I started reading and collecting comics in the early-to-mid 1970s, thanks to DC's introduction of the 100-page super-size concept. The lead story was always new material, and the remainder would be a mix of golden-age and silver-age reprints. The very first comic about which I remember pleading to my father, "This one, can I have this one?" was a 100-page issue of Superman Family, and Kurt Schaffenberger was the artist on the lead story.
[Side note: in the fifties and sixties, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger defined the look of the extended Superman family of characters; I think Fred's design in the strip above reflects that look quite nicely.]
Mark Evanier wrote an obituary for Kurt on his POV Online site in which he mentions that Kurt's passing was not unexpected, given the array of health problems that Kurt had been dealing with. Expected or not, Mark is right: it's still a blow.
The roster of dearly departed comics legends just seems to be expanding. Siegel, Shuster, Kane, Finger, Beck, Dillin, Swan, Kirby, Heck, Morrow, Kane, Sekowsky, Buscema, and so many -- too many -- others...
On a semi-related note, renowned Canadian broadcaster Peter Gzowski succumbed to emphysema last week. The great white northern airwaves and Internet sites have been flooded with people singing his praises as a radio broadcaster, journalist, and writer in a career that spanned over 45 years and an estimated 27,000 interviews in his 15-year tenure as host of CBC Radio's 'Morningside' program.
Shortly before Gzowski's passing, another Canadian entertainment legend also passed away: comedian Frank Shuster, who - with partner Johnny Wayne - had entertained international audiences together for almost fifty years, including a record 67 performances on the Ed Sullivan show.
Here's the rub: notwithstanding their long familiar (and all-too Canadian, perhaps) humility with respect to their accomplishments, Peter and Frank aren't here anymore to hear all of the nice things that people are saying about them, and that's a shame.
Why is it so ingrained in human nature to wait until people are dead before we dare open our mouths to talk about how wonderful they are, and about how much their efforts have meant to us?
Super-heroes come back from the dead all the time, as if there's a revolving door on the afterlife; our real-life comic book heroes don't.
Tell you what: if anybody wants to write up a quick note, a fan letter, to their favourite comic book writer or artist of their childhood - particularly if they're still with us - I'll post it here. Use as few or as many words as you feel are necessary, however many it takes for you to capture your thoughts and memories.
Think of it as a Valentine's Day card to some of the icons of your youth.