Earlier this week comics news services, including Comic Book Resources, received an e-mail from Jerry Ordway reporting the death of fellow comics professional John Statema. Jerry wrote a tearful e-mail remembering John's career and frienship. The news was reported here and elsewhere, even in comics news groups and message boards where fellow comics professionals and fans shared their condolences. Apparently, the Mark Twain quote "The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated" is perfectly suited for this story.
"Who would be the despicable character to do something like this," asked John Statema when CBR spoke with him from his office at Sony Animation in West Los Angeles. "I don't get it. I'm flabbergasted that someone's gone to this length to put me underground." John was clearly moved when he heard the news and had no idea how this all got started.
Efforts to contact Jerry Ordway went unanswered, but we did catch up with Al Gordon, a close friend of Jerry Ordway, who had spoken with Jerry earlier Friday and shared the following story.
Sometime near the end of May Jerry received an e-mail from someone purporting to be John's wife. This letter described a terrible car accident in which John died. Jerry had a heartfelt exchange of e-mails with this person, who knew specific details regarding John's life. When Jerry asked if he could write a memorial for John they responded that it would be entirely appropriate since John and Jerry had been close friends. On Tuesday Jerry diseminated his memorial to the comics press and that should have been the end of it.
Flash forward to today. CBR received an e-mail from a friend of John's that indicated John was very much alive and working at Sony Animation. Calls to Sony Human Resources confirmed that he was still an active employee of the company and the number provided to CBR was that of John Statema.
According to Al Gordon, Jerry is very upset and conflicted. Jerry was obviously upset to hear that his friend had died, but now anger has replaced that sadness when he was told the story of John's death was false and possibly a practical joke. "If this is a joke on Jerry, and I can't speak for Jerry, but if it was me I'd be pissed," Al Gordon remarked.
So how did this happen? How did this all start? The origin of this strange tale is unknown at this time, but what's certain is that John Statema is alive and well and working in Los Angeles.