Showing posts with label obituary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label obituary. Show all posts

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Mark Wheatley remembers Denny O'Neil

[Mark Wheatley wrote this in a private email on June 12th, and agreed to let me post it here]

Mark Wheatley remembers Denny O'Neil

I did this portrait of Denny O'Neil today. It shows him exactly as I remember him looking the first time we met. I met Denny O'Neil at about 4pm on July 2, 1970. I couldn't tell you such a specific time for when I met most of my heroes, but I remember this. I was a kid and my parents had arranged for a family trip to New York, partially so I could attend the July 4th Seuling Con. And I convinced them to take me to tour DC Comics. When we got there, we almost slammed right into Denny and Steve Skeates. Denny was writing Green Lantern/Green Arrow and setting the world on fire. I was a huge fan. He and Steve hung out and talked with me, making jokes, being fun. And later, at the con, they would say Hi!every time they spotted me in the crowd. That was cool. Years later after I started working in the industry, I would see Denny in the halls at DC or over at Marvel and chat for a little while. I remember one San Diego Con at the DC Booth where Denny and I stood together for a couple hours cracking each other up (and a few other creators also pitched in.) That was the time I came up with the Underwater Keyboard – to be used writing scripts while in the shower! Denny thought that was the perfect use of technology, since he always got his best ideas in the shower. About two years ago, Denny and I were part of a signing together. That was the last time I saw him. But he will never be forgotten.

  -- Mark Wheatley

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Annie Lunsford, Arlington illustrator, has passed away

Joe Sutliff is reporting on Facebook that Annie Lunsford passed away on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Annie was a professional illustrator for many years, and collaborated with her sister Linda, who survives her. The two exhibited at many local shows including Artomatic. In recent years, Annie's work including science fiction and cats. Her website is

Linda and Annie Lunsford at Washington-Lee High School, December 2015.

Her contribution to the Team Cul de Sac book for Richard Thompson.

Annie Lunsford Hang in There Nemo Illustration Original Art (2012). Annie Lunsford, illustrator (page 79): "I met Richard years ago, before he was world-famous; just amazing and brilliant! He's got the winning combination -- wit, and he can draw! Richard's the best, and I hope all the money raised can really help." This wonderful ink and watercolor on paper homage to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo strip.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tom Spurgeon, RIP

Photo by Bruce Guthrie at the 2019 Baltimore Comic Con.
Tom Spurgeon died yesterday, presumably in his adopted city of Columbus, Ohio where he was recruited by Jeff Smith to be the organizer of the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) festival. He was literally one of the giants of the field of comics journalism (as he stood well over 6 feet tall), and his passing is a major loss to everyone who knew him, or appreciated his work. I think his editorship of The Comics Journal was its golden age. I followed his Comics Reporter religiously and I'll miss his knowledge of and love for the field.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Comics lawyer and editor Mitch Berger has passed away

Mitch Berger's Facebook page is full of people noting that he passed away on November 12, 2019. Comments from Jackie Estrada, Steve Bissette, Ed Hall, Karen Green, Michael Gilbert, Craig Yoe, and Ted Rall in particular attest to his influence in the comics world.

Last month, we ran a notice that Mitch was in hospice, and tried to begin to get a handle on his career. 

We at ComicsDC share our condolences to Mitch's wife and friends.

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Remembrance of Ellen Vartanoff

Walt Whitman High School
Bethesda, MD

by Stu McIntire

I don't remember exactly when or where I met Ellen Vartanoff, but there's a good chance it was October 4th or 5th, 1975 at a small comic convention (my first) at the Howard John's Motor Lodge in Wheaton, Maryland. Gene Carpenter made the introductions as I recall. That makes Ellen my third oldest acquaintance in the local comic community.

Of course, I got to see my new friend on a regular basis at convention after convention. It was sometime around 1978 when I, with one of her former art students, discussed an idea to publish a portfolio of comic art by Ellen's then-current art students, but that never came to fruition. It would be nearly four years until I again ran into Ellen at local comic shows, but that came to an end when I stopped attending comic conventions altogether by 1984. I did see her at a tiny show in Gaithersburg, Maryland (date unknown, possibly early 1990s). I missed her at an exhibit at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland that featured comic art in her and her sister's personal collection - as well as a small show in Rockville where Jerry Robinson appeared - and several of the SPXs. Finally, by 2012 or 2013 I started going to the Baltimore Comic Con every year and ran into Ellen a couple of times.

The last time I saw Ellen Vartanoff was Friday September 22, 2017 at approximately 5:00pm, at the (18th Annual) Baltimore Comic Con. We were standing at booth #813.

Ellen & Irene Vartanoff at SPX 2007, photographer unknown

OK. How can I remember such minute detail with clarity? It's easy. I have only attended the Baltimore show on a Friday (less crazy than Saturday or Sunday). I typically wind up my day at the show standing in front of Gene Carpenter's tables, which seems to be a gathering place at that time for old friends, some of whom I've known since my earliest days of collecting in the mid-1970s. When I pull my copy of the convention souvenir program, it shows booth # 813 as being All-American Comics (Gene Carpenter). Last year I was not at Gene's tables late on Friday. I don't know if Ellen was around, but I did miss Johnny Knight.

Ellen Vartanoff at Comic Art Convention Luncheon, July 5, 1969 
at the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York City
Ellen was, as usual, all grins and was genuinely excited to see me. I was proud to introduce her to my son-in-law. Our conversation was the typical cocktail of sharing the day's adventures on the  convention floor, catching up on current life events and other goings-on, and remembrances of past shared moments. I remember telling her about a project I have in the works that focuses on Mark Feldman, someone Ellen knew. Mark ran the Maryland Funnybook Festival between 1973 and 1978. My research revealed that Mark had made up pinback buttons that were given as freebies to those attending his first show. I remarked about the unexpected discovery of such detail and wondered rhetorically about the chances that such a throwaway item might still exist nearly 45 years later. Ellen said she wouldn't be surprised if she had one and encouraged me to follow up with her about it on the off-chance she might uncover the button. I also told Ellen that I had made it a daily routine to post on Facebook the recognition of birthdates of comic and animation creators past and present as well as comic strip creators, gag panelists, illustrators and so on. I am not at all alone in recognizing these events and certainly not the first or last. I do prefer to commemorate birthdates as opposed to anniversaries of deaths and told her so. Ellen looked at me smiling ear-to-ear. "That is really NEAT!" she exclaimed. Despite how trivial compared to The Important Things In Life, Ellen made me feel in that place at that moment that my obsession was the coolest thing ever.

Star Trek fan art
In the time since, I did attempt to call Ellen on one or more occasions, without success. I did learn that she had taught art classes at the Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Maryland and was frequently on the schedule for Wednesday afternoon sessions. Since that's about a ten-minute drive, I made a mental note to pay a before or after class visit one day so we could catch up. Rather than dropping by unannounced, I decided to call her, so she'd know to expect me. It was about a week to ten days ago when I finally got around to it. A gentleman answered the phone and said he'd put her on. In a few moments Ellen came on the line. It was obviously difficult for her to communicate but I shortly learned she was " Stage 4...". Not wanting to exacerbate her discomfort, I said I'd reach out to her shortly. We hung up and I dropped what I was doing to write Ellen a letter which I put in the mailbox that day.

Two days ago, I got a call from Ellen's sister Irene. She shared the very difficult news that Ellen was in hospice care. Irene said she was trying to track down a mutual friend so she could let him know. She'd gotten my number from another longtime friend. Though Irene and I had never met, she recognized my name from the letter I'd written to Ellen. I'm not skilled at the type of conversation I had with Irene. I stumbled through my attempt to express my regrets for what she was going through  and my appreciation for Ellen's friendship but promised I'd pass her message along as quickly as possible. Yesterday morning I learned that Ellen lost her valiant battle.

The thing is, I have this false idea that I'm still young and have all the time in the world to refresh old friendships, even when faced with evidence to the contrary.

Ellen Vartanoff was a fan, a collector, creator, artist, teacher, mentor and so much more to countless friends and admirers. Condolences to Irene, Scott, and all of Ellen's family. I will always carry with me the last time I saw Ellen.

Farewell, Ellen. You are missed already but always with us.

Stu McIntire
March 18, 2019

[editor's note: A 1997 Washington Post review of one of Ellen's exhibits, but not the one Stu refers to above.]

Sunday, June 03, 2018

David Apatoff remembers Mad's Nick Meglin

NICK MEGLIN (1935-2018)

by David Apatoff

Illustration Art blog June 2, 2018

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Venus Winston, October 8, 1981-December 11, 2016

by Mike Rhode & Matt Dembicki

According to her Facebook page, artist and cartoonist Venus Winston passed away last night, from cancer. She was a member of the DC Comics Conspiracy (DCC) and a contributor to the group's Magic Bullet comics newspaper

Winston was a DC native, but lived recently in Hyattsville, MD. For an interview with us earlier this year, she noted, "In high school I attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts majoring in Visual Arts. After graduating I majored in Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design. I started making art at age 8 and loved reading comic books. I actually didn't start creating comics till 2010, when I started writing. Before this, I wanted to be a children's book illustrator or animation."  Winston began her "Cooking with Cancer" comic in 2014 as her own therapy. In addition to showing how to prepare food that might help a cancer patient, Winston was in favor of medical marijuana to stimulate the appetite.

Earlier this year, Winston was invited to present on her comic at Dundee University in Scotland this summer for the Annual International Graphic Medicine Conference. While fundraising to attend the conference, Winston wrote, "I lost my ovaries to cancerous Krukenberg tumors and it is my belief I survived by enforcing a healthy diet and mindset within my personal environment. 'Cooking with Cancer' has now grown into a collection of short stories, recipes and informative pieces focusing on my experience with cancer and how food can help beat illness."

Winston told us in September, "In a few months, I'll be self-publishing a children's book I've been working on for years." If her family continues that plan, ComicsDC will attempt to highlight it. Her work can be seen on her websites and

We here at ComicsDC send our condolences to her family and friends.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Nick Galifianakis on Robert Weber, New Yorker Cartoonist

Robert Weber, New Yorker Cartoonist

by Nick Galifianakis 

Robert Weber, 92, and one of the truly gifted cartoonists, passed away a few days ago. Here is, I believe, his first cartoon for the New Yorker in 1962 (plus a couple of other smiles). I urge you to stroll through the hundreds of others he created over the last half century. An astute observer, he could puncture the pretentious and entitled with withering dryness.

Weber was a compositional master and the deftest of draftsman. His buttery-soft charcoal line had a simple, energy-filled immediacy yet somehow also retained the forethought of structure, a balance of in-the-moment expressiveness but with the weight of any great painting. This is the rarely (rarely) achieved Holy Grail of making art. 

He is first among artists that have nudged me to draw more courageously, and I'm deeply saddened by the passing of one of my great heroes.

"Lucy, move - you're blocking Pliny the Elder"

Friday, August 05, 2016

Fanzine and fine artist John Fantucchio has died

Fantucchio's art, possibly for Gary Groth's first Metro Con

It's being reported on Facebook that Arlington's John Fantucchio passed away yesterday, August 4th, at age 78. He was at Virginia Hospital Center after suffering a stroke.

Big Planet Comics founder Joel Pollack writes, "John Fantucchio was my mentor when I was 16. He taught me about the great strip artists Alex Raymond and Hal Foster, as well as illustrators such as Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle. I'm happy that we rekindled our friendship in the last five years."

Joel noted that Fantucchio's influence wasn't limited to him. "John's nephew, Rick Lowell, owns Casablanca Comics, Maine's coolest comics stores!, in Portland, ME, and counts John as a mentor, as well." Fantucchio eventually left the fan community and made a name for himself as a fine artist.

Joel took me to meet John, who coincidentally lived right around the corner from Richard Thompson, and we had a great time looking at his paintings and his collectibles. John had a fondness for the Shadow just like me. He wasn't all that interested in revisiting his fanzine days, so we never did an interview, but he does have several mentions on ComicsDC, mostly about his later career.

John is survived by his wife Mary.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

James "Giacomo" Bellora, RIP

Self-portrait courtesy of Billy Ireland Library
by Mike Rhode

ComicsDC has learned that Falls Church illustrator and sometime cartoonist James Bellora passed away on February 18, 2015. He was born in St. Charles, MO on June 6, 1960 according to the CaringBridge website that reported his passing. The site also notes that he had an engineering degree and was an avid bicyclist, and is survived by his wife and daughter. According to a brochure for his services held at Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, his cartoons appeared in trade publications such as FBLA Association News, Air Force Acquisition Network News, Actuarial Association Magazine and Sketches magazine. He listed himself as a cartoonist and "humorous illustrator." He also recieved work from Arlington's BonoTom Studio. At points in his career, Bellora was a member of the National Cartoonists Society and the Illustrators Club of Washington, DC (where he also served as President). A funeral will be held on March 6th at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church.

Several local cartoonists and illustrators have given us their thoughts on him.

Editorial cartoonist Steve Artley: "In the 90's, he was a regular at the annual Cartoons & Cocktails event and hung with Jack Higgins, Chip Beck and I during the event and afterward in the bar upstairs. He and I had a great time banging out songs on the piano in the lounge. He was very friendly and outgoing, engaging and seemed happy... ."

Illustrator David Hagen: "We had sort of a competitive relationship especially in the days you used to hump your big illustration portfolio around town for freelance jobs. I'd see him either coming or going. He was the president of the Illustrators Club when I joined and remember pausing by his display table at the yearly portfolio shows. I think I stepped up my game because I knew he was out there! Which made me a better illustrator."

Cartoonist Joe Sutliff: "James (I never called him Jim or Giaccomo) and I hung out a lot years ago, but I lost touch after he met his soon-to-be wife. He was full of passion for anything he got involved in, and truthfully I had been thinking about him a lot lately... I remember James as always being "full throttle"… whatever he went after, it was never halfway. He was always ready to lead the way - he went from a freshman member of the Illustrator's Club to President in just a couple of years, and joined the National Cartoonist Society and organized the local chapter as well. He was always fun-loving; I remember one Illustrators Club Holiday party where he lead me, Rob Sprouse and some others in a full dance-out of YMCA… I think it's still on online somewhere…:

Illustrator Kevin Rechin:  "So unbelievably sad. I knew him fairly well. Saw him quite often in the '90s either at NCS stuff or Illustrators Club gatherings. He was definitely a go-getter and full of life. Always had a smile on his face. Thoughts and prayers to his wife, daughter and family."

Friday, April 11, 2014

OT: Courtney Utt, graphic designer at Viz, has passed away

A former Viz employee has informed me: "The graphic designer Courtney Utt, who worked on many of Viz’s finest book covers, died the week of April 7, 2014." A death notice will run on Sunday (found courtesy of D.D. Degg), but it doesn't mention her comics work.

Off-topic, but posting, with respect, for the historical record.
Updated, 4/11/14.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Deaths in the comic arts during 2013, now completely updated

Here's a revised list with about a score of additions from D.D. Degg's research during the year.

Deaths in 2013 included Dan Adkins, short-term comics writer Jerry Albert, Frédéric Othon "Fred" Aristidès, illustrator Niculae Asciu, animation voice actor James Avery, Canadian animator Frédéric Back, Alison Bechdel's mother Helen, Chinese cartoonist and historian Bi Keguan, Little Man on Campus cartoonist Richard Bibler, Underdog co-creator W. Watts "Buck" Biggers, New Zealand small press cartoonist Debra Boyask, Popular Press founder "Pat" Browne, freelance cartoonist Ross Edward Bunch, Nick Cardy, Filmation Studios art director and sports cartoonist George Carey,  Shoe cartoonist Chris Cassatt, North Star newspaper cartoonist Louis Chisholm, Jr., MAD Magazine illustrator Bob Clarke, comic book artist Scott Clark, Hystoria with J.P comic strip writer Bob Cohn, British comics historian Les Coleman, Belgian cartoonist Didier Comès, comic strip artist Carlisle Cooper, Washington Post comic panel Meet the Judge cartoonist Dick Couperthwaite, Pioneer News cartoonist Paul Evans Coyle, Archie cartoonist Jeff Cuddy, Amsterdam News cartoonist William (Willie) Martin (Obuyi) Curry, Jr., comic book scholar Sol Davidson, comic book dealer Bruce Ellsworth, SPEC Productions publisher Andy Feighery, minicomics creator Luisa Felix, Italian comic collector Ezio Ferraro, gag cartoonist Ed Fisher, Belgian cartoonist Fred Funcken, Hanover County Herald-Progress political cartoonist John H. Gabbert, Italian comics historian Roberto Giammanco, editorial cartoonist Frank Gillooly, George Gladir, Louis Glanzman, Simpsons creator's mother Margaret Groening, stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, Oregon Forestry cartoonist Hugh John Hayes, Jr.,
Chinese cartoonist He Wei, Pete Hoffman, "Robin" the Robin comic strip creator George Howard Hollenbeck, Carmine Infantino, editorial cartoonist Ned E. Jarvis, Magnus Johnstone, Herald of Randolph comic strip Local Color John H. Kennedy, Danish cartoonist Rune T. Kidde, magazine cartoonist Brad Kirkland, British anti-war cartoonist Leon Kuhn, Nepalese cartoonist Ujjwol 'Jyapoo' Kundan, political cartoonist Lyle John Lahey, Cracked and Sick cartoonist John Langton, Pollut-O-Crats comic strip cartoonist Gordon Larkin, comic book store owner and censorship victim Gordon Lee, Stan Lynde, webcomics publisher Joey Manley, Nisei cartoonist Jack Matsuoka, Sorehead comic strip cartoonist Carl Eugene May, Jr., comic book writer Robert Morales, Swiss cartoonist Christian Moser, comic book writer Philip Nutman, comic strip artist George Olesen, comic strip artist John Olson Sr., Diamond Comic Distributors Senior Marketing Manager Phyllis Opolko, Spanish cartoonist José Ortiz, Simpsons scriptwriter Don Payne, magazine cartoonis Sophia Jean (Cissie) Peltz (nee Liebshutz), Suspect Device cartoonist Greg Peters, Canadian editorial cartoonist Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist Eldon Pletcher, magazine cartoonist Roy J. "Boots" Reynolds, Cleveland Press editorial cartoonist Bill Roberts, Lebanese political cartoonist Pierre Sadek, editorial cartoonist Lee Sanderson, Filipino komiks illustrator Jesse Santos, Filmation cartoon studio founder Lou Scheimer, Adoornments comic strip creator John Jay Schmitz, Australian Phantom publisher Jim Shepherd, gag cartoonist Vahan Shirvanian, Jr., political cartoonist David L. Shore, Fort Worth Star Telegram comic strip The Adventures of Hal 'n Dick creator Dick Siegel, magazine, sports and comic strip cartoonist Scott Smith, Studio Proteus founder Toren Smith, Playboy and editorial cartoonist Al Stine, editorial cartoonist Robert McMillan Stuart, editorial illustrator Jean-Claude Suares, Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson, Grand Rapids Press's Counterpoint comic strip creator Bob Wepman, Disney cartoonist Ross Wetzel, comic book artist Janice Valleau Winkleman, gag cartoon book publisher Peter Workman, cartoonist gagwriter Eileen "Jo" Wyman, 'Anpanman' cartoonist Takashi Yanase, and underground cartoonist Yossarian (Alan Shenker).