A post from my 13-year-old Marvel blog concerning some then-recent deaths within the industry.
As has been reported almost everywhere in the comic book blogosphere, we got hit with a real double-whammy yesterday.
Upon arriving to work, we were dumbfounded to learn that colorist Stephane Peru had died suddenly and unexpectedly over the weekend. This was particularly startling to the members of my editorial group, as Stephane had just completed work on a trio of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN pages for the Previews catalogue that previous Friday. It was especially a shock given that he was so young–only 26 years of age–and that he seemed in the best of health.
I didn’t really know Stephane–I can’t even swear that I ever had the occasion to speak to him directly, despite his having done some work in and around our office over the last few months–so I’ll leave it to others to eulogize him in greater detail. What I did know was that he was a young guy with a boatload of talent, and a really promising career ahead of him. The work he’d done on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and the AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE ANNUAL over Salvador Larroca was outstanding, and we were all looking forward to seeing what he’d do on INVINCIBLE IRON MAN.
And then, the day wasn’t even out before the second body-blow landed, and we heard that Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber had also passed away.
In Steve’s case, it wasn’t too surprising, given that he’d been experiencing some serious medical problems these past few months, as he would detail on his blog. But that didn’t make the news any easier to cope with.
Steve was one of the most unique voices to come out of Marvel in the 1970s, a complete iconoclast who was more at home writing the oddball characters on the fringes of the Marvel Universe than the popular headliners at its center. He was one of the first guys of his generation to develop a unique voice distinctly different from the flavor of Stan Lee. And he was a trailblazer when it came to doing very personal, very mature work within the structure of corporately-owned mainstream comics. You could never mistake a Steve Gerber comic book for the work of any other writer, because absolutely nobody else could think that way, for better or worse. That’s what made Steve’s stories so interesting.
My own history working with Steve has at this point been well-documented (and if you don’t know about it, you might be able to find the long interview I did with Brian Bendis for Wizard.com floating around somewhere online that details the whole thing.) But despite that, I spoke to Steve just this past week, in reference to a project he was going to be doing for Marvel (Characteristically, the first time I called him up to speak to him about it, he asked, “What happened? Did you lose a bet with somebody or something?”) The groundwork had been laid by Jim McLaughlin of the HERO INITIATIVE, who knew that Steve’s medical bills were mounting, and that he could probably use the influx of cash. Jim seldom gets any recognition for the fine work he does, unheralded, on behalf of the elder statesman of our industry who’ve fallen on hard times, so I particularly wanted to make this known.
I am presently 41 years of age, the same age my father was when he died. Mark Gruenwald was 43. Mike Wieringo, 44. So the question of mortality is perhaps a bit more on my mind these days than it had been. I’ve got no great insight to offer anybody on the subject. But events like those of the past 48 hours serve to underline the fact that, no matter one’s age or seeming health, death can come without warning–so it remains crucial for us to fill our days and hours and minutes with as much genuine living as we can manage.