Aw, man, Wayne Howard died.
Passed away of a heart attack at age 58.
Howard avoided publicity and didn’t do interviews, so I can’t give you much detail on his life. Wayne Howard started in the industry working for Will Eisner(!) and spent time in Wally Wood’s studio, sometimes ghosting for Mr. Wood. Later on, Howard did a few job for Marvel and DC inking Marvel Team-up and Wonder Woman, but the bulk of his work was for Charlton, including…
or, better yet….
A title Howard, solo, conceived. He also drew the covers for the book, did much of the interior art, colored, inked, and lettered, occasionally scripted and was creator-credited BY NAME on the cover – An unheard of practice for Charlton comics at that time. (Or ever.)
Midnight Tales, especially, is a favorite of mine – Heck it’s my all-time favorite Horror Anthology title periodfullstop. Instead of a single, Crypt-Keeper style narrator, the heroes of the series were Professor Coffin and his exceedingly comely niece Arachne who pull double duty – sometimes acting as observers, sometimes active participants in the stories. It’s a funny, sexy, all-round enjoyable comic series, scary only when you least expected it.
Sadly, Howard left the comics industry in 1983.
I never met him, but I had a hell of a lot of respect for his work.
I think the major strength of Howard’s art was it’s unpredictablity: The camera would swoop down and slide, telling the story from eight or nine different angles on a single page, until static shots were rare enough to mean something. The panels themselves would alternate between near George-Perez level detail (check the above and below covers) and uncluttered, one-or-two figure drawings depending on the story’s immediate needs. On top of this story-based-randomness, Howard had a psychologist’s eye for body language – Look at how much personality every one of the figures has in the image below.
I would unhesitatingly call him one of the unrecognized greats of his generation. And I know I’m not alone. I remember buying back issues at a Detroit Convention and ending up in a half hour long conversation with five or six strangers about how much we liked Wayne Howard’s work and how sad it is that he’s stuck in relative obscurity. So RIP, Mister Howard. Thanks for giving us as much of your work as you did, but we selfishly wish there had been more.
Howard is survived by his wife and one student, the last of the Wally Wood school.