Writer Harlan Ellison just posted the following on his website:
– Monday, April 6 2009 11:55:36 EXTREMELY BAD NEWS
Len Wein called this morning. More than half of his house burned down earlier today. Len and Chris Valada and Chris’s son, Michael, got out okay, but their beloved dog, Sheba, ran back inside and is gone. In addition to both bedrooms, the bathroom, and much of the office, what was burned first was the original art for the first Wolverine story, the cover of GIANT X-MEN #1 and other art pieces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Susan and I will be over there as soon as I pick up my car today, and as soon as I’ve met the dental appointment we have scheduled. This is a major catastrophe for one of my oldest and closest friends. Like your Host, Len is a lifetime freelancer and, even though he remains a star of the comics world, even though he created Wolverine and Storm–among other characters–he goes from day to day earning a freelancer’s living, as do I…and these are frightening economic times for those of us out there, to paraphrase Arthur Miller, “on a few words and a shoeshine.”
We have some calls in and will try to get more details, but this is indeed heartbreaking, although we’re just relieved that Len, Christine, and Michael are okay. As everyone in the business knows, Len is not just one of the most notable writers and creators of the Bronze Age, but one of comics’ best friends and an Eisner Hall of Famer. He is, in short, a treasure, and our thoughts go out to him, Chris, and Michael.
UPDATE: The Contra Costa Times has a news story and photo.