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March 22, 2010

William Charles “Bill” Jaaska, 1961-2009

imageA variety of on-line sources have concluded then confirmed Bill Jaaska, a comics artist who broke into the field in the late 1980s through independent publishers Eclipse and First before moving on to various jobs with mainstream comics publishers passed away late last year.

Jaaska broke into comics providing art on stories featuring various iconic characters of the 1980s independent comics movement: Judah Maccabee, Jon Sable, Skywolf and Scout. His three most high profile jobs with the major mainstream comics publishers were a run on New Titans that included a pair of issues written by the late artist, a partnership with Peter David on Incredible Hulk that resulted in the fondly remembered Crazy Eight capital punishment issue (#380), and providing art to the early Dark Horse cross-media efforts Terminator: Hunters and Killer and Terminator: Rewired. David wrote of their collaboration in 1991: "Bill Jaaska's art was so effective that, by the time we got to the electrocution sequence, I had become so fond of the character that I was sorry she was going to die."

imageJaaska also provided work to the X-Men, Checkmate and Turok comics, although never catching on with the kind of lengthy run through which careers are firmly established. He apparently left comics behind in the mid- to late-'90s.

In 2004, another of his fondly-remembered single-issue stories on the Hulk title, "Rhino Plastered," was reprinted in that year's issue of Marvel Holiday Special.

In 2005, Jaaska's art was employed in a DVD that combined the Terminator: Hunters and Killers with voice actor talent to create one of the first motion comics efforts -- notable in that the Terminator comics on which Jaaska worked were already pioneering in terms a certain, serious approach that characterizes the current revitalization of licensed comics at such companies as Dark Horse.

"I had always thought that Bill had moved on to bigger and better things and was stunned to learn of his passing," Peter David told CR "I've always felt the that the issues of Incredible Hulk that he worked on were among the most memorable of the series. He had a unique art style and I think it's tragic that he didn't have all the work he could handle and more."

Jaaska's sister speaks in lovely fashion to how surviving family members discovered their loved one's death here and here. His last known location appears to have been the Milwaukee, Wisconsin rooming house in which he was found, alone.
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink

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