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Ed Piskor, comic artist and YouTube host, dies at 41

Prior to his death, Piskor posted a lengthy note on social media addressing accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct from multiple women.

Ed Piskor, the writer and artist behind ambitious comic books like Hip Hop Family Tree and X-Men: Grand Design, died Monday at 41.

A death notice posted by the Savolskis-Wasik-Glenn Funeral Home of Munhall, Pa., remembered Piskor as a "gifted artist and cartoonist" and said he "passed away unexpectedly." Piskor's sister, Justine Cleaves, also addressed his death on Facebook, writing, "It is with the most broken heart that I share my big brother, Ed, has passed away today. Please just keep our family in your prayers as this is the hardest thing we've ever had to go through."

A cause of death was not disclosed. On Monday morning, Piskor posted a lengthy note to his Facebook page, in which he addressed and denied allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct from multiple women. "I'm helpless against a mob of this magnitude. Please share my side of things. Sayonara," he wrote, linking out to a five-page document that ended with "1982-2024."

<p>Marvel</p> 'X-Men: Grand Design'

Marvel

'X-Men: Grand Design'

Piskor broke through in comics with his 2012-2016 project Hip Hop Family Tree, which documented the early years of hip-hop culture and portrayed iconic figures like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Public Enemy.

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In 2017, Piskor took a similar all-encompassing ensemble approach to Marvel superhero mythology with X-Men: Grand Design, an attempt to synthesize the complicated history of mutants in a cohesive narrative. In an interview with EW at the time, Piskor explained how he tried to blend multiple different comic art styles in his work. "I'm a fan of all comics," he said. "I like manga, I like French European albums, I like a lot of newspaper comic strips. The storytelling method I use is a pastiche of all that stuff."

Since then, Piskor wrote and drew a horror comic series called Red Room, which occasionally inspired controversy. He also launched a YouTube channel called Cartoonist Kayfabe, in which he and fellow cartoonist Jim Rugg would interview other comic artists and share their thoughts on the art form.

Last week, a female artist posted on social media that Piskor had behaved inappropriately toward her when she was underage. On her Instagram stories, she shared screenshots of DM conversations she had with the cartoonist in 2020, when she was 17. Via screenshots of the since-expired stories archived by Comics Beat and ComicWatch, she wrote, "okay Ed Piskor is a f---ing CREEP he likes little high school girls and slid in my DMs when I was 17 years old. I didn't know of him and he found me simply by me liking one of his pictures. Sending me a post of myself in my school uniform calling me a cute nerdy girl."

Another woman shared her own story, saying that Piskor had propositioned her for oral sex in exchange for giving her his agent's phone number.

Piskor was not charged with a crime, but after the allegations were made public, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust indefinitely postponed an exhibition of his art that had been scheduled to run from the beginning of April through August. Additionally, Rugg announced on Instagram in a since-deleted post that "I have ended my working relationship with Ed Piskor.”

In his note before his death, Piskor wrote, "The language and optics look real dumb at best but I promise my innocence." He denied the second woman's story about oral sex, and left detailed instructions for how to provide his family with profits from his published work.

After the news of his death, several comics professionals shared their condolences online. "Praying for Ed Piskor and his family," Gene Luen Yang wrote, alongside a photo of a prayer candle.

Mark Millar said Piskor's death was "just heartbreaking," adding, "I loved his books and his comic-book channel was one of my favourite things on the internet. What an absolute, horrible tragedy. Huge condolences to his family."

In a statement to The Comics Journal, Gary Groth (head of Fantagraphics, which published Hip Hop Family Tree and Red Room), said, "Ed was a giant personality in the cultish arena of comics, endlessly curious about the history and lore of comics, an infectious proselytizer on behalf of the medium that he loved so much, and a contributor himself to that history. We had a warm personal and professional relationship and it was always fun to work with him. This is a terrible tragedy and I extend as much compassion as I'm capable of to his family, whose grief has to be unimaginable."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.