We continue our series that looks back at the biggest news trends of 2020. Watch for more posts all this week.
In a year of losses, the passing of so many talented creators and editors hit especially hard. Here is a look at some of the comics people who passed away in 2020.
Political cartoonist Ron Rogers died on January 20 at the age of 65. When he became the editorial cartoonist at the South Bend Tribune in the 2000s, he was generally regarded as the first Black editorial cartoonist at a daily newspaper. He was also the staff cartoonist for the Augusta Chronicle. Born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1954, Rogers started his cartooning career as a freelancer for The Richmond Afro-American and Planet in 1980.
Victor Gorelick got a job at Archie Comics in 1957, when he was 16, and never left. He worked his way up to managing editor and became editor-in-chief in 2007. Gorelick died in February at the age of 78.
Allen Bellman, one of the first artists to work on Captain America, died in March at the age of 95. Born in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants, Bellman bought a copy of Action Comics #1 when it came out and was intrigued. In 1942 he answered an ad in the New York Times and ended up working in the bullpen of Timely Comics (which later became Marvel), drawing Captain America and other comics. He later shifted to freelance work and retired in the 1960s. In 2017 he self-published a memoir, Timely Confidential: When the Golden Age of Comic Books Was Young.
Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo passed away in March at the age of 92. Uderzo and Rene Goscinny created Asterix in 1959, and it became one of the most popular comics in the world. Goscinny died in 1977 and Uderzo wrote and drew 10 more volumes solo before handing over the reins to a new team in 2011.
The Argentine artist Juan Gimenez, who collaborated with Alejandro Jodorowsky on The Metabarons, died of COVID-19 in April at the age of 76.
Also in April, longtime MAD Magazine artist Mort Drucker passed away at the age of 91. Drucker started at MAD in 1956 and worked there for 0ver 50 years. If you ever read a MAD parody of a movie or TV show, it was probably Drucker’s work. He was inducted into the Eisner Awards Hall of Fame in 2011.
In May, Fantagraphics posted the news that the prolific and talented creator Richard Sala had died. In a career that spanned over 35 years, Sala had built a body of work that includes Cat Burglar Black and Delphine, and he had just launched a new webcomic in April. He was 61.
Just a few days later, word came of the death of writer and editor Martin “Marty” Pasko. Pasko wrote for Superman, Wonder Woman, and Justice League of America, among others, for DC in the 1970s. He wrote Star Trek comics for both DC and Marvel, as well as for a newspaper strip, and he was the first writer of Saga of the Swamp Thing, preceding Alan Moore’s run.
Denny O’Neil, who wrote over 200 issues of Batman, Detective Comics and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, died in June at the age of 81. In addition to his Batman work (he also edited the Bat-comics from 1986 to 2000) he wrote a number of other comics for both DC and Marvel.
Joe Sinnott, one of the most prolific inkers of Marvel Comics in the 1960s and 1970s, died in June at the age of 93. He retired from comic books in 1992 but continued to ink the Spider-Man newspaper strip for another 27 years.
“Comics creator” was only one of the many things that Rep. John Lewis did during his long life. He will be remembered mainly for his civil rights work, but his graphic memoir, March, helped bring that story to a new generation and won numerous awards—including the National Book Award, the first graphic novel to be so honored. Lewis, who was 80 and had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, died on July 17.
Manga artist Jiro Kuwata, who drew the Batman manga, passed away in August at the age of 85.
Richard Corben died following heart surgery in December, at the age of 80. The award-winning artist got his start in underground comics in the 1970s and worked for Creepy and Vampirella, among others, as well as Heavy Metal, eventually winding up in the mainstream, working for Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, and he also was the creator of the iconic jacket art for the Meatloaf album Bat out of Hell. Corben was inducted into the Eisner Awards Hall of Fame in 2012 and was awarded the Grand Prix at Angoulême in 2018, thus becoming president of the 2019 festival.