George Caragonne (September 16, 1965 – July 20, 1995) was an American comic book writer and editor, most notable for being co-founder of Penthouse Comix magazine. He committed suicide on July 20, 1995, by jumping off the 45th floor of the interior atrium of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.
|George Scott Caragonne|
|Born||September 16, 1965|
|Died||July 20, 1995 (aged 29)|
New York City
George Caragonne was born in San Antonio, Texas, the only male child born to Alexander Caragonne (author/architect) and Alice Caragonne. He has a sibling and a niece named Alice Caragonne, who was born February 4, 1994.
Caragonne wrote primarily for Marvel Comics and their subsidiary Star Comics, throughout the latter half of the 1980s. Titles he wrote included Masters of the Universe, Planet Terry, and Star Brand. He also worked in the animation field.
In 1988, after hearing that former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter was forming Valiant Comics, Caragonne drove from California to New York, and, unannounced, knocked on Shooter's door to offer his services. Caragonne agreed to do work for Valiant, all while holding a full-time job. After Valiant was established, Caragonne wrote such titles as Captain N, The Legend of Zelda, and Punch Out!!.
After leaving Valiant, Caragonne wrote a few freelance stories for Marvel, including a short Silver Surfer story for a custom comic produced for Charleston Chew, and a short backup tale for a Fantastic Four Annual #25 (1992).
Around this time Caragonne created a comics packaging studio called Constant Developments, Inc. (CDI). CDI optioned the rights to produce new comics featuring the 1960s superhero team T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (from John Carbonaro, then the rights-holder). An acquaintance introduced Caragonne to Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione, whom Caragonne tried to interest in publishing T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Guccione instead hired Caragonne to create soft-core erotica comic sections for Penthouse magazine.
Caragonne was given an office inside Penthouse's headquarters. After several sections of comics had been produced for Penthouse, Guccione directed Caragonne to produce a stand-alone comics magazine for his company; the first issue of Penthouse Comix appeared in early 1994. With stories by Caragonne and illustrations by artists that included Adam Hughes, Garry Leach, Arthur Suydam, Milo Manara, Richard Corben, Bart Sears, and Gray Morrow, Penthouse Comix was an immediate international success, and spawned a full line that included the seven-issue Men's Adventure Comix and the three-issue Omni Comix, the latter a companion to the science magazine Omni, which was also published by Guccione. (A T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents story did eventually find publication in a Guccione publication, in the first issue of Omni Comix.)
According to comics writer and columnist Mark Evanier, the success of his books with Penthouse led to excess on his part, in particular drugs. He became a heavy cocaine user, and also began spending on extravagant items for himself and friends. He also went significantly overbudget on his magazines and on some other, non-Penthouse projects. His working patterns changed to the point where he was working all night in the Penthouse offices, before going home in the day, which concerned his close friends, who tried to intervene with him. According to Evanier, his employers also came to suspect Caragonne of financial "improprieties", and on the night of Friday, July 14, 1995, he discovered that he had been locked out of his office pending a full audit on his books.
After Penthouse locked Caragonne out of his offices on July 14, 1995, writer Mark Evanier says a number of friends in Caragonne's circle spent the following two nights unsuccessfully pleading with him by phone to get professional treatment. Caragonne's movements after this are not accounted for until Thursday, July 20, when he went to the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, where he asked a bellhop, "Is it true this is the tallest hotel in Times Square?" After the bellhop replied that it was, Caragonne took an elevator to the top floor, the 45th floor, where an indoor atrium provides an impressive view of the lobby. Caragonne put on a Walkman containing a cassette of theme songs from the James Bond films, his favorite, and jumped. He fell 500 feet, his 400+ lb. body caroning off ledges and decorations before landing on a buffet table bustling with guests. Although no one else was killed, many of the witnesses, including some children, suffered emotional trauma and required years of treatment as a result of the event.
- Caragonne, George (Ed.; July/August 1994). "Who's Who in Penthouse Comix", Penthouse Comix #2, p 4.
- Evanier, Mark (July 20, 2005). "George". POV Online: News from Me.
- "The Leader," Marvel Collector's Edition #1 (1992).
- "In Kang's Clutches," Fantastic Four Annual #25 (1992).
- Sodaro, Robert J. "The Resplendent Sound of T.H.U.N.D.E.R.!" Comics Value Annual (1999). Archived on ThunderAgents.com. Accessed Feb. 8, 2014.
- Ashley, Mike (2007). Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1970-1980. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 978-1-8463100-2-7.
- Robertson, Adi (August 8, 2013). "Omni, reboot: an iconic sci-fi magazine goes back to the future". The Verge. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Omni Comix #1 (March 1995).
- Lambiet, Jose; Merrill, Laurie C.; Siemaszko, Corky (July 21, 1995). "Stunned Tourists See Man Plunge To Death" Archived October 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Daily News (New York City).
- George Caragonne at the Comic Book DB