ink their artwork was tantamount to grabbing the brass ring.” Sinnott’s art appeared on two US Postal Service commemorative stamps in 2007, and he continued to ink The Amazing Spider-Man Sunday comic strip until his retirement in 2019.

Listing the awards he won over his illustrious illustrating career would take pages, so we’ll limit ourselves to the award named after him: In his honor, the Inkwell’s Hall of Fame Award was dubbed the “Inkwell Award Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award” or the “Joe Sinnott Award.”

Joe and his late wife Betty had four children, Joe Jr., Linda (deceased), Kathy, and Mark; four grandchildren, Chris, Malissa, Dorian, and Trevor; and seven great-grandchildren, Vinnie, Joey, Tyler, Jack, Elizabeth, Mariah, and Madison.

We highly recommend visiting his website for more information. Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans worldwide.

Dennis O’Neil: 1939-2020

Dennis O’Neil: 1939-2020

Dennis Joseph “Denny” O’Neil, the writer and editor who redefined the Batman, the Joker, Green Arrow, the Shadow, and the Question for the modern era; created or co-created R’as al Ghul, OPtimus Prime, Azrael, Leslie Tompkins, Madame Web, Richard Dragon, and Lady Shiva; and was a beloved contributor to ComicMix, has passed away at the age of 81.

He started his career in comics almost by accident, when Roy Thomas suggested that O’Neil take the Marvel writer’s test, which involved adding dialogue to a wordless four-page excerpt of a Fantastic Four comic. O’Neil’s entry resulted in Lee offering O’Neil a job. O’Neil had never considered writing for comics, and later said he’d done the test “kind of as a joke. I had a couple of hours on a Tuesday afternoon, so instead of doing crossword puzzles, I did the writer’s test.” He started with Millie The Model and Patsy Walker, but soon found himself writing Doctor Strange and Daredevil. He also started freelancing for Charlton Comics under the name Sergius O’Shaughnessy, and when editor Dick Giordano went over to DC Comics he brought Denny along, where he wrote the Creeper, Wonder Woman, Justice League of America, Green Lantern and Green Arrow, Batman, Superman, and the revivals of the Shadow, the Avenger, and Captain Marvel, now retitled to Shazam!

In the 80’s, he returned to Marvel for a spell, where he wrote Iron Man and put Jim Rhodes into the suit of armor, contributed to the creation of the Transformers, and edited Frank Miller on his two runs of Daredevil as well as writing the issues in between them, among many other things.

He returned to DC in 1986 to become the group editor of the Batman titles, as well as write The Question.

He didn’t limit his writing to comics, also writing at various times for Coronet, Show, Gentleman’s Quarterly, Ono, the Village Voice, News Front, Amazing Stories, High Times, Viva, Penthouse, Publisher’s Weekly, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Fantastic, Generation One, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock, and Haunt of Horror; as well as television, both live-action (Superboy, Logan’s Run) and animated (Batman: The Animated Series); and various novels, including the exemplary Helltown.

He was widely honored by fans and pros alike, including Shazam Awards for Best Continuing Feature for Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Best Individual Story for “No Evil Shall Escape My Sight” in Green Lantern #76 (with Neal Adams), for Best Writer (Dramatic Division) in 1970 for Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, and other titles, and Best Individual Story for “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” in Green Lantern #85 (with Neal Adams) in 1971. He also won the Comics Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Editor in 1986, 1988, 1989, and 1996; a Goethe Award in 1971 for “Favorite Pro Writer” and was a nominee for the same award in 1973, received an Inkpot Award in 1981, and won a Haxtur Award in 1998.

He gave of his time to help teach the next generation of comics creators, teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, writing The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics, and writing for ComicMix. He also sat on the board of directors of the charity The Hero Initiative, an organization devoted to helping comic creators in need, and served on its Disbursement Committee.

He was married to the lovely former Marifran McFarland, who passed away in 2017. He is survived by his son, Lawrence, and the industry which he forever changed.

Taking our cue from him, our Recommended Reading List for today is Denny’s columns. We’ll miss him.

Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana: 1939-2019

Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana: 1939-2019

Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana: 1939-2019Dorothy Catherine (D.C.) Fontana passed away peacefully last evening at the age of 80 after a brief illness.

Ms. Fontana gained global notoriety for her writing and story editing on the 1960’s television series Star Trek, as well as the 1970’s animated series, which she also associate produced. Her myth­-building work on classic Trek blazed a trail for women, not only in television, but also in science fiction. Her well-known screen credit kept the fact of her gender a secret from most fans until they saw her picture in Stephen Whitfield’s The Making of Star Trek, one of the “bibles” of classic Trekker fandom.

Dorothy Fontana was responsible for creating Spock’s childhood history, including the essential story “Yesteryear,” which though produced for Star Trek: The Animated Series, is as powerful as the best episodes of the classic series. She established the characters of, and relationship between, Spock’s father and mother (Sarek and Amanda) in classic Trek’s “Journey to Babel” episode. It was Ms. Fontana’s development of the rare emotional travails of a half-human, half-Vulcan child … and adult (full of emotions, yet prohibited from expressing them), that made Spock such a unique character in the history of film and television.

Ms. Fontana shared writing credit with Gene Roddenberry on “Encounter at Farpoint,” the feature-length premiere for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was nominated for a Hugo Award. She penned further episodes of ST: TNG, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Her last produced writing credit was an episode of the web-based series Star Trek: New Voyages entitled “To Serve All My Days,” which starred classic Trek’s Chekov, Walter Koenig.

Ms. Fontana’s writing credits also include episodes of: Then Came Bronson (her script, “Two Percent of Nothing,” co-written with Denne Bart Petitclerc, was nominated for a WGA Award); Ben Casey; The
Wild, Wild West; The Big Valley; Bonanza, The Six Million Dollar Man; Land of the Lost; The Streets of San Francisco; Kung Fu; The Waltons; Dallas; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; Babylon 5; and the documentary, Bob Burns’ Hollywood Halloween (shared with Bob & Kathy Bums). Though best known for her television work, D.C. Fontana also wrote novels – including Trek’s “Vulcan’s Glory,” and “The Questor Tapes,” based on a pilot by Roddenberry. She also wrote a Trek comic book, and several video games, primarily in the science fiction genre.

For decades, Ms. Fontana was an ardent and active member of the Writers Guild of America, west, having served on its Board of Directors for two terms. She twice won the prestigious Morgan Cox award for Guild service: first in 1997 (shared with members of the Property Planning Committee), and again by herself in 2002. Recorded interviews with her from the Writers Guild and the TV Academy (among others) are available online.

Most recently employed as a senior lecturer at the American Film Institute, Ms. Fontana devotedly taught and mentored many classes of aspiring screenwriters, producers and directors by sharing a lifetime of expertise, craft, heart and integrity.

Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana was born in New Jersey in 1939, and is survived by her husband, Oscar-winning visual effects cinematographer Dennis Skotak. Please respect the family’s privacy. Send memorial donations to the Humane Society (www.humanesociety.org), Best Friends Animal Society (www.bestfriends.org), or the American Film Institute (www.afi.com).

Love: A Comic Book Story

Love: A Comic Book Story

Ask 20 people to define “Love”, you’ll get 20 definitions.

Here’s mine.

I feel love is measured in how you’re treated when things go wrong, not when everything is okay. It’s one thing to say something in a joyous ceremony yet another when faced with real life. People tend to balk the moment it gets real. “It’s you and me forever” converts to, “It’s not you; it’s me.”

People leave.

Some can stick it out for years. Some go the first time things get stormy. Whatever vows spoken to whatever God is forgotten when one person has reached their limit.

Movies books and music make love seem like ‘happily ever after’ is assured. Pop Culture emphasizes the easily overcome struggle to stay with someone who has fallen on hard times or is stricken with a debilitating or fatal illness.

People do it, but it is far from easy. Trust me, I know.

I wrote about such a love affair in IF & HOPE.

The love affair of Roz Alexander-Kasparik and David Rector was the stuff of movies and books, but as we all know, ‘happily ever after’ isn’t as easy as Hollywood makes it look like.

David suffered an aortic dissection a tear in a major blood vessel and various complications left him unable to speak or walk.

Roz stayed.

Long years of struggle is an common complaint.

The years couldn’t have been long enough for Roz. She was in love in the truest sense of the word. She vowed to stay until the end. What end?

The end of days, the end of the world, the end of time. Whatever end would take her away from David. She just knew it would not be her that would end the relationship.

The end came for David earlier this month. His death leaving a hole in Roz’s world she thinks may be impossible to fill.

Roz called David her “heart.” You cannot live without your heart. So it’s good that David’s presence will endure his legacy one of strength and persistence, giving Roz hope.

Hope isn’t something one wants to hear about when faced with the kind of pain Roz is feeling now. I know that and the following isn’t about hope its about truth.

Roz, there are no words I can write that can convey the impact both David and yourself had on me. I will miss David’s unique “melody” at the Black Panel and the intense look he gave me communicating with his eyes what he couldn’t with voice. I will miss talking with you by phone and feeling like David was part of the discussion when you translated his sounds.

Few things impress me, fewer I envy. Your relationship with David did both.

You’re one of the strongest people I know. I hope your pain is tempered, knowing the impression David made on many. With David by your side you  fought for the rights of those burdened with disadvantages. Without David it will be hard but I know that will continue.

I don’t need to hope there is no if-this I know.

Just like I know the comic you created with David, Recall & Given will become a reality.

It’s also a given.

Howard Cruse: 1944-2019

Howard Cruse: 1944-2019

Howard Cruse, author of the acclaimed graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby and founding editor of the anthology Gay Comix, died Tuesday of cancer at the age of 75, Cruse’s daughter Kimberly Kolze Venter announced.

Cruse came to prominence in the 1970s with the strip Barefootz, which appeared in a number of underground magazines and titles, but it was the 1980s title Gay Comix — an anthology created by Cruse to publish work by openly gay creators — that arguably made his reputation. Wendel, his strip about a young gay man in Reagan’s America for The Advocate during the same period, won him even more acclaim.

But he may be best known for Stuck Rubber Baby, which told the story of Toland Polk, a gas station attendant in the American South of the 1960s who gets caught up in the civil rights struggle of the period as he explores his own sexuality. The book, originally published by DC’s Paradox Press imprint, went on to win Eisner and Harvey Awards, and was nominated for both the America Library Association’s Lesbian and Gay Book Award as well as the Lambda Literary Award, and is scheduled for a 25th anniversary release next year from First Second Books.

For those of us in the ComicMix family, it’s personal. We saw Howard often at Martha’s famous holiday party, and were always happy to share donuts and conversation with him. We hope he’s found that great Purchaser’s Clearing House in the sky…

…what, you don’t know about the Purchaser’s Clearing House? Why, let Howard tell you all about it! Maestro?

Gahan Wilson: 1930-2019

Gahan Wilson: 1930-2019

Gahan Wilson, a truly warped individual who channeled his perverse sense of whimsy and the macabre into an award-winning artistic career, died yesterday at the age of 89. His family posts:

The world has lost a legend. One of the very best cartoonists to ever pick up a pen and paper has passed on. He went peacefully – surrounded by those who loved him.

Gahan Wilson leaves behind a large body of work that is finely drawn, elegant, and provocative.

He was preceded in death by his wife, author Nancy Winters Wilson, and his parents, Allen and Marion Wilson. He leaves behind stepsons, Randy Winters, and Paul Winters, and daughter in law Patrice Winters. Grandchildren, Tiffany Smith, Jessica Winters, Chris Winters, Ashtin Winters, Carlie Winters, Rachel Winters, Kyle Winters, and Jessie Winters, and two great grandchildren, Noah Smith, Jaylie Winters, and Elizabeth Winters.

 

Born dead (no, really) in Evanston, Illinois, on February 18, 1930, Wilson’s dark, horror-inspired cartoons and prose stories regularly appeared in the pages of Playboy, Collier’s and The New Yorker. He also created the comic strip “Nuts,” which ran in National Lampoon magazine. He also designed the World Fantasy Convention Award in 1975, which was modeled after his idol H.P. Lovecraft.

Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans. We hope he finds someplace classy.

Tom Lyle: 1953-2019

Tom Lyle: 1953-2019

Tom Lyle in Angoulême, 2012. Photo by Fabrice Sapolsky.

Tom Lyle, co-creator of Stephanie Brown a.k.a. Spoiler and the costume designer for the Scarlet Spider and professor and Internship Coordinator at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) has died at the age of 66 from complications of a stroke, as confirmed by SCAD.

After getting his start in comics drawing Airboy and Strike! for Eclipse Comics, Tom was poached by ComicMix contributor Robert Greenberger to become the penciler on DC Comics’ Starman with writer Roger Stern. Lyle then worked on the first Robin limited series with writer Chuck Dixon. The series had many reprintings of the first few issues as well as two sequel miniseries – Robin II: Joker’s Wild and Robin III: Cry of the Huntress.

Lyle’s next project was The Comet for DC Comics’ Impact Comics imprint, which he pencilled and plotted with writer Mark Waid.

I last saw Tom at New York Comic-Con last year, and got a chance to catch up with him at the SCAD Meet & Greet, where I marveled at the students and their portfolios.

He’ll be sorely missed by the industry and all his students. Our condolences to his wife Sue and his family and friends.

Tom Spurgeon: 1969-2019

Tom Spurgeon: 1969-2019

Tom Spurgeon, the longtime comics industry journalist, historian, editor and author passed away at the age of 50 today, according to a Facebook post by his brother Whit Spurgeon.

Tom was best known for his comics industry news website The Comics Reporter since 2004, and for his five-year stint as Managing Editor and then Executive Editor of The Comics Journal from 1994 to 1999.  The Comics Reporter won the Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism in 2010, 2012, and 2013.

The last time most of us saw Tom was at Baltimore Comic Con just a month ago. We always thought there would be more time to talk shop, discuss web site migration plans, and to gush about the medium we loved. And now there isn’t.

Karen Green has announced that the Global Webcomics Web Archive members have agreed that, despite it not strictly meeting their criteria, and barring any objections from stakeholders, The Comics Reporter will be archived. She says it’s “Way too important a site to risk losing!” and we agree wholeheartedly.

We’ll all miss you, Tom.

 

UPDATE: Michael Davis victim of prank death hoax

UPDATE: Michael was hacked badly, with messages sent out to family and friends. He’s alive and well.

We are incredibly sad to report that Michael Davis, longtime columnist for ComicMix, committed suicide one day before his birthday.

We can list all his accomplishments in the comics field and go through his history and impact in the field, from his mentoring of numerous up and comers in the industry to his co-founding of Milestone Media and Motown Animation & Filmworks AND The Guardian Line AND The Black Panel at San Diego Comic-Con AND… but the best way to hope to understand and know Michael is through his words and his works.

There will be more to say later about him, but right now we’re too shocked to be coherent. Please, if you or someone you care about are considering self-harm or suicide, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

We’re sorry we couldn’t have helped you more, Michael. Rest easy.


Mike Raub

Mike Raub: 1951-2019

Mike Raub, long-time comic fan, retailer, broadcaster and podcaster, passed away tonight after a long illness. He was 68.

Mike was the original podcaster here at ComicMix from 2006 to 2008, later creating Get The Point Radio, all while moonlighting from his day job as the director of AM programming for Cox Communication. If you listened to radio in the 2000s, you probably heard Mike on the dial on one station or another.

I first met Mike at the age of 15, at a meeting of the fledgling East Coast Comic Book Retailers Association, when he and his first wife Lori ran The Dream Factory in Connecticut, which he owned and operated from 1985 to 1994. He impressed me with his energy and passion in a field not exactly lacking in extroverts.

He was born in Marion, Ohio and turned into a hardcore comics fan at a very early age, writing letters and creating fanzines. He later studied radio broadcasting at Ohio State University.

We were very lucky that he combined his love of comics, pop culture, and broadcasting for us for so many years.

Our deepest condolences to his wife Kai, his children Matt, Max, Mark, Mickey, Mike, and Sammy, and to his hundreds of friends and thousands of listeners.