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April 28, 2010

Bill DuBay, 1948-2010


Bill DuBay, the co-creator of The Rook and a longtime key cog at Warren Publishing as an editor and writer, passed away in Portland, Oregon on April 15. He was 62 years old.

A child fascinated with a relative's gift of TinTin comics and Dell and Western comic books generally, and a teen that became partly inured to the heartbreak of the comics industry through personal contact with the artist Jack Burnley, Dubay began his career in comics through the rich field of self-published fanzines in the 1960s. He contributed art to some of the better-known titles such as The Voice Of Comicdom, Komix Illustrated and Star-Studded Comics. Struggling with a style perhaps more suited to humor and even romance work than the all-the-rage superheroes that dominated the stands, DuBay enjoyed a smattering of modest professional art gigs for Charlton and Marvel in the latter half of that decade. A former contributor to the fan art section of the magazine, DuBay experienced what is probably best described as his first significant credit on the story "Movie Dissector," appearing in Creepy #32.

That gig transformed the early-twentysomething's career. He began writing as well as drawing stories for Warren, the first part of a transition to becoming a full-time writer as opposed to an artist or writer/artist. Jim hired DuBay to edit the Warren line starting with the publications released in November 1972. He started as managing editor and become the line's editor about a year later. Thus began a cycle of settling into one or both of those jobs and then becoming a freelance or senior editor when Warren brought in other editorial talent such as Archie Goodwin and Louise Jones. DuBay may have made this transition as many as four times, according to a count of stints provided on his wikipedia page.

imageDuBay edited a host of Warren publications, from classic Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella to key peripherals and second-stage publications 1984/1994, The Rook and The Spirit. His writing credits during the entire period but especially in the late 1970s and early 1980s were such his arguably became the dominant scripting voice in that line's magazines. With longtime creative partner Budd Lewis he created the line's iconic late-period character, The Rook, a western-tinged, science-fiction oriented time-traveler whose adventures in obvious ways broke from the classic Warren horror approach.

As a writer, DuBay would contribute to several Warren publications, Heavy Metal, Cracked, Crazy and Pacific's Bold Adventure. He briefly edited or packaged books for Western Publishing (Bold Adventure was an attempt to extend his professional relationship with that group of artists) in its latter days and drove Archie Comics' 1980s attempt at a superhero line. He also pursued opportunities in magazine publishing. He created a studio called The Cartoon Factory to take on a variety of licensing and comics-related assignments.

DuBay took a position from Stan Lee at Marvel Productions in the mid-1980s before moving to a similar position at 20th Century Fox. In more recent years, he had formed a company to publish graphic novels based around various characters including The Rook. An interview with the writer done early last year about that project shows him to be as legendarily feisty and engaged as at any point earlier in his career.

Bill DuBay is survived by his wife of only a couple of months, Venessa Hart, his mother, three daughters and two sons from a marriage to Peggy Buckler, multiple brothers and sisters, and three grandchildren. Services were held on April 25.

posted 11:15 am PST | Permalink

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