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John Romita Sr., Legendary Comics Artist, Dead at 93

John Romita Sr., Legendary Comics Artist, Dead at 93

The comics industry has lost one of the most prolific artists it has ever seen: John Romita Sr., a titan who defined the look of Spider-Man for generations, and other countless Marvel characters and beyond, has died.

Romita’s son, John Jr.—himself an artist in his father’s footsteps, and currently working on the latest run of Amazing Spider-Man—confirmed the news on social media tonight.

“I say this with a heavy heart, My father passed away peacefully in his sleep. He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honor to follow in his footsteps,” Romita Jr. tweeted. “Please keep your thoughts and condolences here out of respect for my family. He was the greatest man I ever met.”

Romita Sr.’s comics career began before Marvel was even Marvel, illustrating as a ghost artist at Timely Comics. After serving in the Army, Romita returned to the company—now Atlas Comics—in the early ‘50s illustrating war, horror, and romance comic, including some work on Atlas’ revival of Captain America. After a brief period at DC, Romita returned to Atlas—now Marvel—and illustrated for Avengers and Daredevil, until the series that would define his career for years to come landed in his lap: Steve Dikto had left The Amazing Spider-Man, and Stan Lee wanted Romita to step up in his place.

Taking over in August 1966 with Amazing Spider-Man #39, Romita would go on to illustrate some of the most iconic stories in the legendary superhero’s history. As well as defining the classic look of the character that is still in the minds of many the ultimate version of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, Romita helped create iconic characters like Mary Jane Watson, Rhino, Kingpin, Shocker, and more. Although Romita would leave Amazing Spider-Man due to the workload in 1971, he would still go on to illustrate the character in the Spider-Man news strip series in the late 70s, and return to the character again and again in his career.

As an art editor at Marvel after his Spider-Man run, Romita helped design the looks of even more iconic heroes and villains at the company—including the first look for Wolverine, the Punisher, Luke Cage, and Brother Voodoo. It was Romita who redesigned the Black Widow’s iconic spy suit, who created the Hobgoblin’s first appearance, and even illustrated the debut of the first female Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau. Although his contribution to Marvel Comics was vast as an art director, he would never forget the indelible mark he made on one of its most iconic heroes, returning over and over in his late career to keep illustrating the definitive comics aesthetic of Spider-Man.

Romita Sr. is survived by his wife Virginia, and his two sons. Our thoughts go out to his family in this sad time.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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