Iconic Legion of Super-Heroes artist Steve Lightle dies at age 61

Legion of Super-Heroes
(Image credit: Steve Lightle (DC))

Comic artist Steve Lightle has died at the age of 61 due to cardiac arrest stemming from a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to a Facebook post from his wife, Marianne.

Steve Lightle

(Image credit: Free State Comicon)

Lightle was a lifelong resident of Kansas, and made his comic debut with a story in 1984's Black Diamond #4 from AC Comics. He quickly segued to a career at DC, beginning with a 10-page story in New Talent Showcase #4 and then took over as series artist of Legion of Super-Heroes. Over the course of two years, Lightle drew numerous issues including the memorable death of Karate Kid.

"One of the great strengths of the Legion is its diversity. In fact, I hold the distinction of having suggested the first non-humanoid Legionnaires in the long history of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Tellus and Quislet were the first nonhuman members of the Legion, and I'm very happy that Paul Levitz and I broke that barrier by creating them," Lightle told CBR in 2002. 

(Image credit: Steve Lightle (DC))

"I think that the series has always been blessed with a very diverse readership; due in large part to the message of acceptance that people understand is an integral part of the Legion."

In 1987, Lightle relaunched DC's Doom Patrol series with Paul Kupperberg. After five issues on that title, the artist segued to primarily being a cover artist, only occasionally drawing guest issues and short stories such as in Marvel Comics Presents.

In 2001, Lightle launched his own company, Lunatik Press. Through that, he self-published his own comic books and sold original art.

"Seriously, as a comic creator, whether I'm writing or drawing a story, I always try to find the thing within it that makes it special for me," said Lightly in 2002. "I try to give my all to each assignment that I take on."

Lightle is survived by his wife, Marianne, and their children.

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)