Thursday, December 21, 2006

John Pierce AskegrenNovelist, Technical Writer

John Pierce Askegren, 51, a freelance writer who authored science-fiction novels and short stories featuring Marvel Comics characters and also worked as a technical writer for government contractors, was found dead Nov. 29 at his home in Annandale. The cause of death was atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Since 1995, Mr. Askegren wrote or co-wrote more than 10 novels and a half-dozen short stories, mostly under the pen name Pierce Askegren.

His early credits included original short story contributions to anthologies featuring the Silver Surfer, Spider-Man and the Hulk.

"He was a huge fan of Marvel Comics and had a really spectacular sense of the history of the characters," said his former editor Keith R.A. DeCandido. "He did a wonderful job of bringing back obscure characters and giving them a twist."

Mr. Askegren was a co-author of the novels "Spider-Man & The Incredible Hulk: Doom's Day Book One: Rampage" (1996), "Spider-Man & Iron Man: Doom's Day Book Two: Sabotage" (1997) and "Spider-Man & Fantastic Four: Doom's Day Book Three: Wreckage" (1997).

In more recent years, he published a trilogy of science-fiction work: "Human Resource," "Fall Girl" and "Exit Strategy." This year, he wrote "After Image," part of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer paperback series.

For most of his career, he worked on his fictional stories in the evenings and on weekends, and by day he wrote educational handbooks and training manuals for government contractors.

He managed Crown Book stores before working for ACS Corp. from 1995 to 1999 and C2 Technologies from 1999 until 2003, when he left to concentrate on his freelance writing.

Mr. Askegren was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in a number of places before his family settled in Sterling in 1970. He graduated from Broad Run High School and James Madison University.

He became hooked on comic books as a youngster recovering from a broken hip.

"It started with two comic books my dad bought him when he had a metal pin in his leg. From that point on, he always had an affinity for it," said his brother James William Askegren of Sterling.

In addition to his brother, survivors include another brother, Robert Steven Askegren of Manassas.

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