Jim Starlin

Jim Starlin

Jim Starlin in 2008
Born James P. Starlin
(1949-10-09) October 9, 1949
Detroit, Michigan
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Penciller, Artist, Inker
Pseudonym(s) Steve Apollo
Notable works
Captain Marvel
Cosmic Odyssey
Infinity Gauntlet
Marvel Graphic Novel
Awards Full list

James P. "Jim" Starlin (born October 9, 1949)[1] is an American comic book writer and artist. With a career dating back to the early 1970s, he is best known for "cosmic" tales and space opera; for revamping the Marvel Comics characters Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock; and for creating or co-creating the Marvel characters Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu.


Personal life

In the 1960s, Jim Starlin served as an aviation photographer in the US Navy in Vietnam.[2][3] During his off duty time, he drew and submitted various comics. After leaving the Navy, he sold two stories to DC Comics.[4]

Early career

After writing and drawing stories for a number of fan publications, Jim Starlin entered the comics industry in 1972, working for Roy Thomas and John Romita at Marvel Comics. Brought in by fellow artist Rich Buckler,[5] Starlin was part of the generation of artists and writers who grew up as fans of Silver Age Marvel Comics. At a Steve Ditko-focused panel at the 2008 Comic-Con International, Starlin said, "Everything I learned about storytelling was [due to] him or Kirby. [Ditko] did the best layouts."[6]

Starlin's first job for Marvel was as a finisher on pages of The Amazing Spider-Man.[7] He then drew three issues of Iron Man, that introduced the characters Thanos and Drax the Destroyer.[8] He was then given the chance to draw an issue (#25) of the "cosmic" title Captain Marvel.[9] Starlin took over as plotter the following issue, and began developing an elaborate story arc centered on the villainous Thanos, and spread across a number of Marvel titles. Starlin left Captain Marvel one issue after concluding his Thanos saga.

Concurrently in the mid-1970s, Starlin contributed a cache of stories to the independently published science-fiction anthology Star Reach. Here he developed his ideas of God, death, and infinity, free of the restrictions of mainstream comics publishers' self-censorship arm, the Comics Code Authority. Starlin also drew "The Secret of Skull River", inked by frequent collaborator Al Milgrom, for Savage Tales #5 (July 1974).

After working on Captain Marvel, Starlin and writer Steve Englehart co-created the character Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu,[10][11] though they only worked on the early issues of the Master of Kung Fu series. Starlin then took over the title Warlock,[12] starring a genetically engineered being created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1960s and re-imagined by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in the 1970s as a Jesus Christ-like figure on an alternate Earth. Envisioning the character as philosophical and existentially tortured, Starlin wrote and drew a complex space opera with theological and psychological themes. Warlock confronted the militaristic Universal Church of Truth, eventually revealed to be created and led by an evil evolution of his future–past self, known as Magus. Starlin ultimately incorporated Thanos into this story. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "In a brief stint with Marvel, which included work on two characters [Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock] that had previously never quite made their mark, Starlin managed to build a considerable cult following."[13]

In Fall 1978,[14] Starlin, Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson, and Val Mayerik formed Upstart Associates, a shared studio space on West 29th Street in New York City. The membership of the studio changed over time.[15]

Death and suicide are recurring themes in Starlin's work: Personifications of Death appeared in his Captain Marvel series and in a fill-in story for Ghost Rider; Warlock commits suicide by killing his future self; and suicide is a theme in a story he plotted and drew for The Rampaging Hulk magazine.

Starlin occasionally worked for Marvel's chief competitor DC Comics and drew stories for Legion of Super-Heroes[7] and the "Batman" feature in Detective Comics[16] in the late 1970s.


Starlin co-created the supervillain Mongul with writer Len Wein in DC Comics Presents #27 (Nov. 1980).[17]

The new decade found Starlin creating an expansive story titled "the Metamorphosis Odyssey", which introduced the character of Vanth Dreadstar in Epic Illustrated #3. From its beginning in Epic Illustrated, the initial story was painted in monochromatic grays, eventually added to with other tones, and finally becoming full color. The storyline was further developed in The Price[18] and Marvel Graphic Novel #3 [19] and eventually the long-running Dreadstar comic book, published first by Epic Comics,[20][21] and then by First Comics.[22]

Starlin was given the opportunity to produce a one-shot story in which to kill off a main character. The Death of Captain Marvel became the first graphic novel published by Marvel itself.[23][Note 1]

Starlin and Bernie Wrightson produced Heroes for Hope, a 1985 one-shot designed to raise money for African famine relief and recovery.[24] Published in the form of a comics "jam," the book featured an all-star lineup of comics creators as well as a few notable authors from outside the comic book industry, such as Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, and Edward Bryant.[7]

In 1986, he and Wrightson produced a second benefit comic for famine relief. Heroes Against Hunger featuring Superman and Batman was published by DC and like the earlier Marvel benefit project featured many top comics creators.[7][25] Starlin became the writer of Batman and one of his first storylines for the title was "Ten Nights of The Beast"[26] in issues #417 - 420 (March - June 1988) which introduced the KGBeast. Starlin then wrote the four-issue miniseries Batman: The Cult (Aug.-Nov. 1988) drawn by Wrightson.[27] and the storyline "Batman: A Death in the Family", in Batman #426-429 (Dec. 1988 – Jan. 1989),[28] in which Jason Todd, the second of Batman's Robin sidekicks, was killed. The death was decided by fans, as DC Comics set up a hotline for readers to vote on as to whether or not Jason Todd should survive a potentially fatal situation.

Other projects for DC included writing The Weird drawn by Wrightson[7] and Cosmic Odyssey drawn by Mike Mignola.[29] Starlin wrote and drew Gilgamesh II in 1989 before returning to Marvel.[7]

Later career

Back at Marvel, Starlin began scripting a revival of the Silver Surfer series. As had become his Marvel norm, he introduced his creation Thanos into the story arc, which led to The Infinity Gauntlet miniseries and its crossover storyline.[30] Here, Starlin brought back Adam Warlock, whom he had killed years earlier in his concluding Warlock story in Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 in 1977. The Infinity Gauntlet proved successful and was followed by the sequel miniseries Infinity War and Infinity Crusade.

For DC he created Hardcore Station in 1998.[7]

In 2003, Starlin wrote and drew the Marvel Comics miniseries Marvel: The End.[7] The series starred Thanos and a multitude of Marvel characters, and subsequently, Starlin was assigned an eponymous Thanos series.[7] Starlin then worked for independent companies, creating Cosmic Guard (later renamed Kid Cosmos) published by Devil's Due and then Dynamite Entertainment in 2006.[7]

Starlin returned to DC and, with artist Shane Davis, wrote the miniseries Mystery in Space vol. 2, featuring Captain Comet and Starlin's earlier creation, the Weird.[31] In 2007–2008, he worked on the DC miniseries Death of the New Gods[32] and Rann-Thanagar Holy War,[7] as well as a Hawkman tie-in that became the latest of many stories to have altered the character's origins over the previous two decades.[33] He wrote the eight-issue miniseries Strange Adventures in 2009[34] and in 2013, became the writer of Stormwatch, one of the series of The New 52 line, beginning with issue #19.[35]

Other work

Starlin co-wrote four novels with his wife Daina Graziunas (whom he married in October 1980):[36] Among Madmen (1990, Roc Books), Lady El (1992, Roc Books), Thinning the Predators (1996, Warner Books; paperback edition entitled Predators); and Pawns (1989, serialized in comic book Dreadstar #42-54).



Comics work includes:

DC Comics


Other publishers

Covers only







  1. "Jim Starlin". Facebook. Retrieved October 10, 2012. Note: Birth date is listed as October 19 at Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  2. Bunche, Steve (August 3, 2010). "Space Opera With Teeth: Jim Starlin's Dreadstar". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  3. Howe, Sean (March 10, 2011). "The Art of Jim Starlin: A Life in Words and Pictures". The Comics Journal. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016.
  4. Best, Daniel (2003). "Welcome to Jim Starlin @Adelaide Comics and Books". Adelaide Comics and Books. Archived from the original on January 22, 2008.
  5. "Gangway, World! Madcap Marvel Marches Merrily On!" ("Bullpen Bulletins" page in Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #104 and other Marvel Comics cover-dated November 1972)
  6. Starlin, in Jones, Seth (August 5, 2008). "CCI: The World of Steve Ditko". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Jim Starlin at the Grand Comics Database
  8. Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 158. ISBN 978-0756641238. "In [Iron Man #55], scripted by Mike Friedrich, plotter and penciler Jim Starlin introduced a miniature mythos of his creations.
  9. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 159: "In March [1973], the first of artist Jim Starlin's many sagas of the Marvel heroes' wars against Thanos began."
  10. Cooke, Jon B. (2005). "Everybody was Kung Fu Watchin'! The Not-So-Secret Origin of Shang-Chi, Kung-Fu Master!". Comic Book Artist Collection: Volume 3. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 6–7. ISBN 1-893905-42-X.
  11. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 161: "Capitalizing on the popularity of martial arts movies, writer Steve Englehart and artist/co-plotter Jim Starlin created Marvel's Master of Kung Fu series. The title character, Shang-Chi, was the son of novelist Sax Rohmer's criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu."
  12. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 168: "Adam Warlock returned in a new series, taking over Strange Tales for four issues...The original Warlock comic book would return with issue #9 in October [1975]."
  13. Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 162. ISBN 9780810938212.
  14. Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). "Simonson Says The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics". Comic Book Artist. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (10): 25.
  15. Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2006). Modern Masters, Volume 8: Walter Simonson. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 1-893905-64-0. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  16. Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1970s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 130. ISBN 978-1465424563. ...and another Batman adventure by writer/layout artist Jim Starlin and finisher P. Craig Russell.
  17. Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Artist Jim Starlin displayed his penchant for portraying powerful cosmic villains with the debut of Mongul, a new threat to plague Superman's life, in a story written by Len Wein.
  18. The Price October 1981 Eclipse Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  19. Marvel Graphic Novel #3 (Dreadstar) 1982 Marvel Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  20. DeFalco, Tom "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 208: "The first title produced for [the Epic Comics] line was Dreadstar, a space opera by writer/artist Jim Starlin."
  21. Dreadstar Epic Comics series at the Grand Comics Database
  22. Dreadstar First Comics series at the Grand Comics Database
  23. DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 207: "This title by Jim Starlin was the first of a new series of Marvel Graphic Novels. Running between forty-eight and ninety-six pages, these paperback books were an attempt to compete with the European-style graphic albums."
  24. DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 223: "Horrified by the plight of starving children in Africa, writer/artist Jim Starlin and illustrator Bernie Wrightson convinced Marvel to publish Heroes For Hope. It was a 'jam' book...and all of Marvel's profits were donated to famine relief in Africa."
  25. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 219: "Plotted by Jim Starlin, with dramatic designs by Bernie Wrightson...Heroes Against Hunger featured nearly every popular DC creator of the time."
  26. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 233: "Using the Cold War as their backdrop, writer Jim Starlin and artist Jim Aparo crafted the four-part storyline 'Ten Nights of the Beast'."
  27. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 234: "Writer Jim Starlin took the Dark Knight into the depths of Gotham for the four-issue prestige format Batman: The Cult...with horror artist Bernie Wrightson."
  28. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 235: "Written by Jim Starlin, with art by Jim Aparo and haunting covers by Mike Mignola, 'A Death in the Family' proved a best seller with readers in both single-issue and trade paperback form."
  29. Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 235: "Writer Jim Starlin and artist Mike Mignola teamed up for a sci-fi miniseries that spanned the [DC Universe]."
  30. Manning, Matthew K. "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 254: "Written by Jim Starlin, and with pencils by George Pérez and Ron Lim, The Infinity Gauntlet was born."
  31. Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 327: "[Mystery in Space] returned for an eight-issue run featuring Captain Comet, and was written by Jim Starlin and drawn by Shane Davis. It also contained a back-up strip starring the Weird, written and drawn by Starlin."
  32. Cowsill "2000s" in Dolan, p. 331: "Writer and artist Jim Starlin helmed this eight-part series as a mysterious force brought destruction to the inhabitants of the Fourth World."
  33. Ekstrom, Steve (July 31, 2008). "Jim Starlin: Hawkman - The Special and Beyond?". Newsarama. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  34. "Exclusive DC Preview - 'Strange Adventures #1'". Newsarama. March 4, 2009. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  35. Rogers, Vaneta (February 12, 2013). "Jim Starlin's New 52 Stormwatch: 'Revamp of a Revamp'". Newsarama. Archived from the original on October 8, 2014.
  36. Shooter, Jim. "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Comics cover-dated July 1981.
  37. "1973 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013.
  38. "Inkpot Award Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
  39. "Ambassadors". Inkwell Awards. n.d. Archived from the original on July 23, 2015.


  1. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's reunion for a Silver Surfer graphic novel in 1978 was published by Simon & Schuster.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jim Starlin.
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