DAVE COCKRUM 1943-2006

I returned home yesterday from Thanksgiving holiday to the depressing news that legendary artist Dave Cockrum had passed away of complications from his long battle with diabetes. Cockrum was one of those “second generation” of Silver Age creators who came from the ranks of rabid fans of the comics THEY had read as kids. I was just starting to read comics as Cockrum was starting his work on LEGION OF SUPERHEROES– his first big solo assignment in the ‘majors’. His work made an immediate impact on my young sensibilities– Cockrum’s art stood out from the crowd for me– and he put his stamp on the LEGION characters with his wonderful sense of design, energy and figure work. Cockrum’s LEGION work is still seminal– his impact on that title was so strong that it’s still remembered as one of the best ‘eras’ of the comic’s history. He then went on to make an even greater and lasting impact on the UNCANNY X-MEN at Marvel Comics. Cockrum hit his artistic stride with that book… and the characters he introduced to the X-MEN canon like STORM, COLOSSUS and most notably NIGHTCRAWLER are among the most popular characters in X-MEN — if not comics –history. Along with Chris Claremont, Cockrum was there for the tranformation of Jean Grey into PHOENIX– and that event along with many of his other contributions became the fodder that inspired the X-MEN movie franchise.

There’s many tributes to Cockrum’s work sprouting up on the web in the wake of his passing– but the most incisive and succinct entry I’ve seen yet is posted at THE COMICS REPORTER. Tom Spurgeon writes about Cockrum’s career and impact on comics far better than I can put into words. I can say that his influence on my own young comic book fevered brain was astronomical. People always ask me about influences on my own work… and that’s a hard thing for me to answer, because nothing that I’ve ever really loved as a fan shows up much in my drawing. But I CAN say that if not a direct influence, Dave Cockrum was for me an immense source of inspiration early in my comics life and I’m sorry that I never got the opportunity to express to him just how much his work means to me.

This is Entry 307.


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