Farmingdale's Own Superhero
From Spider-Man to Superman, John Romita Jr. is an award-winning, world-class illustrator.
If you grew up as a fan of comic book superheroes—especially the Spider-Man character now popularized on film at a theater near you—feel free to thank John Romita Jr., Class of '76, for your hours of reading pleasure. In fact, Romita is super himself—considered one of the world's premier illustrators of his genre.
Farmingdale played a huge part in Romita's ascension to comic book superstardom, first at Marvel Comics and now at DC Comics. Romita's father, John Sr., himself a legendary cartoonist, had tried to discourage his son from drawing comics, insisting that he get a college degree before pursuing any kind of career. John Jr. obliged by enrolling at Farmingdale in the two-year advertising art and design program. He liked the idea because, he said, it sounded more prestigious than cartooning.
"It was a great curriculum and it played to what I liked," recalls Romita, who was honored as Alumnus of the Year in 2015. "It was more than I could have imagined. There was a commonality between the design I had been directed toward at school and the overall panel designs in illustration. There was a common ground that opened my eyes."
Fresh out of college, Romita got a job at Marvel, the same place his father helped make Spider-Man a world-wide sensation in the Sixties. John followed in his father's footsteps, eventually drawing Spider-Man along with a host of other characters, before jumping to rival DC Comics in 2014 to draw Superman, the Man of Steel. He is also penning Batman and other characters such as Wonder Woman and the Suicide Squad.
The New York Times likened the change to the idea of Derek Jeter hypothetically leaving the New York Yankees to play for the New York Mets.
The Washington Post, in its story about Romita's "defection," called him "one of the most popular and polarizing artists in comics."
"That means I have a large amount of people that love me and a large amount of people that hate me," Romita said. "I'm kind of like any President of the United States: half the country hates me, half the country loves me. It's part of the business.
"Ultimately it comes down to finding the majority and making them happy."
And in the world of comic books, there is only one way to describe Romita's impact: "Pow!"
It was more than I could have imagined. There was a commonality between the design I had been directed toward at school and the overall panel designs in illustration. There was a common ground that opened my eyes.