Acclaimed illustrator Kim Jung Gi died in Paris on Monday after experiencing chest pains as he was about to board a plane.
“After having done so much for us, you can now put down your brushes,” his collaborator Hyun Jin Kim said in a statement.
Kim, 47, suffered a heart attack after finishing his last scheduled European appearance, the statement on his Instagram page said. He was at the airport on his way to New York, where he was set to appear at Comic Con, when he began to experience chest pains. He was taken to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery but nothing could be done and he passed away.
In its tribute, Comic Con described him as a “master artist”... for his “unique contributions to comics.”
The South Korean artist had contributed Marvel and DC Comics and was famous for his ability to draw complex illustrations entirely from memory. “His ability to render extremely complicated scenes near-perfectly from memory, without the aid of references, has stretched the boundaries of what many artists believed was possible,” his biography states.
He also held the Guinness World Record for longest drawing by an individual.
“His sudden disappearance contrasts with the immense happiness he brought us,” said a statement from the Daniel Maghen art gallery in Paris, where an exhibition of his work is currently on display.
“We are speechless,” the gallery said, adding that “his disappearance will leave a great void.”
Bosnian comic book artist Adi Granov wrote in tribute on Facebook: “Kim Jung Gi, once in a lifetime talent who reshaped our world. His ability reduced grown people to tears and his humility and humour were a joy.”
Comic book artist Mark Brooks, famous for his work with Marvel Comics, wrote: “This is such a huge loss to the art world. He was so kind, generous, and talented.”
Marvel’s editor in chief, C.B. Cebulski, posted: “Woke up to the tragic news of Kim Jung Gi’s passing. Still sitting here stunned. There was no one quite like him.”
Kim leaves behind a wife and two children.