Friday, June 16, 2023

Jazzy John Romita Sr.


If you recognize a drawing of Spider-man, it's likely one of two people.  Ross Andru, whose work was often used in licensing.  Or John Romita, Sr.

Romita wasn't the first person to draw Spider-man.  Instead, he would follow Steve Ditko following his abrupt departure after issue #38 of The Amazing Spider-Man.  Romita would take over as the penciler of Amazing with #39, starting a run that would encompass over 50 covers and an unbroken run of story art for 56 issues.  A run which would cover some of the ground-breaking Spider-Man stories, like the death of Gwen Stacy.

Though Romita never felt comfortable on Spider-Man, his art would become incredibly linked with the character.  He served as the primary penciler for the newspaper strip for the first four years of its publication.  He worked on the first intercompany crossover with Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, doing art corrections over Ross Andru's pencils.  He would provide the cover for Spider-Man's wedding issue, and several spot issues to come.

"For me, John's Spidey is a design of such perfection and beauty so as to be simply the greatest-looking character in comics, by his hand."
Alex Ross, painter, illustrator, Marvels, Kingdom Come

Romita's career in comics lasted from 1949 into 2010, long enough for the Sr. designation on his name to become important.  His son John Romita, Sr. would follow in his footsteps, becoming a celebrated comics artist in his own right.  And on Amazing Spider-man, even.

Romita passed away in his sleep on June 12, 2023, at the age of 93.  While his presence will be missed, his art and his heart will live on, inspiring us to be heroic, to be human.

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