In another year of pain and loss, the passing of so many talented comics creators again hit hard. Here’s a look at some of the comics people who passed away in 2021.
Artist Steve Lightle passed away in January at the age of 61. Lightle’s career in comics began in the 1980s on DC Comics titles like Doom Patrol and Legion of Super-Heroes, which he worked on alongside writers Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen.
He also worked for Marvel on titles like Classic X-Men and Marvel Comics Presents, where his iconic covers graced both titles.
Underground cartoonist S. Clay Wilson, creator of the Checkered Demon, Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates, and numerous other transgressive characters, died at the age of 79 in February. Wilson was a contributor to Zap Comics in the 1960s and an integral part of the underground comix scene.
British comic book and TV writer Si Spencer passed in February as well. Spencer worked on the 2000AD and comics like Judge Dredd Megazine in the UK, as well as on Hellblazer, Books of Magic: Life During Wartime, and Slash and Burn for Vertigo in the U.S.
Frank Thorne passed away on March 7 at the age of 90 after a long career in comics. He began working on the industry in the 1940s and 1950s, drawing titles like Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, The Green Hornet, Tom Corbett Space Cadet, Tomahawk, Mighty Samson, Enemy Ace and numerous others. He’s probably best known, though, for his work on Red Sonja at Marvel in the 1970s.
Artist John Paul Leon, who worked on Static and Earth X, passed away in May. He was 49 when he died of cancer. After graduating from The School of Visual Arts in New York City, Leon wnet on to work for Milestone in its early days and also drew The Winter Men, the well-regarded Wildstorm miniseries written by Brett Lewis. In fact, you could probably put the words “well-regarded” in front of just about anything Leon drew, whether it was his interior art or his covers for comics like DMZ. More recently, he worked with Kurt Busiek on Batman: Creature of the Night, and his collaboration with Tom King, a Batman/Catwoman Special, will come out later this month.
David Anthony Kraft, who worked on titles like Captain America, Defenders and Savage She-Hulk in the 1970s and 1980s, passed away from COVID in May. In addition to his comics writing, Kraft also edited the long-running Comics Interview magazine
Jesse Hamm, a writer and artist who worked on the Good as Lily graphic novel, Hawkeye, Batman ’66, Plants vs. Zombies and Flash Gordon: Kings Cross, passed away on May 12. Hamm was a member of the Portland-based comics collective Helioscope, and also ran a Twitter feed dedicated to offering advice to aspiring creators.
Patrick Dean, the founder of the FLUKE minicomics festival, passed away on May 12 as well. Dean was diagnosed with ALS in 2018 and was receiving inpatient hospice care before he died. Dean’s comics appeared in Athens’ Flagpole Magazine for a decade and have been published in Legal Action Comics, Typhon, The Comic Eye, Vice Magazine and The Oxford American Magazine. Most recently, Birdcage Bottom Books published his graphic novel, Eddie’s Week.
Manga artist Kentaro Miura passed away at the end of May at the age of 54. Over the course of 30 years, Miura created the 40-volume manga Berserk. The 41st volume was just published in Japan and will come to America next year.
Takao Saito, the creator of Golgo 13, died on Sept. 24 at the age of 84. Saito made his manga debut in 1955 and launched Golgo 13, which follows the exploits of a taciturn hitman, in 1968.
Artist Ryan Bodenheim, who sometimes went by the nickname Bode, passed away Dec. 20 at the age of 44. Over the course of his career, Bondeheim worked on projects at Marvel and Valiant, on titles like Black Panther, Bloodshot and Ninjak. But fans might best know him from his creator-owned work with Jonathan Hickman; together they co-created several Image series, including The Dying and the Dead, Secret and A Red Mass for Mars.