Archive for Obituaries

Why So Serious?


Why so serious? Probably because Heath Ledger’s dead.

Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday at a downtown Manhattan residence, and police said drugs may have been a factor. He was 28. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Ledger had an appointment for a massage at the Manhattan apartment believed to be his home. The housekeeper who went to let him know the masseuse had arrived found him dead at 3:26 p.m.

The Australian-born actor was nominated for an Oscar for “Brokeback Mountain,” where he met his wife, actress Michelle Williams, in 2005. Ledger and Williams had lived in Brooklyn and had a daughter, Matilda, until they split up last year.

Ledger was to appear as the Joker this year in “The Dark Knight,” a sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins.” He’s had starring roles in “A Knight’s Tale” and “The Patriot,” and played the suicidal son of Billy Bob Thornton in “Monster’s Ball.”

So from the looks of it, the last time you’ll be able to see Heath Ledger in a movie is going to be in the Batman sequel this summer. You’ve seen him in the trailer for “The Dark Knight,” right? Looks incredible. It’s a bummer that we won’t be able to see him in anything else — I had him picked as picking up his first Oscar in the next coupla years…

Any of y’all see this coming? I sure didn’t. Ledger seemed like a guy who’d gotten his act together. To go out as a disposable bad guy in a comic-book movie just doesn’t seem right.

Comments off

The Tragedy of the Great American Hero

Richard Jewell, 1962-2007

Five’ll gitcha ten, you don’t remember who this guy was. Heck, there are people who would really prefer that you forget him. He’s an embarrassment, a reminder of their own failure and foolishness and hate.

And you might be wondering why the guy running the comic book blog is writing about a guy you’ve never heard of.

Let me refresh your memory.

In 1996, Atlanta was playing host to the Summer Olympics. Big money, big TV audience, big publicity. The U.S. picked up 101 medals. Muhammad Ali lit the torch in the opening ceremonies, and everyone thought that was pretty much awesome. Kerri Strug injured her ankle and still landed a near-perfect score on the vault. Kurt Angle, before he became a professional wrestler, won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling with a severely injured neck.

Richard Jewell was a nobody, overweight, unremarkable, unsuccessful, living with his mother. He got a job as a lowly security guard at Centennial Olympic Park during a concert on July 27. He noticed a stray knapsack lying under a bench, got suspicious, called it in, and started moving people away from the area. Three pipe bombs inside the knapsack exploded, killing one woman and injuring 111 people. A Turkish cameraman died of a heart attack while rushing to film the incident.

Jewell was hailed as a hero who certainly prevented the deaths of dozens of people. But after four days, the FBI decided he might be a suspect. They tipped off the media. And for the next several weeks, while the feds repeatedly searched his mother’s house, many media companies all but declared him guilty of the bombing.

The FBI eventually had to announce that he wasn’t a suspect, and the press slinked away, probably looking for some small cute animal they could stab. Jewell had gone from nobody to hero to villain… but instead of being hailed, again, as the hero of the Olympic Park bombing, he just went back to being a nobody. He had trouble getting jobs because many still believed he was the bomber. He got settlements from the New York Post and NBC, though the Atlanta Journal-Constitution fought his suit clear ’til his death.

Turns out the bomber was a psychotic “Christian Identity” terrorist named Eric Rudolph. Rudolph later bombed a lesbian bar and two abortion clinics, setting secondary bombs that would target police, fire, and emergency medical personnel. When the cops finally identified him, he went into hiding for over five years. When he was caught, he took a plea bargain solely to avoid the death penalty. He’s expressed no regrets, and he sends out letters that are generally considered harassment against his victims and incitement for his supporters to commit more violence. He’s scum, a racist, and a terrorist, and I’m thoroughly happy that he’ll die in prison.

Last year, Georgia governor Sonny Perdue officially commended Jewell for his heroism. I gotta tell you, from what I’ve read, Perdue hasn’t been the greatest governor around, but when I heard that he’d done that for Jewell, my admiration for him jumped sky-high. He got the chance to take a guy who’s been dumped on by life, despite the good he’d done, he brought him back before the public, and said, “This guy’s a hero. Give him the respect he deserves.” That’s a beautiful thing to do for someone. It doesn’t make up for all the crap he’d had to put up with, but it was great to see that someone remembered him.

Jewell was diagnosed with diabetes early this year, and his kidneys were failing. He died on August 29th. The media reported his death, but too many omitted their parts in trying to put a hero in prison.

If we lived in the Marvel Universe, Captain America would’ve shaken Richard Jewell’s hand on national TV, lectured us about our fickle loyalties, and made sure Nick Fury gave Jewell a good job in SHIELD. If we lived in the DC Universe, Batman would’ve cleared Jewell in two days, had Rudolph in custody in three, and the Wayne Foundation would’ve made sure Jewell and his mom spent the rest of the rest of their lives comfortably well-off and suitably respected by everyone.

We live in the real world, where people have fan websites for murderous terrorists like Eric Rudolph, and where there are no statues honoring heroes like Richard Jewell.

That’s insane, and that’s all there is to say about it.

Comments off

Gone Too Soon

Comic artist Mike Wieringo is dead of a heart attack at 44. That’s way, way too young for us to lose such a wonderful talent.

Mark Waid is a guy who’s worked with a lot of different artists. This is what he had to say:

I could spend the rest of the day writing and writing and writing to explain how empty this makes the world and I wouldn’t come close to getting it across. Mike’s artistic style quietly influenced an entire generation of artists that followed. I could never get it into his thick, humble head in what regard he was held by his fellow professionals. Mike was a member of a very small club of illustrators–among them, Alex Toth, Michael Golden, Kevin Nowlan–who were so revered by their peers that the brilliance of their work was never a matter of debate.

Any time I saw Mike’s characteristic “‘Ringo!” signature on the cover, I knew I was going to get a beautifully and excitingly drawn comic.

He’ll be sorely missed.

Comments off

Cartoonist Marlette dead at 57

Doug Marlette died Tuesday in a car accident. He was an editorial cartoonist, the creator of the “Kudzu” comic strip, and a novelist. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial cartoons back in 1988.

Born in Greensboro, Marlette grew up in North Carolina, Mississippi and Florida. He graduated from Florida State in 1971 and joined the Observer the next year. After more than a decade in Charlotte, he moved to the Atlanta Constitution before stops at New York Newsday and the Tallahassee Democrat.

“Cartoons are windows into the human condition,” Marlette said in 2006 after joining the staff at the Tulsa World. “It’s about life.”

Marlette was a distinguished visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s journalism school, and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

Robert E. Lorton III, publisher and president of the Tulsa World, told the newspaper’s Web site that Marlette’s death was “a great tragedy, not only for the Tulsa World family, but for all who knew Doug.”

“He was more than a great cartoonist and author, he was a tremendous human being,” Lorton said. “Words cannot express the grief that we are all feeling today.”

Marlette’s website has a pretty good overview of his work.

Comments off