R.I.P. Dave Cockrum

Sad news: Comic book artist Dave Cockrum has passed away at age 63.

Cockrum was one of the key artists of the “modern age” of comics. First he helped modernize the look of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the early 70s, just before their second peak of popularity when Mike Grell arrived. Many of the Legion’s costumes of the era were designed by Cockrum, and then simplified by later artists since Cockrum tended to festoon his characters’ outfits with myriad dongles and patterns. More significantly, Cockrum co-created the “new” X-Men with writer Len Wein, and illustrated their early adventures for writer Chris Claremont. Again, the X-Men became even more popular when Cockrum left the title to be replaced by John Byrne, but he was instrumental in crafting the look and feel of the series.

Cockrum drew his characters with more, uh, robust physiques than most of the artists who preceded him – although his style bears some similarity to late-60s Jack Kirby – and a dynamism which surely influenced later artists such as George Perez. I always loved his costume designs, and the energy of his layouts and figures. I’m especially fond of his Legion work.

He’d been struggling with diabetes in recent years, and has been one of the old guard of artists who hasn’t gotten much work in the industry lately, which is too bad since I think he still had a lot to contribute, and he was a much better artist than a lot of the Image-influenced artists around today.

Sad news to wrap up the weekend.

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