John Romita, Sr., one of the most respected artists in modern comic books has died at the age of 93. John Romita, Sr., won the Inkpot Award and was inducted into both the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame. He was both a penciller and an inker. His artwork ranged from superheroes (including some of Spider-Man’s most famous cover art,to horror, westerns, science fiction, and romance.
John Romita, Sr. had a long career doing what he loved: creating art. He served his country honorably; he was in the army in the 1950s. During his long career (he started as a professional artist at only seventeen) he earned the admiration of his fans and the respect of his peers. He died peacefully in his own bed, at the age of 93. n He leaves behind a wife, Virginia Romita, and two sons, John, Jr. and Victor. It was a long, full life, and we hope, a good one.
Romita co-created a number of Mary Jane Watson, NYPD Captain George Stacy (Gwen’s father), Wolverine, the Kingpin, the Rhino, the Shocker, the Prowler, Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo, Tigra, and Bullseye. He also drew the first appearance of Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel.
Although best known for his work on Spider-Man, Romita got his start as a professional artist illustrating a medical exhibit on pneaumatology medicine for Manhattan General Hospital when he was only 17. In the army, he illustrated recruiting posters. In the late Forties, Romita worked as a ghost artist for Timely Comics. When he was working at a lithograph company, a friend from high school asked if he’d be interested in pencilling for a ’20s crime story comic book. Although he was uncredited, he earned more drawing two pages as a ghost artist than he did in a week at his day job, so he quickly agreed. Romita ghost pencilled for Lester Zakarin for both Timely Comics and Trojan Comics, and eventually got the credit he was due. In the ’50s, Corporal Romita went to the offices of Atlas Comics (formerly Timely Comics), which would eventually become Marvel Comics and applied to Stan Lee’s secretary. Stan gave him a four page sci-fi story to pencil and ink, and the rest is history.
Like many comic book artists and writers, Romita freelanced for more than one company. In the mid-1950’s, John Romita, Sr. began working more and more often for DC Comics, until he was working for them exclusively. Rather than superheroes, he worked primarily on romance comics, such as Heart Throbs, Secret Hearts, Young Love, Girls’ Romances, and Girls’ Love Stories. Romance comics eventually fell out of fashion, but DC did not offer Romita any superhero work at that time. As a freelancer, he inked Avengers #23 in 1965. Stan Lee hired him to draw Daredevil. Romita said, “What Stan Lee wanted was for me to do a two-part Daredevil story [issues #16–17, May–June 1966] with Spider-Man as a guest star, to see how I handled the character.” After eight issues of Daredevil, Romita was hired to replace Steve Ditko as the principal artist of The Amazing Spider-Man. From 1966 to 19xx, (sorry Gene, can’t find when he stopped on Amazing Spider-Man. Ask Thaddeus) Romita illustrated what quickly became Marvel’s most popular comic book. From 1977 TO 1980, Romita drew the Spider-man comic strip, syndicated in newspapers across the country. In 1973, Stan Lee officially promoted Romita to art director of Marvel, a job he’d been doing unofficially for years.
John Romita, Sr. was born January 34, 1930, in New York City, NY, USA. He graduated from Manhattan’s School of Industrial Art in 1957. In 1952 he married Virginia Bruno; they had two sons, Victor and John, Jr. He died June 12, 2023 in Floral Park, New York. He will be remembered for a long time. Rest in peace, sir.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.