John Romita Sr Dies: Legendary Marvel Artist, Co-Creator Of Mary Jane Watson & Wolverine, Was 93

John Romita Sr Dies: Legendary Marvel Artist, Co-Creator Of Mary Jane Watson & Wolverine, Was 93

June 14, 2023

Iconic comic book artist John Romita Sr, known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and for co-creating such characters as Mary Jane Watson, Wolverine and the Punisher, has died. His son and fellow comic book artist, John Romita Jr, announced the news on social media saying his father passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday June 12. He was 93.

Wrote Romita Jr, “He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honor to follow in his footsteps… He was the greatest man I ever met.”

A post shared by John Romita Jr (@johnromitajr)

Romita Sr was born in Brooklyn and began his comic book career in 1949 with Timely Comics (the precursor to Marvel Comics), meeting Stan Lee before being drafted into the army. In the 1950s he worked at rival DC Comics and in 1965 joined Marvel, initially drawing Daredevil comics. In 1966, he took over for Steve Ditko on The Amazing Spider-Man which was then Marvel’s second-biggest seller. “I was sort of counting the days until I could get back on Daredevil,” Romita Sr told Alter Ego in 2001. 

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“I really felt it was obvious that I couldn’t do Spider-Man as well as I could do Daredevil. I was amazed when Stan gave me Spider-Man to do. I felt he was desperate. So I did the book to help him out, hoping all the while that it would be temporary.” Ultimately, he co-created the character of Peter Parker’s love interest Mary Jane Watson and in 1973 was promoted to Art Director at Marvel. 

His other contributions include designing or helping to design the Punisher, Wolverine, Luke Cage and Bullseye. He was also behind Monica Rambeau’s Captain Marvel debut in 1982. He went into semi-retirement in 1996.

In a 2002 interview, he said one of his greatest regrets was being born a bit too late to be part of the first generation of professional cartoonists. “I always felt that I became a follower of necessity. Because they had already done the ground rules. And I became a guy who was just following everybody else’s lead. I think I would have been more of a pioneer and more of a person in my own right rather than a follower. I think it stamped me forever. 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 make it better… I don’t consider myself a creator. I’ve created a lot of stuff. But I don’t consider myself a real creator in a Jack Kirby sense. But I’ve always had the ability to improve on other people’s stories, other people’s characters. And I think that’s what’s made me a living for 50 years.”

His son, Romita Jr is also a respected, longtime Marvel artist known for his work on Amazing Spider-Man, DaredevilUncanny X-Men, Iron Man and Kickass.

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