Tim Sale’s family have announced on Twitter that the legendary artist has passed away, three days after being admitted to hospital with “severe,” undisclosed health problems. He was 66 years old. The tweet states, “It’s with a heavy sadness that I must announce that Tim Sale passed away today. He passed with the love of his life beside him, and loves all of you very much.”
Sale was born in Ithaca, New York, on May 1, 1956 to Roger Sale, a literary professor and author, and Dorothy Young Sale. He grew up in Seattle, where his father taught at the University of Washington, and eventually attended UW, before studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, as well as a comics workshop run by John Buscema. His earliest comics works included the “Thieves’ World” series, which was published by Starblaze Graphics from 1985 to 1987; Sarah Byam’s 1991 miniseries “Billi 99,” and Matt Wagner’s “Grendel.”
In 1991, Sale and writer Jeph Loeb collaborated for the first time on “Challengers of the Unknown,” leading them to reteam for the next few years on three “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight” Halloween specials, collectively known as “Batman: Haunted Knight.” This led to 1996’s “Batman: The Long Halloween,” an epic maxiseries retelling the origin of Batman’s nemesis Two-Face, as well as its sequel “Batman: Dark Victory,” and the spin-off “Catwoman: When in Rome.”
Sale and Loeb also collaborated on the Superman early years story “Superman For All Seasons,” and the Marvel miniseries “Daredevil: Yellow,” “Spider-Man: Blue,” “Hulk: Gray,” and “Captain America: White,” which similarly explored the early adventures of those characters. In 2004, Sale teamed up with Loeb, Darwyn Cooke, Diana Schutz, and Brian Azzarello on the first issue of the DC anthology “Solo,” and he subsequently reteamed with Cooke on the 2007 series “Superman Confidential,” for a story depicting Superman’s first encounter with kryptonite.
Sale primarily concentrated on cover art in the later years of his life, although 2015 saw the completion of “Captain America: White” after several years of severe delays, and in 2021 he and Loeb reteamed for a “Batman: The Long Halloween Special.” He was recognized during his lifetime with the Eisner Award for Best Artist/Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team in 1999, and “The Long Halloween” and “Dark Victory” were cited as inspiration for both Christopher Nolan and Matt Reeves’s Batman films.
On Twitter, DC stated, “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.” Tributes have also been paid by Mike Mignola, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Richard Starkings, Rob Liefeld, Billy West, Tom King, Jock, Bryan Fuller, and many more in and outside the comics industry.