Lobo co-creator and Bronze Age comics writer Roger Slifer passed away over the weekend. Slifer was badly injured in a hit and run accident two years ago, suffering traumatic brain injury that left him in a nursing home for the remainder of his life. Although he had been making some recent progress in speaking, he died en route to the emergency room. He was 60.
Slifer was best known for co-creating Lobo in The Omega Men, which ws drawn by Keith Giffen, but in the 70s he was part of The CPL Gang, a group of comics enthusiasts who put out fanzines, a group that included Roger Stern, Michael Uslan, Bob Layton, John Byrne, Tony Isabella and Steven Grant. In his career he worked as an editor, a sales manager and later in animation as a writer and producer on series including Jem and the Holograms, Transformers and G.I. Joe Extreme.
Former DC publisher Paul Levitz recalled Slifer in a Facebook post:
Roger Slifer died yesterday, victim of a random hit & run a couple of years ago who took his time dying slowly. Roger was an old friend–we’d crashed on each other’s couches, played poker, and plotted ways to make comics a better place. He came to comics from a small town whose geography he defied to become part of the CPL Gang that also gave us Bob Layton, Roger Stern, Duffy Vohland and John Byrne. In NY he was an early Marvel associate editor, DC’s first full time Direct Sales guy, a DC editor, the writer co-creator of Lobo, and an advocate for creators’ rights, helping found one of the field’s first not-profits, the Narrative Arts Alliance, alongside more established folks like Steve Gerber and Gerry Conway. For a while supported himself on occasional coloring gigs and his poker winnings (in our game that was a real challenge given the low stakes). And after he was done with comics, he became an animation writer and producer, working on a string of impactful series.
But in between all that, he published the first attempt at a DC graphic novel, a Manhunter edition we licensed him around 1978. He took the Archie Goodwin/Walt Simonson collaboration and assembled it in one volume for the first time in a format modeled on French albums. Can you say ahead of his time? But important enough it came up at lunch today with a groundbreaking artist in the field remembering it as how he discovered Walt’s genius. And that was before we heard of Roger’s death.
Take a minute and remember him. Or just think of the innumerable fans, creators and even business folk who helped make comics the much more vibrant field it is today. Most are anonymous names lost to history, but their work lives on. And so does Roger’s. Thanks, pal.
Mark Evanier also remembered Slifer
He was born (in 1954) and died in Morristown, Indiana. He loved comic books and in the late sixties and early seventies, contributed to amateur publications. This led to professional publications in the mid-seventies, writing for Marvel comics and later moving into editorial work there. As far as I could tell, he was unanimously liked and respected. In the eighties, he moved over to DC, working in both the editorial and sales divisions. He didn’t have as much time to write as he would have liked but did manage to co-create and script the popular comic, Lobo.
Roger was a tireless advocate for creators’ rights and it was squabbles on that topic eventually drove him away from the New York comic book industry. He relocated in Los Angeles where he began writing animation and becoming a producer of many shows including G.I. Joe, Transformers, Jem and the Holograms and Bucky O’Hare.
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.