The comics world reacts to the death of Denny O'Neil

Denny O'Neil at the 1983's Comic-Con International: San Diego (Image credit: Jackie Estrada)

“Make me laugh. Make me cry. Tell me my place in the world. Lift me out of my skin and place me in another. Show me places I have never visited and carry me to the ends of time and space. Give my demons names and help me to confront them. Demonstrate for me possibilities I've never thought of and present me with heroes who will give me courage and hope. Ease my sorrows and increase my joy. Teach me compassion. Entertain and enchant and enlighten me.

"Tell me a story.” - Denny O'Neil, from The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics

Dennis J. "Denny" O'Neil died Thursday evening, and after news broke this morning of his passing a groundswell of admiration and stories of friendship and inspiration poured out of the comic book community.

Newsarama has collected some reactions from comic book publishing companies, executives, colleagues, creators and more - and we encourage you to share your own thoughts about O'Neil on social media.


(Image credit: DC)

Here's DC's statement on Denny O'Neil's passing:

"DC is deeply saddened by the loss of our longtime friend and industry legend, Dennis "Denny" O’Neil.

"Denny began his professional career as a reporter in Missouri, and it was a series of articles he wrote in the mid-1960s about the comic book industry that caught the attention of Marvel editor Roy Thomas. Denny soon started writing for comics, and in 1968 he contributed his first stories to DC. Denny quickly became one of the company’s most influential contributors, writing six or seven stories a month.  

"His breakthrough came in 1970 when he and artist Neal Adams started working on Batman. The pair forged a grittier version of Batman, returning the character back to his earliest days as the ominous Dark Knight of Gotham City. 

"Denny modestly described it as a return to the character’s roots, but it was much more than that," said DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee. "They channeled the zeitgeist of the times and brought to life a darker, more evocative yet grounded take on Batman.

"Next up for the pair was a remarkable series of Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories, 'Hard Traveling Heroes.' These stories dealt with topics that were formerly taboo in comics, including drug addiction, racism, and other social ills. The stories won every award the comics industry could bestow. 

"After a stint at Marvel, Denny returned to DC in 1986 to supervise and edit the Batman titles. It was a post he held until his retirement in 2001. 

"Denny was an amazingly talented writer and editor," said Bob Harras, Editor-In-Chief, DC. "More than that, he was a beloved member of the DC family, and he will be sorely missed."

Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski

"Comics would not be the same without Denny O'Neil. As a writer, editor and mentor, he set the highest of standards. Denny left an indelible mark on our artform and his legacy will live forever. He may have put down his pen, but the ink will never go dry." from Cebulski's Twitter

DC chief creative officer/publisher Jim Lee

Denny O'Neil at the 1983 Comic Con International: San Diego. (Image credit: Jackie Estrada)

"RIP Denny O’ Neil — one of visionary architects of DC Comics who helped revive Batman in the 1970’s and remains my favorite Green Lantern writer to date. 

"Through his editing and writing, Denny was one of the earliest writers whose work and focus on social issues pushed comics to wider respectability & acceptance as an artform. Through his work and mentorship, he influenced generations of writers & artists. 

"I was so starstruck meeting Denny for the first time, but he was just the kindest. 

"Our condolences to his family & many fans around the world." from Lee's Twitter

Marvel's creative director Joe Quesada (who co-created Azrael with O'Neil)

(Image credit: DC)

"Words cannot express what Denny meant to me and so many others. I learned more in the short span of time that I was fortunate enough to work with both He, and Archie Goodwin, than perhaps the entirety of my years in the biz.

"A brilliant writer, editor, and true gentlemen. 

"Godspeed, Denny." from Quesada's Twitter

Writer Tom King

"Denny O’Neil made timeless comics by making comics about his time. The revolutions of the 60s, the excesses of the 70s, the corruption of the 80s, the facades of the 90s — he used super hero tropes as brushstrokes to paint a picture of who we are and who we could be. RIP." from King's Twitter

Writer/editor Gerry Conway

"I'm heartbroken. Denny was my mentor, my big brother, and my friend during my earliest years in comics. His influence on my personal growth as a human being can't be overstated. Our field has lost a giant." from Conway's Twitter

Writer Brad Meltzer

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

"We owe him for more than you think. 


"Green Arrow. 

"And 'During his time editing at Marvel, he was the one who hired then-newcomer Frank Miller to take over the Daredevil title.'

"RIP Denny O’Neil" from Meltzer's Twitter

Writer Scott Snyder

"Crushed to hear about Denny O'Neil. I met him for the first time in 2012 filming this extras reel for Batman: Year One, and I couldn't stop geeking out. He was so kind and encouraging though, and I feel lucky to have gotten to know him over the years. True giant. Lights dim in Gotham tonight." from Snyder's Twitter

Writer/artist Dan Jurgens

(Image credit: DC)

"So sorry to learn of Denny O'Neil's passing. As a kid, I loved his work because it had a sense of individuality that stood out. Later, I was fortunate enough to work both with him and for him. He was a true great, whose contributions will be remembered forever. RIP, Denny." from Jurgen's Twitter

Writer/artist Frank Miller

"Rest In Peace Denny O’Neil. I first became aware of him reading the Batman comics he made with Neil Adams. These stories opened up the wider world of classic adventure for me." from Miller's Twitter

Writer Mark Millar

"RIP Denny O'Neil. I was such an enormous fan of this guy that I still have his faxed, hand-written notes for my Superman: Red Son proposal as a souvenir in my office. A true gent who pretty much reinvented what a comic-book writer was capable of." from Millar's Twitter

Writer/artist Mike Mignola

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

"RIP Denny O'Neil. He gave me my first regular inking gig (Master of Kung Fu) way before I had any idea what I was doing. Sorry to see him go." from Mignola's Twitter

Marvel New Media's VP/head of content Stephen Wacker

"When Denny O'Neil taught the assistant editor training at DC he told us, 'In art there are no rules, only guidelines' which is a pretty solid point-of-view. Thanks, Denny." from Wacker's Twitter

Writer/director/actor Kevin Smith

(Image credit: DC)

"The Bat Bard passes, making it a hard traveling world without Denny O'Neil. He gave us back a Dark Knight Detective, asked an amazing Question, and nocked a classic Green Arrow. Talking to this legend on Fat Man on Batman & were fanboy highlights of my life. RIP" from Smith's Twitter

Writer/artist/inker Klaus Janson

"Denny O’Neil passed away last night. He was a great writer, editor and teacher and always a man of principle. A different O’Neil wrote 'attention must be paid.' I hope he knew how much he was loved and respected. Godspeed, Denny! Catch you on the other side!" from Janson's Twitter

Writer Jason Aaron

(Image credit: DC)

"For me as a young fan, Denny O'Neil's name became an unfailing sign of quality, a synonym for exciting, challenging, kick-ass comic books. And his landmark Batman and Question runs were most especially influential for me as a would-be writer. RIP to a true legend of comics." from Aaron's Twitter

Writer J.M. DeMatteis

"When I started in the business, there were certain editors who had my respect the instant I walked in the room, simply because of who they were, what they'd accomplished. Denny O'Neil was one of those editors. How fortunate I was to learn from one of the very best." from DeMatteis Twitter

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)