Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Memorium: Dick Giordano

The comics world was saddened again this week by the death of one of the industry's most acclaimed creators, former DC and Charlton Executive Editor Dick Giordano, who passed away on Saturday due to complications from pneumonia. He was 77.

For most of today's fans, Giordano is probably best known for his work as an inker. Though he also pencilled many comics over his long career, he rose to fame within the art ranks for his strong work inking Neal Adams on the groundbreaking Green Lantern / Green Arrow "relevancy" run in the early 1970's. During this time he also worked closely with Adams and writer Denny O'Neil on their well received Batman revamp which dumped the camp aspects left over from the 60's returned the character to its darker roots. And nearly a decade later, he inked one of his highest profile projects, working with George Perez to create the artwork for Crisis on Infinite Earths.

But despite his many contributions as both an inker and penciller, Giordano's biggest influence came behind the scenes. Giordano began working in comics in the early 1950's as an artist, but he really gained the notice of the comic book world when he rose to become Chralton's Editor-in-Chief in the mid-60's. In that capacity, Giordano oversaw the creation of Charlton's line of "Action Heroes," which included titles such as Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and The Question among others. Recognizing his abilities, DC Comics swooped in; he soon brought many of his top Charlton talents on board at DC as well, giving creators such as Jim Aparo and Denny O'Neil a bigger platform and introducing their talents to a much larger fan base.

In the early 80's, Giordano became the Executive Editorial Director at DC, overseeing not just Crisis on Infinite Earths but also such groundbreaking titles as Watchmen (which originally was slated to use his old Charlton characters) and The Dark Knight Returns among others. Though his tenure at DC wasn't without some controversy -- in particular his stance against creator rights on behalf of DC rubbed many in the industry the wrong way -- his influence on DC and comics as a whole cannot be denied, either as an executive or as an inker.

In recent years Giordano continued to work on projects such as a graphic novel adaptation of Moby Dick and his biography, which was published by Two Morrows. He also was collaborating with protege (and comics legend in his own right ) Bob Layton, who issued a statement reading in part, "few could ever hope to match what he accomplished in his chosen profession, or to excel while maintaining great humour, compassion for his peers and an unwavering love for the art form." He went on to add that, "his unique vision changed the comic industry forever and all of those who work in the business continue to share in the benefits of his sizeable contributions."

For more information on the life and legacy of one of the industry's true giants, I strongly recommend taking a look at the Dick Giordano page over at our friend Bob Almond's Inkwell Awards site, which inducted Giordano into the inker Hall of Fame last year. And our pals over at Comics Should Be Good have also put together a look at some of Giordano's rare Charlton work from the 1950's as well as his seminal Batman origin story, "There's No Hope in Crime Alley."

A sad day indeed.

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