Just got word a little while ago that artist Marshall Rogers, best known for his Batman work with writer Steve Englehart and inker Terry Austin, has died.
Rogers was a part of what I considered the "fourth wave" of comic book artists. I missed out on the first wave entirely--that would be the Golden Age greats (although several of those continued to work their artistic magic in the Silver Age and beyond). The second wave, as I saw it, was comprised of Silver Age masters like Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Murphy Anderson, Wally Wood, Wayne Boring, Gil Kane, and Nick Cardy (yes, I know that many of these guys started in the Golden Age, but they really came into their prime as far as I was concerned in the Silver Age). The third wave included those late-60s talents who helped to reshape the industry, led by Neal Adams but also including Jim Steranko, John Buscema, and Bernie Wrightson, among others.
The fourth wave came along in the late 1960s, when comics began to embrace more stylistic experimentation as a result of the success of some of those third wave talents. Many of these artists began their craft in the 1960s, but they established themselves as major names in the 1970s. Jim Starlin, Mike Kaluta, Barry Windsor-Smith, Paul Gulacy, and Marshall Rogers were the most impressive talents from this time period; their linework was instantly identifiable and often imitated. Their work evoked some of the greats from earlier eras, but it wasn't fawningly derivative.
Englehart and Rogers were a creative gestalt to be reckoned with; they did some amazing work on Batman, redefining the Dark Knight during that time period between the Adams era and Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. Rogers' Gotham was a foreboding place, and its appearance resonated through Tim Burton's 1989 Batman.
Alas, Rogers has done all too little comics work in recent years; as a result, when he did return to the field, his skills seemed a little bit rusty from lack of practice. Even so, he was still uniquely Marshall Rogers, unwilling to bend his style to trends.
Only 57 years old... far too early to leave us...