News spread online this morning that artist and longtime DC Comics editor Dick Giordano has passed away, reportedly due to complications from pneumonia. He was 77. Giordano, who suffered from leukemia, recently had been hospitalized in Florida.
As an inker, Giordano is perhaps best remembered for his work with Neal Adams on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow, with George Perez on Crisis on Infinite Earths, and with John Byrne on The Man of Steel and Action Comics. As managing editor and then vice president-executive editor, he helped to steer DC Comics through its 1980s heyday, when the company revitalized many of its decades-old characters.
"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," artist Bob Layton wrote in a widely circulated statement announcing Giordano's death. "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."
Born on July 20, 1932, in New York City, Giordano began his career as a background inker for Jerry Iger's studio before becoming a freelance artist in 1952 at Charlton Comics. By 1965 he'd risen to editor-in-chief of the company, where he fostered such new talents as Jim Aparo and Dennis O'Neil and oversaw the creation of characters like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom. Two years later he was hired as an editor by DC Comics Publisher Carmine Infantino, and left in 1971 to form Continuity Associates with Neal Adams.
Giordano returned to DC in 1980, initially serving as editor of the Batman line before being promoted to managing editor and then, in 1983, to vice president-executive editor, a position he held until his retirement from the company in 1993. After leaving the publisher, Giordano continued to occasionally pencil and ink -- most notably, Modesty Blaise and The Phantom -- and in 2002 co-founded the short-lived Future Comics with Layton and writer David Michelinie.
He is acknowledged as a mentor and inspiration to a generation of artists. Rob Liefeld hailed Giordano this morning as "the godfather of the modern inking style," while Mike Gold praised his talents as an editor and artist as "nothing short of breathtaking."
"Dick always defended creative freedom and aesthetic opportunity," Gold wrote, "sometimes putting him heads-on with management powers, often representing not his own work but that of the editors in his charge, most certainly including myself, for which I will be forever grateful. He knew the good stuff when he saw it, he knew how to improve it, he knew how to incubate it."
Marv Wolfman added: "Dick was way more than a good inker. He was an encouraging force in the industry who brought in new people and helped nurture them."