Updated: Jun 10
(Originally published February 24, 2016)
Just when I think I can’t take the deluge of nasty, petty, partisan inanities that fills social media, something happens that reminds me the internet isn’t all useless memes and misinformation. One of those somethings was meeting P.D. Angel Gabriele (March 21, 1956 – February 23, 2016). More or less the same age, we started in the comic book business at around the same time but I don’t think our paths ever crossed. Not until about a year and a half ago, via Facebook.
The short of it is this: a bunch of fans of the defunct Charlton Comics company met on a Facebook page and pretty much the next thing we knew, there was a new little independent comics company on the scene, Charlton Neo. Keeping with our open source origin, Charlton Neo has an open submissions policy, as well as open arms to any professional who has an idea without a home or a desire to continue practicing their art. Angel was both. I had put out a call for artists to illustrate stories for my forthcoming Secret Romances title and Angel was one of the first to reply. I sent him the script for a five-page story, “Cybermatch.com.”
Angel did the job admirably and asked for more. We were happy to oblige, as well as run his own creation, No Name, on the comic strip website, Pix-C Webcomics. The Pix-C strip, N.E.O. was created with Angel in mind as the artist. I wrote to his ability to portray big, solid, chunky action, giant Kirbyesque machines, and grotesque creatures and he delivered in every panel.
Suffering from chronic COPD, Angel was more or less housebound and from what I could see, aside from his daughter Danielle, his grandchildren, and family, nothing made him happier than being at the drawing board. He was totally committed to N.E.O., bugging me for more script when I lagged behind, and offering up a steady stream of suggestions for bits of business or action he thought it would be fun to draw. When he was working on a cover recreation or a commission or a story page, he got lost doing what he loved and could forget some of the hardships the last few years had brought on him.
Angel was a fighter, literally and figuratively. After several years drawing for Marvel (covers and art for their British reprint department, plus Fantastic Four, Deathlok, and other titles, both as assistant to Rich Buckler and on his own), DC (Kobra), JC Publications (T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents), Darkline (Dark Avenger), and his own Leader Comics, Angel turned to the world of professional wrestling, first as the Dark Angel for Dick the Bruiser’s WWA, and then for his own wrestling promotion operation and television show, Powerslam Professional Wrestling. Angel kept a foot planted in the worlds of comics and wrestling, including inking such titles as Static and Hardware for his friend Denys Cowan at Milestone Comics.
Angel kept fighting and he kept drawing until he no longer could. P.D. Angel Gabriele died on February 23. I’m grateful that he chose to dedicate so much of his effort to Charlton Neo and our collaboration. I know he went by “Dark Angel,” but once you got to know the guy it was hard to believe there could possibly be anything dark about him.