Remembering artist Mark Bright

Date:

He just GOT comics.

Artist and musician Mark “Doc” Bright passed away earlier this week at age 68. The co-creator of Icon, Rocket and Quantum and Woody, he left behind a sterling body of work and many fond memories among his friends. It wasn’t until his memorial art started flooding my timelines that I remembered what a good artist he was. As one commenter put it, “he just GOT comics” with a flawless sense of design and heroic figures. 

transformers bright

According to his obituary, Bright spent most of his life in Montclair, NJ before attending Pratt. His earliest jobs were at Marvel but after establishing himself, his best known comics work were notable runs on Green Lantern – including the seminal reboot Emerald Dawn, written by Christopher Priest –  and Iron Man. He also drew what is known as one of the most famous pieces of Transformers art ever.  Bright then helped launch the influential Milestone line of comics as the artist on Icon, co-creating Rocket along the way. He reunited at Valiant with Priest for Quantum and Woody, before mostly leaving comics. 

Following comics, Bright worked in storyboards for film and commercials, including M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. He was also an accomplished musician, who jammed in a band with Larry Hama, and was a deacon at his church. 

He is survived by three siblings, seven nieces and nephews and nine great grandnieces and grandnephews. 

Brian Cronin has details of Bright’s comics career here. And collaborator Christopher Priest has the kind of remembrance only her could write here, including how Hasbro initially rejected that Transformers cover. 

In most every way that mattered, we literally were Quantum & Woody. I’ve been asked, many times, which of us is which. The truth is, I think both Eric (Quantum) and Woody are based on Doc, on his perpetual seesaw between stoicism and sarcasm. Doc may be the funniest guy I know, well educated, well-informed, and well deserving of his own late-night talk show. He can and often does mock virtually everything, has an opinion about literally everything, and has amazing creative skill in a number of disciplines. When I met him, back in the 80’s, he was a cover artist for places like Dell and Pocket Books, creating acrylic visions of outer space, starships and monsters.

Lucius Illuminux examined Bright’s work on Icon #1 at Shelfdust. 

More remembrances:

Larry Hama: My friend MD “Doc” Bright has returned to the Universe, and I am abjectly bereft. He called me a week ago to inform me of his health situation, and that he was in a rehab unit.  I realize now that he was saying goodbye.  I had made plans to drive out to Jersey to visit him this week, because he had said he would be in rehab for at least two weeks.  I should have dropped everything and gone last week. I am still digesting this.  I will be posting remembrances here when I get it together.

Joe Illidge: We’ve lost one of the original Milestone Comics family. MARK BRIGHT has passed away. He was a friend, and one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. A comic book Mark drew changed the direction of my life. I’m gutted. I know his spirit will find peace.

Denys Cowan: RIP Mark Bright A brilliant artist Milestone’s  artist for Icon and Rocket. We were so lucky to have him. A great guy and this is a real loss to the comics community

Cully Hamner:  Very sorry to hear of Mark Bright’s passing. I never knew him personally, but I dug his art. His run on GREEN LANTERN at DC was directly responsible for my own first published work. RIP, sir.

Rob Liefeld:  I was an avid fan of all his work. Never met him, admired from afar. Rest In Peace, Mark Bright.

Rafael Kayanan: Mark Bright was one of those artists who was like the shadow ninja of comics – his work snuck up on you and before you knew it he was off taking on another target and you wished he’d stayed on to keep slaying the book he was doing. Dim week for comics.

Jermaine McLaughlin:  Mark Bright just GOT comics. I felt that as a fan. With a body of work that was Nothing short of INCREDIBLE. I felt blessed to be able to pick his brain weekly when I started at DC Comics 20+ ago. I miss him. I miss our talks. Great artist. better person.

Shawn Pryor: Mark Bright was one of the reasons why I wanted to tell stories and make comics. Gone way too soon. Rest In Power, Mr. Bright. You will be missed.

Fabian Nicieza: I met Mark in 1985 when he had started working on Iron Man. He drew one of my early stories for Classic X-Men.Later, I watched Mark and Christopher Priest create one of the best comics of my lifetime. Always an underrated artist. Always a good man.

Jason Scott Jones who worked with Bright at Milestone has a long, wonderful tribute which I’ll just link to with this: 


For the next 5 months as I interned at Milestone, whenever I made copies (as interns do) of Mark’s fantastic, clean, dynamic pencil art I felt I was living half a dream. The full dream would be working on this book and two years later I’d moved up to being a painting artist on the books and Color Editor of all the painted pages of Milestone’s comics

So naturally I assigned myself to work on Icon (with Dwayne’s blessing of course) when I mentioned picking myself for Icon Dwayne said “well you’re the color editor…but I write that one so you better so a good job!” (I knew he was only half kidding because Dwayne wouldn’t have put me in charge of those painted pages at 22 if I couldnt do it, plus I had already worked on Hardware)

And here’s where I get emotional

That was one of the best times of my life and always will be.

 

 

And the best part: the art. 

 

Heidi MacDonald
Heidi MacDonaldhttps://www.comicsbeat.com/
Heidi MacDonald is the editor-in-chief of The Beat and an award winning author and editor. She is the co-author of The Secret Teachings of a Comic Book Master.

1 COMMENT

  1. Doc’s work always profoundly spoke to me, the way he could seamlessly combine crisp mechanical elements with organic free-flowing shapes to create drama and scale. Iron Man #203 was one of the first comics I ever read as a kid, and his fantastic work on it is a big reason why I continued coming back to comics again and again, for all that excitement and inspiration. It’s great to know he was just as wonderful a person as he was an artist.

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