Writer & Editor Brian Augustyn, Best Known For Writing DC Comics’ Batman: Gotham By Gaslight, WildStorm / Cliffhanger’s Crimson & More, Passes Away At 67! RIP


Writer and Editor Brian Augustyn, Best Known For Writing DC Comics’ Batman: Gotham By Gaslight, WildStorm / Cliffhanger’s Crimson and More, Passes Away At 67! RIP.

The news comes via his daughter Carolyn and long-time colleague and friend Mark Waid over Facebook.

Carolyn Augustyn

I unfortunately have to announce that following a massive stroke on Saturday, my dad, Brian Augustyn, died today. He was 67 (or 29, as we liked to joke).

If you knew my dad, he could be a big pain in the ass. But he was our pain in the ass and we’re going to miss the daily sarcasm, snark, and witty comments. And as much of a grouch as he could be, he deeply loved all of his friends, family, and the comic book community.
We’re so sad he is gone so soon, sad he’s going to miss seeing his grandson walk (he asked every time we talked- “Is the boy walking yet?!”), sad he’ll miss out on future Italian beef sandwiches and slices of Chicago pizza, sad we won’t get more texts asking for pictures of his fur-grandchildren. Sad, a little mad, but so glad he went peacefully and surrounded by love.
If you want to honor his memory, really enjoy your day. It’s what he would want. Eat a really good meal, pet a fuzzy friend, watch your favorite TV show, wear your most comfy sweats. You can also consider donating to one of his favorite charities: Hero Initiative (https://www.heroinitiative.org/ ) or World Central Kitchen (https://wck.org/ ). We won’t be having a funeral- he absolutely HATED funerals and would hate to make us attend one- plus out of caution with Covid- we know he would draw the largest of crowds.

Thank you for all your kind words and wishes, we’re doing ok (as ok as we can be) and we’re getting expert healing cuddles from baby Quinn.

Mark Waid

Brian Augustyn, 1954-2022

I met Brian Augustyn in 1987. We’d both been hired at DC Comics as associate editors, one of us one week before the other, but I no longer remember who came first. Doesn’t matter. We shared a love for old comics, the shows of writer David E. Kelley, old television programs, and murder mysteries. We had similar thoughts about what a story was, and we were both heavily invested in bringing new talent and new voices into the company.

We had a fledgling bond just based on the fact that we were among the “new kids,” but the moment that cemented a permanent friendship came a few months on, at a DC staff retreat. Groups of us were dining at separate tables in a nice restaurant, and someone was showing off their ability to make a wine glass sing by dragging their finger around the rim. Like the others at our table, I tried to imitate and failed, giving up after about three seconds. I thought it was cool. A higher-up, at a nearby table and deeply irritated by the sound, did not. Seeing only me touching a glass, he assumed it was me making all that noise and came over to bawl me out in front of everyone, absolutely humiliating me. A few minutes later, Brian, unprompted, took it upon himself to approach the boss of his boss and explain to him, with an edge of annoyance, that I was innocent, which was a ballsy move given that Brian was the new guy and the higher up was not a particularly forgiving person at that time. I didn’t get an apology, but I did make a lifelong pal, a stand-up guy who showed me that he would always have my back. After that, we were inseparable, best friends forever. I became Brian’s little brother. I would prefer the slightly less humbling term “younger brother,” but honestly, I was a cocky little loudmouth who needed to be looked after every now and again, so “little brother” is pretty accurate.

We both had brief writing careers that had temporarily been shelved when we became staffers, but we shared the same storytellling sensibilities, so we decided to pitch the Batman editor on a story that we’d write together. That partnership yielded something much, much better than the sum of its parts and would for years to come.
He didn’t really need me; Brian was a talented writer on his own. I still remember the morning he pitched me on Gotham by Gaslight, which ended up becoming his best-known work, deservedly so. I’d like to think that it was both of us who teamed up to recruit artist Mike Mignola, but truthfully, Brian did most of the heavy lifting there–we’ll come back to that in a moment–and it turned out to be a defining work for Mike, too. But that story showed people what Brian the solo writer could do, and it still stands as one of the best Batman stories ever told.
Brian was great that way when it came to recruiting and working with others; he saw talented people and knew what they should be doing. A bunch of people owed their success to Brian: Humberto Ramos, Mike Wieringo, Travis Charest, Ethan Van Sciver, Mike Parobeck, and so many others–but certainly no one owed him more than I did. Than I do. At a time when I’d gone freelance and couldn’t get arrested at DC, Brian–and only Brian–was interested in keeping me employed. He went to bat for me when everyone at the company–everyone–was discouraging him, telling him I was just a fanboy who didn’t have anything to bring to the table, and when Brian decided to assign me the Flash, upper management made it abundantly clear they disapproved. He didn’t care. He gave me the gig.
It seems to have worked out.
Brian was more than my editor back then no matter what we were working on together. From the start, even before he finally left editorial and officially became my co-writer, he was essentially a co-plotter; not a single story came out of anything other than the two of us on the phone, talking out ideas and constantly trying to top one another. We were so simpatico it was scary. I relied on his help to break stories so much that we eventually got to the point where, if I was stuck on a plot point, all I had to do was pick up the phone. Not talk to Brian, just pick up the phone. I didn’t even have to make the call, just start to dial. Instantly, I knew what he’d say, how he’d respond, how he’d suggest I fix things, and that he was right, so I just put the phone back down and carried on typing.
It wasn’t just Flash we talked about. When I was starting out, I really couldn’t do anything without his input making it better, and there’s some of his DNA in all my early work, from Kingdom Come to Captain America to Justice League–ideas and notions and bits, all essential. Years later, as the career that I owed him everything for blossomed, he used to joke that no one could accuse him of riding my coattails because he made the coat, which was 100% accurate. I have never been shy about saying that, without Brian, I’d have spent the last 25 years working at a car wash somewhere, and that’s the God’s honest truth.

Beyond that–beyond all that–Brian was loved and admired by so many, and for good reason. There were certainly people he didn’t care for, but he made no enemies so far as I know–I can’t remember anyone ever saying anything about him that wasn’t complimentary. He was kind, he was thoughtful, he was charming and funny and witty, with a laugh that would fill a room. He was a loyal friend, wise counsel, and he wholeheartedly embodied the character trait that I most admire in people: the inability to simply sit back and watch whenever something unfair was unfolding in front of him. I looked up to him and admired him. In all my life, I have never known anyone better than Brian Augustyn, and I know that I will miss him every day.

On behalf of the IP team, I offer our condolences to the family, friends and fellow fans of Brian Augustyn.

John is a long-time pop culture fan, comics historian, and blogger. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief at Comics Nexus. Prior to being EIC he has produced several column series including DEMYTHIFY, NEAR MINT MEMORIES and the ONE FAN'S TRIALS at the Nexus plus a stint at Bleeding Cool producing the COMICS REALISM column. As BabosScribe, John is active on his twitter account, his facebook page, his instagram feed and welcomes any and all feedback. Bring it on!