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Friday, June 21, 2024

Legendary Marvel Artist John Romita Sr. Dies Aged 93

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Legendary Marvel artist and comic book creator John Romita Sr. has died aged 93.

Romita Sr., who died on June 12, 2023, was responsible for the artistic style of Marvel comics through the ‘70s and ‘80s and co-created some of Marvel’s most popular characters, including Wolverine, The Punisher, and Mary Jane Watson.

“I say this with a heavy heart, my father passed away peacefully in his sleep,” said a tweet from John Romita Jr. “He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honor to follow in his footsteps. Please keep your thoughts and condolences here out of respect for my family. He was the greatest man I ever met.”

I say this with a heavy heart, My father passed away peacefully in his sleep. He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honor to follow in his footsteps. Please keep your thoughts and condolences here out of respect for my family.
He was the greatest man I ever met. pic.twitter.com/Pe2K3ywbWX

— John Romita JR (@JrRomita) June 14, 2023

Romita Sr. began his Marvel career in 1965 inking The Avengers #23 as a freelancer. He soon became a full-time artist for the company, working extensively on Daredevil and then The Amazing Spider-Man.

“I did not want to do Spider-Man,” he said in an earlier interview with Alter Ego. “I wanted to stay on Daredevil… I had felt at home immediately on Daredevil. On Spider-Man I felt obliged to ghost Ditko because – this may sound naive, but I was convinced, in my own mind, that he was going to come back in two or three issues. After six months, when I realized it wasn't temporary, I finally stopped trying to ghost Ditko.”

Romita Sr. soon developed his own style, one which would come to define Marvel comic books throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s when he was made art director in 1973.

Here, he played a major role in the creation and design of The Punisher, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Bullseye, Tigra, and Brother Voodoo. In fact, it was Romita Sr. who came up with the iconic design of The Punisher’s skull logo, using his utility belt to create the teeth of the now-iconic skull.

As a result of his hard work, Romita Sr. was given the Inkpot Award in 1979 and was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2002.

Creatives across comic books, film, and TV paid their tributes on social media.

“I just heard that John Romita Sr has died,” said comic book creator Mark Millar. “Definitive Spider-Man artist, legendary Marvel art director, father of my great friend Johnny Jr & one of the most beloved human beings in the biz. If we can all end our careers with even A FRACTION of those triumphs we're doing well.”

I just heard that John Romita Sr has died. Definitive Spider-Man artist, legendary Marvel art director, father of my great friend Johnny Jr & one of the most beloved human beings in the biz. If we can all end our careers with even A FRACTION of those triumphs we're doing well. pic.twitter.com/6PdZlXxSov

— Millarworld (@mrmarkmillar) June 14, 2023

“Sorry to hear about the great comic book artist John Romita Sr passing at the age of 93,” said Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. “My brother & I wrote Mr. Romita when we were young kids & sent him drawings of superheroes we were working on. He wrote us back, telling us what he liked about the drawings! A truly memorable experience in my life, making me feel like the magic of comic books, which seemed so otherworldly, wasn’t actually that far away. My thoughts & condolences are with his family & loved ones.”

Sorry to hear about the great comic book artist John Romita Sr passing at the age of 93. My brother & I wrote Mr. Romita when we were young kids & sent him drawings of superheroes we were working on. He wrote us back, telling us what he liked about the drawings! A truly… pic.twitter.com/VV1slBPmwH

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) June 14, 2023

Romita Sr. was married to his childhood sweetheart, Virginia Bruno. They had two sons, including John Jr. who also went on to become a renowned Marvel comic book artist.


Image credit: Marc Stamas / Getty Images
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

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