Sean Stephane Martin, 69, of Mebane, passed away on Monday, August 3, 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Sean was born December 29, 1950. He grew up in the small panhandle ranching town of Hereford, Texas and his parents were Harold Clark and Elsie Martin. He is survived by a sister, Sherry Oliver, of Peaster, Texas and a brother, David Martin, of Denver, Colorado. Sean served as a medic in the Navy during the Vietnam War and attended college in Texas.
Sean had a long career as a professional illustrator and designer, working in the fields of set design, advertising, and trade show displays. In the early 2000s, he was one of the early theatre set designers to work with clients remotely, creating designs for professional and amateur companies in Florida, Ohio, California, Spain, Switzerland, and other locations. He taught theater design in the early 2000s at Guilford College in Greensboro and most recently worked with the Godfrey Group in Durham, NC.
Sean became a citizen of Canada after living in Toronto, Ontario, Vancouver, and Calgary. He is most well-known as the creator and artist behind the pioneering cartoon “Doc and Raider”. First running in “Xtra” in Toronto in 1987, the cartoon series was partially based on the relationship with his partner Steve, who succumbed to AIDS in 1987 in San Francisco.
“Doc and Raider” dealt with the everyday aspects of relationships of gay couples and more serious topics on AIDS and LGBT politics. The cartoon steadily grew and, at its height, was seen in publications on three continents, from local gay and lesbian weeklies to monthly magazines. He was approached by the National Archives of Canada to donate original panels to the collection and “Doc and Raider’ became the first works by a gay cartoonist to be added to the Archives. Martin published two collections of the cartoons, “Doc and Raider: Caught on Tape” in 1994 and “Doc and Raider: Incredibly Lifelike” in 1996.
After an accident which impaired the use of his drawing hand, he briefly retired the cartoon, then revived it online using computer generated 3D renderings, eventually producing 5,600 individual cartoons in the series. After a run of 23 years, “Doc and Raider” stands as one of the longest running LGBT-related comic strips and is the second longest-running Canadian cartoon, behind Lynn Johnston’s “For Better or For Worse”.
Martin also wrote several books, including the acclaimed “Big Show Tiny Budget”, a practical guide on scenic and costume design, and “No One Said They Were Especially Bright: The High School Musical (1900-1950)”. He also wrote and illustrated adaptations of classical theatre scripts and folk tales, along with translations of works by French playwrights Jean Giraudoux and Georges Feydeau.
Sean devoted much work to local LGBT and AIDS related charities, raising thousands of dollars for local AIDS groups, and donating his talents to safe sex advertising campaigns, the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association, and Alamance Pride. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Gay Rodeo Association in 2001. Sean was the subject of the 1998 feature-length documentary, “Raider in Canada: A Portrait of Sean Martin”.
Sean’s papers and illustrations are housed at the Pride Library at the University of Western Ontario. His illustration work for “Candide” is part of the permanent Voltaire collection at the University of Wittenberg.
Friends will remember Sean for his sense of humor, his passion for French cooking and baking, and his immense love of cats.
In lieu of flowers, Sean requested that donations be made to Safe Haven for Cats in Raleigh, North Carolina.