Sid Jacobson, a veteran comic book writer and editor whose work took him from the opulent, whimsical world of Richie Rich to the real-life terrorist attacks of 9/11, died July 23 in San Francisco. He was 92 years old.
His death, in hospice, was caused by a stroke following a case of coronavirus, his family said in a press release.
From 1952 until 1982, when the business ceased operations, Mr. Jacobson was a writer and editor at Harvey Comics in New York, which published the adventures of Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich and Wendy the Good Little Witch. , as well as crime, horror and romance comics.
In Harvey, he met the artist Ernie Colón, who became a frequent collaborator. “Wherever I worked as an editor, I always hired him,” Mr. Jacobson said in an interview after Mr. Colón’s death in 2019. “We were very close. We were like brothers.
The two teamed up to narrate a graphic novel version of the 9/11 Commission report, which examined the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The report, the result of a government study led by Thomas H. Kean, the former governor of New Jersey, became a best-selling, albeit dense, book in 2004. So did “9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation,” published in 2006. Mr. Jacobson called the effort “graphic journalism.”
The adaptation “packs a lot of information in a very accessible format,” noted Julia Keller in a Chicago Tribune review.
“What is particularly striking,” she added, “is when the authors create a series of pages retracing the fate of the four planes, moment by moment, in a horizontal grid that suddenly makes the frantic pace of the horror that unfolds.
Mr. Jacobson and Mr. Colón would go on to create other non-fiction graphic books: one on America’s fight against terrorism, in 2008; biographies of Che Guevara (2009) and Anne Frank (2010); and, in 2017, “The Torture Report: A Graphic Adaptation,” which presented the findings of a Senate Select Committee investigation into the torture of terrorist suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Sidney Jacobson was born on October 20, 1929 in Brooklyn, one of two children of Reuben and Beatrice (Edelman) Jacobson. Her father worked in the garment district in Manhattan and her mother was a housewife.
He is survived by his son, Seth; his daughter, Kathy Battat; and three grandchildren.
Mr. Jacobson studied journalism at New York University and graduated in 1950. Two years later, his sister, Shirley, was dating someone who worked for Harvey Comics. He used the connection to get his foot in the door and eventually became the company’s editor.
“It was called Harvey Comics, but he pretty much ran the company,” Angelo DeCesare, a writer and artist who got his start with the company in 1978, said of Mr. Jacobson. “Everything flowed through him.”
Mr. Jacobson was involved in the storylines and writing of Richie Rich’s stories at the height of the character’s popularity, when he appeared in several different books.
“They dated Richie Riches like they were printing money,” said Jonny Harvey, grandson of Leon Harvey, whose twin brother Alfred founded the company. (Leon, their older brother, Robert, became an executive there.) He added, “They must have made up so many gags about Richie involving money. Sid was working with the writers and going back and forth. It was quite collaborative. (Jonny Harvey is the director of “Ghost Empire,” an upcoming Harvey Comics documentary.)
After Harvey Comics closed, Mr. Jacobson found work at Marvel, where he became the publisher of Star Comics, a brand for young readers that began in 1984. Star produced a mix of licensed characters, like the Ewoks and Muppet Babies, and original series. like Planet Terry, a space adventure about a boy trying to find his parents, and Royal Roy, about a wealthy prince. But Harvey Comics felt Royal Roy was too close in theme to Richie Rich and sued. (Royal Roy ended after six issues and the lawsuit was dropped.)
In addition to writing and editing comics, Mr. Jacobson has written novels and songs. “Streets of Gold,” a fictionalized version of his family’s Russian-Jewish immigration story, was published in 1985; “Another Time”, a novel set during the Depression, was published in 1989. He also wrote “Pete Reiser: The Rough-and-Tumble Career of the Perfect Ballplayer” (2004), a biography of an outfielder of the major league often injured. of the 1940s and 1950s known for playing with reckless abandon.
Mr. Jacobson’s songwriting had a special place in his heart. “He was so proud of the hit he called ‘The End’,” Mr DeCesare said. Mr Jacobson once told her he was on a cruise ship when some passengers discovered he had written the lyrics to the song, which was released in 1958 as a single by Earl Grant.
“They all treated him like royalty,” Mr. DeCesare said.
Mr Jacobson’s children said he had written around 100 released songs, mostly love songs, but also new stuff including ‘Yen Yet’ – which they fondly remember hearing on the TV show “Captain Kangaroo”.