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Marvel Comics Artist John Romita Sr. Dead At 93

John Romita Sr., the influential artist who helped create several of Marvel's well-known characters, died at the age of 93, according to his son, John Romita Jr. "I say this with a heavy heart, my father passed away peacefully in his sleep. He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honor to follow in his footsteps," he wrote on Twitter on June 13. The post includes a photo of his father holding an "Amazing Spider-Man" cover, a series he started working on in 1966.

After taking over for Steve Ditko, who co-created the series with Stan Lee, Romita helped introduce staple characters like Kingpin in "The Amazing Spider-Man #50," Rhino in "The Amazing Spider-Man #41," and Mary Jane Watson, whom Peter Parker meets in "The Amazing Spider-Man #42." However, his drawing technique was quite different from his predecessor's, with Romita telling Syfy Wire in 2017 that he preferred a brush over a pen, which was Ditko's preferred style.

"I tried for the first year to use a pen, which was hard for me. ... I think maybe in the beginning of the second year, I started to cheat and use a brush a little bit more. ... Slowly but surely, Stan said, 'You know what? Don't try anymore. Do it the way you want to do it,'" he said. But Romita started working with Marvel way before taking on "The Amazing Spider-Man."

Romita worked for Stan Lee before Lee knew about it

John Romita Sr. started working for Marvel in September 1949 when he became a ghost penciler for inker Lester Zakarin, who turned to Romita because he was struggling to get work not being able to pencil. This arrangement lasted through 1950, after which point he joined the U.S. Army. While stationed at Governor's Island, where Romita drew recruiting posters during the Korean War, he visited Stan Lee's office.

"I go in uniform into Stan's waiting room and said, 'I've been working for Stan for 18 months. He doesn't know me, but I've been doing the work that Lester Zakarin's been turning in.' She comes out with a script. And she said, 'Stan said, "Great." Here's a story.' It was a four-page story, science fiction," he told Comic Book Historians in 2001.

After spending five years on "The Amazing Spider-Man," Romita became Marvel's art director, a role he held for more than 20 years, helping create Wolverine as well as the superstrong Luke Cage and the antihero the Punisher. Despite this, Romita told The Comics Reporter in 2002, "I don't consider myself a creator. I've created a lot of stuff. But I don't consider myself a real creator in a Jack Kirby sense. But I've always had the ability to improve on other people's stories, other people's characters."