14 June 2023

Jonathan Ross leads tributes to ‘truly beautiful’ Marvel artist John Romita

14 June 2023

Jonathan Ross has remembered artist John Romita, famed for his role in creating Marvel characters Wolverine and Mary Jane Watson, as a “kind, generous, compassionate and thoughtful man” following his death, aged 93.

Romita died “peacefully in his sleep”, his son confirmed in a Twitter post on Wednesday, describing his father as “the greatest man I ever met”.

The graphic novelist also wrote: “I say this with a heavy heart, My father John Romita passed away peacefully in his sleep this Monday morning. He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honour to follow in his footsteps.”

British chat show host Ross, who is a self-professed comic book fan, led tributes to the artist on Twitter, writing: “A sad, sad day for those of us who grew up adoring and obsessing over Marvel comics.

“The great John Romita Sr has died. A wonderful artist and a truly beautiful, kind, generous, compassionate and thoughtful man.

“He was the rock that provided a gloriously rendered foundation to Marvel in those years when it grew and prospered and became the powerhouse of ideas it is today.

“Thank you John for sharing your magnificent genius”

Writer and director of films including the latest Guardians Of The Galaxy, James Gunn, who has also taken the helm of superhero franchise DC Studios as co-chief executive, shared an anecdote about how he wrote to Romita when he was a young boy.

He said: “Sorry to hear about the great comic book artist John Romita Sr passing at the age of 93.

“My brother and I wrote Mr Romita when we were young kids and sent him drawings of superheroes we were working on.

“He wrote us back, telling us what he liked about the drawings! A truly memorable experience in my life, making me feel like the magic of comic books, which seemed so otherworldly, wasn’t actually that far away.

“My thoughts & condolences are with his family and loved ones.”

Similarly, chief creative officer of DC Comics Jim Lee shared a lengthy message on Romita’s son’s Instagram post, writing: “It goes without saying that your father was an amazing, beautifully talented draftsman and artist who inspired and entertained so many generations of fans and creators.

“But for me, he was more than that. Your dad was just an incredible role model whose insightful words of advice have stayed with me my entire three-decade plus career.”

Mr Lee said Romita gave him his “very first art critique” after being hired to work at Marvel in 1987.

He added: “I remember to this day walking into his hallowed office (he was the Marvel art director at the time) with my first pages from Alpha Flight 51 and being so intimidated yet honoured to be in his presence. A legend talking to little ol’ me!

“Everything he shared with me that day was spot on… And while I didn’t always follow his lead (I was young, dumb and headstrong) — he was absolutely, 100% right.

“Moreover, he presented his critique with such total kindness and infinite patience that what could have been traumatic, career-ending disappointing encounter turned into a conversation between peers that left me uplifted, seen, appreciated and most importantly, fired up and eager to learn more and improve as an artist.

“That drive continues to this day and your dad was a big part of me getting into the right mindset.

“The way he interacted with pros and beginners alike is something I tried to emulate myself as I started giving art critiques and hiring new talent.”

He ended his post writing; “We lost an absolute legend who was as humble and kind as he was talented.”

Born in 1930 in Brooklyn, New York, Romita graduated from Manhattan’s School of Industrial Art before he broke into the comic book industry.

The artist was influential in the creation of Marvel characters, including Spiderman’s girlfriend Mary Jane Watson, and launched the Spider-Man newspaper comic strip in 1977 with Stan Lee, who was the executive vice president and publisher of Marvel Comics before his death in 2018.

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