Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 2, 2014

Howard Groth, RIP

Gary Groth's father Howard Groth has passed away at age 98, in a Florida hospice near his longtime home. He is survived by his wife, son, and grandson.

Born in Queens in 1915, Howard Groth was a career military man -- one of the experienced soldiers already in service at the beginning of the conscript-dominant World War II campaign that served as the backbone of the winning US effort. Groth's direct support of the nascent publishing efforts of his son Gary -- everything from keeping the books on Fantastic Fanzine, to providing Xerox copies of 'zine pages when he could, to taking Gary to visit DC area comics professionals like Pierce Rice and Sal Buscema, to agreeing to attend with Gary a key New York City convention -- made possible the younger Groth's key role in the development of a North American arts comics movement starting in the late 1970s.

In Fantagraphics' unpublished Comics As Art, We Told You So, the elder Groth related a story about one service he provided his son's early publishing enterprise.
"Somehow through the mail, [Gary] ran into a guy named Dave Cockrum. Dave Cockrum was an artist. Gary used a Dave Cockrum drawing as a cover for one of his publications. Dave Cockrum was a sailor in the Navy, stationed out in Guam on a Polaris submarine tender. I was working for the Polaris program. I went to Guam and handed the issue to Dave Cockrum aboard that ship. He was quite thrilled with that. No one else was getting hand-delivered Fantastic Fanzines."
Howard Groth would end his military career in 1972, having served in both major theatres of World War II, in London after the war, on a ship during the Korean War and in Buenos Aires where Gary Groth was born before moving to the Washington, DC suburbs.

Gary wrote about his father in moving, eloquent fashion in a public facebook post here.

Our condolences to Gary and Conrad Groth on their loss.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

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