Marvin Stein, comic book illustrator, dies at 85

Marvin Stein, a comic book illustrator who created

Marvin Stein, a comic book illustrator who created 'McGurk's Mob' comic strip for Newsday, died on Thursday. (Credit: Newsday / Mahala Gaylord)

For a man who spent his career illustrating comic books during their shoot-'em-up, pulpy heyday, Marvin Stein was a remarkably upbeat man, his family said.

"He was always positive, always happy," said his daughter Audrey Leonard, 47, of Wantagh.

Stein, an illustrator of the McGurk's Mob comic strip and previously from Massapequa Park, died Thursday of a heart attack at a hospital in Florida. It was his 85th birthday.

Stein was born in Brooklyn and grew up in the same neighborhood as his future wife, Florence Lennowitz.

When Stein was 12, his mother died, and Lennowitz's father died soon thereafter.

Stein's widowed father married Lennowitz's widowed mother. The two teenagers were step-siblings but also fell in love and later married, their daughter said.

Stein studied art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and taught at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

He was ineligible to serve in the military because he had poor eyesight.

Art was his passion, and he worked on comic books, cartoons, advertisements and illustrated books, Leonard said.

"He was drawing since he was a little kid. He always studied art," she said.

"He was always drawing and cartooning. He worked on animation as well."

Some examples of his work can be seen in vintage Archie, Superman and Captain Valiant comic books.

From about 1964 to 1969, Stein illustrated the syndicated McGurk's Mob with Bernard Wexler for Newsday. The comic strip was based on Wexler's seven children, Leonard said.

Stein also worked for years illustrating children's books for a Baldwin-based publishing company, and retired after the company was sold.

He and his wife moved to Boynton Beach, Fla., where they enjoyed the temperate climate and Stein practiced yoga. Florence Stein died in 2007.

On Feb. 6, Stein's family gathered in Florida, Leonard said.

"We had gone down to celebrate his birthday," she said. The next day, "He wasn't feeling well, so that's when we took him to the hospital."

Stein took a positive attitude toward death, Leonard said. "He always looked at death as a graduation," she said. "He never looked at death as a negative thing."

His remains will be cremated and spread on Zach's Bay at Jones Beach State Park - the same bay where his wife's ashes were spread, Leonard said.

In addition to Leonard, Stein is survived by another daughter, Nicki Herman, of Roswell, Ga.

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