Legendary comic artist John Romita Sr. has passed away at the age of 93. The news was broken on Tuesday night by Romita’s son, fellow comic artist John Romita Jr., who confirmed that he passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, June 12th.
Romita had an illustrious career in the sphere of superhero comics, co-creating beloved characters such as Mary Jane Watson, Wolverine, and The Punisher.
“I say this with a heavy heart, My father, John Romita Sr passed away peacefully in his sleep this Monday morning,” the post reads.
“He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honor to follow in his footsteps. Please keep your thoughts and condolences here out of respect for my family. He was the greatest man I ever met.”
Born on January 24, 1930 in Brooklyn New York, Romita graduated from Manhattan’s School of Industrial Art in 1947, and received his first paid gig (for the Manhattan General Hospital) at the age of only 17. After working as an inker at a lithograph company, he stumbled into a job as a ghost artist at Timely Comics, the precursor to Marvel Comics.
He continued to work at Timely and its other pre-Marvel successor, Atlas Comics, even while he was enlisted in the U.S. Army. His early work at the time included a 1953-1954 revival of Captain America, which led to the creation of M-11 the Human Robot.
During the 1950s, Romita also did uncredited work for DC, before switching over to the company exclusively in 1958, and working on romance titles such as Young Love and Girl’s Love Stories.
He then returned to Marvel in 1966, soon succeeding Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko on The Amazing Spider-Man #39 following Ditko’s falling out with Stan Lee.
Across Romita’s tenure on the book, it became the company’s best-selling title, and introduced now-legendary characters like Mary Jane Watson, The Rhino, The Kingpin, The Shocker, and George Stacy. He went on to contribute to 56 straight issues of the main title, countless iconic covers, as well as various magazine-format and newspaper spinoffs.
“I was bringing a little more glamour to it,” Romita later said of Amazing Spider-Man to Alter Ego. “To listen to the fans at the time, what I was losing was the mystery and the shadowy stuff.
They thought it was much too much broad daylight, and too much cuteness. That’s a funny twist, because Stan was worried when I was doing it.
He didn’t threaten to take me off it, but he constantly was telling me I was making Peter Parker too handsome, and everybody too good looking.
Even the villains were starting to look good, and I was taking age away from Aunt May. [laughter] I think there was another element behind the rise in sales. For about a year, Ditko and Stan were absolutely disagreeing on plotting.
Ditko was plotting, and they weren’t even talking. It already had probably gotten a little bit confusing to readers for about a year.
So between the fact that I brought in a new audience and didn’t lose too much of the old audience I guess, I got the benefit of the rebound.
By 1973, Romita began officially operating as Marvel’s art director, and had an influential role on the designs of Wolverine, Luke Cage, The Punisher, Bullseye, and Tigra.
His later work for the publisher included Monica Rambeau’s debut as Captain Marvel in 1982’s The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, as well as a number of commemorative issues across Marvel.
Our thoughts are with Romita’s family, friends, and fans at this time.