Late last night on Twitter, John Romita Jr. announced the passing of his father. He was ninety-three.
Personally, as a fan, this is a big loss. As a big Spidey fan, Romita is an immense part of why I love comics. And he was connected to many of my blogposts here, not just the ones concerning Spider-Man. As Marvel’s art director, he held tremendous influence over the line, even after he stopped penciling full time in the early 70s. He still drew many covers (including ASM #136, my very first issue), made corrections and changes to much of the artwork, drew most of the promotional material, including many house ads, and contributed a number of key character designs—among them the Punisher, Wolverine, and even Omega the Unknown.
As I’ve said before, Jazzy Johnny was, for me, the definitive Spider-Man artist. I know the Baby Boomers out there are all screaming the name of Steve Ditko right now, but the artist on Spidey during his best days was Romita, as I outlined in a shark post late last year. Although I did not get to experience these comics at the time they were first published, I did get to enjoy many of them as reprints in Marvel Tales and a few treasury editions.
I was fortunate enough to enjoy his work on the Spider-Man newspaper strip in real time, however. Romita was the artist on the strip through the late 70s, and if you never got to see them, try and track them down online if you can, as this may be some of his best and most beautiful work.
The Comics Journal has just put up their extensive interview with Romita from twenty years ago on their site—an interview I have cited often on this blog. It covers a great deal of Romita’s life and career and it’s a great read. Please do yourself a favor and check it out.
If you go on Twitter right now, you’ll find that for as much praise as Romita is getting for his talent (and rightly so), he is probably receiving even more praise for simply being a good, kind, and generous person. He will be dearly missed and I would like to offer my deepest condolences to his family.
R.I.P., John Romita.