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Ball point pen on the morning newsprint

Illustrator Don Ivan Punchatz has passed away at age 73. Don's work is familiar to everyone having created the first Star Wars film poster, the cover of the Doom video game, science fiction book covers, campaigns for Exxon, Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi, illustrations for Playboy, Esquire and Rolling Stone as well as classic National Lampoon covers.

Punchatz suffered cardiac arrest without having health insurance, To help his widow pay his medical bills, donations can be made to Sandra Punchatz, c/o Lewis Glaser, TCU School of Art, TCU, Box 298000, Fort Worth TX 76129

14 Comments
  1. Ricky
    November 2, 2009 -

    He was one of the great ones. Angers me that he passed away and now his wife still has to pay his medical bills. Please explain to me why the right is fighting Obama on health care?

  2. November 2, 2009 -

    Wow, how incredibly sad. How in the world can an illustrator with such a prestigious portfolio of work not have earned the kind of money that would afford him a decent health insurance policy? As a Canadian I thank my lucky stars this will never be my fate... but my heart goes out to Punchatz' widow that she now has this burden on top of the grief of losing her life partner. Sad sad sad....

  3. November 2, 2009 -

    How sad. Even sadder that some one so talented leaves behind such issues. Health care shouldn't be a way for others to make obscene wealth.

  4. Pat D
    November 2, 2009 -

    Larry, Thank you for highlighting this, both the passsing and the health care issue. Pat

  5. November 2, 2009 -

    I also thank you for highlighting this, a very important lesson.

  6. sue
    November 2, 2009 -

    Amazing-- and a beautiful portrait of him, Larry.

  7. kevin
    November 3, 2009 -

    Let's avoid making this a political thing. Freelancers choose to work for themselves. Freelancers are also notorious for making bad business decisions. The lesson here is for this generation of artists to learn to take care of themselves financially first. I've freelanced for 15 years in the US, and today I find the insurance I paid for as a freelancer is actually cheaper than the group plan I had when I had a job. Help out his wife, but know that Don probably isn't crazy with this being the thing folks talk about from his obit.

  8. November 3, 2009 -

    Thank you Kevin for your comment. I agree that people should remember him for his work. I have made no attempt to politicize his passing. I hope that the handful of people who tune in to my blog would make a small contribution as I have.

  9. Greg Punchatz
    November 3, 2009 -

    Larry, that was great, thanks. Kevin, actually, my dad could not get insurance. He had stomach cancer in 1984 and because of that he could never get insured again. Dad would not mind this getting turned into a political debate if it changed one persons mind about having a public option. I miss my Dad. Greg Punchatz

  10. November 4, 2009 -

    Thank you Greg for adding that. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

  11. Charles
    November 4, 2009 -

    How sad to lose such a talented Illustrator and fine father. My thoughts go out to everyone in the Punchatz family. But Kevin, like it or not, this IS a political issue. Truth be told, 'for profit' health care is an oxymoron. This is legalized extortion by the middlemen of the medical mafia. Whether or not you have made the right 'business decisions' or not doesn't matter. In this immoral profit-driven system, anyone is potentially one paycheck away from financial ruin or death - insured or not - because of lack of medical care based on the inability to pay 'premiums' that increase exponentially with one's age. Peace be with the Punchatz family. Single payer for all.

  12. Liz Punchatz
    November 4, 2009 -

    Larry I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I enjoy your site. The sketches are so interesting-- I loved the one you did of Don, among many of your others. I am inspired to pick up a pencil and paper again and attempt to draw something! My father in law Don Punchatz encouraged me to try drawing years ago--If I had realized he wasn't going to be with us forever I would have spent more time learning from him... Greg and I have been comforted by the outpouring of good vibrations from so many good souls. Thank you so very much. You have all touched us and Don's wife Sandra.

  13. November 4, 2009 -

    Never having met Don, I knew him only for his prolific career as an illustrator, but it seems that his legacy extends far beyond his artwork. Thank you for posting Liz.

  14. martin
    November 4, 2009 -

    i met don a couple times in the 70's. what a wonderful man,great artist. R.I.P