It was sad to hear of the passing of Dan Spiegle. I never met Mr. Spiegle but like a multitude of comic book fans I enjoyed his crisp and inviting artwork over the decades. I don't know when I first became aware of who Dan Spiegle was, but I know I first encountered his artwork in the pages of Space Family Robinson, the Gold Key comic which inspired Lost In Space. Like nearly all Gold Key books, the talent which produced them was largely anonymous but it was clear that the same artist who did that space book was the guy who drew Korak, Son of Tarzan.
The truth was that often Korak looked better than the main Tarzan book itself, that is when Russ Manning wasn't at the helm. But like all such talents, Dan Spiegle was overlooked for two unfair reasons, he toiled at comic book companies which did not promote their talent and he was so good and so reliable that readers like myself just assumed the quality and came to take it for granted. Years later one of my last holy grail comics was Space Ghost produced by Spiegle, and gleeful I was to get it at long last.
In the late 70's and early 80's the Independent market began to flourish and with the demise of some longtime publishers of newsstand comics, the talent began to find its way onto more fan-aware titles. Spiegle came to work regularly with Mark Evanier and their Crossfire is one of the most underrated titles of the 80's (and desperately in need of a complete collection). Once again it's the fact that Spiegle's remarkably warm style allowed to open up a bit on these books was so good month in and month out that I think folks just took it all for granted.
The passing of a talent like Dan Spiegle points to the loss of a generation of professionals who brought a steady hand and steady attitude to work which was as much craftsmanship as it was art and that sober mindset made all the difference. He was part of a passing breed of talents who drew a version of a recognizably real world in which from time to time extraordinary people appeared, but that reality was so grounded that the unusual popped and made an even greater impression.
For more on Dan Spiegle check out this post on his passing by his longtime partner Mark Evainer. Evanier talks about his career and his beginnings as an artist on of all things Hopalong Cassidy. And here is a tribute by artist Mike Vosburg. Rest in peace Mr. Spiegle and thanks for the all the grand comics.