Heroes come in all forms.
They can be the ones in capes and colorful outfits, those protecting our freedoms each and every day, or just a humble comic book artist, who happens to be a master of his craft.
Though he’ll deny it every chance he gets, John Romita Jr. is a hero to so many.
It’s well-known that if you intend on getting an autograph from the Marvel legend at any convention, plan to wait … and wait … then wait a little longer.
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Why? Because Romita spends time talking to and reconnecting with fans, friends and colleagues throughout his appearances. No matter who you are, the icon enjoys hearing your stories, about your passion for Spider-Man or Daredevil and truly relishes his role in your fandom.
Stand by his table at conventions and you’ll hear more than once a comment on Romita’s character, love for his work or simply how he’s, “one of the nicest guys in the industry.”
We got a chance to sit down with the legendary artist to talk about stepping into the family business, his first experience with superheroes and what his work means to comic book lovers around the globe.
Real Life Superheroes
There’s too many Romita hits to name — Hobgoblin, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, the Prowler — but one accomplishment stands above all the rest for the man, but “for the wrong reasons.”
After the events of 9/11 in Romita’s hometown of New York, no one knew how to properly carry on with life in America, especially hobbies like comics.
But Romita, Scott Hanna, Michael Straczynski and others decided to put out a special black cover of Amazing Spider-Man #36.
“It ended up being an important piece,” Romita says, explaining the cover and story came about because “There are no words” to describe such a tragic event in our history.
“That’s the part that became the basis for the story,” he continued. “It’s a product I’m very proud of, but for the wrong reasons.”
What he is proud of, even emotional about, is what the issue and his work has meant to so many, including real-life heroes like the brave men and women of the New York City Fire Department.
“Scott and I went to a comic book store in Las Vegas to sign that issue,” John explained about the time shortly after 9/11. “It was maybe 6 to 8 weeks after the attacks … a bunch of fire fighters came in.”
The group of New York heroes had connected with fellow fire fighters from San Diego after driving cross country in the middle of the night to make it in time to share their appreciation for what John, Hanna and others had done.
“Scott and I sat there with tears running down our cheeks that these guys acted like we were important and … these guys are superheroes,” he says, fighting back his emotions about the story.
“So, we vowed to take that book and remark it every single time it was in front of us. We’re gonna get them all and it’s a point of honor for us,” he added.
While he may be humble about his impact on the world, even in the toughest of times, it’s pretty clear art, comics and superheroes can be just what people need in the midst of real tragedy.
So, all I can say to that is thank you JR. For how you inspire us all, no matter what — Thank you.