Thank you, John.
Okay here we go again with unfortunately another obit piece.
I woke up clicked into social media only to find out that iconic Spider-Man artist and co-creator of two of Marvel's most popular antiheroes, Wolverine and of course, the Punisher, John Romita Sr. has passed.Now if you are a Gen Xer like me, you're more than likely to be familiar with his work on Spider-Man during the Sixties even if it was way before your time. (Ever read Marvel Tales or other reprints?)
Romita was born and raised in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, NY to a Sicilian family, started out as a Ghost artist in 1949 for timely comics which would eventually become Marvel Comics.
When Steve Ditko the co-creator of Spider-Man had left Marvel due to creative differences, Romita was selected by Stan Lee to work on the Amazing Spider-Man comic which became a top seller during the mid to late Sixties. Romita who was very experienced in illustrating Women, introduced Spidey's alter ego, Peter Parker to a new love interest, where he would hit the "jackpot " after meeting the strikingly attractive redhead, Mary Jane.
As Romita had rose to prominence, the artist was promoted to art director who heavily influenced the aesthetic vibe of Marvel comics throughout the Bronze age.
During his stint on the Amazing Spider-Man, Romita is credited for creating some of Spidey's notable villains Shocker, the Rhino, and the Kingpin but it didn't stop there!
Romita came up with the idea of killing off supporting character and other love interest, Gwen Stacy during a shocking two-parter which also ended in the death of Spider-Man's most dangerous foe, Green Goblin.
Aside of being an consultant for ABC's Spider-Man Saturday morning cartoon series, Romita was responsible for penciling the Spider-Man newspaper strip.
Romita designed the iconic look of Wolverine which is still one of the best Superhero costume designs. The Punisher which started out as a Skull and crossbones sketch from creator Gerry Conway, was transformed into a black bodysuit with the Skull emblazoned on the wearer, Frank Castle's chest that matched his with boots, gloves and belt buckle with rods resembling "teeth."
Romita also designed Luke Cage's signature look, a yellow pirate shirt, spandex pants, buccaneer boots, a steel tiara headdress, and a chain belt, that is racially symbolic, when you look at it. Other designs include Tigra, Brother Voodoo, Bullseye and Black Widow.
A Romita image of Spider-Man and a Hulk image penciled by Deathlok creator, Rich Buckler and inked by Romita were among the "Marvel Superheroes" set of commemorative stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service on July 27, 2007.
However, one of Romita's biggest contributions was when he served on the Disbursement Committee of the comic-book industry charity The Hero Initiative which is the first federally recognized not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need. Founded in late 2000 by a consortium of comic book and trade publishers, the charity aims to assist comic creators with health, medical, and quality-of-life assistance.
Although I wasn't happy with him as with Roy Thomas, taking Stan Lee's side when Jack Kirby got shortchanged by Marvel, Romita had redeemed himself by joining the committee to help his fellow artists and collaborators in need.
John Romita Sr died peacefully in his sleep June 12th, 2023, His other legacy is son John Romita Jr. who became a rising star after I discovered his issues of Iron Man inked by Bob Layton.
Rest in Peace, Jazzy John.