John Romita Sr., renowned Marvel Comics artist and contributor, has died aged 93. Mr Romita was behind iconic characters such as Wolverine and Spider-Man’s love interest, Mary Jane Watson.
Romita Sr. was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where he launched his creative journey at Manhattan’s School of Industrial Art, graduating in 1947.
Following his stint in the army, Romita Sr. made his foray into the comic book world, leaving an indelible mark on two of the industry’s giants – Marvel and DC.
He cemented his reputation after joining forces with Stan Lee, Marvel’s editor-in-chief, to work on The Amazing Spider-Man, stepping into the shoes of the original artist, Steve Ditko. Under Romita Sr.’s stewardship, the series skyrocketed to become Marvel’s highest-grossing title.
Romita Sr.’s creative tenure was marked by introducing an array of beloved characters – Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man’s heartache; the villainous Punisher; and the formidable crime boss, Kingpin. His artistic prowess extended to the creation of Wolverine featured first in an Incredible Hulk issue, and Luke Cage, one of the earliest black superheroes in a Marvel comic book.
Romita Sr. also introduced enduring Spider-Man characters like the villainous Vulture, mobster Hammerhead, sonic-powered Shocker, Hobgoblin, journalist Robbie Robertson, and George Stacy, Gwen Stacy’s father. His art graced classic titles such as ‘The Night Gwen Stacy Died’ (1973) and the wedding of Spider-Man’s alter-ego, Peter Parker, to Mary Jane in 1987.
In the early 1970s, Romita Sr. took on the mantle of Marvel’s art director, a role he served for over two decades. Despite semi-retiring in 1996, his passion for art remained undimmed as he continued contributing to Spider-Man projects for Marvel and a Superman cover for DC.
Romita Sr. often spoke modestly of his talent, stating in a 2002 interview, “No matter what success I’ve had, I’ve always considered myself a guy who can improve on somebody else’s concepts. A writer and another artist can create something, and I can improve it.” He was recognised for his contributions and inducted into the Eisner Awards Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Inkwell Awards Hall of Fame in 2020.
Romita Sr.’s creations continue to captivate audiences, with many of his characters adapted for animated and live-action TV shows and films. His legacy persists, etched in the annals of comic book history.
Romita Sr. is survived by his wife, Virginia, and two sons, Romita Jr. and Victor.