Sean Hartter (1973 – 2013)

Sean Hartter (1973 – 2013)

Sean Hartter
As we announced yesterday with the passing of Sean Hartter the Retroist has lost an amazingly talented Illustrator and Contributor and friend to the site, more so we have lost the possibility of seeing what new fantastic alternate Universe movie poster or 80s toy icon Sean would share with us next.

Now with some heartfelt thoughts we have fellow Retroist Writer and Illustrator as well as friend of Sean, Daniel XIII.

I first became aware of the work of Sean Hartter back in August of 2010 (although I had seen his poster for Dante Tomaselli’s Torture Chamber over on Retroist contributor and long-time friend Professor Brian O’ Blivion’s website The Cathode Ray Mission 2 months prior but for some reason I never looked to see who had created the piece). A website I frequent ran a piece featuring a multitude of Sean’s alternate Universe movie poster concepts…photo manipulations mixed with bold graphic designs that presented famous films as Sean wanted them to be cast. Needless to say, it was love at first sight, and his rendition of Mario Bava’s Masters of the Universe starring John Phillip Law and Boris Karloff (pure Hartter) became my laptop’s wallpaper.

A few months passed and suddenly Hartter appeared again, this time on the website Rejected by Covered, a place for artist’s work that was turned down by comic book cover recreation website Covered. Sean did a rendition of Star Wars number 36 featuring Luke Skywalker facing off against some sort of crazy space panther (while the original was not created by Hartter, it was pure Hartter)! This was the first time I had seen Sean’s illustration style and I was hooked! His line work was like the unholy love child of Bakshi, Bode and Kirby. At the bottom of the post was a link to Sean’s website. I clicked that seemingly innocent link and my brain nearly exploded. How could someone distill the entirety of genre pop culture and make it so much their own? I had to find out how Hartter created his work so, on a whim I sent him a Facebook friend request. This was the best move I’ve ever made.

Over the next few years, Sean and I conversed online nearly every day (we talked until 1:30 am on the night he passed). We shared our artistic influences and aspirations, we talked about our families and childhood, we discussed film, comic books and music ad nauseum…the list goes on and on. We also discovered we shared the exact same birthday, right down to the year!

Best of all I had the pleasure of collaborating with Sean on a number of pieces for this very site (and at the time of his passing we had more pieces in the works)! We also had a number of other projects that I only wish had come to fruition…believe me brains would have melted and eyeballs would have exploded! And through all of our conversations there was a constant…Sean inspiring me and giving me confidence to try any and all creative endeavors that came my way.

So with a heavy heart I mourn the loss of a true friend, but all is not sadness! Sean has left behind an amazing legacy just waiting to be discovered by the next pop culture fiend! His art, music (yes Sean was an incredible musician) and vision will continue to endure. His work will live on as a permanent part of the pop culture that he loved so much as a quick search will reveal his work not only on this site, but in countless places including his own website (, Deviant Art page (, and Soundcloud ( to name just an obvious few!

I will leave you with one of the last things Hartter said to me, some advice about some art I was unsure of : “You’ve got what they call mojo…I heard someone say about your goals once, something to the effect of just claim you can do anything they ask of you then figure out how to do it as fast as possible.” Again, pure Hartter!

Rest well my friend.”

Friends, a Memorial Fund has been set up by Allison Clark Hartter to help cover the expenses for funeral costs and final arrangements. You can make donations by clicking on the link provided.

From Allison: “In the early hours of April 27th, family, friends, and fans of art everywhere suffered a great loss with the untimely death of Sean Hartter. While he was an innovative and prolific artist, Sean was first and foremost a devoted husband to Allison and father of Griffin and Gabriel. He was a valued friend who was always willing to lend an ear when you needed it or make you laugh until it hurt. The notion that a heart so big and generous would stop beating after a short 39 years on this Earth is both shocking and cruel to all who knew him.

Tragically, Sean’s death came at a time when his artwork was finally starting to get the recognition it deserved. Any of Sean’s nearest and dearest will tell you that he never fully accepted just how gifted he was. His brain bursted with creativity- his artwork included various mediums, from the simple black sharpie and pen to recent adventures creating action figures. He made music, wrote stories, but finally got a taste of recognition from his “Alternate Universe” creations.

The unfairness of losing this talented man at such a young age can not be expressed enough. His death was so unexpected that it was not at all planned for. Sean’s friends would like to help his family through this devastating loss in the only way we can- by assisting with the tremendous expense of funeral costs and final arrangements. Because time is so important, please share this link as much as possible. Thank you so much for your help and for the outpouring of love and condolences that have been showered on his family with this enormous loss.”


Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. This is very sad news. Sean was an incredibly talented artist and will be missed.

  2. Total bummer. I really enjoyed the artwork he did – and I have this site to thank for seeing it.

  3. I’m sorry to hear of his passing.

  4. Very sad news indeed, condolences to all:(

  5. I always found Sean enthusiasm and talent inspiring. He had such a unique vision for a universe that I always wanted to visit. He will be missed by many.

  6. Even io9 made mention of Sean’s passing. One of the greatest things I found was just how much he wanted to help everyone, he didn’t mind if you would hit him up at 1 in the morning and ask for a header for something like Saturday Frights, etc. Sean was always glad to pitch in where he could.

  7. This is so sad. The realm of visual arts just clouded over with Sean’s passing.
    His unique style stoked my imagination and brought renewed vibrancy to those cherished cultural icons of the 70s, frozen in the back of my mind.

    My condolences to his family.

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