Saturday, December 4, 2010

John D'Agostino: R.I.P.

I've always been a comic book reader. Until I was 7, I shared a room with my older sister who used to complain that I crinkled the comic books early in the morning when reading, mostly rereading, them. True, books would have been quieter. In any case, I quickly got my own room. To be fair, I also read books, but I preferred, for some unknown childhood reason, to read books at night and comic books in the morning. Maybe I wanted to bug my sister. Seems to me, once I got my own room, I read books in the morning, too!

One of my favorite comics was Archie, and I waited patiently for the new issues of Archie comic books to hit the drugstore. I took turns imagining myself as Veronica or Betty. I saw qualities in both, although I was definitely more of a Betty than I would ever become a Veronica. Still, they were both boy crazy, and I was a bit too young to really understand that and probably to care if I did.  I loved reading and learning about life from these comics, even if the view was a bit skewed.

And the reason for this jaunt down memory lane? John D'Agostino, whose work in comic books ranged from Archie to Jughead to the Incredible Hulk and G. I. Joe (and more), died this week. He was 81. He was artist, letter and colorist for his comics.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, D'Agostino worked at Gold Key and Archie in addition to his freelance work for Marvel. He became more valuable as an inker, and as someone who could finish work from a wide variety of artists no matter the project. In 1985, D'Agostino began working exclusively for Archie on projects ranging from Jughead's Time Police to Sonic The Hedgehog. He continued to receive credits at Archie through this year.

Born in Italy in 1929, D'Agostino emigrated to the United States and got his first job as head colorist at New York City's Timely Comics, the forerunner of Marvel. In fact, D'Agostino was the credited letterer on the first three issues of Marvel's landmark Amazing Spider-Man series. He worked there with Stan Lee, famous for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.

While working at Timely, D'Agostino helped supervise another artist, Stan Goldberg, who later become synonymous with the high school adventures of Archie, Reggie, Veronica and Betty at Riverdale High School.  D'Agostino later joined Goldberg and began a long and enduring career drawing numerous characters until his death, becoming one of the company's most prominent artists.

Besides Jughead, D'Agostino also drew for titles like My Little Margie, G.I. Joe, A Real American Hero, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Sonic The Hedgehog, among others.

D'Agostino's latest work in comics is scheduled to be published in the December issue of Jughead Double Digest (number)166 and several of his covers will be seen through 2011.


Anonymous said...

That is too bad. I loved "Archie" as a kid. I had no idea of the amount of impressive work he did. RIP.

Lisa said...

This really takes me down memory lane. I can identify so much with your comment, Janet, about going to the drugstore and hoping there would be a new one. I wonder if he knew just how much us younger girls enjoyed Archie!

Susan said...

Me too! My favorite comic book, and I was - alas - a Betty even though I was sure Veronica was having more fun. Thanks for reviving the memory and introducing me to someone who gave so much pleasure to us pre-teen girls.