We gave not nearly enough coverage to the passing of Dave Cockrum while we were away, including posting a cover drawn by Gil Kane in our obit. To make up for that a bit, here’s the cover to X-MEN #102, the first X-men comics we ever read, in fact only the third Marvel comic we ever read — how we poured over each and every panel…we must have re-read it 10 times at least waiting for the next issue.
Cockrum received a heartening number of mainstream media obits, including a lengthy one from the Times.:
Mr. Cockrum majored in fine arts at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, but left before he graduated to join the Navy. He was assigned to Guam, where worked as a captain’s secretary. He used his spare time to paint colorful emblems on fighter planes and to dream up interesting characters that later appeared in comic books.
Ms. Kline said Mr. Cockrum created and named Nightcrawler, who has blue fur, is acrobatic and can teleport, while on Guam. The character was first imagined as a demon dedicated to doing good deeds to avoid being sent back to hell. Another character, Storm, whose superpowers are flying and manipulating the weather, is played by Halle Berry in the X-Men movies.
After his discharge from the Air Force in the early 1970s, Mr. Cockrum moved to New York, where he worked as an inker, who refines the art of the original artist, called a penciller. He did this for Murphy Anderson, who created the modern look of Superman, Batman, Flash and other characters at DC Comics.
After taking some slags for tardy posting, Marvel has a nice obit up, with comments from editors and creators:
The artist laid the groundwork for an unparalleled comic book success story when, in 1975, he launched the “new” X-Men alongside writer Len Wein and editor Roy Thomas. GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 and the reinvigorated UNCANNY X-MEN grew to legendary status, the impact of which is still felt in today’s comic world. Cockrum’s first tour of duty with the characters was from 1975 to 1977, and he then returned to his creations from 1981 until 1983.
Most of the stories make allusion in some way or another to the way Cockrum struggled in his later years, and his settlement with Marvel, which the Times reckons as $200,000, according to the TCJ. Better late than never. As great an artist and gracious as man as he was, let’s hope there is never another Dave Cockrum — an artist who has to struggle to get any remuneration for a multi-million dollar franchise he helped create.