Category Archives: Gone But Not Forgotten

Gone But Not Forgotten, 2017 Edition

29 Comics People Who Said Goodbye In 2017


1. Adam West (b. 1928)
Normally, when I do these year-end “Gone But Not Forgotten” lists, I put tributes to comic artists and writers first, then editors and other comic professionals, and then actors who played characters from the comics. It’s not meant to be a ranking, as in “most important goes first” or anything like that; it’s just a convenient way to group the different types of comic professionals together. This year, though… I can’t see how I can start off with anyone other than Adam West, the man who was Batman to millions of fans. Born in Walla Walla, Wash., West moved to Hawaii to pursue a TV career after a stint in the U.S. Army, where he worked as an announcer on the American Forces Network. He landed the role of Bruce Wayne after Batman producer William Dozier saw him play the James Bond-esque “Captain Q” in a Nestle Quik commercial. The show became a cultural phenomenon, earning some of the highest ratings in the 1960s and spawning a spin-off feature film in 1966. Though cancelled after its third season, the show stayed in syndication for decades, giving millions of young viewers (including this one) their first exposure to a real-life Batman and Robin. A typecast West found it hard to find acting work in the years after the show ended, and he spent much of the ’70s and ’80s doing voiceover work (including voicing Batman in several animated shows starring the Dark Knight) and making personal appearances as his most famous character. But at some point he decided to embrace his unique status in pop culture, making appearances as himself in TV sitcoms and voicing the Gray Ghost, an homage to his most famous role, in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. In time, “Adam West” became almost as famous a character as Batman himself, with West playing versions of himself on The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Fairly OddParents and a series of Funny Or Die videos titled “Adam West Hits on You… Hard.” Fittingly, his final roles saw him return to the Batcave in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, two animated films that saw West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar voice the characters they played in the show.  “Actors want to be loved,” he once said in an interview. “Batman has done that for me. I have an audience out there which is always waiting to see whatever I do. And new generations are constantly discovering me in reruns. So as long as I stay sharp, good things can still happen for me. Meanwhile, I keep hoping that a wonderful opportunity will come along. Believe me, my life ain’t so bad, after all.” Died June 9


2. Bernie Wrightson (b. 1948)
Fun fact: Early in his comic career, Wrightson spelled his first name “Berni” to distinguish himself from an Olympic diver named Bernie Wrightson. He later restored the final “e” to his name, but however he chose to spell it there’s little doubt that his was the first name in comic-book horror. Though most famous as the artist who co-created DC’s Swamp Thing (alongside Len Wein, see below) in the ’70s, Wrightson’s intricate pen and brushwork can be found all over that company’s horror books, as well as titles published by Warren, Marvel, Pacific and other purveyors of spine-tingling tales. In a tribute written by his wife, Liz, she noted he also spent seven years “drawing approximately 50 detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein,” an endeavour she said he considered among his most personal work. Even when he dabbled in the superhero genre (as he did with books like Spider-Man: Hooky and Batman: The Cult), he couldn’t help bringing his unique horror aesthetic into the proceedings. Small wonder he and horror-meister Stephen King got along so well; Wrightson illustrated the poster for King’s Creepshow film and drew the comic book adaptation of the movie, setting the stage for several collaborations that saw Wrightson provide cover and interior art for several of King’s books. Outside of his comic and book illustration, Wrightson also did conceptual film work on such films as The Faculty, Galaxy Quest, Land of the Dead and the original Ghostbusters; his artwork for that last film included images of the escapees from the Ghostbusters’ ghost storage facility when the building’s power is shut off. His death led to many comic artists and filmmakers saluting him for inspiring their visions; Edgar Wright, for instance, dubbed him “king of the monsters” in a tribute: “I, along with countless others, tried to ink from my imagination because of your art,” the director of Baby Driver and Shaun of the Dead said. The April 2, 2017, episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” was dedicated to Wrightson’s memory. Died March 18 


3. Len Wein (b. 1948)
Len Wein might not have been a household name outside the comics community, but just try to imagine what the pop-culture landscape would look like without his creations. As a writer, he co-created Swamp Thing with artist Bernie Wrightson (see above), giving birth to a creature that has shambled its way through decades of comics, several films, a TV show and an animated series. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he later teamed up with artists John Romita and Herb Trimpe to create Wolverine for a 1974 issue of The Incredible Hulk. And just a year after that, Wein would bring the cranky Canuck back to join an “all-new, all-different” revival of the X-Men with artist Dave Cockrum, introducing classic characters like Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus to the world. Wein returned to DC in the late 1970s as a writer and editor, where he created more characters like Batman confidante Lucius Fox (played by Morgan Freeman in Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy) and wrote a Batman/Hulk team-up story for a rare DC/Marvel collaboration in 1981. His work as a DC editor included runs on The New Teen Titans, Batman and the Outsiders, All-Star Squadron, Who’s Who in the DC Universe… and a little mini-series you might have heard of called Watchmen (it was Wein who recruited a then largely unknown Moore to take over Swamp Thing’s adventures in 1983). Later, Wein served as editor-in-chief for Disney Comics for three years in the early 1990s before moving into animation, writing and story editing for such series as X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, Phantom 2040 and Pocket Dragon Adventures. One of his last comics was Batman ’66: The Lost Episode, a 2015 story that he and artist José Luis García-López adapted from an unproduced Two-Face script written by Harlan Ellison for the Batman TV show. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2008. Died September 10


4. Rich Buckler (b. 1949)
If you were a kid who read Marvel and DC comics in the 1970s and ’80s, then you were a Rich Buckler fan. Simple as that. One of the all-time great utility infielders, Buckler could (and did) do horror, science fiction, fantasy, war, jungle adventure, you name it — but he’ll likely be remembered most for his superhero work. Among the highlights: his long run on Fantastic Four in the 1970s, his co-creation (with Doug Moench) of Deathlok for Marvel’s Astonishing Tales, his co-creation (with Roy Thomas) of DC’s All-Star Squadron, his Superman vs. Shazam collaboration with Gerry Conway… for me, personally, though, his best superhero work was “The Death of Jean DeWolff,” the Peter David-penned storyline that ran through several issues of Spectacular Spider-Man in 1985; rarely has a Spidey story been so emotionally devastating. His artistic range and status as a prolific penciller led to him becoming a big influence on many younger artists (including George Perez, who broke into comics in 1973 as Buckler’s studio assistant). In an online tribute posted shortly after Buckler’s death, letterer MVP Tom Orzechowski credited Buckler with inspiring a lot of artists in his hometown to follow their dreams: “Around 1970, he was the first of us in the Detroit-area comic fan community to get scripts from Warren, DC and then Marvel. About a dozen of us were soon to follow, as the Big Two were then in a rapid and massive expansion mode. But Rich was the first to take his portfolio around. He showed us that, if you had taken the time to develop the chops and had the nerve to look John Romita or Carmine Infantino in the eye, there just might be work to be had.” Died May 19 


5. Dan Spiegle (b. 1920)
Does anyone give out awards for outstanding work in the field of film and TV adaptations? If so, then I nominate Dan Spiegle for a Lifetime Achievement trophy. Spiegle began his cartoonist career in 1949 drawing the syndicated comic strip Hopalong Cassidy, based on the fictional cowboy; from there, he drew comic-book adaptations of such popular TV shows as Colt .45, Maverick, The Rifleman, Rawhide, Lawman, The Untouchables and Sea Hunt. Through the 1960s, Spiegle followed American pop culture from Westerns to sci-fi and super-spies by creating the Space Family Robinson comic with writer Del Connell and providing art for the short-lived Bond-inspired Mickey Mouse Super Secret Agent. In the 1970s, he teamed up with writer Mark Evanier to create comics based on the Scooby-Doo cartoons; in the 1980s, he brought his unique style to DC working on stories starring Batman, the Teen Titans, Jonah Hex and Nemesis, a rogue super-spy he co-created with Cary Burkett. The 1990s saw him return to adaptations with a series of Indiana Jones adventures for Dark Horse; one of his last published works was the story “Ragin’ Abe Simpson and the Flying Hellfish in: War is Smelly!” in a 2008 issue of Simpsons Comics. In a tribute to his frequent collaborator, Evanier couldn’t say enough about Spiegle’s professionalism: “Until you’re an editor of comic books, you don’t realize how rare and precious it is to have someone like that available to you…  Loved his artwork in comic books I read long before I ever imagined I’d know him and work with him. Loved the guy who did that artwork and not just because he was a joy to collaborate with and he made my scripts look good and my job, when I was an editor, as simple as it could possibly be.” Died January 28 


6. Sam Glanzman (b. 1924)
Sam Glanzman broke into the comic book industry during the 1930s, working as a comic book packager for Funnies Inc., a company that supplied ready-to-print comic stories to publishers. When the U.S. entered the Second World War a few years later, Glanzman served in the Navy aboard the USS Stevens; the diary and sketchbooks he filled would become raw material for the comic books he created decades later. Returning to civilian life in 1946, he chose not to return to comics right away, working a variety of other jobs until he got a gig working on war comics for Charlton Comics in the late 1950s. He then picked up assignments for Dell Comics — mostly on their war comic Combat — and worked for both publishers throughout the 1960s. As the ’70s began, Joe Kubert hired Glanzman to work for DC’s war comics; aside from working on supernatural-tinged strips like “The Haunted Tank,” he started a series of highly personal back-up stories about his time on the USS Stevens; these stories ran throughout DC’s war line and earned him many fans of his work. The next decade saw him move on to Marvel and work on the short-lived Semper Fi series and what’s considered his  greatest work: A Sailor’s Story, a graphic novel based on his own wartime experiences. “I didn’t have to do much research on A Sailor’s Story because I lived it,” Glanzman told CBR.com in 2014. “All the war stories were as detailed and realistic as I could remember.” Died July 12


7. Jack Mendelsohn (b. 1926)
It’s very tempting to make an easy “Jack of all trades” joke here, but the simple truth is there was nothing that this guy couldn’t do. He wrote scripts for EC’s Panic and Tower’s Tippy Teen, along with a whole lot of funny-animal stuff for DC and Pines. He worked as an artist at Famous Studios in New York. He was story editor for the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. He ghosted both the writing and illustration of newspaper strips (like the newspaper version of Felix the Cat) and the comic adaptations of newspaper strips (like Mell Lazarus’s Miss Peach). He was an Emmy-nominated television writer and story editor, with numerous credits on such shows as Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Three’s Company, The Love Boat and The Carol Burnett Show. He produced scripts for pretty much every animated series that came out in the 1970s and ’80s, including Muppet Babies, Dennis the Menace, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and The New Scooby-Doo Movies. For crying out loud, he was even one of the screenwriters for 1968’s Yellow Submarine. And then there was Jacky’s Diary, a Sunday-only comic launched by King Features Syndicate on Jan. 11, 1959. Written and drawn as if it were created by a small child, Mendelsohn described trips to the circus, fishing expeditions, visits to family, and other adventures that kids have, in a style simulating that of an actual child. Mendelsohn was probably too good at pretending to be a kid, though, as King Features received letters from confused readers asking why the company was publishing the work of a child (missing the “By Jack Mendelsohn, age 32 1/2” credit on every strip), while at the same time numerous parents who thought the strip was a showcase for young talent sent in drawings by their children. The strip only lasted until 1961 (Mendelsohn later said it folded because Sunday-only strips were more expensive to produce than a daily comic), but it spawned a one-shot issue from Dell and two theatrically released cartoons from Famous Studios, which appeared in 1965. The complete run of the strip was released by IDW Publishing as a hardcover book in 2014. Died Jan. 25 


8. Fran “France” Hopper (b. 1922)
Born Frances Randolph Deitrick, Hopper (who often signed her work “France”) worked at Fiction House (home of Sheena and many other jungle queens) from 1943 to 1948, providing pencils for titles like Jungle Comics, Planet Comics and Wings Comics. She specialized in drawing strong female characters in tales of fantastical derring-do: Glory Forbes, Camilla, Mysta of the Moon, and Gale Allen and her All-Girl Squadron. In an early blow for artists’ credits, she would always insert her signature into the bottom panel of the first page of every story she did, even though Fiction House stories were always “by” the writer. She married John Hopper in 1943 and retired from drawing comics in 1948; the two moved to a 65-acre horse farm in Chester, NJ, in 1955, where they raised Arabian horses along with their three children. Her work is now in the public domain and some of it can be seen in Babes in Arms: Women in the Comics During World War Two and Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics, two books about female comic artists during the Golden Age. She was nominated to the Friends of Lulu Hall of Fame in 2000. Died November 29 


9. Dave Hunt (b. 1942)
Born in Newark, NJ, Dave Hunt was an avid collector of comic books in his early years. Although he showed an early interest in art, he enrolled at Rutgers University to study biochemistry with the thought of becoming a research scientist. At some point, though, he changed his mind and enrolled at Newark State College to study fine arts. Graduating in the 1960s, he began his career as a senior art designer at the publishing house Crowell, Collier & MacMillan, while drawing occasional comics for underground comix under the pen name David Argo. By the 1970s, he was working at Marvel as an inker, enjoying regular inking jobs on Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Daredevil and Fantastic Four, among other titles. He also colored more than 1,000 comic book pages while part of the Marvel Bullpen in the ’70s.  He jumped to DC in 1978, where he mainly worked with Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger on Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, while also contributing occasional pencil art to other titles. Hunt returned to Marvel in the late ’80s, inking José Delbo’s pencils for Transformers for a few years, following that up with working mainly on comics based on Disney (Aladdin, Little Mermaid) and Hanna-Barbera properties (Scooby-Doo). Outside of his comic work, Hunt was a talented hyper-realist painter, especially known for his paintings of caves and other natural scenes. “I worked with Dave as an editor at Disney for several years,” wrote Heidi MacDonald for ComicsBeat.com. “Like Alfredo Alcala, Dave taught me a lot about the artist’s life and vision. While inking desperately late pages far into the night, an ashtray their companion, paid the bills, painting was where they put their deepest thoughts. And they were beautiful thoughts.” He was working on a book about his life and art with Lee Banaka when he died; you can visit the Facebook page to see more of his art and learn more about the book’s progress. Died March 5


10. Jay Lynch (b. 1945)
In his introduction to Denis Kitchen and James Danky’s Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics Into Comix, Jay Lynch made the bold claim that underground comix were the most important art movement of the 20th century: “Copies of many of the early books sell to collectors for many thousands of dollars. It’s all quite ironic: Rebellious cartoonists mocking consumer culture were inadvertently producing collectible artifacts for the same consumer culture 40 years down the road.” It’s the kind of irony a master satirist like him revelled in; as a central figure in the underground comics revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, Lynch had a lot to say about the absurdities of modern life. He founded Bijou Funnies with fellow cartoonist Skip Williamson in 1968 to publish his work and that of other artists, and acted as a publicist for the underground comix scene. “He put people together,” said Patrick Rosenkranz, who is writing a biography of Mr. Lynch, to the New York Times. “He publicized what was going on. In the back of Bijou, he had small free ads for other underground comics. He was a crossroads figure.” He was also a meticulous archivist of underground comix history, keeping almost everything from his teenage years onward — letters, original art, comics, fan magazines, merchandise, publicity campaigns — and donating his records to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University. As reported by The Comics Journal’s Patrick Rosenkranz, his final wish was to have a tombstone with a coin-operated fortune-telling device on top to pay for perpetual maintenance of his resting place. “I’m thinking of a Magic Eight Ball-type-of affair, where you can ask a question. You put in a quarter and it answers it with a Magic Eightball type of answer. They won’t have quarters in the future, but some credit system. I don’t know. Something that maintains itself.” Died March 5


11. Skip Williamson (b. 1944)
In his memoir Spontaneous Combustion, Williamson described early signs of rebellion against authority, like drawing cartoons on his textbooks, and early experiences in defying conformity. “I was beaten up in the schoolyard that year (1952) for wearing a Stevenson for President button, and forced to wear an ‘I Like Ike’ button. It was my first visceral lesson regarding the unhealthy potential of unpopular ideas.” That rebellious streak served him well during the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s and ’70s; starting with a cartoon he sold to Harvey Kurtzman’s Help! in 1961, Williamson actively participated in the network of mimeographed comic fanzines that spewed out of garages and basement across suburban America in those years, including his own amateur publication Squire. He moved to Chicago in 1967 to join Jay Lynch (above) in contributing covers and cartoons to local underground newspapers, and soon put out their own magazine, The Chicago Mirror, which morphed into Bijou Funnies after three issues. While thy were at the forefront of the comix revolution, Williamson was picking up jobs at ad agencies and various men’s publishers to help support his work with the anti-war protests taking place at the time (he liked to joke he got all the jobs Robert Crumb turned down). He later self-published several paperback collections of his comics, including Naked Hostility, Class War Comix, and Smoot (nod paean to his creation Snappy Sammy Smoot) and focused on oil painting later in life. “He told me he was hard to kill,” said filmmaker John Kinhart, whose documentary Pigheaded traces Williamson’s life and career. “He said he would soon be recovered from his heart failure last year and back to a full life. “I’m going to miss him. He was a lot of fun. He was very intelligent. He paid attention to the whole spectrum of society. I’m going to miss him a lot.”Died March 16 

12. James Galton (b. 1924)
While we tend to think of the artists, writers editors when we think about the people who make a comic publisher great, we should also remember the people from the operations side as well, the ones whose business acumen kept the lights on long enough to get the books out the door. Take James Galton, who served as president and CEO of Marvel Comics Group (later Marvel Entertainment Group) from 1975 to 1991. When Galton took the job, the company was struggling (it was estimated to be worth only about $12 million) and all his friends told him the comic business was dead. But Galton, who had recently been fired from his post as president of a paperback publisher, felt he had no choice: “I had four kids — two in private school, two in college — and two mortgages,” he said in a 2010 interview. “I had to take the job.” Under his watch, the company acquired the comic rights to Star Wars, dealt with the company’s distribution woes, launched an animation studio in Los Angeles in 1981, moved into book publishing with Marvel Books in 1982, and exposed Marvel characters to international audiences. Though he failed to get Marvel into the movie business as he had hoped, the company’s 1991 annual report says it all: leaving the company firmly positioned as the world’s No. 1 comic publisher, it’s definitely a good thing Galton didn’t always listen to his friends. Died June 12

13. Hugh Hefner (b. 1926)
Assessing Hugh Hefner’s legacy is not an easy job. To some, the founder of the Playboy publishing empire was a free-speech warrior who published essays by important writers in his magazine; to others, he was a smut peddler whose professed commitment to equality and freedom rang hollow given what he published in between those articles (the articles, of course, being the — ahem — only reason that sophisticated gentlemen ever bought the magazine). Whatever view you choose to take of his life’s work, one thing that’s hard to deny is that he was a huge fan and supporter of comic artists. At a time when the comic industry was contracting and artists were heading for ad agencies and other safe harbors, Hefner offered many prominent names a home in his growing publishing empire. Milton Caniff, Jack Cole, Will Elder, Frank Frazetta, Jules Feiffer, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis…  these artists and more saw their work published in Playboy or one of Hefner’s other publications. Hefner even launched a Mad competitor, Trump, in 1957; though it lasted only two issues, its very existence was a minor miracle given the economic climate at the time. The folding of Trump led Hefner to give Kurtzman and Elder a contract to produce Little Annie Fanny (1962-1988), a satirical strip starring a buxom blonde that’s notable for being the first multi-page comics feature in a major American publication. Where did Hef’s soft spot for comics come from? In a 2009 interview, he talked about how he aspired to be a cartoonist in his younger years, with the short stories and doodles of his youth coalescing into a self-published autobiographical comic, School Daze, that formed the blueprint for the magazine he would later create. “The comic book was a way of creating your own world and being center stage,” he said. “And only years later did I realize that when I started the magazine, and the way I used the magazine in my life, it had a direct parallel to what I did in high school.” Died September 27 


14. Flo Steinberg (b. 1939) 
Florence “Flo” Steinberg was, as the Wikipedia folks tell us, “an American publisher of one of the first independent comic books, the underground/alternative comics hybrid Big Apple Comix, in 1975.” And while there’s a lot to say about her status as an indie comics icon and fierce promoter of women in comics, it’s fair to say most comic fans will best remember her as “Fabulous Flo,” one of the earliest Marvel employees who saw the company grow from a two-person shop to a pop-culture juggernaut. Born in Boston, Steinberg moved to New York City in search of work in her early 20s. “After a couple of interviews, I was sent to this publishing company called Magazine Management,” she said in a 2002 interview. “There I met a fellow by the name of Stan Lee, who was looking for what they called then a gal Friday.” As Lee’s secretary and assistant (and the only other full-time employee in the office), she responded to fan mail, helped manage Marvel’s small offices with Lee, and ran the Merry Marvel Marching Society, Marvel’s first fan club — gathering a few fans of her own along the way. She moved on in 1968 after the volume of mail grew too much to handle and the company refused to give her a raise. She went into corporate communications for a few years before returning to comics with the help of friends she met in the New York comic community; her Big Apple Comix is considered a seminal link between underground comix and modern-day independent comics, with contributors including such mainstream talents as Neal Adams, Archie Goodwin, Denny O’Neil, Al Williamson and Wally Wood. She returned to Marvel as a proofreader in the 1990s and was still occasionally proofreading up until her death. “Flo Steinberg was my first secretary at Marvel, which was then called Timely Comics,” Lee said in tribute to her. “I dubbed her ‘Fabulous Flo’ for good reason. Nobody cared more about her job or the people she worked with than Flo.” Died July 23

15. Joan Lee (b. 1922)
Born in England, Joan Boocock was working as a hat model in New York City in 1947 when she met Stanley Lieber, who was 11 months her junior. As the story goes, Lee was set up on a blind date with another model at the same agency; when Boocock answered the door, he immediately professed his love and told her he had been drawing her face since childhood. After a whirlwind courtship, they were married in Reno (Joan needed a divorce from her first husband) and returned to New York, where Lee continued to work at Timely/Atlas, a job he initially landed because his cousin Martin Goodman owned the company. As Lee often recounted the story, in the late 1950s he was ready to give up on writing and editing the company’s Westerns and monster mags when his wife encouraged him to put out at least one comic he could be proud of publishing before he quit the business. That “one comic” turned out to be Lee’s and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four… and the rest is history. The Lees moved to California in 1981 so that Stan could work on developing Marvel’s film and TV projects; Joan made her own forays into entertainment with voice work for Marvel’s cartoons in the 1990s, including Fantastic Four (as busybody landlord Miss Forbes) and Spider-Man (as the mysterious Madame Web). She also made a cameo appearance with her husband in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Filmmaker Kevin Smith paid tribute to Joan in a touching Instagram post: “[Lee] told us tales of heroes but Joan was Stan’s personal superhero — and without her, we never get our modern mythology.” Died July 6


16. Bob Holiday (b. 1932)
He wasn’t the first actor to play Superman and he wasn’t the last, but he was the only game in town when he wore the cape — and he definitely left Broadway audiences believing a man can fly. The first actor to portray Superman on the stage, Holiday starred in the 1966 musical comedy It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman. It was his biggest role in a career that started at age five, when he earned a lollipop for singing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” at a Catskill resort talent show. He performed as a singer and comedian in Manhattan restaurants until he joined the army in 1953, where he polished his craft at NCO clubs and by working as a DJ on Armed Forces Radio in Germany. Resuming his nightclub career after military service, he performed opposite such stars as Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren before landing his first big Broadway role in 1959’s Fiorello!, based on New York’s colorful mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Road shows of Camelot and Lady in the Dark followed, and then on Nov. 17, 1965, The New York Times reported the 33-year-old actor bested 51 competitors for the lead role in Harold Prince’s pop-art comedy based on the Man of Steel. His 6-foot-4 frame and square-jawed good looks made him a natural for the role of Clark Kent/Superman, with one reviewer saying his “embodiment of Superman makes the show come alive and sparkle.” To help promote the musical, he appeared as Superman in ads for UniRoyal and Aqua Velva, made personal appearances on I’ve Got A Secret and The Tonight Show, and showed up in character as at the Sixth International Fashion Show held at Macy’s in New York City. Alas, it wasn’t enough to keep the show going and it closed four months later after 129 performances. Holiday continued his theatrical career for several more years (including reprising his role in two open-air revivals in 1967), and retired from acting in the late 1970s to operate Bob Holiday Custom Homes, building houses in the Poconos until his retirement in 2009. He appeared onstage at the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Ill., in 2003, and never once said he regretted putting on the cape. “After the show, I would stay in costume and greet the audience until every fan left the theater,” he said in a 2011 interview. “That’s the way it should be done. It has to be that way. Make it real for them.” Died January 27


17. Leo Baxendale (b. 1930)
Born in Whittle-le-Woods, Lancashire, in northern England, Baxendale served in the Royal Air Force before taking on his first job as an artist for the local Lancashire Evening Post drawing ads and cartoons. In 1952, he started freelancing for comic publisher DC Thomson, creating popular strips for The Beano including Little Plum, Minnie the Minx, The Three Bears and The Bash Street Kids. His energetic style made him a favorite for generations of British children, as well as an inspiration for other artists; Andy Fanton, who currently writes Beano strips for some of Baxendale’s creations, called him the “godfather” of British comic artists. “It’s no understatement to say that I literally wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Leo,” he told a British newspaper. “I became aware of his work as a kid when I got my hands on older Beano books and read some of those early strips – his anarchic, riotous style was so distinctive and had so often been emulated or adapted by others who came after him that it still felt completely fresh.” And judging by what Alan Moore said of Baxendale’s passing, North American readers owe him a debt as well: “We [my generation] started out ingesting the genuine anarchy of The Beano, when Baxendale was doing all that wonderful stuff, and then we moved on to American comics,” he told journalist Paul Gravett in 2013. “We just became fascinated with all that gaudy exotica.” Baxendale left DC Thomson in 1962; he created the comic Wham! in 1963 and found work with other publishers while producing an activist newsletter called The Strategic Commentary that campaigned against U.S. involvement in Vietnam (Noam Chomsky was an early subscriber). In the 1980s, he waged a seven-year battle with DC Thomson for the rights to his Beano creations, which was settled out of court; he never regained copyright, but was legally identified as their creator and received some pages of his original artwork. He retired from comics in 1992 to focus on publishing books. Died April 23

18. Victor Llamas (b. 1976)
It’s never easy when a young father of three dies unexpectedly, especially when it happens around the holidays. Perhaps best known for his inking on Marvel’s X-Men and DC’s Batman, Llamas contributed to a number of other series including WolverineTitansSupergirl, Star Wars: Republic and the crossover Star Trek/X-Men. He broke into comics as part of Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow bullpen, inking for such artists as Silvestri, David Finch, Billy Tan and Joe Benitez on projects like The Darkness, Witchblade and Medieval Spawn/Witchblade. His most recent work was with WildStorm’s Wraithborn Redux. Llamas died from medical complications after a long hospital stay at the age of 41. Died December 22

 

 

19. John Calnan (b. 1932)
It never fails — you put together a list about the year in review, post it online, then realize there’s more of the year left to cover. A few weeks after I posted Gone But Not Forgotten 2016 around this time last year, I found out that John Calnan had passed on Dec. 27. Well, better late than never. A prolific artist for DC in the 1970s, Calnan went to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where one of his instructors was none other than Batman artist Jerry Robinson. His first comic book work was inking Tom Gill’s pencils on Lone Ranger stories for Dell; he then did some work for Gilberton’s Classics Illustrated series before becoming an art director and TV producer for advertising agencies. He returned to comics in 1966, mainly doing pencils and inks for DC Comics on its war (G.I. Combat, Our Fighting Forces) and horror (Unexpected, The Witching Hour, Ghosts) anthologies, but also getting his chance to work with Metamorpho, Superman and Batman in their respective books. During his Batman run with writer Len Wein (see above), Calnan co-created Bruce Wayne confidante Lucius Fox, the same fellow who was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. His Superman work included back-up features like “The Misadventures of Superbaby,” ‘The Private Life of Clark Kent’ and “Krypto” for The Superman Family and The New Adventures of Superboy. Calnan retired in 1996, but continued doing the occasional commission job. Though never one of DC’s flashier artists, he earned a reputation for being useful when it counted. DC editor Murray Boltinoff reportedly once said, “My job would be a breeze if every artist was as good and professional as John Calnan.” Died December 27, 2016


20. Chen Uen (b. 1959)
Chen Uen began his career in manga in 1984 with a series published in the China Times Weekly. Over time, he became known for his unique style that combined traditional Chinese brush painting techniques with the use of vibrant colors; he was best known for his works in the fantasy, martial arts and pan-Asian historical genres. In 1990, his manga Heroes of the East Chou Dynasty was first published in Japan (earning Chen the distinction of being foreign artist to win an award from the Japanese Cartoonists’ Association), and in 2000 he collaborated with Hong Kong publisher Jade Dynasty to create a manga series based on stories from the popular TV show Pili — making him the first Taiwanese manga artist to have his work published in Japan and Hong Kong. After his death, Taiwanese Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun praised him for his innovative style that inspired the next generation of illustrators and broadened the view of manga fans in that country. Died March 26 


21. Miguel Ferrer (b. 1955)
It’s standard operating procedure in Hollywood these days for everyone to say they’re a huge comic book fan, especially after someone has landed a role in the next big superhero film and they want to show off their “geek cred” to the fans. But let the record show Miguel Ferrer walked the walk when he presented himself as a genuine fan of the funny books. Proof? Together with his friends Bill Mumy (of Lost in Space fame), comic artist Steve Leialoha and comic/mystery writer Max Allan Collins, he played in a band called Seduction of the Innocent (an obvious shout-out to Fredric Wertham’s infamous book). Ferrar first gained attention in 1987’s Robocop and amassed an impressive number of credits in film and TV over the following three decades; among his comic-related roles were Vice-President Rodriguez in Iron Man 3, three episodes of 1990’s Tales from the Crypt and the Weather Man in the unreleased 1997 Justice League pilot, as well as voice roles in Superman TAS, The Batman, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice and Men in Black: The Series. One of his last roles was Slade Wilson in the 2017 animated film Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.  The son of actor José Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney was also the namesake for Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099 co-created by his friend Peter David. “I still remember when my editor challenged me on the fact that his nickname was ‘Miggy,’ declaring that it was not a nickname anyone used for Miguel,” David wrote in a tribute to his friend. “Which was hilarious since that was what we all called Miguel.” Died January 19

 
22-23. Bill Paxton (b. 1955) / Powers Boothe (b. 1948)
Give Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. credit — the show might have stumbled a bit coming out of the gate, but over the past five seasons (and counting) it has made a solid case for why it’s one of the best superhero TV shows on the dial. And while scheduling and budget constraints make it unlikely that any of Marvel’s film stars will make an appearance, the show-runners have done an excellent job stacking the deck with a solid roster of guest stars to complement the cast. Case in point: Season 1 saw Bill Paxton join the show as the shady John Garrett (Ward’s former training officer), while Season 3 brought Powers Boothe into the mix as Gideon Malick, a HYDRA heavyweight with eeee-vil plans of his own. Paxton first came to moviegoers’ attention in the ’80s with breakout roles in films like Aliens and Weird Science; he found leading-man roles in the ’90s with such films as Twister and A Simple Plan. He moved into directing in the 2000s, but continued to act with roles in HBO’s Big Love (2006-2011) and CBS’s Training Day (2017), one of his final roles. Boothe first came to national attention in 1980, playing charismatic cult leader Jim Jones in the TV movie Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones; his booming voice and onscreen charisma made him the perfect choice for the role, and he relished playing the “heavy” in many other productions, including Sin City, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Deadwood and Sudden Impact. Aside from his role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., comic fans will recognize his voice work on the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons, where he played the super-intelligent Gorilla Grodd; he was also Lex Luthor in 2006’s Superman: Brainiac Attacks direct-to-video animated film. Paxton: Died February 25 / Boothe: Died May 14

 
24. David Cassidy (b. 1950)
It’s not often that three generations of the same acting family can all claim comic-book credits in their careers. Jack Cassidy, David’s father, played a Daily Planet columnist in the short-lived Broadway show It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman, while daughter Katie has been a part of The CW’s superhero scene since 2012, playing Laurel Lance/Black Canary and her evil doppelgänger Black Siren on Arrow and The Flash. Though Cassidy did a guest-villain spot on the 1990 TV show The Flash as Sam “Mirror Master” Scudder (seen above), he was most famous for playing teen heart-throb Keith Partridge on the musical sitcom The Partridge Family (1970-74), which he co-starred with his real-life stepmom Shirley Jones. The show made Cassidy a teen sensation nearly overnight, taking over the covers of teen magazines as the fictional band racked up hit after hit. After the show ended in 1974, Cassidy went on to rack up a number of dramatic acting credits in film, television and musical theatre, including his sole Flash appearance. Died November 21

25. Dick Gautier (b. 1931)
An actor, comedian, singer and caricaturist, Gautier is perhaps better known to TV fans for his roles as Hymie the Robot in Get Smart and Robin Hood in Mel Brooks’ short-lived When Things Were Rotten, but we can’t forget one of this most iconic roles, that of the caped crusader and upstanding guardian of Gotham known to children everywhere as… wait, what do you mean I’m getting him confused with Adam West? Check it out:

In a 1973 public service announcement reminding employers to obey the federal Equal Pay Act, Batgirl refuses to defuse a bomb when she gets into a wage dispute with a tied-up Batman and Robin. Burt Ward, Yvonne Craig and Batman announcer William Dozier reprised their Batman roles for the spot, but Adam West — who was trying to distance himself from the role at that time — declined to take part. So Gautier lent his strong chin and decent West impression to the spot, which was effective in getting people to think about equal pay but also led to all kinds of strange questions (wait, Robin and Batgirl get paid for what they do? Since when?). Later in his career, Gautier lent his distinctive voice to several animated series including Captain Planet, The Addams Family, Batman TAS, G.I. Joe and TransformersDied January 13


26. Moulton “Pete” Marston (b. 1928)
Sadly, Moulton “Pete” Marston — one of the children of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston — didn’t get to see the film based on his father’s creation become the second-highest grossing blockbuster of 2017. But aside from that, it’s hard to imagine him having many regrets. As his daughter Christine told a local newspaper after his death, the retired real estate broker collected Wonder Woman memorabilia over the years, but it was his discovery of eBay in 1999 that kick-started “the hardcore collection.” Eventually, his collection — housed in the family’s home in Bethel, CT — included nearly 4,000 items: dolls, plaques, pennants, pillows, lamps, coffee mugs, you name it. But the internet didn’t just bring more items for his collection into his home; before long, other collectors and fans were seeking him out, coming to view his collection and talk to Marston about his personal connection to the character. Many visitors came bearing gifts from their own collections, and still others sent him items to add to his museum; even Lynda Carter dropped by for a visit, much to his delight. His other daughter, Carolyn Marston, said his passion for Wonder Woman was sparked by the connection to his parents: “My grandmother, his mother, was the model for the character. I really think that had a lot to do with his attraction [to Wonder Woman] — who it represented to him.” Died January 17 


27. Raymond Miller (b. 1931)
In his book Sense of Wonder: A Life in Comic Fandom, comic collector and fanzine publisher Bill Schelly describes the first time he met Raymond Miller, a Golden Age fan and historian who has written and drawn for comic fanzines since the early 1960s. It was 1966, and he and his friend had just discovered that Miller’s home was within driving distance of their Pennsylvania hometown. “He welcomed us inside, and led us to the back of the house to the room he devoted to his impressive comic collection. Miller owned seven hundred comics published before 1946… I’ll always recall his shy, soft-spoken manner as he showed us many of his treasures. Many of the books came with a story, either a narrative of how they had found their way into Miller’s hands, or an explanation for a book’s particular significance to collectors.” In those early days of comic fandom, when thousands of public-domain Golden Age books weren’t available at the click of a mouse, fans like Miller were the guardians of the knowledge about those early years in the industry. He was “the” authority on Golden Age comics, writing the Information Center column for the Rocket’s Blast Comics Collector newsletter for several years and collaborating with others to index the contents of comic books from the 1930s and ’40s. “Raymond Miller was the first one who brought the Golden Age of comics to life for me,” wrote comic fan and Batman film producer Michael Uslan in a Facebook tribute. “I subscribed to The Rocket’s Blast/Comicollector from a letter in Fantastic Four 15 and then got every one of his RBCC Specials. He directly impacted my career and life through his research, words and passion for comic books, their creators, and history.”
Died December 15

    
28. Edith Finck (probably c. 1930s)
On March 12, 2017, the New York Times published the following obituary for Edith G. Finck: “Passed away on March 3, 2017. Beloved mother of Patricia French, James and Thomas Goodkind; nannie of Nicole and Olivia Goodkind, and Alison and Timothy French. Edith Green was born in Woodmere, Long Island where she and her late sister Vivian excelled in school, and both graduated Vassar College. Edith married Robert Goodkind and raised a family in Hewlett Harbor. For fifty years, her closest friends were Joan and Stan Lee, who used Edith as an inspiration for the Fantastic Four’s Sue Richards. She later wed Marshall Finck and moved to Beverly Hills, California. Memorial services are being planned.” It was the first time anyone had suggested in print that Marvel’s Invisible Girl had been based on any actual person. The photo accompanying the obituary shows an attractive blonde woman who certainly could have served as the model for Sue Richards, and the obituary sparked a flurry of discussions in comic-fan circles, but as far as I know no one (including Lee himself) has confirmed this claim. It’s possible that Kirby and Lee based Sue’s looks or personality on Ms. Finck, but it’s also possible that Stan, being the glad-handing type he is, told her at some point after the fact she was the inspiration for Sue — and that story became part of her family’s lore. We’ll probably never know for sure, since everyone who could confirm it is dead, with the exception of Lee — who at this point is probably not the most reliable source of information about what happened almost 60 years ago. Still, if it’s true then there are certainly worse ways to be immortalized. Died March 3


29. ComicsAlliance (b. 2007)
It hasn’t been the easiest decade for journalists trying to make a living, and the people covering comics are no exception. In March, ComicsAlliance became the latest comic-focused media outlet to close down, with editor-in-chief Andrew Wheeler breaking the news to readers on Twitter. ComicsAlliance was established in 2007 as part of an online network of sites owned by AOL; it quickly became one of the largest comics and nerd culture news sites on the web. Along with providing news and columns covering the state of the industry, the site was also provided a springboard for people who would make their mark within the comic industry; for instance, CA editor Andy Khouri became an editor at DC Comics, while writer David Brothers became content manager and series editor at Image Comics. AOL shut down the site (along with several other properties) in 2013 and later sold it to Townsquare Media. Though it won an Eisner Award in 2015 for Best Comics Periodical/Journalism, ComicsAlliance struggled to make the economics of running a comic-news website work, and no 11th-hour offer from an outside buyer arrived in time to save it. “We’ve always had amazing writers at ComicsAlliance, with a shared dedication to celebrating creativity and community, and elevating originality and diversity,” Wheeler told Bleeding Cool. “As devastated as I am that none of us will be writing for the site anymore, I’m excited to see those writers take their voices elsewhere, whether in comics criticism or in creating comics of their own.” Placed on indefinite hiatus March 31

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