Don Markstein, founder of Toonopedia, dead at 65

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Don Markstein

Don Markstein

Writer and editor Donald D. “Don” Markstein, creator of the online animation and comics compendium Don Markstein’s Toonopedia, died due to respiratory failure following a prolonged illness, cartoon and comic book historian Mark Evanier said Sunday. He was 65.

“Don was a mover ‘n’ shaker in science-fiction, animation and comic book fandom in the Sixties and after,” said Evanier.

In 1981, he and his wife, GiGi Dane, founded Apatoons, a cooperative publication which in the years since, featured the work of some of animation’s top commentators.

“This project was a rich and rewarding experience for all involved, and helped bond fans, professional animators, cartoonists, writers and all like-minded enthusiasts in an era way before blogs and Facebook,” Jerry Beck remembered on Cartoon Brew.

Recalled animation historian Jim Korkis: “On May 12, 1981, Don Markstein and GiGi Dane sent out a one-page orange flyer to a select group of fans. The flyer announced the formation of an apa for animation buffs. Markstein wrote, ‘There’s a potential for an animation fandom lurking among publishing fans. We don’t knowhow many people there are in it, but we do know Funnyworld and Mindrot aren’t being published in a vacuum. That potential has probably always been there, but lately, with more and more lifelong cartoon buffs becoming video collectors, it’s been exploding. Just as comics fandom grew out of science fiction fandom to create its own fan movement 20 years ago, we expect cartoon fandom to come into its own very soon now.

“The first issue of APATOONS appeared July 1981 and that first issue had only seven members: Jim Korkis, Alan Hutchinson, Don Markstein, Meera Dane (GiGi’s daughter), GiGig Dane, Marcus Wielage and Rick Norwood. I think one of the key things I remember about Don is that he loved ideas, loved cartoons and loved doing something to fill necessary gaps, whether it was with Apatoons or Toonpedia,” Korkis added.

On his Web site, Markstein recounted that his “fascination with the tiny, flickering, black-and-white re-runs of 1930s theatrical shorts was the beginning of a lifelong interest in cartoons in all their forms.”

He acknowledged, though, that “because of the unfortunate circumstance of home video not yet existing,” he was unable to collect animated cartoons until he was in his 30s. Since then, however, Markstein amassed hundreds of hours of animation in all eras, styles and genres.

Since establishing Don Markstein’s Toonopedia in 1999, he updated the compendium daily. One of the site’s more popular features was “Today in Toons,” a daily look into the past of animation and comics.

Born Donald David Markstein on March 21, 1947, he edited Comics Revue, a monthly anthology of newspaper comics, from 1984 to 1987 and 1992 to 1996. In 1992, he edited A Prince Valiant Companion, which summarized the adventurer’s Sunday comics career from 1937 to 1980.

He edited 1994’s Hot Tips from Top Comics Creators, based on hundreds of interviews in Comics Interview magazine.

Markstein was also a writer of Walt Disney comic books — citing his favorite writer and artist, Carl Barks, as a major influence. Besides portraying Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, he did his favorite work on one of the less well-known of the Disney characters, Bucky Bug. As well, he wrote Eek! the Cat, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and other characters in comic-book form.

“Until recently when illness (I assume) caused him to miss dates, he would post a [Toonopedia] listing each day tracing the history of some newspaper strip or comic book feature,” Evanier recalled. “We engaged in some friendly e-mailed debates about some of his facts but I never questioned Don’s devotion to getting things right. I hope his family arranges for someone else to continue the project.”

Don Markstein’s family can be contacted through


Don Markstein

Don Markstein Forever Young

[Via News From Me —, Animation, Cartoon Brew —]


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43 thoughts on “Don Markstein, founder of Toonopedia, dead at 65

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