Wow. I am stunned and heartbroken.
SF legend Samuel Delany has just written the following on Facebook:
Robert Morales was one of my closest friends–and had been since he was seventeen year old. He died at his home in Brooklyn this morning, leaving his father and mother. He was fifty-four. We spoke on the phone for many years, at least once a week and often more. I am shattered. His many friends will miss him deeply. He had agreed to be my literary executor, and the idea that he would pre-descease me never entered my head. For me and many others he was an indispensable friend. To say he will be deeply missed is an incredible understatement.
In comics Morales was best known as the author of TRUTH: RED WHITE AND BLACK, the Marvel miniseries, drawn by Kyle Baker, about black soldiers given the super serum as an experiment, an echo of the Tuskegee experiment. It was a controversial book, but Bob was a controversial guy. I know he had other comics projects in the works along the way, but I was never certain how far along they were.
I first met Bob when he hired me in the ’90s to write for Reflex, a pop culture music magazine of the day. Since then we were friends with Bob emailing or calling on a regular basis with this or that bit of stunning or shocking or hilarious news. Anyone who knows Bob knows he was abrasive and dark-humored…but also a good, good friend. I put out a desperate call on Twitter a few years ago for someone to help me move boxes, and Bob, a man in his middle years, was the only person who responded. It was a gruesomely hot day, but he helped me get everything from my office into my storage unit, and we sat down at a mid afternoon, sun dappled, dark paneled bar—I had a cold pear cider, Bob had a Diet Coke, I believe, as he didn’t drink. We rambled on about his favorite topics, a wide-ranging pop culture history of comics, music, the minority experience and trying to be better than the shills and greed who tried and mostly succeeded in running the world.
It’s no surprise that Bob’s best known work was called TRUTH, because for him the truth was a crusade and a cause, even if it was mostly expressed in those private, sun-dappled moments. I am devastated to know I will never hear Bob’s conspiratorial tones on the phone again and my heart goes out to his parents, who I know he cared about deeply.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.