Dick Giordano, one of comics’ finest artists, editors and professionals, died Saturday morning from leukemia. He was 77 years old.
The man may be gone, but his legacy and work will live forever.
Giordano’s legacy will live in the thousands of comics he drew, from the charming Charlton romances of the ’50s and ’60s, through the controversial issues of Green Lantern/Green Arrow he inked – certainly among the most reprinted comics in the history of the medium – to his spectacular inks over Mike Sekowsky on Wonder Woman and “Supergirl” in Adventure Comics to his work co-creating the Human Target, to the dozens of wonderful covers he drew and inked in the late ’70s and early ’80s, through to the hundreds of pages he produced for Valiant Comics in the ’90s.
Giordano was a professional artist, in the truest sense of that term, and each and every page he illustrated shows a caring and professionalism that shines though in every one of his beloved brushstrokes. He remains one of the definitive artists in comics history.
Giordano’s legacy will also live on in the hundreds of comics he oversaw in his career, true comics classics like Steve Ditko’s Blue Beetle, “Question” and Creeper, the Skeates/Aparo run on Aquaman and Alex Toth on Hot Wheels.
The list of classics listed above includes just the comics that Dick worked on as an editor. It excludes the brilliant work Giordano performed in the 1980s overseeing DC’s line. Without Giordano we might never have had classics like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Dark Knight Returns and Swamp Thing. Heck, if Giordano hadn’t traveled to England looking for new creative talent, Alan Moore’s work for American comics would have been dramatically different.
Giordano’s greatest legacy will live on in the way he fought relentlessly for creators’ rights over the years. Giordano was the first Vice President – and later President – of the ACBA, the Academy of Comic Book Arts. The ACBA was a radical organization for its time, devoted to the idea that comic artists deserved to have the sorts of treatment that we take for granted these days. At that time, comics creators received no royalties, artists didn’t receive their original artwork back, and they lived at the mercy of occasionally capricious and uncaring editors.
As Giordano states in an interview for TwoMorrows’ 2003 book Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day at a Time, “The better your creators are treated, the more benefits they’re going to produce for you and make you more money. The better artists will be able to get more money from selling their pages, which will mean more for you – the publisher – without you having to pay more for it.”
Giordano was a businessman, but he was an enlightened businessman. His eye was always set on two targets at the same time: he didn’t just care about business success; he also cared about the men and women who worked for him.
It’s striking that the word used most often to describe Giordano is nice. Giordano was a charming man, as anyone who read his editorials or letter columns would agree. But Giordano was also kind to the people who worked with him, always making their needs and aspirations into a priority for him. Of course, those needs and aspirations also helped bring DC some of its greatest artistic and professional successes while he was the company’s Editorial Director. Those successes aren’t the result of coincidence. They’re the direct result of the enlightened way that Giordano helped run DC Comics.
A brilliant artist. A terrific editor. A relentless advocate for creators’ rights. Dick Giordano had a full and auspicious career in the comics industry. He will be sorely missed.