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#323277 - 02/17/04 10:08 PM RIP BILL OAKLEY
Jennifer M. Contino Offline

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA
Most people don't pay much attention to letterers and we're okay with that. We have each other. The community of letterers is a strange one, but in part, because of Bill I always felt like an important part of it.

When I started working on staff at Marvel as a letterer, I was introduced to Bill's work and the simply elegant, no-nonsense approach to it. They say some people's work looks so easy that there appears to be no effort to it. But most of us learn that there's a lot of skill in making things look effortless. Bill was one of those guys. His work was so clean and perfect that I, and many other letterers were jealous of his skill.

One year, Jim Novak, another letterer and mentor to many of us decided we should all go to the San Diego con as letterers and enjoy each other's company. I met Jim on the flight to San Diego for the first time and was intimidated, then I got to meet pat Brosseau and Bill for the first time, all of us, Ken Lopez included, in a room together and I totally felt unworthy to consider myself their peer. But it was Bill who started asking me all kinds of questions and treated me as an equal. i really liked this guy!

So, there we were, Jim Novak, Bill Oakley, Pat Brosseau, Ken Lopez, Mike Heisler and me. We scared the hell out of all the editors there. They thought we were organizing. We went everywhere together. The beach, the bars, the baseball game, and, oh yeah, the con. We had a ball! Jim started calling us The Magnificent 107s! Named after the pen point we all used.

I came to discover that Bill was as nice a guy as he was a great letterer. I would talk to him on and off over the years, keeping in touch. Then we learned he had cancer. Went through the usual treatments and thought he was better, but a couple years later discovered it had spread. He had no medical coverage because he had a previous medical condition and the insurance companies refused to cover him. So all the time he was getting treatment for his cancer, Bill would letter comics to help pay the costs-- many comics you have in your collection were lettered in a hospital room. But Bill was proud and never asked for anything from anyone.

Ken Lopez and I had talked and I discovered that Bill couldn't work as fast as he liked. I told him I would make a font based on his lettering. Bill and I talked and I did create a font for him, but work was drying up. He did, however, continue to hand letter a few books.

Bill Oakley was one of the best damn letterers ever, but to me, he was a great person who treated me with respect and who I consider a friend.

I and the comic book community will miss you, Bill.

-- Chris Eliopolous

#323278 - 02/17/04 10:15 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
gloinson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 11
Bill Oakley's letters grace many of the comics in my collection. His talent was enormous. Letterers don't get nearly the appreciation they deserve. Mr. Oakley deserved tremendous praise. He will be sorely missed. My condolences to his family and friends.
-Lou Mazzella
Board Member
Grand Comic-Book Database Project

#323279 - 02/17/04 10:23 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Richard Starkings Offline

Registered: 06/07/01
Posts: 54
Loc: Santa Monica CALIFORNIA USA
This is terrible news. Bill was not only a top-notch letterer but also a kind hearted and extraordinary gentleman -- always happy to talk and eager to learn. Comics won't look the same without him.

Richard Starkings

#323280 - 02/17/04 10:25 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Scott Morse Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
Here here...I never had the good fortune of meeting Bill, but his lettering always added a certain aesthetic to whatever he was working on, organically helping the reader forget they were reading. I hope his family and friends are doing their best to keep smiles on their faces in his memory.

#323281 - 02/17/04 10:49 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Elayne Riggs Offline

Registered: 01/29/99
Posts: 2983
Loc: Bronx, NY, USA
Damn. I never met Bill but he lettered most of the Supergirl issues that Robin inked, so there was a lot of back-and-forth pages going on there and we'd known for awhile of his condition. I was hoping he'd beat the cancer, but I feared the worst when it metastasized. He'll be greatly missed.

- Elayne
"Life is truly normal only when people feel safe enough to critique, defend, and analyze art and popular culture." - Lisa Schwarzbaum
Click here for my blog, Pen-Elayne on the Web
Click here for Robin Riggs' latest interview

#323282 - 02/17/04 10:52 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Robin Riggs Offline

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 96
Loc: Bronx, NY, USA
Damn! Bill was a fine, fine letterer. I knew he was fighting the cancer while we were working on Supergirl together but I hoped he was winning. I only spoke with Bill on the hone a couple of times but he came accross as a really nice guy. It was a real pleasure working on the same book as him.
-- Robin.

See my inking portfolio online at

#323283 - 02/17/04 11:09 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Scooby2099 Offline

Registered: 06/23/02
Posts: 118
Loc: Madison, WI
This is sad news. I always thought Oakley was one of the best letterers out there.
dedicated Disciple of Ant-Mandom
& El Presidante Supremo of the "Ant-Man Original Helmet (& Costume) Restoration Society!"

#323284 - 02/17/04 11:19 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Augie De Blieck Jr Offline

Registered: 04/03/99
Posts: 180
Loc: North Haledon, NJ USA
As great a book as SLEEPER is, it suffered when Bill Oakley was replaced by a computer. He did great work.

Pipeline Commentary and Review:

#323285 - 02/17/04 11:50 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Tobey Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/02
Posts: 15
Sad to hear that. Bill was one of the finest letterers out there, and the comics pages will be a little sadder with his passing.

#323286 - 02/17/04 11:53 PM Re: RIP BILL OAKLEY
Matthewwave Offline

Registered: 06/04/00
Posts: 4993
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Very sad news.

Oakley had been lettering JSA and Hawkman lately, so I've been enjoying his work lately.

Condolences to his loved ones.

A very, very sad thing; I don't know what more to say.


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