Storm Writer Eric Jerome Dickey Dies at 59
On January 3, 2021, the bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey, whose work depicted contemporary Black life in America, died of cancer in Los Angeles, California. He was 59. Penguin Random House confirmed the author’s death earlier this week to OprahMag.com, saying:
It is with great sadness that we confirm that beloved New York Times bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey passed away on Sunday, January 3, in Los Angeles after battling a long illness. Eric Jerome Dickey was the author of 29 novels, and his work has become a cultural touchstone over the course of his multi-decade writing career, earning him millions of dedicated readers around the world.
MarvelBlog sends condolences to author’s surviving family members, and we remember his legacy and contributions to literature and comics.
Eric Jerome Dickey Bestselling Author
Dickey wrote 29 novels, selling more than 7 million copies worldwide, and he is considered one of the most successful authors of the last quarter-century. Dickey’s 1996 novel, Sister, Sister, was listed as one of Essence’s “50 Most Impactful Black Books of the Last 50 Years,” coming in at spot thirty.
In addition to Dickey’s 1996 novel , some of his other other popular works are Friends and Lovers, Milk in My Coffee, Cheaters, and The Other Woman. His last novel, The Son of Mr. Suleman, will be released in April 2021.
However, the acclaimed Memphis-born novelist didn’t always want to be a writer. In fact, according to his personal website, he graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in computer system technology and pursued a career in engineering before taking a shot at writing.
In a 2006 NPR News and Notes interview, Dickey discussed how his work, which “focused on the lives of a certain type of Black women,” changed the romance genre because, he noted, there was a lack of “any true literary representation, meaning that there were no characters who looked like them, [or] that were going through what they were going through at the time.”
Dickey in the Marvel Bullpen
When Marvel Comics selected Dickey to write a six comic series (which they released for Black History Month) focusing on two Black characters, the local comic book shop regular was ecstatic, and he spoke with Eric Williams at Sequart Organization about his (unfortunately only) experience writing comics.
Dickey specifically spoke with Williams about the power of own voices stories in comics (for him that meant strong characters of color):
When [Giant-Size X-Men #1] came out, you knew the original X-Men, and then there was the giant-sized issue introducing these new X-Men and here on the cover is this brown-skinned woman. I remember when I picked it up, each character had like a page intro, and being [like], “I want to know more about Storm. Oh my, she can fly and control the weather.”
That just shows you the power of when people can see someone they can relate to or someone that looks like them on the pages. At the same time, it was someone who was powerful. I would definitely say [she is] a survivor and a good role model and beautiful.
Dickey, who is best known for using intense drama and passionate romance to connect with his readers, brought that passion to his 2006 Marvel Comic run, Storm.
The epic, untold love story between Storm and Black Panther is told by Dickey (writer), David Yardin (penciler), Lan Medina, (inker), Jay Leisten (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), Randy Gentile (letterer), and more. Excitingly for fans, the series gave the writer a chance to explore a whole new part of each of these POC characters’ storylines.
Dickey spoke about how he developed a new story within Marvel Universe continuity, and what inspired him, in the Sequart Organization interview (the quote below is slightly edited for clarity):
In a Chris Claremont issue years ago, they established that Storm and T’Challa (Black Panther) met as teenagers while T’Challa was on his walkabout. It’s been alluded to, but nothing specifically has been said about it. I’ve stepped in, and created a story to fill in the gap. It gives a better view of their having met and introduces some new villains.
In a sense, I kind of went back and gave [Storm] some of her origin. Then I found stuff that hadn’t been touched on. I wanted to open other possibilities so if some other writer comes behind me 20 years from now and this is what [Marvel tells] them to look at, then they can go, “Oh, this is what he did. Here’s something we can use.”
In addition to the numerous tweets of support from his contemporaries (like Roxanne Gay) and fans, Marvel Comics tweeted their condolences to Dickey’s family, saying, “We are saddened to hear of Eric Jerome Dickey’s passing. Eric was a world-class storyteller & writer, and his voice brought a definitive new chapter to Storm & Black Panther’s story. We are honored to be a part of his legacy. Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”
We are saddened to hear of Eric Jerome Dickey's passing. Eric was a world-class storyteller & writer, and his voice brought a definitive new chapter to Storm & Black Panther's story. We are honored to be a part of his legacy. Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) January 8, 2021
Dickey is survived by four daughters. MarvelBlog’s condolences go out to the family.