Published June 17, 2022

Remembering Tim Sale, 1956-2022

Marvel Comics pauses to reflect upon the life and career of Eisner Award-winning comic book artist Tim Sale, a penciller, inker, and letterer who was widely known for his many collaborations with Jeph Loeb, many of which became instant classics. During his career at Marvel, he worked on several memorable miniseries, including DAREDEVIL: YELLOW; SPIDER-MAN: BLUE; HULK: GRAY; and CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE. He lived to be 66 years old.

Born on May 1, 1956 in Ithaca, New York, Sale and his family spent most of his childhood in Seattle, Washington. During that period, Sale’s father introduced him to comics for the first time, including books like Zorro, Robin Hood, SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #2 (1965), and several Disney titles. From an early age, Sale became drawn to adventure fiction and partly even learned to read through comics. When he was 13, he decided to get serious about making comics and started to pursue what would become his career.

Tim Sale

As a young man, he studied at the University of Washington for two years before continuing his studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York. During this time, he took a three month-long workshop, learning anatomy from John Buscema, inking and storytelling techniques from John Romita Sr., and design and storytelling from Marie Severin. In 1976, Severin invited him up to Marvel’s Bullpen , though he wouldn’t work on Marvel comics until much later . 

In 1984, he began working as an inker on Myth Adventures from WaRP Graphics. His first penciling job was the fantasy anthology series Thieves’ World in 1985, in which he worked alongside Lynn Abbey and Robert Lynn Asprin. He then hit his stride in the early 1990s, working for both Marvel and DC, often with Loeb on a multitude of titles, including X-MEN ANNUAL #18 (1994), WOLVERINE & GAMBIT: VICTIMS #1 (Sept. 1995), CABLE #23 (Sept. 1995), and several Batman titles. 

His work with Loeb on Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory won Eisner Awards in 1998 and 2002 respectively. In 1999, Sale also won Eisners for Best Penciler/Inker for Superman for All Seasons and Best Short Story in Grendel Black, White, and Red #1 with writer Matt Wagner.

Sale continued his partnership with Loeb through the early aughts, launching their Marvel Color series with DAREDEVIL: YELLOW in 2001. They followed up with SPIDER-MAN: BLUE in 2002 and then HULK: GRAY in 2003, but didn't conclude the series until they released CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE in 2015. Beloved by fans, Sale and Loeb's Color series remains a staple in Marvel Comics history.

Starting in 2007, Sale’s artwork was prominently featured in the television show Heroes on NBC, which went on to air for four seasons. Afterward, his work at Marvel included variant covers for DAREDEVIL #1 (February 2016)  and JESSICA JONES #13 (Dec. 2017) , and in 2019, he reunited with Loeb for MARVEL COMICS #1000 (2019) to tell a story about Hulk and the Thing, titled "The Return of Not Brand Echh."

The body of Sale’s work and his awards are just the tip of the iceberg of how impactful his contributions have been to comics industry at large, which is apparent in every story he helped shape. Sale will be deeply missed by Marvel and the comics community, and his work will continue to inspire artists and storytellers for years to come.