Jim Starlin
Starlin at the 2021 San Diego Comic-Con
BornJames P. Starlin
(1949-10-09) October 9, 1949 (age 74)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Area(s)Writer, Penciller, Artist, Inker, Colourist
Pseudonym(s)Steve Apollo
Notable works
Captain Marvel
Cosmic Odyssey
Silver Surfer
The Thanos Quest
The Infinity Gauntlet
Marvel Graphic Novel
Adam Warlock
AwardsFull list

James P. Starlin (born October 9, 1949)[1] is an American comics artist and writer. Beginning his career in the early 1970s, he is best known for space opera stories, for revamping the Marvel Comics characters Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock, and for creating or co-creating the Marvel characters Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Nebula, and Shang-Chi, as well as writing the acclaimed miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet and its many sequels including The Infinity War and The Infinity Crusade, all detailing Thanos' pursuit of the Infinity Gems to court Mistress Death by annihilating half of all life in the cosmos, before coming into conflict with the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Elders of the Universe, joined by the Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, Gamora, Nebula, and Drax.

Later, for DC Comics, he drew many of their iconic characters, including Darkseid and other characters from Jack Kirby's Fourth World, and wrote the seminal storyline A Death in the Family which featured the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, during his run on Batman. For Epic Illustrated, he created his own character, Dreadstar.

Early life

Jim Starlin was born on October 9, 1949, in Detroit, Michigan.[2] He had a Catholic upbringing.[3] In the 1960s, Starlin served as an aviation photographer in the US Navy in Vietnam.[4][5] During his off duty time, he drew and submitted various comics.[6]

Early career

After leaving the navy, Starlin sold two stories to DC Comics.[6]

After writing and drawing stories for a number of fan publications, Jim Starlin entered the comics industry in 1972, working for Roy Thomas and John Romita at Marvel Comics.[7] Starlin was part of the generation of artists and writers who grew up as fans of Silver Age Marvel Comics. At a Steve Ditko-focused panel at the 2008 Comic-Con International, Starlin said, "Everything I learned about storytelling was [due to] him or Kirby. [Ditko] did the best layouts."[8]

Starlin's first job for Marvel was as a finisher on pages of The Amazing Spider-Man.[9] He then drew three issues of Iron Man which introduced the characters Thanos and Drax the Destroyer.[10] He was then given the chance to draw an issue (#25) of the "cosmic" title Captain Marvel.[11] Starlin took over as plotter the following issue, and began developing an elaborate story arc centered on the villainous Thanos which spread across a number of Marvel titles. Starlin left Captain Marvel one issue after concluding his Thanos saga.

Concurrently in the mid-1970s, Starlin contributed a cache of stories to the independently published science-fiction anthology Star Reach. Here he developed his ideas of God, death, and infinity, free of the restrictions of mainstream comics publishers' self-censorship arm, the Comics Code Authority. Starlin also drew "The Secret of Skull River", inked by frequent collaborator Al Milgrom, for Savage Tales #5 (July 1974).[12]

After working on Captain Marvel, Starlin and writer Steve Englehart co-created the character Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu,[13][14] though they only worked on the early issues of the Master of Kung Fu series. Starlin then took over the title Warlock,[15] starring a genetically engineered being created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1960s and re-imagined by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in the 1970s as a Jesus Christ-like figure on an alternate Earth. Envisioning the character as philosophical and existentially tortured, Starlin wrote and drew a complex space opera with theological and psychological themes. Warlock confronted the militaristic Universal Church of Truth, eventually revealed to be created and led by an evil evolution of his future–past self, known as Magus. Starlin ultimately incorporated Thanos into this story. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "In a brief stint with Marvel, which included work on two characters [Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock] that had previously never quite made their mark, Starlin managed to build a considerable cult following."[16]

In Fall 1978,[17] Starlin, Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson, and Val Mayerik formed Upstart Associates, a shared studio space on West 29th Street in New York City. The membership of the studio changed over time.[18]

Death and suicide are recurring themes in Starlin's work: Personifications of Death appeared in his Captain Marvel series and in a fill-in story for Ghost Rider; Warlock commits suicide by killing his future self; and suicide is a theme in a story he plotted and drew for The Rampaging Hulk magazine.

Starlin occasionally worked for Marvel's chief competitor DC Comics and drew stories for Legion of Super-Heroes[9] and the "Batman" feature in Detective Comics[19] in the late 1970s.


Starlin co-created the supervillain Mongul with writer Len Wein in DC Comics Presents #27 (Nov. 1980).[20]

The new decade found Starlin creating an expansive story titled "the Metamorphosis Odyssey", which introduced the character of Vanth Dreadstar in Epic Illustrated #3. From its beginning in Epic Illustrated, the initial story was painted in monochromatic grays, eventually added to with other tones, and finally becoming full color.[21] The storyline was further developed in The Price[22] and Marvel Graphic Novel #3[23][24] and eventually the long-running Dreadstar comic book, published first by Epic Comics,[25][26] and then by First Comics.[27][28]

Starlin was given the opportunity to produce a one-shot story in which to kill off a main character. The Death of Captain Marvel became the first graphic novel published by Marvel itself.[29][Note 1]

Starlin and Bernie Wrightson produced Heroes for Hope, a 1985 one-shot designed to raise money for African famine relief and recovery.[30] Published in the form of a "comic jam," the book featured an all-star lineup of comics creators as well as a few notable authors from outside the comic book industry, such as Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, and Edward Bryant.[9] In 1986, he and Wrightson produced a second benefit comic for famine relief. Heroes Against Hunger, featuring Superman and Batman, was published by DC and like the earlier Marvel benefit project featured many top comics creators.[9][31]

Starlin became the writer of Batman, and one of his first storylines for the title was "Ten Nights of The Beast"[32] in issues #417–420 (March – June 1988) which introduced the KGBeast. Starlin then wrote the four-issue miniseries Batman: The Cult (Aug.–Nov. 1988) drawn by Wrightson,[33] and the storyline "Batman: A Death in the Family" in Batman #426–429 (Dec. 1988 – Jan. 1989),[34] in which Jason Todd, the second of Batman's Robin sidekicks, was killed by the Joker. The controversial storyline was suggested by editor Denny O'Neil and lined up with Starlin's well-known desire to remove the Robin character from Batman's storyline.[35] The death was decided by fans, as DC Comics set up a hotline for readers to vote on as to whether or not Jason Todd should survive a potentially fatal situation. Starlin was fired off the Batman title soon afterward.[36]

Other projects for DC included writing The Weird drawn by Wrightson[9] and Cosmic Odyssey drawn by Mike Mignola.[37] Starlin wrote and drew Gilgamesh II in 1989 before returning to Marvel.[9]

Later career

Starlin at the East Coast Comicon, April 2018

Back at Marvel, Starlin began scripting a revival of the Silver Surfer series. As had become his Marvel norm, he introduced his creation Thanos into the story arc, which led to The Infinity Gauntlet miniseries and its crossover storyline.[38] Here, Starlin brought back Adam Warlock, whom he had killed years earlier in his concluding Warlock story in The Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 in 1977. The Infinity Gauntlet proved successful and was followed by the sequel miniseries The Infinity War and Infinity Crusade.[39]

For DC he created Hardcore Station in 1998.[9]

In 2003, Starlin wrote and drew the Marvel Comics miniseries Marvel: The End.[9] The series starred Thanos and a multitude of Marvel characters, and subsequently, Starlin was assigned an eponymous Thanos series.[9] Starlin then worked for independent companies, creating Cosmic Guard (later renamed Kid Cosmos) published by Devil's Due and then Dynamite Entertainment in 2006.[9]

Starlin returned to DC and, with artist Shane Davis, wrote the miniseries Mystery in Space vol. 2, featuring Captain Comet and Starlin's earlier creation, the Weird.[40] In 2007–2008, he worked on the DC miniseries Death of the New Gods[41] and Rann-Thanagar Holy War,[9] as well as a Hawkman tie-in which altered the character's origins.[42] He wrote the eight-issue miniseries Strange Adventures in 2009[43] and in 2013, became the writer of Stormwatch, one of the series of The New 52 line, beginning with issue #19.[44]

In 2016, Starlin's drawing hand was injured in an accident, which limited him to writing stories without the opportunity to illustrate them. "It takes me two minutes to write the sentence and will take the artist a day and a half to draw the scene. But there is a certain satisfaction to the drawing part … you get up from the drawing board at the end of the day and there’s this image there that wasn’t there before. That’s very satisfying and I miss that."[45][46]

In early 2020 it was announced that Starlin had rehabilitated his drawing hand and would be publishing a new Dreadstar graphic novel, Dreadstar Returns, backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign. The book was published in June 2021.[47]

Other work



DC Comics

Marvel Comics

Other publishers

  • 'Breed: Book of Genesis #1–6 (miniseries) (writer/artist) (Malibu Comics, 1994)
  • 'Breed: Book of Ecclesiastes #1–6 (miniseries) (writer/artist) (Malibu Comics, 1994–1995)
  • 'Breed: Book of Revelation #1–7 (miniseries) (writer/artist) (Image Comics 2011)
  • Cosmic Guard #1–6 (miniseries) & Kid Kosmos (graphic novel) (writer/artist) (Devil's Due Publishing, 2004–2005, 2007)
  • Creepy #106, 114 (artist) (Warren Publishing, 1979–1980)
  • Dreadstar #27–32 (writer/artist); #33–40 main story, 42–54, "Pawns" back-up story (writer) (First Comics, 1986–1989)
  • Eclipse Magazine #1 (writer/artist) (Eclipse Enterprises, 1981)
  • Eerie #76, 79, 80, 84, 100 (Darklon the Mystic) (writer/artist); #101, 128 (artist) (Warren Publishing, 1976–1982)
  • Fighting American: Dogs of War #1–3 (writer) (Awesome, 1998–1999)
  • Heavy Metal (vol 3) #4 (writer/artist) (HM Communications, 1979)
  • Hellboy: Weird Tales #5 (artist) (Dark Horse, 2003)
  • Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures Of The Escapist #1 (writer/artist) (Dark Horse, 2004)
  • Midnight Rose (one-shot) (writer) (AfterShock Comics, 2022)
  • Star*Reach #1–2 (writer/artist) (Star*Reach Productions, 1974)
  • Supreme: The Return #2 (artist) (Awesome, 1999)
  • Unity 2000 #1–3 (miniseries, #4–6 were not published) (artist) (Acclaim, 1999–2000)
  • Vampirella #78 (artist) (Warren Publishing, 1979)
  • Wyrd the Reluctant Warrior #1–6 (miniseries) (writer/artist) (Slave Labor Graphics, 1999)

Covers only







  1. ^ Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's reunion for a Silver Surfer graphic novel in 1978 was published by Simon & Schuster.


  1. ^ "Jim Starlin". Facebook. Retrieved October 10, 2012. Note: Birth date is listed as October 19 at Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  2. ^ Cooke, Jon B.; Knutson, Jon B. (February 2002). "The Cosmic Code Authority Speaks". Comic Book Artist (18). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 14–18.
  3. ^ Comtois, Pierre (2011). Marvel Comics in the 1970s: An Issue-by-issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-60549-034-2.
  4. ^ Bunche, Steve (August 3, 2010). "Space Opera With Teeth: Jim Starlin's Dreadstar". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Howe, Sean (March 10, 2011). "The Art of Jim Starlin: A Life in Words and Pictures". The Comics Journal. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Best, Daniel (2003). "Welcome to Jim Starlin @Adelaide Comics and Books". Adelaide Comics and Books. Archived from the original on January 22, 2008.
  7. ^ "Gangway, World! Madcap Marvel Marches Merrily On!" ("Bullpen Bulletins" page in Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #104 and other Marvel Comics cover-dated November 1972)
  8. ^ Starlin, in Jones, Seth (August 5, 2008). "CCI: The World of Steve Ditko". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jim Starlin at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 158. ISBN 978-0756641238. "In [Iron Man #55], scripted by Mike Friedrich, plotter and penciler Jim Starlin introduced a miniature mythos of his creations. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 159: "In March [1973], the first of artist Jim Starlin's many sagas of the Marvel heroes' wars against Thanos began."
  12. ^ Thompson, Steven (September 2020). "Conan Goes to Adventure Town". Back Issue! (121). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 6.
  13. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (2005). "Everybody was Kung Fu Watchin'! The Not-So-Secret Origin of Shang-Chi, Kung-Fu Master!". Comic Book Artist Collection: Volume 3. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 6–7. ISBN 1-893905-42-X.
  14. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 161: "Capitalizing on the popularity of martial arts movies, writer Steve Englehart and artist/co-plotter Jim Starlin created Marvel's Master of Kung Fu series. The title character, Shang-Chi, was the son of novelist Sax Rohmer's criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu."
  15. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 168: "Adam Warlock returned in a new series, taking over Strange Tales for four issues...The original Warlock comic book would return with issue #9 in October [1975]."
  16. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 162. ISBN 9780810938212.
  17. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). "Simonson Says The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics". Comic Book Artist (10). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 25.
  18. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2006). Modern Masters, Volume 8: Walter Simonson. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 1-893905-64-0. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  19. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1970s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 130. ISBN 978-1465424563. ...and another Batman adventure by writer/layout artist Jim Starlin and finisher P. Craig Russell. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Artist Jim Starlin displayed his penchant for portraying powerful cosmic villains with the debut of Mongul, a new threat to plague Superman's life, in a story written by Len Wein. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Nevett, Chad (July 8, 2015). "Before Dreadstar December: The Metamorphosis Odyssey, The Price, and Dreadstar the Graphic Novel". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  22. ^ The Price October 1981 Eclipse Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  23. ^ Buttery, Jarrod (September 2019). "Dreadstar: Jim Starlin's Odyssey". Back Issue! (115). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 35–54.
  24. ^ Marvel Graphic Novel #3 (Dreadstar) 1982 Marvel Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  25. ^ DeFalco, Tom "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 208: "The first title produced for [the Epic Comics] line was Dreadstar, a space opera by writer/artist Jim Starlin."
  26. ^ Dreadstar Epic Comics series at the Comics Database
  27. ^ Melrose, Kevin (July 8, 2015). "SDCC: Jim Starlin to Revive "Dreadstar" In Comic Miniseries". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  28. ^ Dreadstar First Comics series at the Grand Comics Database
  29. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 207: "This title by Jim Starlin was the first of a new series of Marvel Graphic Novels. Running between forty-eight and ninety-six pages, these paperback books were an attempt to compete with the European-style graphic albums."
  30. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 223: "Horrified by the plight of starving children in Africa, writer/artist Jim Starlin and illustrator Bernie Wrightson convinced Marvel to publish Heroes For Hope. It was a 'jam' book...and all of Marvel's profits were donated to famine relief in Africa."
  31. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 219: "Plotted by Jim Starlin, with dramatic designs by Bernie Wrightson...Heroes Against Hunger featured nearly every popular DC creator of the time."
  32. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 233: "Using the Cold War as their backdrop, writer Jim Starlin and artist Jim Aparo crafted the four-part storyline 'Ten Nights of the Beast'."
  33. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 234: "Writer Jim Starlin took the Dark Knight into the depths of Gotham for the four-issue prestige format Batman: The Cult...with horror artist Bernie Wrightson."
  34. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 235: "Written by Jim Starlin, with art by Jim Aparo and haunting covers by Mike Mignola, 'A Death in the Family' proved a best seller with readers in both single-issue and trade paperback form."
  35. ^ Jim Starlin on Creating Thanos, Killing Robin and Split with Marvel (Behind The Panel) | SYFY WIRE, retrieved September 11, 2022
  36. ^ Cronin, Brian (August 27, 2017). "Comic Legends: Was Jason Todd Set To Be Replaced BEFORE He Died?". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  37. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 235: "Writer Jim Starlin and artist Mike Mignola teamed up for a sci-fi miniseries that spanned the [DC Universe]."
  38. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 254: "Written by Jim Starlin, and with pencils by George Pérez and Ron Lim, The Infinity Gauntlet was born."
  39. ^ Nolan, Liam (March 15, 2018). "Jim Starlin's Thanos Stories Are Avengers: Infinity War's 'Jumping-Off Point'". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  40. ^ Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 327: "[Mystery in Space] returned for an eight-issue run featuring Captain Comet, and was written by Jim Starlin and drawn by Shane Davis. It also contained a back-up strip starring the Weird, written and drawn by Starlin."
  41. ^ Cowsill "2000s" in Dolan, p. 331: "Writer and artist Jim Starlin helmed this eight-part series as a mysterious force brought destruction to the inhabitants of the Fourth World."
  42. ^ Ekstrom, Steve (July 31, 2008). "Jim Starlin: Hawkman – The Special and Beyond?". Newsarama. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  43. ^ "Exclusive DC Preview – 'Strange Adventures #1'". Newsarama. March 4, 2009. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  44. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (February 12, 2013). "Jim Starlin's New 52 Stormwatch: 'Revamp of a Revamp'". Newsarama. Archived from the original on October 8, 2014.
  45. ^ Johnston, Rich (September 28, 2018). "Jim Starlin Looking For an Artist to Help Finish Dreadstar". www.bleedingcool.com. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  46. ^ "Thanos Creator Jim Starlin Hurt In SodaStream Accident". Cosmic Book News. November 19, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  47. ^ Dyce, Andrew (June 8, 2021). "Jim Starlin's DREADSTAR Returns To Push Thanos Out of The Spotlight". Screen Rant. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  48. ^ Shooter, Jim. "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Comics cover-dated July 1981.
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Preceded byMike Friedrich (writer)Wayne Boring (artist) Captain Marvel writer/artist 1973–1974 Succeeded bySteve Englehart and Mike Friedrich (writers)Alfredo Alcala (artist) Preceded byMike Friedrich (writer)Bob Brown (artist) Warlock writer/artist 1975–1976 Succeeded byn/a Preceded byn/a Dreadstar writer/artist 1982–1989 (writer)1982–1987 (artist) Succeeded byPeter David (writer)Luke McDonnell (artist) Preceded byMax Allan Collins Batman writer 1987–1989 Succeeded byJim Owsley Preceded byTom DeFalco and Ron Frenz Thor writer 1993(with Ron Marz) Succeeded byRon Marz