Monday, April 02, 2007

More Marshall Rogers

Steven Bove sent this to me late last week, but as I was away it slipped by. Still it moves me to near tears to realise that sheer impact that Marshall Rogers had on people, worldwide. I do feel for people who knew Marshall and those who worked with him in such a way that their names are forever linked.

Funnily enough Marshalls passing has raised an interesting argument as some attempt to rewrite history with unfair comparisms between Rogers and Neal Adams. Frankly both men were two different artists in two different eras. Both men were talented and both have left an impact that can never be erased. For me though, Rogers was one of the first Batman artists that I became aware of, at the same time as I became aware of Michael Golden, Walt Simonson, Alan Weiss, Don Newton, Michael Netzer, Jim Starlin and a host of others. Through those artists I backtracked and became aware of Neal Adams, so you could say that Marshall Rogers led me to Neal Adams, and not vice versa.

Over to Steven.
On the wall behind me is a framed comic strip given to me by a former VP at DC Comics. I’ve had it for close to twenty years. I told my wife I have always wanted to have it signed by the artist but even though I had met him several times I had failed to have the work with me. In 2005 I made it a point to get the strip signed.

I hadn’t seen Marshall Rogers in a very long time. He looked older but he still smiled with the enthusiasm of a man happy to be doing what he loved. As I approached the table at the convention in NYC and put the strip in front of him I was reminded of all the times I chased him down the hallways of DC Comics to show him my pathetic attempts to copy his style.

Marshall was always friendly and patient. I must have had him autograph anything I could get my hands on because I noticed just a few months ago that his signature was on most of the books that he drew in my collection. As a production man at DC I always asked to prep Marshall’s books for print and it was always a privilege and an honor.

The last time I saw Marshall was while he was doing the Batman strip for the daily newspapers. That was the happiest I had ever seen him. I remember every strip coming across my desk and the thrill I got from being a small part of that amazing time in comics.

So here we were in 2005 and as Marshall signed the strip a smile came across his face and he just held the work a few seconds and looked at it. I could see he was remembering with fondness a very special time in his life. I said, “I’ve had this for a very long time.” He didn’t say a word but handed me the piece. I said thank you and left. A few weeks later I had the piece framed.

Today I’m saddened at the passing of someone who had perhaps the greatest impact on me as an artist.

Marshall Rogers was the perfect synthesis of both the cartooning and realistic elements that makes for a great comic book artist. He certainly drew the greatest Batman I’ve ever seen and for many it was the definitive version.

This Saturday I teach a class on comics at a college in Connecticut. I’ve been trying to figure out how to open the hour…now I have my opening as sad as it is. But the legacy of Marshall Rogers seems appropriate.

--Steven Bove

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