Tim Sale, the acclaimed comic book artist behind classic DC Comics such as “Batman: The Long Halloween” and “Superman for All Seasons,” died on Thursday, DC Comics confirmed in a press release. He was 66.
DC Comics publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee announced that Sale had been admitted to the hospital due to health issues on Monday. The cause of death has not been announced.
In a statement for DC Comics, Lee said: “The entire DC family is heartbroken at the news of Tim’s passing. Tim was an extraordinary artist, who was masterful at storytelling and panel layouts and his compositions were second to none. I was always so impressed and inspired by his use of lighting and shadows which infused his work with foreboding gravitas and dramatic noir sensibilities.”
Tim Sale was an incredible artist, whose take on iconic characters had real human depth, and his groundbreaking page designs changed the way an entire generation thinks about comic book storytelling. Our condolences go to Tim’s family and friends. He will be deeply missed. pic.twitter.com/VgXxu7O0V4
— DC (@DCComics) June 16, 2022
A veteran superhero artist who worked for both DC and Marvel Comics, Sale’s art was distinctive for its clean yet detailed compositions and his heavy use of color to convey mood and tone. Sale’s most consistent collaborator was comics writer Jeph Loeb, who he workerd with on stories that aimed to capture the essence of the most famous superheroes of all time, including Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America.
Loeb was born in Ithaca, N.Y in 1956, and attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He began his career as an artist in the early ’80s, illustrating the independent comic “MythAdventures.” Other independent work from Sale includes the series “Thieves’ World,” “Billi 9,” and the critically-acclaimed “Grendel” from Matt Wagner.
In 1991, Sale teamed up with Loeb for a limited series revival of the Jack Kirby sci-fi team “Challengers of the Unknown.” Following this collaboration, the two began to work regularly together, including on “Wolverine/Gambit: Victims,” a miniseries about the popular X-Men characters.
Sale and Loeb came to prominence in the comic book industry with a series of Halloween special issues they created for the Batman anthology series “Legends of the Dark Knight” throughout the early ’90s. The one-offs proved popular, and the two re-teamed for “Batman: The Long Halloween,” a 13-issue limited series published from 1996 to 1997. The comic follows Batman during the early days of his career, as he works to solve the mystery of a serial killer named Holiday, with each issue finding him battling a new foe during notable holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
“The Long Halloween” is one of the most acclaimed and popular Batman stories of all time, with Sale’s moody art and unique designs for Batman’s villain attracting considerable praise. Matt Reeves would name the miniseries as a chief influence on his film “The Batman.” Sale and Loeb would follow up “The Long Halloween” with two sequels, “Batman: Dark Victory” and “Catwoman: When in Rome,” in 1999 and 2004.
Following the success of “The Long Halloween,” Sale and Loeb would collaborate on a similar comic, “Superman for All Seasons,” the following year. The four-issue series, which focuses on Superman from the perspectives of ordinary people in his life across the different seasons, saw Sale take inspiration from Norman Rockwell and Americana artwork in his illustrations. Sale would receive an Eisner award in 1999 for “Superman for All Seasons,” and later worked on another Superman title, the origin story series “Superman Confidential,” which he launched with writer Darwyn Cooke in 2007.
During the 2000s, Sale and Loeb began a series of unofficially linked “color” miniseries for Marvel, in which they retold formative events of classic superheroes. These miniseries included “Daredevil: Yellow” in 2001, “Spider-Man: Blue” in 2002 and “Hulk: Gray” in 2003. As the names suggest, Sale’s art for the three series heavily utilized colors as a running motif. A fourth “color” series, “Captain America: White,” was planned for 2008, but only one issue was published, and the series spent years on hiatus after Loeb became president of Marvel Television. The two would complete the series in 2015.
Outside of his work in comics, Sale also supplied artwork for the NBC series “Heroes,” which Loeb worked on as a producer and writer. Sale designed the font used for the show’s captions and credits, and created the art made by the character Isaac (Santiago Cabrera).