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.


  1. Very, very sad news to hear, but I’m thankful that Len and his loved ones survived the blaze. I wish them all a speedy recovery from this devastating setback.

  2. This is a major blow to one of the finest writers and creators to ever grace the fields of comics, film and animation. I cannot imagine the trauma that he and his family are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with them, and please do a follow up story and let the community know if our help is needed, and if so, how we can contribute.

  3. I’m thankful for the safety of Len and family, but heartbroken for their loss, and history’s loss of such important artwork. Mr. Wein is truly one of the greats. I wish him well and look forward to any chance to help.

  4. Good lord. Why does crap like this happen to the best people? Len is one of the nicest and funniest people to walk the planet. Stuff like this shouldn’t happen to him and his family.

  5. I met Len very briefly, many years ago at a UK Con. Nice guy. Good that his family are ok but he must be devastated at the death of his dog, – a loss more important than any comic pages IMHO.

  6. While I have no money to offer towards a fund, to help Len get back on his feet, I’d be happy to donate some of my artwork for auction. Is someone getting something of that nature together? If someone knows, please help me to get in touch with them. Although I don’t know Len very well, he has been one of the nicest guys to me, in comics, and I’m talking about for years here… ever since I was a kid taking notes at signings, in fact. He’s a great human being and I want to help how I can.

  7. This is just terrible! I’m so heartbroken for Len and Chris! If anyone is orgnizing a benefit, please contact me and I’ll be more than happy to donate art. I’ll call Len, but if anyone talks to him before I do, let him know that I’m ready with script assignments if he needs them!

  8. Met Len at a dinner at last year’s Mid Ohio Con. Very nice person and great I talk to. This shouldn’t have happened. I’m cringing at the loss of both a family pet and one of a kind pieces of history.

  9. My thoughts go out to Len and his family. (My grandmother’s house burned a few years before her death and she lost her beloved pets as well. Even with the lose of heirlooms and such, that was the hardest thing for her to take. Things can be replaced.)

    Len is a wonderful guy. And, Len, if you are reading this, our thoughts are with you. And so happy you and your family are safe.

    Best and much love,

  10. Condolences to the family for their losses.

    You know, it’d be nice if TCF could swing a benefit WOLVERINE showing to help out, esp. after that shout-out to Len by the movie’s star at last year’s SDCC…

  11. I learned about it from Chris over Facebook… certainly the most shocking and tragic status update I’ve encountered from anyone. It’s a relief that they all survived unharmed, but it’s no exaggeration to say they’ve lost everything. They’re Good People, and the universe is woefully unjust.

  12. Glad that Len and his family are safe but so sorry to hear of his losses.

    He has given so much to our community; hopefully we can repay some of that benefit now.

  13. Holly crap! Hopefully his home is fully insured. Gulp!

    We will pray for his family and him.

    Thank god his family is safe.


  14. Oh, bummer. Len is the sweetest guy in the world, much less comics, and so much of comics is based on Len’s creations, you can’t imagine how things would have been without him. Anybody who goes to the Woverine movie or picks up the latest Green Lantern megaseries should stop for a moment and say, “Hey, thanks, Len.”

  15. Having just lost my home to a fire a month ago, I feel terrible for Len’s loss. It’s such a devastating thing to have happen, and especially when you lose irreplaceable things like original art. I hope he was well insured (I wasn’t).

  16. Sad news, Len’s responsible for some of the best comics ever. Good to hear he and the Valadas got out fine. Having lost hundreds of pages of art in a fire before, I can only guess at the sentimental void such work of historical significance to the medium could leave.

  17. Was shocked this morning to hear about this. Len wrote the first comic I ever bought (Amazing Spiderman #171) and is the reason I not only have several long boxes of comics I bought after that one, but is the reason I wanted to get into comics- and have. I’ve gotten to meet him at several shows and have gotten to be friends with him these past few years. He truly is one of comics’ greats, and owe him more than I can ever repay.


  18. Len’s one of my favorite people in this industry. I truly wish the best for both he and his family. Losing my pets in a house fire is one of my greatest fears. I can only imagine how they feel. My deepest sympathies.

  19. Terrible news. Len is truly one of the nicest people I’ve met in the business, and I know the enthusiasm he brings to it. I’m glad he and his family made it out OK — my sympathies for their losses in this.

  20. Wolverine … X-Men … where’s the love for SWAMP THING? A true original creation, and some wonderful memories of those amazing Bernie Wrightson pages.

  21. To Len and his family I offer my condolences on the loss of their beloved pet and home. I was re-reading Len’s run on Swamp Thing the day before this happened and was gearing up for his Phantom Stranger run. What a talented man. I’ve been a comic fan for 43 years and a firefighter for 29 years. I lost a large majority of my collection in a flood including many cherished items I had since early childhood. I can relate in so many ways to what Len must be going through. I offer my best wishes and will contribute if a fund is set up for Len and his family. My thoughts and prayers to Len and his family. John Speakman