"Wearing Superman pajamas and covered with his Batman blanket, comic book illustrator Dave Cockrum died Sunday. ...... in his favorite chair at his home in Belton, South Carolina ...
At Cockrum's request, there will be no public services and his body will be cremated, according to Cox Funeral Home. His ashes will be spread on his property. A family friend said he will be cremated in a Green Lantern shirt."
I guess there's some eternal youth quality to comic books, and it has been a business with highs and lows and now CGI effects can bring the fierce and furious action to the screen which has existed in simple pen and ink illustrations for generations. Certainly in many X-Men stories, heroics isn't just a aspect of fantasy - it's about personal struggles within and with friends and foes alike. The illustrations of artists like Cockrum and many others are uniquely American images, provoking drama and humor and acts both human and superhuman.
Dave was typical of many artists who worked for both big publishers, DC and Marvel, and it was his work with Len Wein to re-invent the X-Men franchise in the 1970s which brought him real fame, creating the characters of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Phoenix, Mystique and others. That's his cover for the relaunch of the X-Men. Much of his design work became the model for all those characters now on the silver screen and in the current run of X-books.
And, like many other artists, he found that his work did not bring any royalties and was in something of a financial crunch in his later years. Marvel and DC both came around eventually.
A history of his work is here, some info on his struggles to receive pay is here, and there are tributes here, and a great gallery of his sketches and drawings here.
Comic writer and friend Clifford Meth writes about Dave's passion for his work and deep appreciation for his fans. He'd go to fan conventions without being paid, would sign autographs for free too. Dave even offered a comic fan from Tennessee to come and visit him in South Carolina even as his health was failing. Meth says:
"If it hadn't been for the burden of his illness, he would never have even mentioned his missing royalties to anyone. For companies that take advantage of that sort of guy, that's a ready-made sucker, a patsy. But for Dave Cockrum, it was about getting on with life. He was happy to have created what he created, to have found a career drawing comics. He never verbalized any regret about his chosen field. At least not to me, and I was his pal. Dave never considered the road not taken. "What else could I have done?�" he�d say. "I love comics!�"