Sgt Fury #80

The cover of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #80, September 1970. Art by Dick Ayers and Bill Everett

This week, former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Roy Thomas reported that Dick Ayers, a legendary artist from the Silver Age of comics, passed away on May 4 at his home in White Plains, New York, six days after his ninetieth birthday.

In addition to being a frequent inker for Jack Kirby in the early days of Marvel Comics, Ayers co-created the horror-themed Western gunman Ghost Rider for Magazine Enterprises in 1949 (a character later published by Marvel under the names “Night Rider” and “Phantom Rider”), and was the artist for much of the Human Torch’s 1960s solo run in Strange Tales.

But for this Podwit, Mr. Ayers’ lasting legacy will be his decade-long run as the penciler of Marvel’s WWII-era combat series Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, which introduced Nick Fury back when he was a working-class three-striper (as well as some of Fury’s long-time supporting characters like Dum-Dum Dugan and Gabe Jones). Between issue #8 in 1964 and #120 (Sgt. Fury‘s final issue of original material) in 1974, Ayers penciled all but six issues of the book, taking the book to heights of gripping action and battlefield drama that, for my money, made Sgt. Fury my favorite of the classic Silver Age war comics.

Dick Ayers continued to work sporadically into the early 21st century, but his amazing body of Silver Age work would have been a hall-of-fame achievement all to itself. A world-class talent and a life fully lived, the Podwits bid one final, grateful “Wah-HOO!!!” and R.I.P. to Dick Ayers, one of the greats.