Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

My latest review for Graphic Policy website —

Graphic Policy

Do the books themselves even matter anymore — or is the announcement of their forthcoming arrival enough?

I ask that question in all seriousness because it gets to the heart of one the major problems (among many worthy contenders) in Nick SpencerDaniel Acuna, and Rod Reis’ Secret Empire #0, the first chapter (or maybe that should be pre– first chapter) of Marvel Comics‘ latest sure-to-disappoint-most “crossover event” series. Within these pages you’ll find, for instance, a team calling itself “The Defenders” that hasn’t made its “official” debut yet, and  you’ll see Tony Stark back as Iron Man even though, according to “present” continuity, he’s still in a coma. But Marvel knows that you’re already aware of these “future” events because, hey, they’ve all been announced.

Likewise, they know damn well that pretty much everyone reading this book — even those who haven’t been keeping…

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Maybe I’m just a crusty old-timer who yearns for days gone by, but goddamnit — I miss having comics on the store shelves that were sick and wrong.

Oh, sure, plenty of series have moments here and there designed to shock — Saga is certainly famous for it, although such instances been fewer and farther between lately — but books with a genuinely twisted and perverted core premise are in painfully short supply, and have been for some time. Thank goodness (or, more likely, its polar opposite) then for a couple of upstanding gentlemen I admit to never having heard of before named Doug Wagner and Daniel Hillyard.

Granted, the first issue of their new Image Comics five-parter, Plastic (which comes our way under the auspices of the suddenly-surging 12-Gauge Comics studio/imprint) isn’t going to make you suddenly forget all about the work of gleeful reprobates like S. Clay Wilson or Mike Diana, but it’s more than enough to make the morally and ethically average reader feel more than just bit queasy, and that’s something to be grateful for. Consider, if you will, this scenario and let me know if it ticks enough boxes off your “dude, that ain’t right” checklist : former “black ops” agent turned serial killer Edwyn Stoffgruppen has finally met his perfect partner, Virginia. She calms his homicidal urges with her non-stop sex drive, and the two of them seem to be having the time of their lives travelling the backroads of America in his old Ford LTD. Heck, they’re getting along so swimmingly that they’re even planning a trip to Rome together. But when a run-in with some local hooligans leads, by a fairly straight-forward series of interpersonal connections, to Virginia being kidnapped by a Louisiana multi-millionaire, our guy Ed’s put in a sticky situation : either kill some of the rich asshole’s enemies for him, or his old lady gets a bullet in the head.

Okay, put that way things sound more than a little bog-standard, but there’s one tiny detail I forgot to mention : Virginia is a plastic sex doll.

If you take a look at the preview pages included with this review, they suddenly take on a whole new meaning with that in mind, don’t they? And what appears to be rather banal dialogue? Well, it’s really anything but. Wagner’s script rather masterfully portrays Edwyn as precisely what he is, namely a hopelessly sick fuck, but you also sort of want the best for him and his “lady” friend, not so much because “either” of “them” are sympathetic figures in any way, but simply because the alternative to him living happily ever after with a rubber fuck-toy is probably so much worse. One way or another, then, “good” outcome or “bad,” things are probably gonna get even weirder and bloodier before this whole thing is over.

Hillyard’s art is almost disconcertingly innocent in its appearance, with a definite and pronounced animation influence, which is what makes it so perfect for this kind of depraved material. When one of Virginia’s kidnappers starts licking “her” arm, for instance — damn, you wanna feel physically ill. And given that veteran colorist Laura Martin primarily hews to a bright and vibrant palette (again underscoring the animation cel look), the downright garish contrast between what’s depicted and the way it’s depicted borders on the dizzying. I can see a strong argument being made for the idea this book’s art really doesn’t “match up well” with its story, sure, but I think a conservative viewpoint like that rather misses the point entirely, in my own hopefully-humble opinion. And while Andrew Robinson’s memorable cover should be more than enough to clue the average store browser in to exactly what they’re getting with this one, anyone who bails on this series after this opening shot across the bow isn’t someone I can necessarily begrudge for their sensibilities — this is, after all, a book that probably will (hell, probably should) only appeal to the tiniest and most (ahem!) specialized of audiences.

The fact that I’m part of said audience may be a cause of concern to my therapist, I suppose (that is, if I had one), but come on — you and I both know I could give a flying fuck about that. Recently a rather pompous-seeming individual opined that he detests me (not my reviews, mind you, but me, personally) “with the fiery heat of a thousand suns” due to what he perceives to be my apparently-obvious intellectual shortcomings as evidenced by my comic reviews in particular, and I would imagine that my whole-hearted endorsement of a series as amoral (at best) as this one will sink my already-low stature in the eyes of these self-appointed “honor brigade”-types even more, but there are plenty of self-serious, sanctimonious titles out there explicitly designed to appeal to the sort of folks who think that stories featuring super-heroes with PTSD or asking themselves “do I have the right to kill villains X,Y, and Z” passes for “deep.” Well, they can keep all that shit — truth be told Marvel, in particular, hasn’t been able to do angst properly since Steve Ditko walked away from Peter Parker/Spider-Man. My own interest in moral heavy-handedness is at an all-time low, and if you’re as sick of it as I am, then chances are you’ll agree that Plastic is the perfect antidote to all this wretched, over-wrought earnestness.

Will you feel appropriately guilty about enjoying this comic? Oh, I should think so — hell, I dearly hope so. But who are we kidding? That’s half the fun, too, isn’t it?

 

My latest review for Graphic Policy website —

Graphic Policy

Unlike many (but very much like many others, I suppose), I have to date been decidedly underwhelmed by Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ take on the Black Panther. I found “A Nation Under Our Feet” to be a dour, navel-gazing, self-important, and frankly confused attempt to “modernize” both T’Challa and his kingdom of Wakanda that pretty much failed miserably at everything it set out to do, reached its apex with a bog-standard fight, and followed that up with an issue-length epilogue that essentially changed nothing about the status quo for its characters and their world apart from stating that they were, in essence, all gonna try to listen to both listen, and be nicer, to each other more. Not exactly the groundbreaking work we’d been hoping for from one of the leading intellectuals of our times.

Still, ya gotta figure, the man is smarter than you and me put together, and eventually…

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Apocalypse, big and small, has always been a central theme in Alan Moore’s work, going nearly all the way back : V For Vendetta was set in a post-apocalyptic world from the outset, but concluded with the un-making of the fascist society that had held sway since the bombs fell; Watchmen posited the still-hotly-debated question about whether or not Adrian Veidt was right to “save” the world by ending the world as we knew it; Miracleman blew up the world on a conceptual level by ushering in a morally and ethically ambiguous (at best) age of gods — it’s a constant through-line, even if you sometimes have to strain to see it.

Here’s the thing, though — in Moore’s eyes, apocalypse itself isn’t always such a bad thing. Promethea concluded with what might be called a “joyous apocalypse,” as the old ways of our thinking, co-existing with each other, and even being were gloriously swept aside in favor of something that can in a pinch be thought of as a sort of genuine, all-encompassing enlightenment, and in various interviews over the years Moore has spoken about the end of the world, or at least the world as we’ve constructed it, in almost hopeful terms — and this was well before notions as still-patently-ridiculous as that of “President Trump” had come to pass, so one is probably safe to assume that apocalypse would be a prospect he’d be positively giddy about now. Sadly, we appear far more likely to get armageddon instead, and however you slice it, chances are that’s really gonna suck. But I digress —

Given the author’s general “pro-apcalyptic” (as opposed to nihilist, there’s a world of difference) bent, it’s perhaps a bit surprising to see, then, that the end of the world as we know it as detailed in the pages of the twelfth and final issue of his and Jacen Burrows’ Providence is not something that’s going to leave us all , with apologies to R.E.M., “feeling fine.” Events, rapid-fire as they were, in the previous issue left left no doubt about where our story was ultimately headed, but to see it play out as predictably as it all does is perhaps the biggest surprise on offer here for long-terms Moore readers, who are accustomed to The Bearded One always having one more trick up his sleeve. This time out he doesn’t, but I would contend that actually fits right in with this series’ underlying sense of doom and inevitability in a way that a concluding segment that pulled out a couple of “shockeroo” moments never could. H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional (?) alternate reality of Yuggoth is upon us now, over-writing reality as we have come to understand it, but as is made abundantly clear by the no-less-momentous-for-their-predictability events of this chapter, it’s been here the whole time. As straight-ruled panels that used to denote dreams or other altered states of consciousness take over for the “hand-cut” panels that used to symbolize “reality,” we know that things have “flipped,” but we also know that what’s taking place has less to do with violent upheaval and much more to do with a pre-ordained transition. I can perhaps say no more without saying too much, but I will clue you in to this little tidbit : we’re a part of it, too. You and I as readers have our cleverly-engineered place in everything that’s going on here, and this “meta”-narrative has been sucking us in from the outset, inexorably, with our final destination of Leng waiting for us patiently the whole time.

Speaking of which — if there’s one fly in Providence #12’s ointment, it’s probably the fact that any folks reading this who haven’t read Moore and Burrows’ earlier Neonomicon are likely going to be left hopelessly behind by everything going on here. The story of Robert Black (whose destiny was, let’s not forget, foretold from jump) ended last time out, and the main order of business this time around is simply (and elegantly, and terrifyingly) making explicit what was implicit at the end of Neonomicon #4 lo, those many (or eight, by my count) years ago. FBI agent Merril Brears (whose subjugation, oppression, and violation provides the strongest possible hint that this reality will probably be no better than the old)  is at the center at  of all that’s happening in this issue, with sidekicks Barstow, Fuller, and director Carl Perlman in tow, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of a few characters introduced in the pages of this series, either. Increase Orne, for instance, is along for the ride, as is Shadrach Annesley (whose presence provides for the issue’s only — admittedly pitch-black — moments of levity), and as the world is un-made/re-made/re-set, there are some new attendants (many of historical renown) there to bear witness and/or act as commentators on the proceedings, as well,  but make no mistake : this is more a capstone on the entire Moore/Burrows Lovecraft oeuvre than it is on the most recent (and longest) leg of it. Which is perhaps curious given that apparently the two are working on a short follow-up series to follow at some point  here, but hey — if you’re of a frame of mind to tug at the harness of inevitability, you’re probably not going to find this issue to your liking, anyway. It is what it is and all that.

Despite the air of finality, though, questions most certainly do remain, so that promised follow-up maybe does make more sense than it would seem to at first. Johnny Carcosa, for his part, remains as enigmatic a figure as ever, and ties between the Catholic Church and the Stella Sapiente order are hinted at before being left intriguingly beyond the grasp of our understanding, so there’s fertile ground yet to be idea-farmed around these parts. I could insert a cheap quip referencing the “nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends” line at this point, I suppose, but you know what? Given the way DC has chosen to pick up on that one in the creatively-moribund Rebirth era, I think I’ll just leave it alone.

I’d be committing gross malpractice, though, if I didn’t take a moment to single out Jacen Burrows’ work on this issue for some richly-deserved praise. His art has largely been exemplary throughout this series, barring the occasional depth-perspective choices I’ve quibbled with in previous reviews, but he leaves it all on the page here and delivers a bravura performance of finely-detailed, expressive illustration that brings out both the emotion in his human characters and the dread inherent in their increasingly inhuman surroundings with a real sense of macabre wonder. While others have occasionally queried as to why Moore didn’t attempt to pair with a “superstar” artist on this project, this issue effectively puts such idle speculations to rest — I can’t think of anyone better suited to draw the sort of material that’s on offer here, and I sincerely hope that editors at higher-paying publishing houses have taken note of his growth and progression, because he’s firmly cemented his status as a “A-lister” with this all-stops-pulled-out effort.

Now, of course, comes many years of debate and discussion as to where Providence falls in the larger pantheon of Moore works. I’ll need to embark on a comprehensive first-issue-to-last re-read before I can firmly decide that for myself, but I think it’s safe to say that we can probably all agree that it is by no means yet another piece of “Minor Moore” as we’d been accustomed to with his Avarat-published projects, most of which had previously been faithful adaptations of sidebar items initially done for other media. This is big, bold, expansive, challenging (thematically and practically) stuff, the product of robust and bold imagining that rivals his most celebrated works in terms of its scope and magnitude. It hasn’t supplanted From Hell and Promethea at the top of my own personal “Favorite Alan Moore Books” list, but in time I could see it working its way into that conversation. As the “trade-waiters” jump on with the inevitable (there’s that word again) hardcover, deluxe hardcover, leatherbound, paperback (the list is sure to be endless) collections, we’ll see how they feel about it, but at the very least, I feel confident in predicting that most will be more than pleasantly surprised to find an ambitious Phoenix such as this rising from the ashes of Neonomicon, which generally (if, in my own humble view, inaccurately) remains its author’s most comprehensively-reviled work.

All of which, I suppose, is my way of saying that if these reviews of mine haven’t convinced you to give this thing a look, hopefully the collected edition(s) will. Providence is a dense, complex, multi-faceted, perspective-shaking undertaking whose stature is likely only to grow, Fungi of Yuggoth-like, over time. My respect and admiration for its creators is already well-established, to be sure, but beyond that, and for whatever it’s worth, they also have my profound and heartfelt thanks.

Don’t look now, but it appears as though toiling away with too little recognition for far too long is finally paying off for superb cartoonist Anya Davidson, who is having something of a “moment” in the (admittedly rather insular) world of “alternative” and/or “underground” comics. Her strip “Hypatia’s Last Hours” was one of the standout entries in Kramers Ergot #9, the handsome hardback collection of her Band For Life web comics from Fantagraphics was one of the best-reviewed titles of last year, and she’s now followed up those successes with the release of her new long (-ish) form original hard-boiled crime/period piece Lovers In The Garden, yet another distinctive release to see the light of day under the auspices of the Retrofit Comics/ Big Planet Comics co-publishing venture. Set  smack dab in the middle of New York’s 1970s heroin epidemic, this comic definitely wears its Serpico-style “police thriller” and blaxploitation influences proudly on its sleeve, but rather than wallowing in storytelling standards of days gone by instead filters them through a decidedly singular artistic lens to come up with a truly unique and instantly memorable reading experience.

Edgy (a term I generally despise), gritty (ditto for that), and at all times authentic, this story of most-likely-doomed souls plays itself out via a means of Tarantino-esque intersecting vignettes focusing in brief on the lives of Vietnam vets-turned-hitmen Shephard and Flashback, art dealer/crime lord Dog, ambitious undercover cop Coral Gables (love that name), mob enforcer Mystic Blue (the hits just keep on coming), and lush reporter Elyse Saint-Michel, as well as various hangers-on rotating in and out of their respective orbits, with each short-form segment inexorably moving its pieces chessboard-style toward a final and climactic confrontation/denouement/heaping helping of karma that will irrevocably shatter lives at best, end them at worst. Its heady stuff delivered in deceptively low-key, “slice of life” fashion, but you can never escape the feeling that things really aren’t gonna work out too well for anybody.

And, hell, maybe they shouldn’t — Davidson’s view toward her characters is never less than sympathetic, but it would be a reach to say there are any genuine “good guys” on offer here, apart from perhaps Coral, who is still guilty of hiding some pretty big secrets of her own and seems to enjoy play-acting the part of smack-seller a little too much for her own good. Everyone is given a surprising amount of depth for the rather short amount of “screen time” each is offered, though, so by the time the shit finally hits the fan, there’s a definite air of Greek Tragedy about the whole enterprise. None of these folks are anyone you’d want moving into your neighborhood, but at the same time you can’t help but feel sorry for each and every one of them for any number of reasons. The gut-punches each of their downward spirals serve up are mitigated somewhat, though, by Davidson’s thick-lined and almost relentlessly “upbeat” art style, awash in vibrant-bordering-on-garish colors, but as much as a strict formalist might feel it all looks a bit “cartoony” for its heavy subject matter, for my part I found the illustrations served as yet another humanizing factor that prevented any of the cast from crossing the line into pure caricature. These are drawings of people, not tropes, and while it would be a lie to call the art in this book “fluid,” it’s nevertheless highly expressive and wonderfully effective.

Stop me now, then, before I run out of superlatives. Intricate without feeling forced, complex without belaboring its own cleverness, Lovers In The Garden is essential reading that will richly reward careful second, third, fourth (and more) perusals. I’d tell you to go out and get it right now, but even “right now” may not be soon enough.

The name Gerald Jablonski is one that few people know, but everyone should — not that he probably cares either way. Jablonski’s comics career began in 1976 with a single strip in the pages of Bill Griffith and Art Spiegelman’s Arcade #6, and then — nothing. He was literally the perennial “one-hit wonder” until 1990, when he suddenly decided to give the whole “comics career” thing another go, first with a strip in Snarf, then with further material appearing in anthology titles like Tantalizing Stories and Buzzard before Fantagraphics finally gave him a one-off book of his own, Empty Skull Comics, in 1996. And then things got kinda quiet again for the most part.

Fast-forward to 2001 when, thanks to a Xeric Grant (remember those?), he was able to self-publish the first issue of Cryptic Wit, a (very) semi-regular solo title that saw further installments unleashed on an undeserving public in 2008 and 2012. Obviously, then, “prolific” is something the esteemed Mr. Jablonski is not, but what he lacks in quantity he more than makes up for in quality. There’s just one problem with all of the publications his work has seen print in — they’ve never been big enough. And I do mean that in a strictly dimensional sense, rather than in terms of their length. Jablonski’s strips are so intricately-detailed and tightly-packed that the standard comics page — heck, even the magazine-sized pages of Buzzard — could never do them justice. Thankfully for us all, that problem has finally been solved thanks to Gary Groth’s “Fantagraphics Underground” sub-imprint, which has recently released the first, comprehensive, full-color collection of Jablonski’s work, entitled Farmer Ned’s Comics Barn, in a glorious 9 1/2″ x 13 1/2″ format, so at last we can see 100 pages of what this enigmatic talent has to offer without having to strain our eyes. Thank you!

To the extent that Jablonski’s comics are “known” for anything, it’s for their signature looping, twisting, spiraling word balloon tails. Seriously, they’re a veritable maze trailing from the mouths of their speakers, but as singularly bizarre as they are, they pale in comparison to the mind-bogglingly surreal contents of his (always one-page) strips themselves, which generally fall into three distinct groups :

  • The “Farmer Ned” stories begin with their eponymous narrator either lamenting the state of the world today, completely over-hyping the significance of the yarn he’s about to relate, or both, before cutting to a scene of a smart-assed young calf giving its mother a hard time and then following the travails of a disruptive newcomer to the farm (usually, though not always, a horse) who proceeds to work the nerves of every other animal around until the story not so much ends as simply stops;
  • The “Two Kids” stories delineate the wordless psychedelic violent confrontations between a youthful Ronald Reagan doppleganger and a youthful Gerald Ford doppleganger in a manner that can only be described as “Spy Vs. Spy on bad acid”;
  • And, finally, the “Howdy And Dee Dee” stories follow the exploits of a midlife, bear-faced “man” and his yellow-skinned, dog-eared nephew, who’s always playing his favorite band, Poopy, so loud that his uncle can’t hear his favorite radio serial, which inevitably leads to a series of vaudevillian insult trade-offs, followed by the nephew complaining about his teacher, who is an ant, and the arrival of a third figure, a friend of Dee Dee’s who looks vaguely like Tony Randall and never says a word. He does, however, wear a pink apron and look pained and/or constipated at all times. Again, these strips don’t really conclude, they just come to a stop, and their titles seldom, if ever, have anything to do with what’s happening on the page.

I’ll be the first to admit that the term “acquired taste” would be more than appropriate to drop into the proceedings as a descriptive at this point, but seriously — if you can’t get with this shit, it’s your loss. Jablonski’s comics are not only gut-bustingly hilarious, they’re also visually arresting on a level that’s almost impossible to conceive of until you see ’em for yourself. In his introduction to this volume, Jim Woodring reverently describes Jablonski as a true “lunatic,” and it’s no hyperbole — his vision is so well and truly singular that it could only come from a mind with no concern beyond emptying its contents onto the page in as authentic a manner as possible. The visual language they speak is so completely unlike anything else that it offers no evidence whatsoever its author has ever even seen another comic strip by another artist at any point in his life, much less bothered to develop an understanding of what his chosen medium “can” or “can’t,” “should” or “shouldn’t” do. Jablonski creates art for that rarest and most honest of all reasons — because he can and probably even must. The idea of an “end user” in the form of an audience doesn’t seem to enter into his thinking at all — you can take this shit or leave it, but it is what it is, and what it is certainly is nothing like anything else.

I’d say that I “love” this book, but honestly that seems too small a word with too narrow a set of emotions and reactions attached to it. In truth, I’m in awe of it, I’m perplexed by it, I’m amused (to no end) by it, I’m flabbergasted by it, I’m confounded by it, I’m fucking envious of the intellect it came from, and I’m amazed by the fact that I can be as constantly taken aback as I am by strips that play out in more or less exactly the same fashion every time. And maybe the best part of all is that Gerald Jablonski could care less what I think and he’s just gonna keep making the comics he wants to make in the way that he wants to make them, reaction to his work be damned. That’s integrity of a sort that’s almost impossible to come by in this day and age, and to which all I can say in response is — I don’t care how or when I die, just make sure I’m buried with a copy of Farmer Ned’s Comics Barn in my hands.

This has been a rough week indeed for comics fans. Already reeling from the too-soon departures of underground legends Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson, just hours ago news broke of the death of Bernie Wrightson, whose lavishly creepy illustrations haunted the imaginations — and found their way into the nightmares — of generations of readers. Arguably (hell, maybe even inarguably) the premier horror artist of our times, the esteemed Mr. Wrightson was a pre-eminent innovator and consummate craftsman whose painstaking attention to even the smallest of details made all the difference in the world and elevated his work from being “merely” great to being both great and memorable. But don’t just take my word for it, feast your eyes on some of his grimly lush renderings and decide for yourself :

As you can clearly see, Wrightson (who for many years omitted the “e” at the end of his first name and signed his work “Berni”) was a master of all mediums, from the brush to gray markers to pen-and-ink to washes to duotone paper to painting — you name it, he tried it, and always with resounding success. He really was just that good.

Wrightson began his professional career in 1966 working as an illustrator for his hometown Baltimore Sun newspaper, but after meeting legendary comics and fantasy artist Frank Frazetta at a convention he felt sufficiently inspired to give comics a try, and in 1968 was hired on by DC, where his work began appearing regularly in the House Of Mystery and House Of Secrets horror anthology series. Similar work for Marvel followed on “of-a-piece” titles such as Chamber Of Darkness and Tower Of Shadows, but his “big break” came in 1971 when he and writer Len Wein created the most famous “muck monster” character of them all, Swamp Thing, for a one-off Victorian-era story in House Of Secrets #92.  The strip proved to be so popular that Swampy was given his own series, complete with a revamped, then-modern origin, and Wrightson illustrated the first ten issues of Swamp Thing before signing on with Warren Publishing in 1974, where he put his then-positively-exploding talents to use on both original stories and adapted works (most notably of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft) for legendary black-and-white mags such as Creepy and Eerie.

The mid-’70s ushered in a new chapter, with Wrightson and studio-mates Jeff Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Michael W. Kaluta expanding their reach beyond comics and into commercial art, but he never left the funnybooks behind completely, and his 1983 graphic novel adaptation of George A. Romero and Stephen King’s Creepshow led to a sustained and productive working relationship with King that saw him produce original illustrations for the books Cycle Of The WerewolfWolves Of Calla, and the restored edition of the classic The Stand. 1983 also saw the publication, via Dodd, Mead, and Company, of a deluxe edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein complete with nearly 50 pen-and-ink illustrations that Wrightson had spent seven years producing and that many consider to be the pinnacle of his masterful use of line and shadow. Here’s just a sample :

In 1985, Wrightson and writer Jim Starlin oversaw Marvel’s Heroes For Hope, an all-star “jam” benefit comic for African famine relief, and in 1986 they did the same for DC with Heroes Against Hunger, beginning a long and fruitful collaborative partnership that saw them team up on the highly-regarded mini-series The Weird and Batman : The Cult for DC and The Punisher : P.O.V. for Marvel in ensuing years. A wide range of card game, film design, and commercial work followed on from there, as well and continued comics work for publishers such as Heavy Metal (the character of Captain Sternn in the Heavy Metal film was a Wrightson creation), Dark Horse, IDW, and Bongo until his retirement this past January due to health issues following brain surgery.

Bernie Wrightson — incomparable talent, winner of too many industry awards to mention, and delineator of gorgeous grotesqueries for  a half-century — lost his long battle with brain cancer on March 18, 2017, aged 68. He is preceded in death by his first wife, undergound comix cartoonist and “Big Two” colorist Michele Wrightson, and is survived by wife Liz, sons John and Jeffrey, and stepson Thomas. He cast a long and darkly beautiful shadow over the lives of comics and horror fans around the globe, and his untimely passing casts the longest one of all. Thank you, good sir — may you rest in peace as surely as your work will continue to cause sleepless nights for years to come.