By Leroy Douresseaux
Jun 21, 2005 - 13:31
In late 2003, I began conducting an interview with legendary comic book artist Dave Cockrum (a co-creator of "the New X-Men" in the mid-70's) that I was unable to finish, but we did discuss his appearance as a guest artist on Legion of Super-Heroes #25 last year, which was the LSH 45th anniversary celebration issue.
I'd received the answers to the initial round of questions (which focused on his new Legion work) in late November 2003. At first, the interview, originally done for Mr. Charlie Opens the Door, was going to focus on Mr. Cockrum's current work. However, the second group of questions that I sent him focused on issues of creative ownership, credit, and (the lack of) royalties to veteran comics writers and artists who had created many characters that were earning (and had already earned) millions of dollars for both Marvel and DC.
In Dave's case, the X-Men, in particularly the New X-Men, had turned into a lucrative film and merchandising franchise with the film, X2: X-Men United becoming one of the biggest box office hits of 2003, grossing over $200 million domestically. Yet Marvel Comics, their owners and the larger stockholders, 20th Century Fox, and, director Bryan Singer were reaping all the benefits of the X-Men's film success, and the various comics creators who created the most popular X-Men concepts were seeing little and, as was the case of most X-creators, nothing.
When I didn't hear back from Mr. Cockrum, I assumed that I'd either insulted him with the second batch of questions or had touched too raw a nerve. Then, veteran comics writer, novelist, and screenwriter, Peter David reported on his web log (www.peterdavid.net) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 that Dave Cockrum had been hospitalized at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in the Bronx, NYC. According to the information that David received, Mr. Cockrum was suffering from pneumonia and was on a respirator; he had been admitted into the hospital two week earlier for complications of diabetes. David later reported on his blog (Sat., Jan. 17, 2004) that Cockrum was off the respirator and had been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit.
On Monday morning, Jan. 19, 2004, comics website NEWSARAMA (www.newsarama.com) published a letter from Clifford Meth, a long time friend of Mr. Cockrum and his current publisher. He informed the industry and readers that Mr. Cockrum and his wife Paty were, of course, in that time of grave illness in need of financial assistance. According to Meth, he was going to publish a tribute book, THE UNCANNY DAVE COCKRUM TRIBUTE. An art portfolio, the book would feature artistic and written contributions from friends and admirers of Mr. Cockrum including Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Peter David, Marv Wofman, Roy Thomas, Johnny Romita, Ron Garney, Walt Simonson and others.