Under the Rainbow
I've been meaning to write about comics veteran Tom Ziuko since the news broke a year ago that he was ill.
Ziuko was a longtime colorist for DC. I vividly recall being struck by his muted yet vibrant work on the cover to 1986's Legends #1, which I'm pretty sure was also one of the earliest covers to carry a colorist signature along with that of the pencil and ink artist(s) — in this case, John Byrne.
Cover to Legends #1 © 1986 DC Comics.
The Grand Comics Database lists over 1,500 credits for Ziuko spanning nearly 30 years of covers and interiors, from Superman to Hellblazer to Animaniacs, including color reconstruction on reprint projects for both Marvel and DC. His more recent work ranges from newly colored reprints of Nick Bakay & Alan Kupperberg's National Lampoon feature Evil Clown Comics to covers for The Jack Kirby Collector, Alter Ego, and other TwoMorrows publications.
Word came in January 2011 that Tom was dealing with kidney failure, among other problems, which as a lifelong freelancer put him in a typically tough state financially. You can find last year's call for donations from Kupperberg at various places on the Web, including his Facebook page and the blog of historian Daniel Best (at the link). Daniel's blog also hosts a more recent update from Tom's friend Gary Mann on his continuing health problems. Both posts include copious examples of his talent. Update: Alan Kupperberg has told me that contributions to help offset the costs of Tom's medical care and loss of income can now be sent to his own PayPal account, firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than to Alan.
Sending along a few bucks to go with my well wishes only felt right, and I hope that others who've appreciated Ziuko's work over the years do the same. Valentine's Day has come and gone, but there's never a bad time to share the love. As Kupperberg points out just a dollar apiece from enough people goes a long way — heck, it's how an Internet-oriented economy might function one day. The Hero Initiative, a chartered not-for-profit corporation that helps out creators in need, posted a message from Tom in October and has not just a PayPal account at its blog but an online store where you can score some unique swag while ensuring that folks like Ziuko who've long toiled in the trenches of an industry that is historically lean on safety nets can find some measure of support from grateful fans.