I probably should illustrate this memorial post with one of Dave Cockrum's X-Men or Legion of Super-Heroes covers, as those are the titles he was best known for – or maybe one of his own creations, like The Futurians. But I know Dave was a huge fan of Blackhawk, and contributed several very strong covers to the title's mid-80's revival... and I like this one a lot. It seems appropriate, somehow.
I always enjoyed Cockrum's artwork. When he was firing on all cylinders, no one could beat his clean, solid draftsmanship and straightforward storytelling. He was also a hell of a graphic designer; even today he's still regarded and recognized as the master of super-hero costume design.
I only met him once, at a convention in New York City, circa 1983. Somewhere in my collection is a copy of Ms. Marvel issue #20 (pictured at left – isn't that beautiful?) that he autographed for me that day, just one of many Cockrum-drawn books residing with honor in my treasured longboxes. I only spent a moment with him that afternoon, but I'm glad I had that opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed his work.
He passed away this morning, after a long battle with diabetes and complications arising from that condition. He was 63.
Mr. Cockrum was best known for his work on Legion of Super-Heroes and Uncanny X-Men, though his route to comic books wasn't as direct as one might imagine. The artist first spent six years in the United States Navy before finding employment at Warren Publishing. He soon became an assistant to inker Murphy Anderson, which soon brought Dave Cockrum into the orbit of Superboy & The Legion of Superheroes. His work on Legion in the seventies, re-designing the costumes and aesthetic of the series, remains a highpoint in the popular superteam's history. Later, teamed with Len Wein and Chris Claremont, the artist redefined the X-Men at Marvel Comics in Uncanny X-Men and Giant Size X-Men.
Another master passes....