Tom Palmer, the incredible artist known for his work on Avengers, Doctor Strange, Star Wars, Tomb of Dracula and more, passed away yesterday at the age of 81.
The news was reported on Facebook. No cause of death was mentioned.
“We are very sad to share the news that legendary comic book inker and artist Tom Palmer passed away on August 18, 2022 at the age of 81,” the post said. “He will be remembered fondly by his loving family and his many fans.”
That he will. While Palmer’s first work in comics was penciling an issue of Doctor Strange back in 1968, he’s best known as an inker, mainly for Marvel comics throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Over the course of his career, he worked with John Buscema, Jim Steranko, John Romita Jr., Tom Grummett, Gene Colan, Neal Adams, Wally Wood and many more.
Like a lot of artists, Palmer began drawing as a kid in Queens, New York.
“I guess like all kids I liked to draw, and with an older brother’s supply of comic books I started drawing my interpretation of them early on, Palmer told Alex Dueben in a Comics Journal interview back in 2015. “I had a problem with one of my hips by the third grade and was on crutches for four years after which gave me a lot of time to draw. Once I was ambulatory again in my teens I started catching up on my life missed during those early years on crutches and spent less time at a drawing board. Took art classes in high school, drew and painted for my friends, but didn’t think of pursuing art as a profession. Things changed when I finished high school, I discovered a new appreciation for drawing and painting and thought seriously of going to art school.”
After high school, Palmer took an entry-level position at an art studio while taking evening classes at School of Visual Arts. With neither working for him, he quit both and began taking classes at an art school run by Frank J. Reilly. He also picked up a freelance studio position at an advertising studio, where he met Kamen, the former EC Comics artist. Kamen eventually introduced him to Wood, who had him draw a Jungle Jim story that Wood inked. Wood passed on his name to several industry folks, which led to his first gig drawing Doctor Strange #171.
Colan took over the title with the next issue, with Palmer staying on as inker.
“… it was the beginning of a wonderful relationship both personal and professional,” Palmer told TCJ. “I worked hard on that first inking assignment and did everything I could to turn his illustrative pencils into inked line art for printing. Remember using a lot of zip-a-tone to capture all the subtle penciling Gene had done, which he was a master of. I soon learned that Gene pencilled quite differently than other pencilers using graded pencil tones to render form and shadow and not strictly pencil lines. I enjoyed the challenge. Marvel must have liked what I had done and I was asked to return for the next issue.”
Palmer and Colan would work together on Tomb of Dracula and Daredevil as well, and Palmer would go on to ink Adams’ work on Uncanny X-Men and Avengers. He would pencil and ink many issues of Marvel’s original Star Wars title, inked John Byrne on X-Men: The Hidden Years and in later years went on to work with Mark Millar and Romita Jr. on their creator-owned hit Kick Ass. But it’s his lengthy run on Avengers, inking John Buscema, that many fans will always remember.
Many creators took to social media to remember the artistic legend: