There’s no way to write about the loss of Robson Rocha that can make it anything less than absolutely tragic. Just 41 years old, Rocha is one of the 5.46 million people worldwide that have succumbed to COVID-19. The man was just beginning to hit his artistic stride but, more importantly, leaves a wife and daughter behind. As big of a loss as this is for comics – and it is a big one, it is far, far bigger for his loved ones.
But since I never met or corresponded with Rocha, all I can do is highlight his comics work. As a DC boy, I’ve been seeing his work for a long time, whether it is with Jeff Lemire on “Giant Sized Atom” #1 or “Flashpoint: Abur Sur – Green Lantern” over a decade ago, or “Future State: Justice League” in 2021. Rocha has been a fill-in mainstay at DC, doing everything from inking “Demon Knights” to being on the “Earth 2: World’s End” weekly comic. But once he started working on “Deathstroke” with Christopher Priest and, most notably, “Aquaman” with Kelly Sue DeConnick, the comics world at large started taking more notice.
It was right to; Rocha’s work was expressive and bombastic, and neither suffered when he was focusing on the other. With “Aquaman,” Rocha created a visual shorthand for a variety of new characters and settings, and made decisions that informed the look and tone of that book in surprising ways. His work was never boring, and whether drawing weirdos like “Green Lanterns” villain Frank Laminski or dynamic forces of nature like Jon Kent, Rocha brought his all, really digging into character study and action set pieces in equal measure.
And the dude was just getting started. Rocha’s art was beginning to have a definitive look to it; no longer confined to aping whatever series he was guesting on, Rocha was beginning to, pardon the pun, draw a line in the sand and say “this is who I am as an artist.” It is a damn shame we will never get to see what else he had in store for us.