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 [email protected]


Don Markstein

Don Mark­stein For­ever Young

[Via News From Me —, Ani­ma­tion Mag­a­, Car­toon Brew —–2012.html]


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

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