I started reading comics in the mid-80s and really became a lifelong fan in the 1990s. If you were a comics fan in the 1990s, you knew the name Tom Lyle. How could you not? In the era of Tim Drake/Robin, Lyle provided the pencils for Robin mini-series and the gimmick cover sequels– Robin II: Joker’s Wild and Robin III: Cry of the Huntress, all highly coveted by everybody I knew at the time (written by Chuck Dixon during his era of Bat-Dominance). Lyle worked on Detective Comics in the era, co-creating Stephanie Brown. He and Roger Stern produced the highly under-rated Starman series, setting the stage for James Robinson’s critically acclaimed run.
And then there was Marvel! Say what you will about the “Maximum Carnage” and “Clone Saga” arcs for that era of Spider-Man but there is no question that this era was a defining one for Spider-Man and there was Tom Lyle, on the frontlines, pencil in hand.
He may not have been the most prolific artist of the era. He wasn’t ranking in the Wizard Top 10 like many of the hot, young artists of the era but you couldn’t go a week without seeing something he had touched it seemed and by God, the work was good. He was consistent, sharp, and seemed to lay hands on everything I wanted to read as an adolescent fan still learning the ins and outs of the comic book world.
When I saw the reports that Tom had suffered a brain aneurysm in late September and was placed in a medically induced coma, I was heartbroken. It was the sort of heartache that can only be induced by nostalgia. The updates were few and far between– Philip Sevy, Howard Mackie, and Rick Hoberg would all occasionally keep the community apprised of how Tom and family were holding up, almost as if they were guardians of that era in comics, preserving that history for the rest of us too disconnected from the beating heart of the industry. Many thanks to them for that because it was through Rick Hoberg that I first heard the news this morning. I wept for this man I’ve never met. I wept for his family. I wept for his fans and I wept for myself.
Since 2005, Tom has been teaching sequential art at the Savannah College of Art and Design, guiding new generations of artists. It may not have been the longest career in comics but Tom’s influence on the industry will surely be felt for generations. His legacy will certainly live on. Rest in Power Tom and thanks for all the stories.
BREAKING: Iconic Artist and Professor Tom Lyle Passes at 66 Years Old
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