by Jeff Pierce The Rap Sheet
I was shocked to read this morning that Glen Orbik, an artist now best known for the exceptional, pulpish fronts he created for the Hard Case Crime line of paperback mysteries and thrillers, died yesterday from cancer. He was in his early 50s.
Although biographical information about Orbik runs rather thin on the Web, it seems he was born in 1963. He moved with his mother to western Nevada in the early 1970s, and graduated in 1981 from Douglas High School in the town of Minden. Orbik went on to study art at the California Art Institute (then located in the Los Angeles County community of Encino), receiving at least part of his instruction from Fred Fixler, an advertising illustrator, movie-poster painter, and book-cover artist who had founded the school. On his Web site, Orbik explained that his original intention had been to draw superheroes for a living,
but his horizons were soon expanded. “After a few years,” he writes,” I took over many of Fred’s classes at the school … when he retired from teaching and have continued off and on for over 20 years.”
Orbik eventually did win the opportunity to paint superheroes, working for DC Comics on its Aquaman series in particular, but also contributing to its Detective Comics, Batman, Flash, and American Century lines. In addition, he took on assignments for Marvel Comics. Although Orbik listed among his influences Gil Elvgren and Norman Rockwell, he had a particular interest in vintage crime-fiction paperback covers of the 1950s and ‘60s, especially those created by Robert McGinnis, Robert Maguire, and Robert E. Schulz. Not long after the 20th century became the 21st, he got the chance to follow boldly in their footsteps by signing on to paint covers for Hard Case Crime. Founder-editor Charles Ardai sent me a note today, recalling his experience with Orbik: