Dave Cockrum was one of the biggest reasons the X-Men became a phenomenon as we know it today. His artwork caught the imagination of comic book readers in the 70s. He co-created the new X-Men characters Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, and Mystique. Storm and Nightcrawler were holdover characters he intended for Legion of Super-Heroes. Who knows what would happen if he stayed with DC Comics? An argument over returning original art led him to work for Marvel Comics. That decision was the catalyst that created the greatest superhero group for Marvel.
Dave Cockrum designed the blueprint for future creators of a comic book on its last legs in 1975. The X-Men were on life support before Len Wein and Dave Cockrum over. The new characters debuted in Giant-Size X-Men #1 on July 1975. He penciled X-Men for 13 full issues. Cockrum stayed with the title until 1977. He was the main penciler on issues #94–105 and 107. Dave’s humble 13-issue run mushroomed into Marvel’s biggest franchise. If it were not for the visionary foundation created by Dave Cockrum, the X-Men would not flourish as it did.
Dave’s career took different directions after he left the X-Men. Some of these financial decisions would be catastrophic in the end due to his health. In 1983 Dave’s solo project, The Futurians, got published as a graphic novel for Marvel. He took the Futurians to another publisher for big money, but the big pay-off vanished in thin air. In 1985 Dave Cockrum revisited the X-Men with a four-part Nightcrawler limited series. Five years he created a two-part Starjammers limited series in 1990.
“Dave saw the movie and he cried — not because he was bitter,” Meth said. “He cried because his characters were on screen and they were living.”
Glen Cadigan the author of The Life and Art of Dave Cockrum, is an extensive study of the former X-Men creator. In 2004, Clifford Meth and Neal Adams organized a fundraising project which raised over $25,000 to help the ill artist. Marvel Comics came to the rescue and gave an undisclosed amount of money to cover his medical bills. Dave’s life came to a tragic end on November 26, 2006, due to complications from diabetes. From his humble beginnings till his death, Glen Cadigan fills in the life of the iconic incognito artist. Who knows, if Giant-Size X-Men #1 was never published, would we be still talking about the X-Men? I do not think so. They would end like the Doom Patrol.
From the letters pages of Silver Age comics to his 2021 induction into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, the career of Dave Cockrum started at the bottom and then rose to the top of the comic book industry. Beginning with his childhood obsession with comics and continuing through his years in the Navy, The Life and Art of Dave Cockrum follows the rising star from fandom (where he was one of the “Big Three” fanzine artists) to pro-dom, where he helped revive two struggling comic book franchises: the Legion of Super-Heroes and the X-Men.
A prolific costume designer and character creator, his redesigns of the Legion and his introduction of X-Men characters Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Thunderbird (plus his design of Wolverine’s alter ego, Logan) laid the foundation for both titles to become best-sellers. His later work on his own property, The Futurians, as well as childhood favorite Blackhawk and T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents, plus his five years on Soulsearchers and Company, cemented his position as an industry giant. Featuring artwork from fanzines, unused character designs, and other rare material, this is the comprehensive biography of the legendary comic book artist, whose influence is still felt in the industry today! Written by Glen Cadigan (The Legion Companion, The Titans Companion Volumes 1 and 2, Best of the Legion Outpost) with an introduction by Alex Ross.
Glen Cadigan was born on the planet Earth in the second half of the Twentieth Century. He used to write non-fiction, but now he just makes things up. His previous work includes The Legion Companion, The Best of The Legion Outpost, and The Titans Companion Vols. 1 & 2. His stories have also appeared in Cthulhu Tales Omnibus: Madness, Cthulhu Tales Omnibus: Delirium, and 49th Parallels: Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures.
The Life & Art of Dave Cockrum is available directly from TwoMorrows, which is also offering a limited hardcover edition.