Fantagraphics has shared the sad news that Richard Sala, creator of Delphine, The Grave Robber’s Daughter, Cat Burglar Black and Violenzia, has passed away at the age of 61. No cause of death was mentioned.
Sala’s work spans several decades, as he published his first comic, Night Drive, in 1984, and just a few weeks ago he announced a new webcomic, Carlotta Havoc vs. Everybody. In between, he combined his love of comics and monsters into a career that saw him published in anthologies like RAW and Blab!, create his own comics and graphic novels, and appear on MTV’s Liquid Television program, in a segment called Invisible Hands.
But many of us will remember him for comics like Delphine, his take on the Snow White fairy tale, or Cat Burglar Black, about a school for cat burglars. He drew from influences like Charles Addams, Edward Gorey and Gahan Wilson to create something all his own — a dark, gothic world filled with cat burglars, psychics, girl detectives, zombies, cat-women, vampires and, most of all, adventure, humor and fun.
In a genre that could typically show women as victims, he used them as the protagonist and presented them as strong, interesting characters. “I feel like I’ve known many strong, independent-minded women in my life, and you see in them that desire to roll up their sleeves and get a job done,” he told CBR in 2009, in an interview about Cat Burglar Black.” So, in a sense, I’m writing what I know — character-wise, that is. Generally speaking, it’s often men who are the instigators of trouble and dangerous situations. With women characters, you place them in these horrible situations and they have to react, which can create interesting conflicts. They have to figure out what to do to survive and that can be more interesting than using a traditional genre-type male who is just expected to shoot or punch his way out. The heroine tends to have more of a variety of choices — alternatives to ‘fight or flight’ that can involve cunning or logic, for instance.”
Here are few other past interviews with Sala that would be worth your time to read:
- A Short Interview With Richard Sala, The Comics Reporter (2007)
- A Vicious Criminal Returns from the Dead (Maybe) in The Bloody Cardinall, CBR, (2017)
- The Richard Sala Interview by Darcy Sullivan, The Comics Journal (1998)
- “Somebody Has to Pay for the Sins of Our Great-Great-Grandfathers”: A Richard Sala Interview, The Comics Journal (2016)
- Every Speck of Curiosity, Fear, and Gloom: a conversation with Richard Sala, Electric Lit (2015)
Many creators took to social media to remember Sala and what he meant to them: