Dave Cockrum

Dave Cockrum
Dave Cockrum

Dave Cockrum by Michael Netzer
Born David Emmett Cockrum
November 11, 1943(1943-11-11)
Pendleton, Oregon
Died November 26, 2006(2006-11-26) (aged 63)
Belton, South Carolina
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Penciller, Inker
Notable works Legion of Super-Heroes
Uncanny X-Men

David Emmett Cockrum (November 11, 1943[1] – November 26, 2006) was an American comic book artist known for his co-creation of the new X-Men characters Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus. Cockrum was also a prolific and inventive costume designer, who updated the uniforms of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and did the same for the new X-Men and many of their antagonists, in the 1970s and early 1980s.


Early life

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.[2] Other artists whose work the young Cockrum admired were Wally Wood, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, and Joe Kubert.[2]

As a young man, Cockrum was a dedicated "letterhack," who had many letters printed in comic book letter columns.[3] (A letter from Cockrum in Fantastic Four No. 34 [January 1965] led to a correspondence with Andrea Kline, who later became his first wife.)[2]

Cockrum's ambition was to become a comic book creator himself. Following his school graduation, however, Cockrum joined the United States Navy for six years. During this time, Cockrum married his first wife[4] and had a child with her, Ivan Sean.[4][5]


Despite serving during the Vietnam War, Cockrum found time to contribute artwork to comics fanzines like Star-Studded Comics and Fantastic Fanzine.[6]

After leaving the military, Cockrum found employment with Warren Publishing. He was then hired as an assistant inker to Murphy Anderson,[2] 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 series. Cockrum's work on the feature, beginning in Superboy #184 (April 1972), "established an exciting new vibe".[7] He 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 eventually left DC and the Legion in a dispute involving the return of his original artwork from Superboy #200.[2][6]

Prior to his departure, Cockrum had been preparing to be the regular artist on an ongoing Captain Marvel, Jr. back-up strip in the Shazam! series for DC.[2]

Marvel and the X-Men

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 having been directly based on characters which Cockrum had intended to introduce into the Legion of Super-Heroes storyline had he remained on the title).[8] These characters made their debut in Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 (Summer 1975), and then in a relaunched Uncanny X-Men (beginning with issue #94).

Journalist Tom Spurgeon:

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.[4]

Cockrum stayed with the title until 1977 (as main penciller on issues #94–105 and 107), when he was replaced by penciller John Byrne with issue #108. Cockrum quit his staff job at Marvel in 1979 (his angry resignation letter was printed in Iron Man No. 127 [October 1979]),[9] 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 book, he re-designed the costume for Ms. Marvel. When artist Byrne left the X-Men in 1981, Cockrum returned to the title with issue No. 145 but left again with issue No. 164 in 1983 to work on The Futurians.[2]

The Futurians

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 also printed the "missing" issue as Futurians #0, with a new five-page story by Cockrum and author Clifford Meth. Futurians has recently been reprinted in France by Semic Comics. At the time of Cockrum's death, there were plans for a movie and a new series;[citation needed] how these plans will be affected by his death is not known.

Claypool Comics

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). Those worked out so well that Cockrum was put into rotation on Peter David's Soulsearchers and Company, beginning with issue #13, and eventually resulting (with #17) in Cockrum becoming the series' regular penciller (issues #13, 14, 17–30, 32–5, 37–8, 40–3). That assignment continued through issue #43, which Cockrum also plotted, and which was inked by fellow comics great Marie Severin. Cockrum also contributed a short feature to Richard Howell's "Deadbeats" comic, issue #18.

Illness and death

In later years, Cockrum worked less frequently in comics. In 2004, he became seriously ill due to complications from diabetes and pneumonia; 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.[6] Due to pressure from Clifford Meth, Marvel also announced it would compensate Cockrum for his work in co-creating the enormously successful X-Men.[6]

Cockrum was due to draw an eight-page story in Giant Size X-Men No. 3 (2005), but a recurrence of his health problems prevented this.[10]

Cockrum died at his home in Belton, South Carolina,[4] on the morning of November 26, 2006, due to complications from diabetes. He was survived by his wife of many years Paty Cockrum (a long-time member of Marvel's 1970s production staff), his son, and two stepchildren.[6]


To honor Cockrum's memory, 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 Clifford Meth, continues each year and is funded by sales of comics from Cockrum's personal collection.[11]

In the novelization of X-Men: The Last Stand, the President is named "David Cockrum." Cockrum's longtime associate Chris Claremont also 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.[12]


Comics work (interior pencil art) includes:





  1. ^ Comics Buyers Guide #1636 (December 2007); Page 135
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Cooke, Jon B. "Dave 'Blackhawk' Cockrum: The Marvel Days of the Co-Creator of the New X-Men," Comic Book Artist No. 6 (1998).
  3. ^ Smith, Stephen Scott Beau. "The LOCsmiths," Amazing Heroes No. 23 (May 15, 1983).
  4. ^ a b c d Martin, Douglas. "Dave Cockrum, 63, Comic Book Artist, Dies" The New York Times November 29, 2006. Accessed April 25, 2009.
  5. ^ Cockrum, Dave. (writing as "Dark Bamf"). "Nightcrawler FAQ: How Did Nightcrawler Come to be Created?" Nightcrawlers v2.0 (September 10, 2002). Accessed April 25, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e Spurgeon, Tom. "Dave Cockrum, 1943–2006," The Comics Reporter (December 1, 2006). Accessed April 25, 2009.
  7. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "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." 
  8. ^ Larsen, Erik. "One Fan's Opinion" #65, Comic Book Resources (December 1, 2006).
  9. ^ Cronin, Brian. "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #46!" Comic Book Resources (April 13, 2006). Accessed May 2, 2009.
  10. ^ Nightscrawlers – Dave on the X-men Again? – Powered by XMB
  11. ^ Clifford Meth personal blog.
  12. ^ X-Men: Die by the Sword No. 5 Marvel Comics, December 12, 2007.

External links

Preceded by
Sal Buscema
(in 1970)
Uncanny X-Men artist
Succeeded by
John Byrne
Preceded by
John Byrne
Uncanny X-Men artist
Succeeded by
Paul Smith

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