Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

May 25, 2004

John Yoshio Naka, 89, the world-renowned bonsai master who was credited with bringing the art to Western culture, died Wednesday at a hospital in Whittier, Calif.

Mr. Naka was regarded as one of the greatest bonsai masters of his time. The Japanese art that dates to the 13th century -- although it originated in China several centuries before -- involves dwarfing and shaping miniature trees and shrubs with wire and careful pruning.

Mr. Naka's talent was to create landscapes, such as his remarkable Goshin, which means "protector of the spirit." It is a forest of 11 juniper trees, each representing a grandchild. It took 55 years for him to grow it.

In 1990, the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington dedicated the John Y. Naka Bonsai Pavilion, a collection of trees from bonsai masters around the world. His Goshin has a place of honor there.

His definitive books on the art, Bonsai Techniques I and Bonsai Techniques II, have been translated into five languages.

Gill Fox, 88, a jack-of-all-trades cartoonist who collaborated with the first generation of comic-book creators on innovative characters including Plastic Man and the Spirit, died May 15 in Redding Ridge, Conn.

As an editor, artist and writer at Quality Comics from 1940 to 1943, Mr. Fox drew covers for comic books featuring the diminutive Dollman and edited "Police Comics," which featured Jack Cole's Plastic Man. A skillful artist in his own right, Mr. Fox had a tight, clean-lined brush style. He also penciled and inked "Torchy," a comic book created by pin-up artist Bill Ward.

Quality Comics was a launching pad for young artists learning their craft, including Reed Crandall, later known for his anatomical detail and balanced compositions in "Blackhawk"; Lou Fine, considered an artist's artist for the exquisite rendering, using a Japanese brush, of the characters the Ray and the Spirit; and Alex Kotzky, who went on to create the syndicated strip "Apartment 3-G," which was noted for its realistic, illustrative style.

William J. Brennan III, 71, son of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and advocate for integrity in the legal profession, died May 17 in Princeton, N.J.

Georgiana Brennan said her husband used his legal career to advance the idea that the profession was meant to help others, not merely make money.

Mr. Brennan spent 34 years at the Princeton law firm of Smith, Stratton, Wise, Heher & Brennan. He was chairman of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which is dedicated to his father.

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