Stargirl Co-Creator Lee Moder Passes Away
By Russ Burlingame,2023-02-07
Lee Moder, the veteran comics artist who co-created the Courtney Whitmore version of Stargirl, has passed away, ComicBook.com has learned. He was 53 years old. According to a family friend, Moder died quietly, in his own home, sometime on or before January 15th. The exact cause of his death not yet known. Moder, also credited as the co-creator of Shinku with Ron Marz and Dreamer with Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw, worked in the comics industry for close to 30 years, drawing titles like Legion of Super-Heroes and Wonder Woman at DC, plus Dragon Prince at Image's Top Cow Comics imprint.
Born in Pittsburgh, Lee began his comics career in his early 20s, when he took a job at Malibu. Not long after, he transitioned to DC, where he would do much of his most notable work. Besides his DC and Image work, Moder provided art for issues of Highlander and Red Sonja for Dynamite, and worked on a few issues here and there of Marvel's X-Factor , CrossGen's Scion , and the Boom! Studios anthology Zombie Tales .
Moder was most active in the 1990s and early 2000s, and it was during that time that he landed the job drawing Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. , Geoff Johns 's first mainstream comics work and the title that would introduce Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. to the world.
Before that, Moder was a regular artist on Legion of Super-Heroes for three years, including the landmark Legion of Super-Heroes #100. During that run, Moder (with Peyer and McCraw) created the Dreamer identity for the Legion's Dream Girl, which is the version adapted to The CW's Supergirl TV series.
Moder had not been working in mainstream comics much in recent years, aside from some cover art, but had been called in to draw DC RetroActive: Wonder Woman - The 90s in 2011, due to his association with the character during that era.
"I'm just numb," Moder's Shinku and Dragon Prince collaborator Ron Marz told ComicBook.com. "I tell stories for a living, and this is not how stories are supposed to end. Lee wasn't just someone I collaborated with, he was a friend, he was almost a part of my family. He stayed at my house, he drew at my kitchen table with my kids. His work had such life and joy to it. Every project we did together was a blessing, but they're only the tip of the iceberg. Lee had stacks of sketchbooks filled with original characters and concepts and designs, full story arcs. There are entire issues that he drew and then set aside because he wasn't quite satisfied, but I can absolutely tell you they're amazing. I hope the world gets to see all that stuff as part of Lee's legacy. It's too beautiful to remain hidden. Lee was an inexhaustible source of creation. My imagination is not capable of understanding that he's gone."
"The industry lost a wonderful talent with the passing of Lee Moder ," Geoff Johns told us. "He was the first artist I ever collaborated with on my first comic book, Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E., which introduced Courtney Whitmore, AKA Stargirl. Lee co-created Courtney and her world with me, along with re-imagining the old 1940's Pat Dugan Stripesy into S.T.R.I.P.E. He embodied the warmth, power, beauty and comedy he put into all his art. We had so much fun. I'll miss Lee very much."
"Lee was a natural born storyteller, a really sweet guy, and a total pleasure to work with," Jimmy Palmiotti told us. "Whatever I'd write, I would get back something better. And he's one of the few people who was able to tell emotion in what he did, and the storytelling was super clear."
Writer Anthony Ruttgaizer, a friend of Moder's, said in a statement that "Lee will be remembered by his friends as a loveable curmudgeon who was a voracious fan of the sci-fi and action genres, current affairs and stand-up comedy, particularly loving Mystery Science Theater 3000 , all things Star Wars, and the wit and wisdom of George Carlin."
Our condolences go out to Moder's family, friends, collaborators, and fans during this difficult time.
A private memorial service is being planned. Fans who wish to honor Lee's memory are encouraged to donate to the Hero Initiative at heroinitiative.org .
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