Per an email from his longtime collaborator Steve Perry, writer Michael Reaves passed away on Monday, March 20, following a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. A prolific novelist, TV, short story, and comic book writer, Reaves was best known for his Emmy Award-winning work on Batman: The Animated Series, on which he served as a story editor, and countless other animated projects — including Batman: Mask of the Phantasm — as well as several Star Wars novels. He is survived by his ex-wife, Brynne Chandler, and their three children, including author Mallory Reaves.
James Michael Reaves was born in San Bernardino, California on September 14, 1950. He did poorly at school, but enjoyed writing short stories. He was rejected by the magazines he submitted these to until 1972, when he was accepted by the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop in East Lansing, Michigan. In 1974, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked at a bookstore, and then a Sears store while trying to break into Hollywood. The following year, he sold his first script, which was an episode of The Secrets of Isis, and he went into writing full-time. His first novel, a young adult book called I, Adult, was released in 1978, and his first adult-aimed novel, Dragonworld (written with Byron Preiss) followed in 1979.
He contributed to almost every major cartoon of the 1980s, penning multiple episodes of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Dungeons & Dragons, The Real Ghostbusters, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His most prolific work during the early part of the decade was The Smurfs, which he wrote 63 episodes of from 1981 to 1983. Live-action projects included The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: The Next Generation, 1990’s Flash, and Father Dowling Mysteries. He made his comic book debut with 1987’s “Teen Titans Spotlight” #14, an issue featuring Nightwing and Batman, which he followed with three issues of Eclipse Comics’ futuristic sci-fi action series “Fusion” (written with Steve Barnes.)
Reaves served as a story editor on My Little Pony in 1986, and then on 1990’s Peter Pan and the Pirates; multiple Batman: The Animated Series episodes from 1992 to 1995; Disney’s Gargoyles from 1994 to 1996; and 1999’s Spider-Man Unlimited. He was nominated twice, and won one Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program for his work on Batman; he was also nominated for an Annie for Writing in the Field of Animation for the Gargoyles episode “Deadly Force.” His association with the DC Animated Universe led him to co-write the 1993 movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and 2003’s Mystery of the Batwoman, as well as a 1993 issue of “Batman Adventures,” and three issues of “Superman Adventures” from 1999 to 2001.
His association with Star Wars began with three episodes of the Droids and Ewoks cartoons in the mid-80s. He went on to write or co-write eight novels from 2001 to 2013, including Death Star (co-written by Steve Perry), and the Coruscant Nights trilogy. By coincidence, his last entry, written with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, was a post-Order 66 tale called The Last Jedi.
Other projects of Reaves included the Platinum Studios series “Crimefighter,” the 2005 Sherlock Holmes/H.P. Lovecraft mash-up “The Irregulars” (co-written by Steven-Elliot Altman, with art by Bong Dazo), and the InterWorld trilogy, written with Neil Gaiman and Mallory Reaves. A graphic novelization of the last one in particular, is in the works for a Winter 2025 release.