John Romita Sr., one of the key artists in Marvel Comics history who co-created characters like Wolverine, the Punisher and Mary Jane Watson, passed away on Tuesday. He was 93 years old.
Romita Sr.’s death was confirmed by his son, fellow comedian John Romita Jr., in a Twitter post on Tuesday night.
“I say this with a heavy heart,” Romita Jr. wrote. My father died peacefully in his sleep. He is a legend in the art world and I am honored to follow in his footsteps. Please keep your thoughts and condolences here out of respect for my family. He was the greatest man I have ever met.”
Although Romita Sr.’s major contributions have been made to Marvel Comics, he split time between the company and rival DC Comics early in his career. Born in Brooklyn on January 24, 1930, he worked for Timely Comics, which later became Marvel Comics, in the 1940s and DC Comics in the 50s and 60s.
In 1966, he took over as artist Steve Ditko on the “The Amazing Spider-Man” series, working alongside Marvel Editor-in-Chief Stan Lee on the series and crafting the current concept of the superhero. Romita’s father’s tenure in Spider-Man introduced Peter Parker’s lifelong love interest, Mary Jane Watson, as well as crime lord the Kingpin, who is now a mainstay in the Marvel rogues gallery. A feud with Lee eventually ended his time on the series.
Other “Spider-Man” characters created by Romita included the high-flying evil father, mobster Hammerhead, the sonic-powered Shocker, the Hobgoblin, journalist Robbie Robertson, and Gwen Stacy’s father, George Stacy. Romita Sr. had a hand in telling the tragic, poignant story “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” considered one of the best “Spider-Man” stories of all time.
He also helped create Luke Cage, the villainous Daredevil Bullseye, and Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, the evil mastermind. Almost all of these characters have appeared countless times in movies, television, live-action, and animation. Romita Sr.’s death comes a week after Sony’s “Spider-Man” sequel “Across the Spider-Verse” hit theaters and dominated the box office.
Romita Sr. was inducted into the Eisner Awards Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Inkwell Awards Hall of Fame in 2020. He is survived by his wife Virginia and sons Romita Jr. and Victor.
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