Friday, December 01, 2006

RIP Dave Cockrum

I've waited a few days to get the chance to post this, but I wanted to say a few things about Dave Cockrum, and those things do not include any tirades against Marvel for not taking care of him until recently.

Personal story, enter at your own risk: My second or third day in New York, and in the comics industry as a whole, I was working at the Defiant offices on W36th St., when in comes Dave Cockrum, who proceeds to sit at the drawing board next to mine and look over recently inked pages of his Defiant work: Plasm: Home for the Holidays. Dave, wearing splints on both wrists for carpal tunnel, was clearly not in the very best of health, but was jovial, cordial, just plain fun to talk with.

His one complaint on the Plasm pages: that they had taken the tail off of Nightcrawler in the background of a panel. "He's my character, my trademark." Dave explained to Jim Shooter, "I always draw him into my work somewhere." The inker had taken the tail out, worried about copyright violation. Jim agreed with Dave saying, "he won't be colored exactly the same, I'm not worried about it." "Do we have to send this back to the inker?" Dave asked.

"There's an inker sitting there with a brush in his hand,"says Jim, looking at me. I quickly touch up the artwork and put the tail back in. And I'm thinking, HOW GODDAMN COOL IS THIS??

Somewhere out there is the original art for the cover which i had the pleasure of working on, art that eventually was used as the back cover. I really wish that I had gotten that artwork back.

Dave was a huge Star Trek fan, and entertained everyone in the office with his fluent Klingon and i got the chance to sit there and talk to him about Marvel and the different covers that he worked on that i remembered. He was a great guy, and I have a fond memory of that day getting the chance to sit and work and talk with a guy that somehow never quite became the legend that he should have become for his body of work. It was day 3 of being a peer rather than chatting over the table at a convention. It still makes me smile.

So there you go, just a small memory from the long ago year of 1993, but one that I hold on to. Rest in peace Dave, you go well remembered by so many of us.

I will get this out of the way: after getting a picture of just how bad comics were in trouble in '76 and '77 from guys like Chuck Rozanski, we perhaps should note that the All New, All Different X-Men changed the entire industry, and created the last Great Marvel Property. think about it: everything else that we really see as a Marvel Icon comes from Lee/Kirby or Lee/Ditko (and I don't have to go into the listing of any of those names, do I?) except the modern X-Men. For them, get down on your knees and worship Wein, Wolfman, Cockrum, Claremont, Byrne and Austin. The six of them may be the reason that you can continue to buy comics today.


RAB said...

I've been trying to write something about this for a while, but couldn't come up with I decided to just direct people here instead. It's nice to have that first-hand perspective.

James Meeley said...

That was a great story, Charles. To me, that (and not stuff like what Occassional Superheroine writes about) is what comics is all about.

I just hope that it doesn't take something like this to hear more of these types of stories from you. These tales should be shared at good times, not just sad ones.