Tom Spurgeon

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Tom Spurgeon
A black-and-white drawing of Spurgeon smiling
Tom Spurgeon by Michael Netzer
Born(1968-12-16)December 16, 1968
Muncie, Indiana, U.S.
DiedNovember 13, 2019(2019-11-13) (aged 50)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Area(s)Writer, journalist, historian
Notable works
The Comics Reporter
AwardsBest Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism, Eisner Award (2010, 2012, 2013)

Thomas Martin Spurgeon[1][2] (December 16, 1968 – November 13, 2019) was an American writer, historian, critic, and editor in the field of comics,[3] notable for his five-year run as editor of The Comics Journal and his blog The Comics Reporter.

Early life[edit]

Spurgeon was born December 16, 1968, in Muncie, Indiana. He was one of three sons of Sandra "Sunny" McFarren and Wiley W. Spurgeon, Jr. His mother was a senior manager in the health care industry, and his father was the executive editor of the sister newspapers The Muncie Star and The Muncie Evening Press, a role that included curating the newspapers' comics pages.[1]

Spurgeon was his class president in high school, and attended college at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he was a lineman on the football team,[4] and graduated with a BA in History and Politics in 1991.[1] He spent the next two years in Evanston, Illinois, studying at the Garrett–Evangelical Theological Seminary before leaving in 1993.[1]


Spurgeon was the managing editor, and later executive editor, of The Comics Journal, a comics trade magazine and critical journal published by Fantagraphics, from 1994–1999.[5] Under his tenure, the magazine expanded the scope of its coverage to more regularly include European comics, introducing an English-language readership to the new wave of publishing from France led by the group of cartoonists centered around L'Association. As well, Spurgeon's Journal was notable for the coverage it gave to burgeoning scenes of American comics makers like the Fort Thunder collective.[6]

After leaving The Comics Journal, Spurgeon wrote the comic strip Wildwood with his childhood friend Dan Wright. The strip, initially launched as Bobo's Progress, was syndicated by King Features from 1999 to 2002 and ran in about 80 newspapers.[7][8][9][10][11]

With Jordan Raphael, Spurgeon co-wrote the biography Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book (Chicago Review Press, 2003).[12] He was also the coauthor of The Romita Legacy (Dynamite, 2011).[5]

In 2004, with site designer Jordan Raphael, Spurgeon launched The Comics Reporter.[5]

Spurgeon co-authored a history of his former employer, Fantagraphics. Written with Jacob Covey, Comics as Art: We Told You So was initially scheduled for release in 2006. However, a defamation lawsuit launched by Harlan Ellison against Fantagraphics, claiming they had defamed him in the book, saw publication delayed.[13] The book was released, with references to Ellison omitted, in 2017.[14][15]

In 2014, Spurgeon became the Executive Director of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, an annual free four-day celebration of cartooning and graphic novels in Columbus, Ohio.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Spurgeon described himself as "a big, fat guy", standing at six feet three inches tall and weighing at times over 400 pounds.[17] In 2011, he underwent emergency surgery that placed The Comics Reporter website on hiatus.[18][19][20] He wrote an essay about the experience. A year later, he posted a second essay detailing his change in perspective, lifestyle modifications, and significant weight loss following his surgery. In it, he explains, "I wasn't sick because I was overweight. The weight was a factor in my recovery...My desire to lose weight greatly intensified because of the new health realities I faced."[21]

Spurgeon died on November 13, 2019, at age 50 in Columbus, Ohio.[22][5]


Spurgeon and The Comics Reporter won the Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism in 2010, 2012,[23] and 2013.[24] The site was also awarded the UTNE Independent Press Award for arts and literature coverage in 2002.[25] Spurgeon sat on the 2019 Ringo Awards Professional Jury.[26]


  • (with Jordan Raphael) Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book (Chicago Review Press, 2003) ISBN 978-1556525063
  • The Romita Legacy (Dynamite Entertainment, 2011) ISBN 978-1933305271
  • (with Jacob Covey) Comics As Art: We Told You So (Fantagraphics Books, 2016) ISBN 978-1606999332


  1. ^ a b c d Gustines, George Gene (November 21, 2019). "Tom Spurgeon, Who Surveyed the Comic Book World, Dies at 50". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  2. ^ Spurgeon, Thomas. "Mickey Mouse." World Book Advanced, World Book, 2018
  3. ^ O'Brien, Kathleen (August 15, 2005). "Are comics for kids or adults?". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
  4. ^ Wolk, Douglas (November 10, 2019). "Tom Spurgeon, 1968-2019". The Comics Journal. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Reid, Calvin (November 15, 2019). "Obituary: Tom Spurgeon, Comics Journalist, Editor, Blogger, Dead at 50". Publisher's Weekly. Editor & Publisher. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  6. ^ "The Brian Chippendale Interview". Fantagraphics Books Inc.
  7. ^ R. C. Harvey (May 24, 2007). "Jay Kennedy". self-published. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2009. March 24, 2009.
  8. ^ Cavanaugh, Tim (June 11, 2002). "The Online Comics Gap". Online Journalism Review. Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2009. March 24, 2009.
  9. ^ "Artworks to Spotlight Cartoonist and Illustrator Dan Wright". November 17, 2008. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2009. March 24, 2009.
  10. ^ "Comic Strip Takes a Leap of Faith". self. October 25, 2001. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2009. March 24, 2009.
  11. ^ "Bobo's Progress to Wildwood: Dan Wright and Tom Spurgeon". Sequential Tart. March 2001. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  12. ^ Meagher, L. D. (October 8, 2003). "Review: Putting Stan Lee in his place". CNN. Archived from the original on March 28, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2009. March 24, 2009.
  13. ^ Spurgeon, Tom, and Jacob Covey. Comics as Art: We Told You So. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics, 2006. ISBN 978-1-56097-738-4
  14. ^ "You Boys Play Nice Now". Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2007.
  15. ^ "Comics as Art: We Told You So". Fantagraphics Books. Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2009. from the original on March 25, 2009.
  16. ^ "Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC)". Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  17. ^ Surgeon, Tom (December 31, 1999). "Comics made Me Fat". The Comics Reporter. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011.
  18. ^ "CR On Hiatus". The Comics Reporter. July 17, 2011. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
  19. ^ "Get Well Soon, Tom Spurgeon…". Forbidden Planet. August 15, 2011. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
  20. ^ Collins, Sean T. (August 15, 2012). "'I don't remember the coma': Tom Spurgeon on his life, and near-death, in comics". Robot 6 (column), Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
  21. ^ Spurgeon, Thomas (July 19, 2012). "Comics Made Me Somewhat Less Fat". The Comics Reporter. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  22. ^ MacDonald, Heidi (November 13, 2019). "RIP Tom Spurgeon". Comics Beat.
  23. ^ 2010-2012 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Winners, San Diego Comic-Con site
  24. ^ 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Winners Archived March 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, San Diego Comic-Con site
  25. ^ "TCJ WINS UTNE INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD". ICv2. January 6, 2003. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  26. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Comic Book Folk Remember Tom Spurgeon," Bleeding Cool (November 14, 2019).

External links[edit]