Friday, March 29, 2024

Elena Steier 1958 - 2024


Elena Steier passed peacefully, surrounded by her loving family on March1st. The cause was cancer. She was 66 years old.

From The Hartford Courant:

"An accomplished illustrator, author, and cartoonist, Steier created several comics and strips, such as The Ramp Rats (for the Detroit Metropolitan News), The Goth Scouts (for The South Shore Monthly Newspaper) and The Vampire Bed and Breakfast (a self-published comic book). Additional works have been published as locally as the West Hartford News and as far-reaching as ABC’s Monday Night Football. A longtime resident of West Hartford, she has taught art to generations of children as well as adults at the West Hartford Art League, and influenced innumerable young people through her work in the public schools. Her boundless enthusiasm, caring nature, bawdy humor, eccentric taste and deep wisdom will be profoundly missed by those who survive her, including her brother, Alex Vira; her children, Lydia Steier, Ted Steier, Andrew Steier and Julia Greer; and her grandchildren, Tilly Steier, Benton Greer, James Steier, and Landon Greer. Elena Steier was predeceased in 2022 by her loving husband of 45 years, Rodney Steier. She is loved and will be missed by family, friends and colleagues near and far.

"A memorial event for Elena Steier will be held at The Ahern Funeral Home, 111 Main St., Rt. 4 in Unionville, CT on April 6 from 1-3 pm. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center (visit To send online condolences to the family, please visit"


Cartoonist JP Trostle writes for the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists:

"Cartoonist Elena Steier died earlier this month after engaging in hand-to-hand combat with cancer for the past two years. She was 66. Elena was an outspoken, self-taught artist whose comic strips and editorial cartoons appeared in newspapers across Connecticut, and was syndicated for a time by DBR Media. She drew 'The Ramp Rats' for The Airport News, back when niche industry publications existed (and could afford to pay for cartoonists).

"She embraced webcomics early on with her 'Goth Scouts' and 'The Vampire Bed and Breakfast' strips, the latter of which won a Xeric Grant in 2003, and her work became increasingly political and critical of the Bush Administration (see her 2001 cartoon on Putin below). The Daily Cartoonist has more on Elena Steier’s career.

"Steier was a long-time member of the AAEC and a spirited and energetic presence at its annual gatherings. Cartoonist Ed Hall wrote on facebook, 'One of the first people I met when I joined the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Elena was truly one of a kind. Immense talent, rapier wit and an ink line that seemed to flow from a secret source. She was kind, giving and never afraid to speak her mind.' In another post, Clay Jones noted 'She was very talented and fun to hang out with. She once made fun of me for misspelling Connecticut.'

"The AAEC sends its condolences to her family and many, many cartoonist friends."


I knew Elena through our mutual friend, John Reynolds. She was very active in the National Cartoonists Society, and had invited him to the NCS Christmas party. This was in the 1990s. I was a temp, as was John. "Do you want to go to The Century Club, to the NCS Holiday party? Elena Steier invited me," he told me," and I asked her if I could ask you to come too and she said, sure." 

Of course, I said yes. I had read about these parties in the Cartoonist PROfiles magazine when I was younger. It was a great night. I remember being in awe at all of the cartoonists there. And the emcee was the one and only Arnold Roth -- who was very funny in person.

The first thing I noticed about Elena was her smile and the stains of ink on her thumb and finger. The mark of a REAL cartoonist! And her work was so terrific. So inky. So well drawn. 

The three of us got together a number of times when she came down to Manhattan from her home in West Hartford. We ate and drank into the wee hours. Maybe a little more drinking than eating. I remember one time crossing Second Avenue on a chilly night, probably going from one bar to another, and Elena suddenly saying, "You know who no one remembers today? Jack Kent! There's an amazing talent." I told her I knew who Jack Kent was. "He drew King Aroo," I said. We all remembered who Jack Kent was. (John Reynolds is no slouch.) We all loved good cartooning. And I knew I had to be around people who love cartoons and that I needed to work toward becoming a full-time freelance cartoonist. 

Within a couple of years, I had quit my temp job, and (after a lot of work) was selling cartoons to The New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Harvard Business Review and other places. And, in 2000, I was permitted to join the NCS. I saw Elena at many events through those years -- the NCS Reubens weekend or a comic convention like SPX. She was the first person I knew to embrace Web comics. She was very active.

That NCS party in the 1990s really helped me decide that I had better go into cartooning. Without Elena's invitation to her friend John's friend (me, that is), I wonder where I would be now. 

I will miss her seeming boundless energy and sly humor and wonderful laugh. She was more of an influence in my life than she thought. To my fellow Czech, na zdravi!

1 comment:

John R. Platt said...

Oh how sad. We met Elena several times through the New England horror-writers scene, but drifted out of touch (as is so often the case). She had such boundless enthusiasm and was a wonderful cartoonist.