Comic Art Friday: Suicide mission

Today, Comic Art Friday does the unusual. We’re talking about a comic book writer.

Were I to chart my Top Ten comics writers of all time — and I really ought to do that, one of these Fridays — John Ostrander would occupy a spot high on that list. Although he has written dozens of titles during his 25 years in the industry, Ostrander’s place in my authorial pantheon is assured by his creation of one of my favorite Modern Age (post-1980) series: DC’s Suicide Squad.


John was also the writer who transformed Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, into the wheelchair-bound high-tech wizard Oracle. His other works include stints on such series as The Spectre, Martian Manhunter, Heroes for Hire, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Grimjack, which he also co-created.

I share a personal connection with Ostrander, although we’ve never met. Like my wife KJ, John’s wife and frequent collaborator, Kim Yale, struggled with breast cancer for a number of years. Sadly, Kim lost her battle with the disease in 1997.

These days, Ostrander is fighting an enemy that no superhero he’s written (to my knowledge, anyway) has ever faced: glaucoma. John recently underwent a complex and costly surgery that doctors hope will, with careful follow-up attention, preserve his eyesight. The problem is — and when haven’t we heard this? — that John’s health insurance only partially covers this expensive care.

Ostrander’s colleagues and fans have banded together to spearhead Comix4Sight, an effort to help John pay for the medical services that could potentially keep him from going blind. The core of this campaign is an auction being held at the Chicago Comic-Con on Saturday, August 8. Donations are also being accepted via the Comix4Sight site.

What’s especially cool about this is that whatever funds are generated beyond what’s needed to cover Ostrander’s care will be donated to the Hero Initiative, the charitable organization that assists comic industry professionals in need. Thus, the campaign has the opportunity to benefit not just one comics creator, but possibly others as well.

I know that everyone’s tight on funds these days. But if you have a few extra shekels to spare, John Ostrander’s cause is worthy. Please help if you’re able.

Back to comic art — and that’s always our Friday focus — for just a moment. The amazing Suicide Squad commission you see above was created for me by Geof Isherwood, whose art — first as inker over Luke McDonnell’s pencils, then later as penciler with Robert Campanella inking — graced the second half of the original series’ run. Geof reunites four of the Squad’s key members from its early years: Vixen, Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, and Deadshot.

This beautifully rendered artwork was published in the January 2008 edition of Back Issue, on the opening page of the magazine’s Suicide Squad retrospective.

One other note, only tangentially related. I was sorry to read just now that Ellie Frazetta, the wife of renowned fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, passed away this morning after a year-long battle with cancer. I’ll be blunt: This cancer thing just flat-out sucks.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

Explore posts in the same categories: Breast Cancer Awareness, Comic Art Friday, Dead People Got No Reason to Live, Hero of the Day

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