Jeffrey Veregge is an award-winning Native American artist and writer from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Underscore News + ICT

Beloved comic artist Jeffrey Veregge, from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, passed on last Friday at the age of 50.

His wife, Christina Veregge shared on Facebook that he passed that morning unexpectedly from a heart attack, while in the hospital battling lupus. Well known for his work with Marvel, crafting breathtaking comic art with a Native twist, Veregge called himself the #NDNGeek.

“For 1025 days, he fought lupus like the superhero we knew him to be,” she wrote. “The strength, faith, determination and courage he showed while being in the hospital for a total of 925 days was an inspiration to us all. He fought so hard for his family and his 3 children, who were his absolute pride and joy. He will be missed more than words can express. This world was a better place because of him.”

A career in comics

Jeffrey Veregge is an award-winning Native American artist and writer from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

From a young age, Veregge spent countless hours drawing and reading comics. He shared those experiences and lessons learned in an advice piece for Native artists everywhere published in ICT.

“The following are tips, advice from a guy who has spent 4 decades getting to where he wanted to be,” Veregge wrote in the article first published in 2016. “I am someone who has stumbled, who has failed and who has doubted himself in spite of his achievements. But it was a result of these roadblocks that made me [a] better artist and allows me to be the comic artist I am today.”

In the article, he credits his job creating Judge Dredd #23 for IDW Publishing as kickstarting his career as a comic artist. Since then, Veregge has published dozens of comic book covers for Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment and others, according to his website. His art has been featured in shows and exhibits and he has painted over half a dozen murals around Washington state.

Veregge’s legacy continues to live on in the art he contributed to the world of comics.

“We are saddened to learn artist and writer Jeffrey Veregge has passed away,” Timothy Cheng, executive director of communications for Marvel, told Underscore News + ICT in an email. “His striking and beautiful use of formline designs celebrated both pop culture and tradition, reimagining Marvel and beyond in ways that will never fade. Our hearts are with his family and loved ones.”

While working on art for Marvel comics, Veregge had the opportunity to collaborate on three different projects with writing team Taboo, from the Black Eyed Peas, and B. Earl. The trio co-created a two-page spread for Werewolf by Night; an origin story of the Leviathan in Kushala; and a Marvel #100 page for Red Wolf, according to B. Earl.

He added that the group worked together like a smooth piece of jazz — collaborative, creative and building off of each other's ideas.

“The beautiful thing about Jeffrey’s legacy and his creativity is that he is the perfect alchemy of pop culture and Native visuals,” B. Earl said.

In 2020, Veregge led the creation of “Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices” with a team of other, mostly Indigenous, writers and artists. The National Museum of the American Indian in New York City also featured Veregge’s work in a solo exhibit called “Jeffrey Veregge: Of Gods and Heroes” that ran from Oct. 2018 to Feb. 2020.

A lasting legacy

Jeffrey Veregge is an award-winning Native American artist and writer from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Throughout his life, Veregge crossed paths with many other Indigenous comic enthusiasts, including Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk.

“Jeffrey was the #NDNGeek and he inspired me to eventually become the #NativeNerd because I just loved what he was doing,” Schilling said.

Schilling remembers long conversations with Veregge geeking out about “everything nerdy” — from comic books and superhero movies, to Star Trek, and Star Wars. They even talked UFOs and aliens when Schilling invited Veregge on to his radio show, “Native Trailblazers.”

After hearing of Veregge’s passing, Schilling reflected on his work with Veregge and the legacy he leaves behind in an article he published on his website, Native Viewpoint.

“My heart just breaks for his wife. Schilling told Underscore News + ICT. “My heart breaks for his kids. He had so much more to do.”

Reflecting on the legacy Veregge leaves behind through his artwork, Schilling says he thinks of himself as a young Native kid growing up on Compton Boulevard in Southern California. At the time, he remembers Indigenous representation in the mainstream media was virtually nonexistent — or relied heavily on stereotypes. Now, he imagines Native kids across the country reading comics illustrated by his dear friend Veregge and thinking, “Maybe I can do that too.”

“Jeffrey is not just doing Native art, he is drawing mainstream characters like the Hulk, Iron Man, Spiderman, GI Joe, Batman, Superman with his Native art behind it,” Schilling said. “It impacts people who see it that aren’t even Native.”

For a full list of his work, exhibits and awards visit jeffreyveregge.com/rezume. His family is also asking for support to cover medical bills not covered by insurance. Visit the GoFundMe here.

Lead image: Jeffrey Veregge is an award-winning Native American artist and writer from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

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Nika is a journalist with a passion for working to center the voices and experiences of communities often left behind in mainstream media coverage. Of Osage and Oneida Nations descent, with Northern European...