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

Home > News Story and Obituary Archive

John Carbonaro, 1950-2009
posted March 9, 2009


Bob Sodaro reports that the comics publisher and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comic book rights hold John Carbonaro passed away late last month. Mark Evanier broke the story more widely here.

Carbonaro was a long-time comics fans who purchased The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents characters during the first, prolonged surge of the Direct Market for comic books. Those characters were created in 1965 by Wally Wood for Tower Publishing in an effort to capitalize on renewed interest in the superhero comic book. While some of the creative efforts grew to be fondly remember, the line was gone by the end of the decade. Carbonaro purchased publishing and ownership rights through his JC Productions.

Carbonaro published a black-and-white, magazine-sized comic featuring his new characters and then I believe two regular-sized, black and white comics. He then licensed the characters to Archie, who would publish a few issues themselves. The late publisher's 1980s heyday may be remembered more for his protracted legal and business struggle with one-time business acquaintance David Singer. This included proving that the characters belonged to him rather than existing in the public domain, due to a lack of copyright notice in the original publications. Carbonaro sued Singer in 1984, winning in 1987 via a decision that allowed him not only that which he claimed to already own but Singer's publications feature those creators. The late '80s were a different time than the early '80s, and after a brief deal with Apple that never came to fruition was partnered with the late George Caragonne and his company and then later the comics carrying the Penthouse imprint. That partnership ended with Caragonne's suicide. The most recent expression of those characters was in archived editions of the original material published by DC Comics.

Carbonaro lived in Texas and California. He was 58 years old.