Doug Marlette dies in car crash

July 11th, 2007 by Jeff | Dump Core

Okay, it’s not necessarily a “webcomics” article, but definitely comics related. As I was reading the Reuters feed on AvantGo this morning, I stumbled upon this article. Cartoonist Doug Marlette, best known for his scathing editorial cartoons and his long-running syndicated comic strip Kudzu, died yesterday at the age of 57 in a car wreck in Mississippi, ironically after attending his father’s funeral.

I’m not a big fan of syndicated comics anymore, and I only read three of them now with any sort of regularity. I only read them online and one of those three, Calvin and Hobbes, is no longer being produced and is running in reruns. Like many online cartoonists, I’ve found syndicated comics have lost their flavor, having been drained of all originality by syndicate editors seeking to appeal to the lowest common denominator in order to get into the most newspapers (and thus make the most money (for the syndicate, of course, as the artist sees very little of the profits)). Still, I remember Kudzu fondly from reading it when I was younger. I never really kept up with it after my local paper dropped it, and never bothered to follow up with it once I started following other syndicated strips online.

Then a few years ago David Allen of Plan Nine Publishing asked me to do a little bit of coloring work for him. It turned out that he was able to secure a contract for a few books with Mr. Marlette. He was one of the first syndicated cartoonists to hook up with Plan Nine. David needed someone to color the cover art for Marlette’s first two Plan Nine books, and he asked if I were up to the task. You can find the two books in their catalog here and here. David assured me that he was quite pleased with the results; his exact quote was “Again, Beautiful, David. My compliments to the colorist. This is fun.” I’m afraid this was as close as I ever got to Mr. Marlette, and I wished I had taken the opportunity then to contact him directly.

I know this post is far heavier on information than it is on sentimentality. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. On one hand, I could expound on the virtues of a man I barely know and only through his mass-produced work… which probably wouldn’t be very deep. I could spit out something “profound” about the brevity of life and how we should live our lives as if there were no tomorrow, but that’s been done to death and I doubt I have much noteworthy to add. Yet at the same time, I do feel a tiny bit of loss, as this was an individual that I had at least the briefest touch of a professional relationship with, even if I never met him in person. I’m not sure if they would be in the slightest bit interested, or if they would ever even hear of this post, but I certainly wish to express my condolences to his family and friends.

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