By now, you’ve probably heard about the death this week of artist Marshall Rogers. This one hits really hard; he was only 57 years old, and should’ve had a long life and career ahead of him. Hearing of his passing made me flash back to 1978, when I got to meet him.
I was 15 years old, not yet able to drive, but my mother took my best friend Matt Turner and me to the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, at the old Dunfey Hotel in Atlanta. It was only my second comic con (my first being a very small one in my hometown of Montgomery, Alabama), and I was blown away by the sheer number of people there. But one of the highlights was getting to meet Marshall Rogers.
The guy sat at his table the whole weekend, batting out sketch after sketch of Batman. But as cool as his figurework was, each drawing was filled with meticulously rendered architectural backgrounds, of cityscapes with detailed windows, fire escapes, brickwork, and more. The fact that he penciled them so tightly, then managed to just as exactly ink them using two black Design markers (one thin nib, and one fat), just floored me. I remember thinking how much Terry Austin’s rapidograph style added to the look of his work, having seen his actual pencils. But even without Terry’s inks, the guy’s work was just awe-inspiring.
My buddy Matt and I sat in on a panel with Marshall, talking about his Batman work (which, if memory serves, was just about to wrap up at the time). At the Program Book for the convention featured a really cool Rogers revamp of Blackhawk (I’ve gotta call Matt and see if he still has a copy of the cover; if so, I’ll post it here). I kept waiting and waiting for DC to announce a Blackhawk relaunch with Marshall as artist, but it never happened.
In talking to Marshall at the con, I mentioned a great, really creepy full-page Darkseid close-up from one of his Mr. Miracle issues. He said that he hung the original art on his front door to keep salesmen away.
A couple of years ago, I got the chance to talk to him again (not that he remembered me from when I was 15, mind you). I approached him about inking the cover to Jack Kirby Collector #35, and he instantly agreed. He said he loved Jack’s work, and I think some of the dynamism shows in his art.
The guy was great, and it’s a shame he didn’t do more comics work than he did. Still, what he did was fabulous. I’ll miss him a lot.