R.I.P. Tom Lyle (1953-2019)

Comic book creator Tom Lyle passed away today at the age of 66, suffering from a blood clot in his brain that caused an aneurysm forcing him to be put into a medically induced coma earlier in October.  Lyle worked with both Marvel and DC Comics. His legacy is being the artist for the first three Robin (Tim Drake) mini-series in the early 90s, creating the original Scarlet Spider costume and co-creating Stephanie Brown (along with Chuck Dixon).

This one hits me hard. In the early-90s, I was getting fully into comics thanks to “the Death of Superman/Reign of the Superman” and “Fatal Attractions” events going on in both companies. There was one more event going on as well during this time period as well, “Maximum Carnage”. At first, the comic didn’t really interest me until I came upon the issues Lyle drew for the event. His art had a style to it I loved, there was just something dynamic with the poses he drew, and the action he conveyed from page to page. That and Lyle drew a damn fine cape on a character. Like, so.

The Demogoblin and Spider-Man both drawn by Tom Lyle from Spider-Man #46.

After collecting that entire event, finding out stories I missed from the first comics I ever got (poor poor original Hobgoblin), I found Lyle was drawing Spider-Man #44 (which just so happened to feature the other Hobgoblin in it, and that made it all the sweeter to buy) . After that I was hooked on the comic. I’m not kidding from then to right about when the Jackal showed up in the Clone Saga, it was the only Spider-Man comic I had on my pull regularly.

Somehow I almost entirely avoided “Shriek” and “Web of Death” two stories which were insanely good. But the stories he drew. They were insanely fun and comfy to look at. There was a spectacle to the way Lyle drew fights that stood out from the rest for me. That truly was the testament to his art and craft. I think the only other artist who had that same quality was Mark Bagley (who was drawing Amazing Spider-Man at that time). But– Bagley was dealing with rogue Guardsmen, Shriek, and Carrion. Lyle had Spidey content with the Venom, Scream, Demogoblin, Hobgoblin, Kaine, and the GRIM HUNTER (which honestly, I still kind of prefer this modern take on Kraven).

It took me awhile to get hooked by another Spider-Man comic since. The closest was Tom DeFalco coming back onto Amazing after “the Clone Saga.” with various artists. Then again, none of the artists since that era just never had the crackle of that time period of Spider-Man comics had. You had Lyle on Spider-Man, Bagley on Amazing, and Sal Buscema on Spectacular Spider-Man (who’s comics with J.M. DeMatteis I didn’t enjoy at first in my younger age, but now? Those comic run are like a fine wine that only gets better with age). Add to those Spider-Man Unlimited (which did have that amazing Doc Ock issue along with a few other classic foes like Mysterio showing up) and um.. yeah Web of Spider-Man– the black sheep of the entire line at that time (literally it had crazy 90s Lizard, Gauntlet, and of course “the Citizen Kane” of comic stories involving, F.A.C.A.D.E.). Still, that particular era for me, was my golden age for Spider-Man. I still remember those stories very fondly.

Long after that, when I was exiting out of Spider-Man comics all-together thanks to the lackluster run by John Bryne and Howard Mackie I was moving away from Marvel and dabbling into DC again namely Batman event “No Man’s Land”. You all know I fully got invested into a certain Batgirl who debuted from that event. I found out later backtracking that another character I came to enjoy was again all thanks to Lyle who just so happened to co-creator of them. Yes, that would be one Stephanie Brown aka Spoiler (who’d later have stints as Robin and Batgirl).

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) and Robin (Tim Drake) from Detective Comics #648 drawn by Lyle.

To those contributions, I think myself and other fans shall forever be indebted to Mr. Lyle for bringing so many gorgeous layouts of art and creating such an entertaining character who’s still going strong to this day. Thank you Mr. Lyle, and to his remaining family you have my deepest sympathies and condolences. The comic world is a sadder place today without you in it.

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