Various sources are reporting the death of artist Rusty Haller this week, from this sad thread where his roommate reports finding his body. From what I can gather, he was in his mid forties. Haller worked mostly in licensed comics (his work can be seen here) but had most recently been working on his own strip, Ace and Queenie. He’d also been in poor health — from diabetes long undiagnosed– and had hit some rough economic times of late, with a benefit auction recently held for him.
Robert J. Sodaro writes:
It is with a sad heart that I pass along the information, that a friend of mine, Rusty Haller, creator of Ace & Queenie, and former cartoonist of Marvel’s Star Line passed away in his sleep last night. Rusty’s mother had passed away earlier this …year, forcing Rusty to re-locate to Ohio to live with a friend. It was his friend & roommate that discovered Rusty’s body.
Elin Winkler, Haller’s publisher at Radio Comics, has more:
I just talked to Rusty on the phone a few days ago, and we were full of plans to put Ace & Queenie up on the Radio Comix site with an eye towards a future collected print version. We also chatted about some other ideas he’d had kicking around for a few years- comics that could now come to light, with the advent of web publishing. I’m deeply saddened that all those great ideas will come to naught, and that Rusty’s dreams can’t be realized now.
Rusty was one of the nicest people we’ve had the pleasure of working with. He was always upbeat and positive, and he was a solid worker when it came to his pages. A consummate professional, he always welcomed honest criticism and constantly strove to improve his work.
He also worked with Nat Gertler on several projects, as Gertler wrote to us:
Rusty has been in comics for a fair while, although he never became famous; he was largely one of those guys who loved comics more than comics loved him. He did some work for the big boys, notably on ALF for Marvel and The Flintstones for Archie (the best-looking Flintstones comics I’ve seen). He’d recently been focused on his own creation, Ace and Queenie, an anthropomorphic adventurer series done mainly for the Radio Comix anthology Furrlough, although some was done originally for his website at http://aceandqueenie.com/ Rusty was one of my regulars, working on a number of About Comics projects. He worked on every issue of Licensable BearTM, and also contributed to The Factor and Many Happy Returns. As some of his credits made suggests, he was strong at cartoony licensed material, and his projects beyond comics included things like drawing Teen Titans coloring books and designing Betty Boop cookie jars.
Back when I was editing kids comics, Haller was always around, and I met with him several times to look at his samples. He was a complete pro, always enthusiastic and personable. He was obviously someone who loved comics, and loved what he did, and we send our condolences to his friends and family.