It is with a heavy heart that we report on the passing of Dheeraj Verma.
Verma is idolized by comic fans worldwide for his amazingly detailed comic book illustration, and in India particularly, where he is recognized as the first comic creator from India to break into the mainstream comics scene with major publishers such as Marvel and DC.
Verma was hospitalized in May with COVID-19, though he recovered and was showing improvement, Dheeraj developed pulmonary fibrosis as a side effect of his COVID-19 exposure, likely due to organ damage caused by the virus.
While hospitalized waiting for treatment for his complications Dheeraj fell into a coma and had to be put on a ventilator.
Being in India, Dheeraj lived in the country with the largest production of Vaccine, but, like most Indian citizens did not yet have access to it.
As of June 9th, Mr. Verma's passing due to pulmonary fibrosis caused by Covid-19 was confirmed by his daughter in social media posts.
Our heart goes out to the comics community in India and around the world and all those that mourn the passing of this great artist.
Dheeraj's daughter, Vinnie, was running a crowdfunding campaign to pay for his father's medical treatment to save his life when he passed.
Condolences and donations can be made to the Verma family at: My Father Is Suffering From Pulmonary Fibrosis. We Need Your Help To Provide For His Treatment - Ketto
Rest in Power, Dheeraj.
Note from the creative director: When I first met Dheeraj, it was online. In fact, with him being in India and me in Canada, online is the only way I know Dheeraj, but I knew him.
Many years ago, when neither one of us had had a big break yet, he and I worked on an independent comic together we were going to self-publish. I think we may have gotten it half completed when Dheeraj started catching the eye of bigger publishers with paid gigs. I was looking at forming my own publishing company at the time, so we mutually agreed to put the project on "pause" while we both pursued success in our separate careers, but always stayed in touch and said we'd get back to finishing that book together.
We never did get back to it, but it was great to see an artist with so much talent and for who I had so much respect continue to succeed and get some of that recognition that he deserved.
To be honest, if I could be any artist than the one I am, it would have been Dheeraj Verma. One look at his work tells you how amazing his art skills are amazing. I always thought it was crazy that he wasn't already working for Marvel by the time that I first met him.
What really weighs on my mind, is that when we were working together, Dheeraj and I had discussed the idea of me sponsoring him to immigrate to Canada. At the time I felt like a nobody, and didn't think my fledgling publishing idea would be able to support someone moving across the world, so we decided not to do it.
If I had done more then, Dheeraj might have been in Canada now. He may have still gotten COVID, but he might not have, and he would have had access to the vaccines and treatment he needed without his family having to worry about medical costs as much.
There are very few regrets I have in life, but not helping Dheeraj get to Canada is definitely one of them.
I have privately donated what I could to the fundraiser for Dheeraj's medical care, and with a heavy heart, I encourage others to do the same if they can.