David Emmett Cockrum (/ˈkɒkrəm/; November 11, 1943 – November 26, 2006) was an American comics artist known for his co-creation of the new X-Men characters Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus. Cockrum was a prolific and inventive costume designer who updated the uniforms of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He did the same for the new X-Men and many of their antagonists in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Dave Cockrum by Michael Netzer
|Born||David Emmett Cockrum|
November 11, 1943
|Died||November 26, 2006 (aged 63)|
Belton, South Carolina
|Area(s)||Writer, Penciller, Inker|
|Legion of Super-Heroes|
|Awards||Inkpot Award 1982|
Cockrum was born on November 11, 1943, in Pendleton, Oregon. His father was a lieutenant colonel of the United States Air Force, resulting in the Cockrums frequently transporting their household from one city to another for years. Cockrum discovered comic books at a young age; an early favorite was Fawcett's Captain Marvel, especially Mac Raboy's Captain Marvel Jr. Other artists whose work the young Cockrum admired were Wally Wood, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, and Joe Kubert.
As a young man, Cockrum was a dedicated "letterhack," who had many letters printed in comic book letter columns such as Fantastic Four #22 (Jan. 1964), The Amazing Spider-Man #12 (May 1964), The Atom #1 (June 1962), and Fantastic Four #36 (March 1965) (return address "YN 'A' School, USNTC"). A letter from Cockrum in Fantastic Four #34 (Jan. 1965) led to a correspondence with Andrea Kline, who later became his first wife.
Cockrum's ambition was to become a comic-book creator himself. Following his school graduation, Cockrum joined the United States Navy for six years. During this time, Cockrum married Kline and had a child with her, Ivan Sean. He created the character Nightcrawler during this time, though the character would not be used until years later.
After leaving the military, Cockrum found employment with Warren Publishing. He was then hired as an assistant inker to Murphy Anderson, who was inking various titles featuring Superman and Superboy for DC Comics. At the time, Superboy featured a "Legion of Super-Heroes" backup strip.
When the position of artist for "The Legion of Super-Heroes" was left vacant, Cockrum sought the job and was rewarded with his first assignment drawing a feature. Cockrum's work on the feature, beginning with a backup story in Superboy #184 (April 1972) and recurring in several following issues "established an exciting new vibe". He remained the artist on the Superboy series after the Legion of Super-Heroes became the main feature of the book with #197 and his art redefined the look of the Legion, creating new costumes and designs that would last until artist Keith Giffen did a similar revamp in the 1980s. Cockrum drew the story wherein the characters Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel were married in Superboy Starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #200 (Feb. 1974). Cockrum eventually left DC and the Legion in a dispute involving the return of his original artwork from that issue.
Moving over to a staff position at Marvel, Cockrum and Len Wein under the direction of editor Roy Thomas created the new X-Men, co-creating such characters as Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. Storm and Nightcrawler were directly based on characters which Cockrum had intended to introduce into the Legion of Super-Heroes storyline had he remained on the title. These characters made their debut in Giant-Size X-Men #1 ([July] 1975), and then in a relaunched Uncanny X-Men (beginning with issue #94).
Journalist Tom Spurgeon wrote,
Cockrum's penciled interiors on those first few issues of the "new" X-Men were dark and appealingly dramatic . . . . Cockrum gave those first few issues of X-Men a sumptuous, late-'70s cinema style that separated the book from the rest of Marvel's line, and superhero comics in general. Reading those X-Men comics felt like sneaking into a movie starring Sean Connery or Sigourney Weaver, not simply like flipping on the television. Uncanny X-Men really felt new and different, almost right away, and Cockrum's art was a tremendous part of that.
Cockrum stayed with the title until 1977 (as main penciller on issues #94–105 and 107), when he was succeeded by penciller John Byrne with issue #108. The final issue of his original, regular run introduced the Starjammers, a spacefaring superhero team he had originally intended to debut in their own series. Issue #110, which Cockrum co-pencilled with Tony DeZuniga, was an inventory issue.
He and Paty Cockrum were married on April 28, 1978. Cockrum quit his staff job at Marvel in 1979 and his angry resignation letter was printed in Iron Man #127 (October 1979) but he continued to work for Marvel as a freelancer. Cockrum was Marvel's primary cover artist during this period, and also penciled and/or inked a number of other titles for DC during this time. Although not a regular artist on the series, he re-designed the costume for Ms. Marvel. When John Byrne left the X-Men in 1981, Cockrum returned to the title with issue #145 but left again with issue #164 (Dec. 1982) to work on The Futurians.
He returned to the X-Universe in 1985 with a four-part Nightcrawler limited series that he wrote as well, a two-part Starjammers limited series in 1990 and an X-Men short story for Marvel Holiday Special #1 in 1991. Two unpublished fill-in issues that Cockrum pencilled in the early 1990s for X-Men and New Mutants respectively were released together posthumously as the one-shot X-Men: Odd Men Out in 2008.
In 1983, Cockrum produced The Futurians, first as a graphic novel (Marvel Graphic Novel #9), and then as an ongoing series published by Lodestone Comics. Though it did not last past issue #3, a collected edition was published by Eternity Comics in 1987 that included the "missing" issue #4. In 1995, Aardwolf Publishing printed the "missing" issue as Futurians #0, with a new five-page story by Cockrum and author Clifford Meth.
In 1994, Cockrum was recruited by Claypool Comics to produce work for them, resulting in several stories for Claypool's Elvira, Mistress of the Dark series beginning with #7. Cockrum was put into rotation on Peter David's Soulsearchers and Company, beginning with issue #13-14, becoming the series' penciler with #17 and penciling most issues through #43. Cockrum contributed a short feature to Richard Howell's "Deadbeats" comic issue #18.
In later years, Cockrum worked less frequently in comics. In 2004, he became seriously ill due to complications from diabetes and pneumonia, and a number of fellow artists and writers led by Clifford Meth and Neal Adams organized a fundraising project. The auction, run by Heritage Auctions at the WizardWorld Chicago show in August, raised over $25,000. Marvel eventually provided an undisclosed amount of financial support in exchange for Cockrum agreeing to terms protected by a nondisclosure agreement. Cockrum said publicly he was "very happy that so many people cared about my work and about me. ... I'm enormously grateful to Clifford Meth and Neal Adams for having moved this forward. ... I'm very happy with what everyone has done, including Marvel."
Cockrum was due to draw an eight-page story in Giant Size X-Men #3 (2005), but a recurrence of his health problems prevented this. Adams filled in.
Cockrum died at his home in Belton, South Carolina, on the morning of November 26, 2006, due to complications from diabetes. He was survived by his wife of many years, Paty Cockrum, a longtime member of Marvel's 1970s production staff, and by his son and two stepchildren.
The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art bestowed the first annual Dave & Paty Cockrum Scholarship to a promising artist in 2008. The scholarship, which was organized by Meth, continues each year and is funded by sales of comics from Cockrum's personal collection.
In the novelization of X-Men: The Last Stand, the President is named "David Cockrum." Cockrum's longtime associate Chris Claremont created a character in homage to Cockrum in Exiles who eventually "moved on" at the end of X-Men: Die by the Sword, which ended with a full-page tribute to Cockrum.
Comics work (interior pencil art if not stated otherwise) includes:
After more than a year as Murphy Anderson's background inker, Dave Cockrum landed his big DC break as the 'Legion of Super-Heroes' artist." "Cockrum's debut story, which was written by Cary Bates, quickly established an exciting new vibe for the super-team.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
[Editor Roy] Thomas realized that if X-Men was to be successfully revived, it needed an exciting new concept. Thomas came up with just such an idea: the X-Men would become an international team, with members from other countries as well as the United States. Writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum were assigned to the new project and the result was Giant-Size X-Men #1.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
| Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes artist
| Uncanny X-Men artist
| Uncanny X-Men artist
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In addition to his mainstream incarnations, Thunderbird has been depicted in other fictional universes. The most notable alternative version of the character is the member of the original Exiles team. In other media, Thunderbird is one of the main characters adapted to the live-action television series The Gifted, which debuted in 2017, portrayed by the actor Blair Redford.Tyr (DC Comics)
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