Comic book artist Steve Lightle has succumbed to Covid. He was best known for illustrating Legion of Super-Heroes and Doom Patrol for DC, and doing cover art for Classic X-Men for Marvel. He also had an on-line comic series, Justin Zane. Steve Lightle was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on Nov. 19, 1959. He died January 8, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. He came down with what he thought was a head cold a mere three days before his death, and died of cardiac failure caused by COVID-19 complications only hours after being admitted to the hospital.
Lightle was not only a gifted artist, but a mentor to younger artists who believed in paying it forward by befriending and helping new talent. He was a popular guest at comic book conventions. Yahoo News quoted his wife as saying “He also liked talking with young aspiring artists … He made some lasting friendships with a few he had mentored.”
Lightle worked with writer Gerry Conway on the limited series DC Challenge, and was part of the creative team on Batman #400. He was better known for his cover art than interior pages. He co-created Tellus and Quislet of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Long live the Legion! His first professional sale was in Black Diamond #4 from AC Comics, but he drew from childhood. Unlike most artists, he made his childhood dream come true, and grew up to be employed working on the comic books he’d been reading since grade school. He was one of the lucky few to be published in DC’s New Talent Showcase, specifically, NTS #4, before being assigned to LSH.
Marianne Lightle gave the revelation in an email to NBC News. Before Lightle’s admission, their son Matthew had announced on Jan. 8 that the Legion of Super-Heroes artist had passed away from cardiac arrest. In the email, she told the media outlet, “Covid stole my husband’s life and our future together. We wore masks, social distanced, washed our hands… It appeared as a cold and became death.”
She wrote about how she felt watching the late comics artist succumb to the disease. “I will never forget the helpless feeling of not being able to save him,” Marianne Lightle stated in the email.
At the moment, she is currently battling the same infectious disease that took her husband. She described Steve Lightle as “a gentle soul” who “felt deeply and was never one to mince words.” She added, “He was my best friend, and I can’t talk about him without losing my grip, because he was my strength.”
Best known for his runs on “Legion” and “Doom Patrol” for DC and “Classic X-Men” covers for Marvel, Lightle became a fixture at conventions, never too busy to mentor the next generation. He came across as larger than life and drew visuals that were just as grand.
“My memories of him are that he was just a very enthusiastic, very warm guy who was excited about everything he was doing,” said Paul Levitz, the writer on Lightle’s “Legion” run and a longtime friend. “He was happy to be contributing in any way that he possibly could, had a bunch of ideas and was just enjoying the hell out of what he was getting to do.”
He is survived by his widow Marianne Lightle, who has also been diagnosed with Covid, their children Matthew and Nina, and five grandchildren, soon to be six.