In his more than 50 years in the comics industry, Will Eisner did it all. He was a pioneer in the Golden Age, involved in the creation of characters such as Sheena, Blackhawk, and Uncle Sam. His weekly newspaper insert, The Spirit, was unique not only for its format and great art/storytelling but also for the fact that Eisner owned it himself. Later in his career, Eisner created award-winning graphic novels and wrote and illustrated books about graphic storytelling.
Will Elder began his comics career in 1946, sharing a studio with Harvey Kurtzman. He was one of the original artists of Kurtzman's MAD from its first issue in October/November 1952. At MAD he was noted for his zany humor and the extra jokes he would work into story backgrounds. He also worked with Kurtzman on Trump, Humbug, and Help! magazines before embarking on their longtime collaboration, “Little Annie Fanny,” for Playboy, which lasted from 1962 to 1988.
Inker Mike Esposito is known for his longtime collaboration with penciler Ross Andru., In the early 1950s the young men started their own studio to work primarily on such DC war titles as Our Army at War, Fighting Forces, and Star Spangled War Stories. They went on to have successful runs on DC’s Metal Men and Wonder Woman. In the mid-1960s Esposito began inking for Marvel, then went on to become an inker and then editor at Archie Comics.
Orrin C. Evans was a Philadelphia newspaper reporter who, with two partners, published the first all-black comic book in 1947. All-Negro Comics was a 48-page newsstand comic consisting of a variety of strips (from hard-boiled crime to fantasy to humor) that featured black characters created by black writers and artists. Although only one issue was published, its existence was a historic achievement. Evans returned to newspapers shortly after the end of All-Negro Comics, serving as editor of the Chester Times and the Philadelphia Bulletin, director of the Philadelphia Press Association, and an officer of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia.
Starting with the first issue of Marvel Mystery Comics in 1939, Bill Everett created the Sub-Mariner and drew the character’s most memorable stories for Timely (which later became Marvel). A fan favorite artist of the Golden Age, Everett returned to Marvel briefly in the 1960s, where he drew the first issue of Daredevil and worked on his signature creation, Sub-Mariner, once again.
Lee Falk created Mandrake the Magician as a newspaper strip in 1934 (with art by Phil Davis) and The Phantom in 1936 (with art by Ray Moore). He continued to write both series until his death in 1999. The characters have been featured in serials, films, and comic books, and the strips continue today.
Jules Feiffer began his career as an assistant to Will Eisner on The Spirit newspaper section and went on to be a syndicated cartoonist, a playwright, and bestselling author. His books include Munro, Tantrum, Passionella, and Sick, Sick, Sick, plus the groundbreaking comics history book, The Great Comic Book Heroes.
Al Feldstein served as editor, writer, and artist for EC Comics beginning in 1947. He wrote most of what are considered the “classic” EC stories for the horror and science fiction titles, along with producing covers and interior art. He took over as editor of MAD magazine in 1956, which he shepherded until his retirement in 1984. Still active as an artist, Feldstein is now a well-known painter.
Lou Fine is known as one of the best artists to work in the Golden Age of comics. His career began at the Eisner/Iger Studio, where he specialized in covers for Fox Features titles. For Quality, he drew such features as “The Black Condor” and “Uncle Sam,” and he drew The Spirit for Will Eisner during Eisner’s stint in the service. His most highly regarded efforts were his art on “The Ray” in Smash Comics and his covers for Hit Comics.
One of the unsung heroes of the Golden Age, Bill Finger, along with Bob Kane, co-created Batman. Besides writing the first Batman stories and the first Robin story, he is credited with dreaming up such villains as the Penguin and Catwoman. He also wrote the first Green Lantern story and is the namesake of Comic-Con International’s Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing.
For decades Harold R. Foster produced gorgeous Sunday comic strips of Tarzan and his own creation, Prince Valiant, which he wrote and illustrated for almost 40 years. He is lauded by all as one of the great artists of the comic strip field.
Gardner Fox was the first “full-time professional” comic book writer, with a career that spanned 34 years, from 1938 to 1972. In all, he churned out more than 4,000 scripts for DC, where he created the Flash, Sandman, Dr. Fate, Hawkman, Adam Strange, the Justice Society, and the Justice League, and he wrote for numerous other titles, from Batman to the Atom.
Working in what was primarily a men’s industry, Ramona Fradon drew comics for DC in the 1950s and 1960s, with a memorable run on Aquaman. She also co-created Metamorpho. After a hiatus in the late 1960s, she returned to DC to draw such titles as Plastic Man. She left DC in 1980 to bring her distinctive style the Brenda Starr newspaper strip, which she continued to draw until her retirement in 1995.
Although he worked on both comic books (EC Comics stories and covers) and comic strips (Li’l Abner, Johnny Comet), Frank Frazetta is best known for his book and magazine covers (Tarzan, Creepy, Eerie, and especially Conan) and movie posters. His style has influenced untold numbers of fantasy painters and illustrators.
Although most people probably think of MAD magazine when they think of Gaines (he was the publisher of the humor magazine from its inception until his death), William Gaines had his greatest influence in founding and publishing the EC Comics line, from Tales From the Crypt to Weird Science.