By Greg Espinosa

Artist Max Fellwalker, 57, recently passed away on March 14th at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, while undergoing a surgical procedure to insert a stent into her superior vena cava. The initial reason given for her death was “surgical complications.”  Max’s daughter, Rahne Fellwalker, provided the details.

Max Fellwalker’s main cultural footprint consisted of the painted covers to the original Men In Black comic books, created and written by Lowell Cunningham. The series was first published by Aircel in 1990, and later published by Marvel Comics. She cited as her favorite work, a painted cover for an Eternity-published book, Shuriken in 1991. She also painted a cover for the Eternity book, Spicy Tales, as well as Captain Harlock: The Television Scripts. She painted cards and created illustrations for the White Wolf games, Vampire: The Masquerade, and produced art for Vampire: The Eternal Struggle.


Some of the other companies she worked for were, Eclipse Comics, Strawberry Jam Comics, The National Organization for Women, Alderac Entertainment Group, and more.

She was also a client of Allen Spiegel Fine Arts. She did a number of art commissions that are in private collections.

Max had been active in the Society for Creative Anachronism and had a business, Fellwalker Boltrights, constructing custom crossbows. She also had an Etsy store, Dark Of The Moon Arts, making custom jewelry.

She was an accomplished photographer, who under the name MiseryXchord, documented the local SoCal rock and roll/punk rock music scene. She has a popular “X”/Twitter account, MiseryX, where she posted her progressive views.

Max was born November 7th, 1966, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s survived by her two daughters, Rahne and Faye Fellwalker, as well as her mother, Virginia Matusiak-Zancanaro, a brother in Wisconsin, and 3 sisters in California. Max graduated from Leigh High School in San Jose, in 1984. She had no formal art training and was largely self-taught, initially developing her watercolor skills while living in a Pleasant Hill, CA home that was set up as a studio with three other artists. She later took art classes in San Francisco to hone her skillsMax’s former editor at Aircel/Eternity, Tom Mason noted, “I always liked her. I loved her approach to painting. I wished I could’ve found more work for her that fit her unique and nearly-expressionistic style. She had a great sense of light and color.”

shuriken fellwalker

Rich Thomson of Onyx Path Publishing remembers, “as I recall, our crew had met her at San Diego Comic Con (in 1992) and returned with a handout of her work. Pretty sure she was still in art school, or just recently graduated. Her painted, shadowy, inkwash and watercolor techniquess were perfect for the dark and rainy streets I wanted to depict for Vampire: The Masquerade 2nd Edition, so I quickly gave Max a call and had a series of conversations that resulted in ten beautiful illustrations that were some of my favorite pieces of art in the book. She really helped to set the overall tone for both the book and the world by bringing in a more classically artistic style, while retaining a very modern (for the early 90s) look for the characters.”

As Liz Schiller remembered Max, “She was a special and talented person. Her talent for painting seemed to spring full blown into the universe.” In 1988, Schiller commissioned an illustration by Max depicting diverse women and girls for an International Women’s Day ad, run by the East Bay chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Famed illustrator Michael Kaluta recalls when he met Max, “First ever seeing Max: forest being, her tangled hair. Wildflower – Wrapped in/made of a double handful of night, infused with borrowed starlight. That greek goddess black hair…as curled as a storm cloud. Open for whom or what she cares to see and be seen by. One senses her looking toward you from her midnight tangled hair in an up-from-under glance. If seen/discovered then found always with a pen or pencil in either hand, appearing out-of-the-way, but never hiding… She could appear in the corner of your eye, revealing herself, a smile sent to you: a small salute, a soft hello to one she acknowledged as a fellow traveller, the brief moments of shared insight, by word or image. She is one of Donovan’s dark princesses from the song Celeste, as adapted to an artist as opposed to a songwriter: ”Dawn crept in unseen, to find me still awake, A strange young girl >showed her art< to me, and left before the day was born… this dark princess, with saddening jest, she lowered her eyes of woe…And I felt her sigh, I wouldn’t like to try, the changes she’s going through…but I hope love comes right through them all with you…”

Max had chronic health issues throughout her life. She’d been dealing with increasing arthritic pain over the years, brought about by what was diagnosed in the mid-90s as Lyme’s Disease. Those issues with pain caused her to stop painting, roughly around the late nineties.

Max was cremated. There was no funeral service, nor any place for interment to mark her passing. Not even a local obituary. My purpose in writing about her is that I want to make sure people know Max Fellwalker was here. No one should pass unmourned or unremembered, and  I hope this remembrance will honor her memory. Her daughter, Rahne, handled her mother’s final affairs and recently received custody of her mom’s ashes.

I knew and loved Max Fellwalker, and once upon a time she was a significant part of my life. I watched her talent develop as a painter from the start of our relationship. Staying together as a couple wasn’t in the cards for us, or the stars. Max was the kind of person who looked forward, not backward. When she set her sights on something, she went after it with full-tilt abandon. She was an artist, an excellent photographer, a craftsperson, and a single mom who took care of her two daughters. Now she’s gone back to the universe, and her pain and suffering is gone. If an afterlife exists, I hope she’s found her peace. For an all-too brief span of time, her heart was mine, and mine was hers. I’ll miss her and remember the best of her.

R.I.P. Peggy Ann Zancanaro A.K.A. Max Fellwalker (1966-2024)


I want to give special thanks to Rahne Fellwalker, Kirsten Berry, and Derek McCulloch for providing some invaluable help putting this remembrance together.

harlock fellwalker



Greg Espinoza is an artist, writer, interviewer, and generally a troublemaker. Working in Comics, gaming, animation, and illustration for more than 40 years. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, and created art for Printed In Blood, and Image Comics, among others.