Francis Tsai, the concept and comic-book artist who continued to draw even after Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis cost him the use of his arms and legs, passed away Thursday.
After word of his death began to spread last night on social media, his wife Linda made the official announcement on his Facebook page, writing, This is all pretty new and I'm still a little in shock. Suddenly there is a big hole in my life. Francis was my soul mate. I loved him for his integrity, his (somewhat warped) sense of humor and his artistic drive. I will miss him like crazy."
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised in Lubbock, Texas, Tsai worked primarily in the video game industry as a concept artist, with credits that include Myst III: Exile, Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Star Trek: Hidden Evil.
However, he also drew covers for Marvel's Heroes For Hire, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and Exiles, and provided interior art for several issues of the Marvel Comics Presents anthology. Tsai also illustrated the 2008-2009 miniseries Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson: Homecoming, from Dabel Brothers Publishing, and the four-issue Tracker from Top Cow Productions. He released his own book, Extreme Worlds, in 2009.
In 2010, at age 42, Tsai was diagnosed with ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and gradually lost movement throughout most of his body. However, was determined to draw, as the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman detailed in 2013, first using his big toe and the screen of his iPhone and later, when he could no longer move his arms, legs or feet, eye-tracking software and a tablet (see a couple of examples of his art below).
Tsai remained active on Facebook, posting artwork and updates about scientific research into ALS. However, in December he acknowledged that his condition was worsening, writing, "Hi every body. Sorry for the absence. Super hard to type, unable to draw. One hit point left. Could be worse ..."
Linda has asked on Tsai's Facebook page for friends and fans to "Please post your stories, memories and reflections on Francis here and help keep him alive in our hearts."