Dave Cockrum
Dave Cockrum by Michael Netzer
BornDavid Emmett Cockrum
(1943-11-11)November 11, 1943
Pendleton, Oregon, U.S.
DiedNovember 26, 2006(2006-11-26) (aged 63)
Belton, South Carolina, U.S.
Area(s)Writer, Penciller, Inker
Notable works
Legion of Super-Heroes
Uncanny X-Men
AwardsInkpot Award (1982)

David Emmett Cockrum (/ˈkɒkrəm/; November 11, 1943 – November 26, 2006)[1] was an American comics artist known for his co-creation of the new X-Men characters Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, and Mystique, as well as the antiheroine Black Cat. Cockrum was a prolific and inventive costume designer who updated the uniforms of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He did the same for the new X-Men and many of their antagonists in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Early life

Cockrum was born on November 11, 1943, in Pendleton, Oregon. His father was a lieutenant colonel of the United States Air Force, resulting in the Cockrums frequently transporting their household from one city to another for years. Cockrum discovered comic books at a young age; an early favorite was Fawcett's Captain Marvel, especially Mac Raboy's Captain Marvel Jr.[2] Other artists whose work the young Cockrum admired were Wally Wood, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, and Joe Kubert.[2]

As a young man, Cockrum was a dedicated "letterhack," who had many letters printed in comic book letter columns[3] such as Fantastic Four #22 (Jan. 1964), The Amazing Spider-Man #12 (May 1964), The Atom #1 (June 1962), and Fantastic Four #36 (March 1965) (return address "YN 'A' School, USNTC"). A letter from Cockrum in Fantastic Four #34 (Jan. 1965) led to a correspondence with Andrea Kline, who later became his first wife.[2][4]

Cockrum's ambition was to become a comic-book creator himself. Following his school graduation, Cockrum joined the United States Navy for six years.[5] During this time, he created the character Nightcrawler, though the character would not be used until years later.[6]


Despite serving during the Vietnam War, Cockrum found time to contribute artwork to comics fanzines such as Star-Studded Comics and Fantastic Fanzine.[7]

After leaving the military, Cockrum found employment with Warren Publishing,[6] as well as with Neal Adams' Continuity Associates as a member of the "Crusty Bunkers".[8]

He was then hired as an assistant inker to Murphy Anderson,[2] who was inking various titles featuring Superman and Superboy for DC Comics. At the time, Superboy featured a "Legion of Super-Heroes" backup strip. When the position of artist for "The Legion of Super-Heroes" was left vacant, Cockrum sought the job and was rewarded with his first assignment drawing a feature.[9] Cockrum's work on the feature, beginning with a backup story in Superboy #184 (April 1972) and recurring in several following issues "established an exciting new vibe".[10] He remained the artist on the Superboy series after the Legion of Super-Heroes became the main feature of the book with #197 and his art redefined the look of the Legion, creating new costumes and designs that would last until artist Keith Giffen did a similar revamp in the 1980s. Cockrum drew the story wherein the characters Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel were married in Superboy Starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #200 (Feb. 1974).[11] Cockrum eventually left DC and the Legion in a dispute involving the return of his original artwork from that issue.[2][7]

Prior to his departure, Cockrum had been preparing to be the regular artist on an ongoing Captain Marvel Jr. back-up strip in the Shazam! series for DC.[2]

Marvel and the X-Men

Moving over to a staff position at Marvel, Cockrum and Len Wein under the direction of editor Roy Thomas created the new X-Men, co-creating such characters as Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. Storm and Nightcrawler were directly based on characters which Cockrum had intended to introduce into the Legion of Super-Heroes storyline had he remained on the title.[12] These characters made their debut in Giant-Size X-Men #1 ([July] 1975),[13] and then in a relaunched Uncanny X-Men (beginning with issue #94).[14]

Cockrum stayed with the title until 1977 (as main penciler on issues #94–105 and 107), when he was succeeded by penciler John Byrne with issue #108.[15] The final issue of his original, regular run introduced the Starjammers, a spacefaring superhero team he had originally intended to debut in their own series.[6] Issue #110, which Cockrum co-pencilled with Tony DeZuniga, was an inventory issue.[16] He continued to contribute covers for the series until Uncanny X-Men #126.[9]

As journalist Tom Spurgeon wrote about Cockrum's X-Men,

Cockrum's penciled interiors on those first few issues of the "new" X-Men were dark and appealingly dramatic . . . . Cockrum gave those first few issues of X-Men a sumptuous, late-'70s cinema style that separated the book from the rest of Marvel's line, and superhero comics in general. Reading those X-Men comics felt like sneaking into a movie starring Sean Connery or Sigourney Weaver, not simply like flipping on the television. Uncanny X-Men really felt new and different, almost right away, and Cockrum's art was a tremendous part of that.[17]

In 1979, Dave Cockrum designed Black Cat for writer Marv Wolfman.[18][19] Cockrum quit his staff job at Marvel in 1979 and his angry resignation letter was printed (without his permission) in Iron Man #127 (October 1979)[20] but he continued to work for Marvel as a freelancer. Cockrum was Marvel's primary cover artist during this period,[12] and also penciled and/or inked a number of other titles for DC during this time. Although not a regular artist on the series, he re-designed the costume for Ms. Marvel.[21] When John Byrne left the X-Men in 1981, Cockrum returned to the title with issue #145 but left again with issue #164 (Dec. 1982) to work on The Futurians.[2]

He returned to the X-Universe in 1985 with a four-part Nightcrawler limited series that he wrote as well, a two-part Starjammers limited series in 1990 and an X-Men short story for Marvel Holiday Special #1 in 1991. Two unpublished fill-in issues that Cockrum pencilled in the early 1990s for X-Men and New Mutants respectively were released together posthumously as the one-shot X-Men: Odd Men Out in 2008.[22]

The Futurians

Main article: Futurians (comics)

In 1983, Cockrum produced The Futurians, first as a graphic novel (Marvel Graphic Novel #9), and then as an ongoing series published by Lodestone Comics.[23] Though it did not last past issue #3, a collected edition was published by Eternity Comics in 1987 that included the "missing" issue #4. In 1995, Aardwolf Publishing printed the "missing" issue as Futurians #0, with a new five-page story by Cockrum and author Clifford Meth.[24]

Claypool Comics

In 1993, Cockrum was recruited by Claypool Comics to produce work for them, resulting in several stories for Claypool's Elvira, Mistress of the Dark series beginning with #7. Cockrum was put into rotation on Peter David's Soulsearchers and Company, beginning with issue #13, becoming the series' penciler with #17 and penciling most issues through #44, published in 2000. Cockrum contributed a short feature to Richard Howell's Deadbeats #18.[9]

Personal life, illness, and death

While serving in the Navy in the late 1960s, Cockrum married Andrea Kline[17] and had a child with her, Ivan Sean.[17][25]

Dave and Paty Greer Cockrum were married on April 28, 1978.[26]

In later years, Cockrum worked less frequently in comics. In 2004, he became seriously ill due to complications from diabetes and pneumonia,[27] and a number of fellow artists and writers led by Clifford Meth and Neal Adams organized a fundraising project. The auction, run by Heritage Auctions at the WizardWorld Chicago show in August, raised over $25,000.[7] Marvel eventually provided an undisclosed amount of financial support in exchange for Cockrum agreeing to terms protected by a nondisclosure agreement. Cockrum said publicly he was "very happy that so many people cared about my work and about me. ... I'm enormously grateful to Clifford Meth and Neal Adams for having moved this forward. ... I'm very happy with what everyone has done, including Marvel."[27]

Cockrum was due to draw an eight-page story in Giant Size X-Men #3 (2005), but a recurrence of his health problems prevented this. Adams filled in.[28]

Cockrum died at his home in Belton, South Carolina,[17] on the morning of November 26, 2006, due to complications from diabetes. He was survived by his wife of many years, Paty Cockrum, a longtime member of Marvel's 1970s production staff, and by his son and two stepchildren.[7]


The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art bestowed the first annual Dave & Paty Cockrum Scholarship to a promising artist in 2008. The scholarship, which was organized by Meth, continues each year and is funded by sales of comics from Cockrum's personal collection.[29]

In the novelization of X-Men: The Last Stand, written by Cockrum's longtime associate Chris Claremont (published in 2006), the President is named "David Cockrum." Claremont also created a character in homage to Cockrum in New Exiles who eventually "moved on" at the end of X-Men: Die by the Sword (2007), which ended with a full-page tribute to Cockrum.[30]


Cockrum's work on the X-Men earned the creative team an Eagle Award for Favourite (Colour) Comic in 1977.[31] Cockrum received an individual Inkpot Award in 1982.[32]


Comics work (interior pencil art unless noted) includes:

Aardwolf Publishing

Broadway Comics

Claypool Comics

DC Comics

Defiant Comics

Deluxe Comics

Harris Comics

Lodestone Comics

Malibu Comics

Marvel Comics

Marvel UK[edit]

Valiant Comics

Warren Publishing


  1. ^ David Emmett Cockrum at the Social Security Death Index via FamilySearch. Retrieved on June 22, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Cooke, Jon B. (Fall 1999). "Dave "Blackhawk" Cockrum: The Marvel Days of the Co-Creator of the New X-Men". Comic Book Artist (6). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012.
  3. ^ Smith, Stephen Scott Beau (May 15, 1983). "The LOCsmiths". Amazing Heroes (23). Fantagraphics Books.
  4. ^ Jacobson, Aileen (August 16, 1971). "Serious Comics Fans". The Washington Post. p. B2.
  5. ^ "Dave Cockrum". Lambiek Comiclopedia. 2010. Archived from the original on July 6, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Meth, Clifford (August 1993). "How a Typhoon Blew in Success". Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. No. 1. pp. 50–52.
  7. ^ a b c d Spurgeon, Tom (December 1, 2006). "Dave Cockrum, 1943-2006". The Comics Reporter. Archived from the original on August 10, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  8. ^ Theakston, Greg and Nowlan, Kevin, et al., at Bails, Jerry; Ware, Hames. "Crusty Bunkers". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Dave Cockrum at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. After more than a year as Murphy Anderson's background inker, Dave Cockrum landed his big DC break as the 'Legion of Super-Heroes' artist." "Cockrum's debut story, which was written by Cary Bates, quickly established an exciting new vibe for the super-team. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 159: "Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel became the first Legionnaires to tie the knot. The wedding planners were writer Cary Bates and artist Dave Cockrum."
  12. ^ a b Larsen, Erik (December 1, 2006). "One Fan's Opinion: Issue #65". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012.
  13. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 169. ISBN 978-0756641238. [Editor Roy] Thomas realized that if X-Men was to be successfully revived, it needed an exciting new concept. Thomas came up with just such an idea: the X-Men would become an international team, with members from other countries as well as the United States. Writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum were assigned to the new project and the result was Giant-Size X-Men #1. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 170: "The 'new' X-Men team...moved into this thirty-two-page bimonthly comic."
  15. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 181: "When 'new' X-Men co-creator Dave Cockrum left the series, John Byrne took over as penciler and co-plotter. In his first issue, Byrne and writer Chris Claremont wound up the Shi'ar story arc."
  16. ^ Nickerson, Al (August 2008). "Claremont and Byrne: The Team that Made the X-Men Uncanny". Back Issue! (29). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 4.
  17. ^ a b c d Martin, Douglas (November 29, 2006). "Dave Cockrum, 63, Comic Book Artist, Dies". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Matt Powell (November 27, 2006). "Saying Goodbye to Dave Cockrum". Wizard.com. Archived from the original on February 28, 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2007.
  19. ^ Johnson, Dan (August 2006). "Marvel's Dark Angel: Back Issue Gets Caught in Spider-Woman's Web". Back Issue! (17). TwoMorrows Publishing: 57–63.
  20. ^ Cronin, Brian (April 13, 2006). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #46!". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
  21. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 186: "Ms. Marvel's...series was in the hands of Chris Claremont... and Dave Cockrum, a master of imaginative costume design. In this issue [#20], Claremont and Cockrum unveiled the latter's new stylish black costume for Ms. Marvel."
  22. ^ Ekstrom, Steve (June 20, 2008). "Roger Stern - Working with Dave Cockrum, One Last Time". Newsarama. Archived from the original on April 14, 2019.
  23. ^ Heintjes, Tom; Thompson, Kim (February 1985). "Deluxe Comics adds two titles". Newswatch. The Comics Journal. No. 95. Fantagraphics Books. p. 21. ISSN 0194-7869.
  24. ^ Cockrum, Dave. The Futurians #0, Aardwolf (Aug. 1995).
  25. ^ Cockrum, Dave (writing as "Dark Bamf") (September 10, 2002). "How Did Nightcrawler Come to be Created?". Nightcrawlers v2.0. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  26. ^ "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Comics cover-dated November 1978.
  27. ^ a b Dean, Michael (May–June 2004). "Marvel Makes Dave Cockrum an Offer He Can't Refuse". No. 260. (excerpt) The Comics Journal. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008.
  28. ^ Zero, Nightcrawler (February 18, 2005). "Dave on the X-men Again?". Nightscrawlers.com. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
  29. ^ Meth, Clifford (February 22, 2008). "Own Dave Cockrum's and Gene Colan's Personal Comics and File Copies". Thecliffordmethod.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013.
  30. ^ "X-Men: Die By the Sword #5 (Feb. 2008)". Grand Comics Database.
  31. ^ Marvel Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Team-Up #69 (May 1978).
  32. ^ "Inkpot Award Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
Preceded byGeorge Tuska Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes artist 1972–1974 Succeeded byMike Grell Preceded bySal Buscema (in 1970) Uncanny X-Men artist 1975–1977 Succeeded byJohn Byrne Preceded byJohn Byrne Uncanny X-Men artist 1981–1982 Succeeded byPaul Smith