In 1940, psychologist William Marston was hired by Max Gaines as a consultant for National Comics (DC). Marston pointed out that DC had no females among its flagship heroes, and he (with his wife Elizabeth) proceeded to create Wonder Woman, who made her debut in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941. Wonder Woman was a hit and soon had her own book, which Martson (writing as “Charles Moulton”) wrote up until his death in 1947.
“MAD’s maddest artist” Don Martin delighted decades of readers with his goofy strips featuring oddball characters and demented sound effects. Who could forget Fonebone or Fester Bestertester? And what kind of imaginative mind did it take to add “Glabadap,” “Schloot,” “Sklishk,” “Sploydoing,” and “Thwizzik” to the sound effects lexicon? There could only be one Don Martin.
Sheldon Mayer was at DC from its very beginning, having played a role in convincing Harry Donenfeld to feature Superman in the company’s new title, Action Comics. He was not only one of the most revered editors in the history of comics but a cartoonist in his own right, having created Scribbly and the much-beloved Sugar and Spike.
Winsor McCay‘s Dream of the Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo set unparalleled standards for fantasy artwork on the Sunday comics page early in the 20th century. McCay was also a pioneer in animation with his “Gertie the Dinosaur” short film.
Mort Meskin is best known for his 1940s work at DC, drawing such series as “Vigilante,” “Wildcat,” “Starman,” and “Johnny Quick.” Together with Jerry Robinson he created “Atoman” and “Golden Lad” for Spark Publications; drew “The Fighting Yank” and “Black Terror” for Better Publications/Standard; and did several horror stories for Atlas (Marvel). Through the studio of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, he produced Boys’ Ranch for Harvey and Black Magic for Crestwood Publications, and he is considered a major influence on Kirby and many other artists.
Dale Messick‘s landmark comic strip Brenda Starr debuted in 1940, and she produced it herself for 43 years. She treated readers to stories of adventure and intrigue that also included glamour, fashion, and romance.
Frank Miller had drawn a few short comics stories for DC and Marvel before he got his first regular series, Daredevil, in 1979. In 1981 he took over writing and drawing the series, introducing such characters as Elektra and Bullseye. After drawing the classic Wolverine miniseries by Chris Claremont, he went over to DC, first producing his own Ronin miniseries, then going on to create such 1980s classics as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One (with David Mazzucchelli), Daredevil: Born Again (with Mazzucchelli), and Elektra: Assassin (with Bill Sienkiewicz), the latter two at Marvel. In the 1990s, he moved to Dark Horse, which published his Hard Boiled (with Geof Darrow), Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (with Darrow), Give Me Liberty (with Dave Gibbons), Sin City, and 300. In this century he has been active as a film director (Sin City) along with doing such comics projects as Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder, and Holy Terror.
One of the few female artists working during the Golden Age of comics, June Tarpé Mills was the creator of Miss Fury, an action comic strip and comic book that first appeared in 1941. Miss Fury is credited as being the first female action hero created by a woman. The Miss Fury comic strip ran until 1951. Mills returned to comics briefly in 1971 with Our Love Story at Marvel Comics.
Although best known as Japan’s premier anime filmmaker, Hiyao Miyazaki is also celebrated as a manga artist worldwide. His major project, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, was published intermittently from 1981 to 1994 and has been collected in multiple book volumes as well as being made into an animated feature. Other manga works include The Journey of Shuna, Hikōtei Jidai, and Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises).
Sheldon Moldoff, Bob Kane's first assistant on Batman, worked on the character off and on for 30 years. He is credited with co-creating Bat-Girl, Bat-Woman, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite, and Ace the Bat Hound, and he was the regular artist on the Golden Age Hawkman. He was also a prolific cover artist, with credits including the first Green Lantern cover (All-American #16).
Cartoonist Bob Montana is famed for co-creating the character of Archie for MLJ Publications in 1941. He drew Archie’s first appearance in Pep and the first Archie comic books, and he was the writer/artist of the Archie newspaper strip from 1946 until his death in 1975.
British writer Alan Moore is best known as the creator of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell. In the early 1980s he worked primarily for 2000AD (creating such series as Skiz,D.R. & Quinch, and The Ballad of Halo Jones), Marvel UK, and Warrior Publications. Moore hit the American comics scene in 1983 as the writer of DC’s Swamp Thing. The success of that title led to DC’s recruitment of more British writers, the founding of the Vertigo imprint, and Moore’s going on to create such enduring titles as Watchmen, Batman:The Killing Joke, V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Lost Girls.
Marty Nodell co-created the Green Lantern in 1940 with writer Bill Finger. He drew Green Lantern in various titles until leaving DC in 1947 to work for Timely Comics. At Timely he drew Captain America, The Human Torch, and the Submariner, among others, until 1950 when he left the comics business for good.
Joe Orlando started out as an assistant to Wally Wood in the late 1940s and became one of EC’s top sf/fantasy illustrators in the early 1950s. After a stint drawing for Classics Illustrated, he freelanced for MAD and Warren Publications in the 1960s. In 1968 he went on staff at DC, where he edited such titles as House of Mystery, The Witching Hour, Weird War Tales, and Plop! and went on to become vice president and coordinator of special projects. Orlando is credited with designing much of DC’s distinctive typography.
Jackie Ormes was the first, and for a long time only, black female newspaper cartoonist. From 1937 to 1938 she wrote and drew Dixie in Harlem comics featuring Torchy Brown. After returning to her roots in journalism, she published Candy, a single-panel cartoon about a witty housemaid in 1945. Then she created Patty-Jo ’n’ Ginger, another single-panel cartoon about a pair of sisters, which ran for 11 years through 1956. Finally, from 1950 to 1954, Ormes revamped Torchy Brown into Torchy in Heartbeats, an 8-page color comic insert, including many paper dolls as was popular in the time.