There’s something about the holiday season and the ending of a year that makes you look back and reflect and there’s always something a little bittersweet about that.
Close to home, Deb lost a 93 year old aunt earlier this week. She was a wonderful woman who selflessly volunteered at a nursing home (and elsewhere) for 30 years until she became a resident back in March. Fortunately, her efforts brought her the reward of loving care that made her final months happy ones. The funeral was a lovely celebration of her life and efforts, with the room filled with people as she deserved.
In my profession, people of similar ages also left us recently, more dwindling among the founders of the comic book field. Jack Burnley, a terrific and underrated artist on Superman, Batman and Starman, just passed away at 95. Fortunately, he was active and lucid these last few years to contribute to DC’s Archives and to Roy Thomas’s Alter Ego so the memories of his career and the love of his life have been preserved. I had the pleasure to have him select and discuss a favorite cover for Superman Cover to Cover but never really got to know the man.
Marty Nodell, creator of Green Lantern, passed away a few weeks back and I was very impressed that his passing got picked up by the national media. Marty was a great guy to chat with at the conventions. He and his spitfire of a wife Carrie certainly enjoyed being rediscovered by fans of the medium and when opportunities presented themselves, DC bought the occasional piece of art so he continued to contribute to the company well into his 80s, which is very impressive.
A much younger man, and one whom life was less than kind, Dave Cockrum, also left us. Dave contributed to my one and only fanzine, Hemogoblin (co-edited with Jeff Strell), back when he still did fan art while assisting Murphy Anderson. Later, I got to meet Dave and get some pieces from him for Who’s Who. He was kind and gentle and had terrific good humor but by 1980, health complicated his life and his work grew sporadic. Editors at DC and Marvel seemed to forget about him and his final body of work was Claypool Comics, a company that also vanished this year.
The comic book field is young enough that it has managed to capture a lot of its origins through oral histories and first person narratives. Several pioneers, notably Joe Simon, remain, and hopefully everyone will get their story told. Far too many practitioners are gone and their work forgotten for one reason or another.
In part, that’s why I’m noodling on a personal project and am now seeking information on Jon L. Blummer, the writer/artist best known for his work on Hop Harrigan. If anyone has information on him, drop me a note at email@example.com.