A Eulogy for Comic Book Creator Don Perlin, Passed Away at 94 Years Old


Second Acts can be a beautiful thing. Who knows when they will come or even if they will come? I feel like we live in a culture that expects and secretly nurtures, or least prepares for second acts.

I became friends with Don Perlin just when he was about to shift into his second act. He was part of the comics publisher Valiant in the early days, right alongside folks like Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, and Steve Massarsky. From today’s vantage point, it’s hard to understand the incredible success that Valiant, as an entrepreneurial start-up, was enjoying. They “came out of nowhere” is an oversimplification, but they seemed to be hitting all triples and homers.

At that time, I was in marketing at Nabisco. We were producing TV ads and in-store retailer programs, but I thought that there were opportunities to market brands like OREO and Chips Ahoy! with comics, or at least through geek culture. Companies like Marvel and Valiant welcomed a corporate guy like me, as they didn’t have to explain the power of comics. They know a collector/nerd like me totally “got it”.

So, in the 90s, I would wander up to the Valiant offices during my frequent trips to NYC. Hanging out with guys like Don Perlin was a treat. Don was gracious and garrulous – always eager to show me what he was working on. Valiant had a full floor of office space in Midtown Manhattan then, and Don, toggling between editing and drawing, would often be crouching over his drawing board. Seeing those first few Valiant issues of Eternal Warrior or Solar, Man of the Atom was something special to behold.

In fact, when Bloodshot #1 debuted, it was a big hit, and Don enjoyed a certain amount of celebrity, especially on the convention circuit. I remember him telling me that a young fan approached him to autograph a copy of the comic. The boy looked up and proclaimed to Don, “You’re my favorite!” Don beamed with pride as he told the tale.

Unsurprisingly, Don was always encouraging and kind to me as well. He embraced, or embodied, that warm-hearted uncle approach to friendship. As he’d tell me the industry goings on, I always felt like I was along for the ride with him. He couldn’t believe how hot his comics were and he felt very fortunate.

Valiant would soon fizzle out, and Don moved on. In his later years, Don moved down to Florida and was teaching art and doing art commissions.

It’s been a couple of years since I spoke with Don. I was doing an article for Back Issue Magazine focusing on an old Marvel series called War Is Hell. Don was the artist for several issues of that series, and he had a quite a few stories to tell.

Don revealed to me that he had the original art for one of the pages hanging on a wall in his house. This page was a beauty, full of drama and pathos. It centered on a GI falling in love with a woman. It’s a full page without traditional panel borders. He took a picture and shared it with me for that article.

So long, old buddy. Thanks for all the laughs, and all the lunches and all the encouragement, and all the comics and all the kindness. Geez, it was a lot of fun and I miss you.

Don Perlin (August 27, 1929 – May 14, 2024) was a comic book artist, writer, and editor. He is known for co-creating characters like Moon Knight and Bloodshot. Don began working in comics in the 1940s and had a long career working for Charlton Comics in the 50s and 60s. Perlin later worked for Marvel Comics beginning in the 1970s and worked on titles like: Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Captain America, The Defenders, and Ghost Rider. In the 1990s, he helped start Valiant Comics, both as artist and editor, where he worked on books like Bloodshot, Time Walker, and Solar, Man of the Atom. Don’s passing was announced by his daughter Elaine.