This morning, CBR News learned the sad news that longtime comics creator and executive Dick Giordano has died, confirming his passing shortly thereafter. He leaves behind an industry legacy of lush, memorable linework as an artist, character reinvention and creation as an editor and executive and hard-working professionalism across the board. He was 77.
A native of New York City, Giordano got his start in comics with Connecticut publishing outfit Charlton Comics as a freelance penciler and inker in the early 1950s, and by 1965 had risen in the ranks to become the company’s Editor-in-Chief, leading a resurgence of the publisher’s “Action Heroes” like the Blue Beetle and Captain Atom under the pen of legendary Steve Ditko. At Charlton, Giordano also helped give a start to many future legends including Dennis O’Neil and Jim Aparo.
In the late ’60s, Giordano went to work for DC Comics where aside from performing editorial duties for a number of years, he also served as an inker. Eventually, he took up a position with Neal Adams’ Continuity Studios, inking many memorable projects for Adams and others including the superhero genre-redefining “Batman” and “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” as well as blockbuster specials like “Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man” and “Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali.” His trademark was his thick expressive brushwork which always stood out with a personal flair while never detracting from the realistic cartooning of collaborators like Adams and Ross Andru.
Giordano rejoined the editorial ranks of DC in 1980, rising to the position of Executive Editor in 1983 (a position he would hold for a decade). As head of DC’s creative output, Giordano is largely credited with leading the charge on some of the most important comics of the past 30 years including “Crisis On Infinite Earths” (which he also inked) and “Watchmen” which started initially as a story of the Charlton Comics characters he had helped buy for DC after that company’s demise.
Later in life, Giordano continued to work often, nailing deadlines as a penciler and inker for many publishers, starting up the brief Future Comics label and being instrumental in the organization of the fund now known as the Hero Initiative.
“Few could ever hope to match what he accomplished in his chosen profession, or to excel while maintaining great humor, compassion for his peers and an unwavering love for the art form,” said Giordano’s friend and longtime creative partner Bob Layton. “His unique vision changed the comic industry forever and all of those who work in the business continue to share in the benefits of his sizable contributions. I have been honored to call him a business partner, mentor and dear friend throughout the majority of my lifetime. We will not see his like again.”
DC Comics current executive team also offered their thoughts on Giordano’s legacy. “When I was just trying to break into comics back in 1986, I received a lot of form rejection letters, including a very gracious one from Dick at DC Comics. On the DC letterhead, he took the time to pen an additional personal note which I still cherish today. ‘Looking good -Â keep working at it.’ Those few words kept this often dejected young artist hanging in there as it took many many more submissions before I finally broke into comics,” said Jim Lee, Co-Publisher, DC Comics.
“Thank you, Dick, for your words of encouragement, all the years of amazing art and editorial leadership at DC. And finally, for showing us artists how a great inker gets it done.”
“Dick Giordano was an inspiration for me when I first joined DC Comics,” said Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher, DC Comics. “He was an innovator and an industry leader as both a creator and a creative executive. He was truly one of the greats in the business.”
UPDATE 12:20 PM PDT – “Dick Giordano has left a lasting legacy as a comic book artist and as a DC Comics executive,” said Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment. “I join the industry in recognizing his tremendous contribution to DC Comics and send my sympathy to his family and friends.”
UPDATE March 28, 2010 – 7:10 PM PDT – Neal Adams had this to share: “Inking my work was the LEAST significant thing that Dick did for-meant to me. I loved Dick like a brother and a friend. He cared for and loved me. I was made better by him. For a time, we were partners, on a handshake. NO ONE didn’t like Dick Giordano and respect him. Who can say that? Look at that face. JUST,…look at it.”