Tributes are filling social media after authorities called off a search for beloved comic artist Norman Lee, who has been missing since he became separated from his wife while snorkeling Thursday off the Cayman Islands.
"Still hoping for a miracle," Philip Simon, an editor at Dark Horse Comics, wrote on Lee's Facebook page. "Norman, so many people love you."
The celebrated inker and San Diego Comic-Con regular whose recent work included contributions to the Spider-Man, Avengers and X-Men series was snorkeling with his wife, Jan, off the Reef Resort when the couple became separated about 250 yards off shore, police toldCayman27.
Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks said, "The spouse returned to shore, but her husband was not seen. A report was made for assistance and a search commenced."
After dispatching two vessels, a dive team and a helicopter, that search effort ended on Saturday.
"The currents in that area are strong and it is unlikely that we will make any recovery at this stage," Ebanks said.
"We put all assets available to us, both law enforcement and privately owned. We thank all those who assisted us in this time of need. Unfortunately we were unable to find or recover Mr. Lee."
Lee, 47, from Weymouth, Massachusetts, worked for DC Comics and Marvel Comics and was well-respected in the comic art field, where "inkers" apply the black that adds depth and perspective to artwork via cross-hatching and feathering techniques, reports The Washington Post.
"It's all true that he was a larger than life personality, much like the characters he delineated professionally," wrote Bob Almond, the founder and director of the Inkwell Awards and a fellow inker, on Facebook.
"Norm was hope and inspiration personified. He leaves behind a proud legacy of work to the art form of inking."