[NOTE: On July 6th CBR learned that the following story is not true. Please read The Comic Wire for an update on this story. – Jonah Weiland]
On May 31st comic artist John Statema was killed in an auto accident in Los Angeles, CA. Fans who’ve been in comics for a few years will likely remember his name as he worked pretty much everywhere, from DC and Marvel to companies like the Malibu and other small press labels.
Today Jerry Ordway sent out to the comics press a memorial of John Statema, a long time friend of Jerry’s. We reprint the memorial in its entirety below:
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of my friend and fellow artist, John Statema. John died in an automobile accident on May 31st in Los Angeles, a month shy of his 40th birthday. He is survived by his loving wife Betty.
Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, John Statema drew comics for many publishers, starting in the mid 1980’s. His name may be familiar to many, though he never had the luxury of a long run on any one character. He drew for many small press companies, on books like “The Hero Alliance” and “Evangeline.” He also illustrated for DC Comics off and on, drawing “Manhunter,” “Superman” , and many others. In the early 1990’s, at Malibu, he drew “The Solution,” and “Prime.” Later, at Marvel Comics, he drew “Avengers Unplugged.”
As the comic book market shrunk, jobs became more scarce. Tired of chasing down assignments, John went back to school to learn computer animation, and landed work quickly at Nickleodeon, as a character designer on the cartoon show “The Angry Beavers.” From there, he spent a year at Stan Lee Media doing web cartoons. The job he held at the time of his death was again as a character designer, this time for Sony Animation on the “Jackie Chan Adventures.”
I’ve called John “friend” since 1984, when he came to visit the studio I shared with Pat Broderick, Mike Machlan and Al Vey, in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Looking at his work, still rough around the edges, I saw a great natural talent, and an endless store of ideas. He was truly an untapped resource in comics. John had some amazing designs, and concepts for stories he never was able to get into print. He gave 110% to any assignment he ever did. Late hours, no sleep– whatever it took– he got the job done.
John’s wife Betty was an important influence on him. John had what I’d call a true artist’s temperment- confidence, ego, insecurity, and impatience (with himself and others) jumbled together. Betty was his sounding board– his support, and she kept him sane. Other artists will understand this last part. When an artist draws, it is personal, and criticism hurts more than praise soothes. Rejection is taken on a personal level, invariable, and some artists cannot maintain the confidence they need to continue . Betty helped John realize he was good, and had worth beyond what lines he could put on paper. Her love kept him going.