Rest in peace, Mark D. Bright

The artist of ‘Quantum & Woody,’ ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Icon’ and more was 68.

Mark “M.D.” Bright, an artist whose resume included drawing iconic runs on Iron Man and Green Lantern, as well as co-creating the Valiant Comics series Quantum and Woody and the Milestone Media series Icon, has passed away.

Bright died on March 27 at the age of 68. While no cause of death has been reported, an obituary posted by the funeral home notes he passed away “peacefully.”

One of seven children, Bright was born in New Jersey, where he lived most of his life. He attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in the late 1970s, majoring in Fine Art. His first work in comics came in 1978, drawing the back-up story “The Fastest Draw in the East!” in House of Mystery #257. It would be a few years before he was regularly working in the industry, but in the early 1980s Bright was filling in on titles like Avengers, Thor, Team America and Dazzler, among others.

“I bummed around for four years doing teaching consulting work two or three days a week for two years while working on a painting portfolio as well as making bi-monthly submissions to DC and Marvel comics,” Bright said about those days on his website. “The last two of these years Mom and Dad took turns at ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ checking on my actual desire and ability to earn a living as an artist.”

In 1983, he would start working with Christopher Priest, drawing three issues of a Falcon miniseries. That miniseries was Priest’s first comics work, and together they would form a creative partnership that would last for years, spanning publishers and titles like Power Man and Iron Fist, Action Comics Weekly, the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot and Quantum and Woody.

In 1985, Bright was named the artist for Iron Man, working first with Denny O’Neil starting with issue #200. The issue featured Tony Stark, now back in the Iron Man armor after James Rhodey’s run wearing the armor, facing Obadiah Stane, aka Iron-Monger in a story that would be the basis for part of the first Iron Man movie. David Michelinie and Bob Layton soon returned to the title and kicked off another iconic Iron Man story, “Armor Wars,” which gave Bright the chance to shine on one of Marvel’s biggest characters.

I’ll give a quick shout-out to a series that maybe wasn’t on everyone’ radar, but it was one of my personal early favorites by bright — Solo Avengers, which featured two stories every issue about various Avengers. Bright drew almost a year’s worth of Hawkeye stories for the anthology title, working with writer Tom DeFalco.

In 1988, Bright began working for DC on titles like Batman and Action Comics Weekly. Bright re-teamed with Priest on a Green Lantern story that appeared in the weekly anthology, and together they’d go on to work on Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn … for one issue, anyway, before Keith Giffen replaced Priest as Bright’s co-plotter on the title.

Bright would draw the series and its follow-up, then moved to the ongoing Green Lantern title. Around that same time, he was also working with Larry Hama on Marvel’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

Milestone Media was formed in the early 1990s, and Bright would team with legendary writer Dwyane McDuffie to work on one of their flagship titles and co-create one of their first characters, Icon. Bright would work on almost all of the comic’s 42-issue run, before Milestone was discontinued and then eventually merged into the DC Universe.

“We’ve lost one of the original Milestone Comics family. MARK BRIGHT has passed away,” said Joe Illidge. “He was a friend, and one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. A comic book Mark drew changed the direction of my life. I’m gutted. I know his spirit will find peace.”

Bright’s work at Milestone lasted through early 1997, and he would then transition to a new publisher — Valiant, where he and Priest created Quantum and Woody.

The popular, fun title featured two new characters — adoptive brothers Eric Henderson and Woodrow “Woody” Van Chelton, who would gain super powers while investigating the death of their father. If you ask any readers of that era what their favorite Valiant title was at the time, there’s a really good chance it was this one.

Quantum and Woody would last for 17 issues before being cancelled, but as I said, the title was popular and got a second lease on life a little more than a year later, and Valiant restarted it with issue #32 — the issue that would have been published that month if it had never been cancelled.

Bright continued working in comics into the early 2000s, but eventually moved into storyboarding for commercials, live-action television and feature films. Films and TV shows he contributed to included 27 Dresses, Step Up, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ghost Town, Third Watch and 666 Park Avenue. You can see many of his storyboards on his website.

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