11February 29 -- The Creator of Batman's (Non-Joker) Villains
Sheldon Moldoff, comic book artist, co-creator of Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and Bat-Mite.
We're just going to skip over Signalman.
Natural causes (dude was 91).
You know the old story: A talent scout spots a young girl in a mall, and suddenly she's America's favorite covergirl supermodel. Moldoff's the comic book artist equivalent of that. We don't mean that his cold, dead eyes stare at you from a billboard selling face cream to spotty teenage girls. We mean that he was discovered as a teenager, while doodling with chalk on the sidewalk outside his apartment.
From there, he went on to become one of the most prolific artists of the Golden Age. Yep, if we keep typing away at Starbucks, eventually a publisher will look over our shoulder and give us a job. It's happened before, damn it!
10March 3 -- The Real Genius Behind Star Wars
Parkinson's disease, age 82.
There is a 99.9999 percent chance that Star Wars would not exist if it wasn't for Ralph McQuarrie, which puts him right up there with George Lucas, Frank Herbert, and Joseph Campbell in that respect. Here's why: Back in the 1970s, McQuarrie was just a guy doing some technical art for Boeing, and George Lucas was just a guy who couldn't get his space opera financed, no matter how hard he tried. That is, until he commissioned McQuarrie to sketch some of the concepts he was trying to get across. McQuarrie said "Sure!" and went to work inventing the look of:
Darth Vader's breathing apparatus, helmet, and cape
Just ... all of it
Except for the prequels. Good man.
With McQuarrie's detailed, beautiful drawings in hand, Lucas had the big picture he needed to sell his story. And those designs became some of the most recognizable artistic creations in the history of human civilization.