Richard and Wendy Pini created the much-loved fantasy series Elfquest, widely regarded as the first manga-influenced graphic novel series with a high fantasy theme published in the U.S. The Pinis were among the first independent publishers of their own comics, founding Warp Graphics in 1978. Richard ran Warp full-time from 1981 until 2003. In 2018, Elfquest concluded its 40-year run with Dark Horse Comics. The series has millions of readers around the world and continues to gain new fans. Wendy has also drawn and written comics for Marvel, DC, First Comics, and other publishers, including two graphic novels based on the 1980s TV series Beauty and the Beast. More recently, she created a graphic novel and animated webcomic based on the Edgar Allan Poe horror story “Masque of the Red Death,” which has been adapted into a musical.
Wendy and Richard Pini created the much-loved fantasy series Elfquest, widely regarded as the first manga-influenced graphic novel series with a high fantasy theme published in the U.S. The Pinis were among the first independent publishers of their own comics, founding Warp Graphics in 1978. Richard ran Warp full-time from 1981 until 2003. In 2018, Elfquest concluded its 40-year run with Dark Horse Comics. The series has millions of readers around the world and continues to gain new fans. Wendy has also drawn and written comics for Marvel, DC, First Comics, and other publishers, including two graphic novels based on the 1980s TV series Beauty and the Beast. More recently, she created a graphic novel and animated webcomic based on the Edgar Allan Poe horror story “Masque of the Red Death,” which has been adapted into a musical.
Hugo Pratt was an Italian who grew up in both Venice and Ethiopia. The aspiring cartoonist moved to Argentina in 1950, where he created a number of adventure comic strips. He returned to Italy in 1965, and in 1970 he created Corto Maltese, an adventure series set in the South Seas, for the French comics weekly Pif. This strip became very successful, and Pratt’s distinctive art style became highly influential on cartoonists around the world.
Photo from The Spy vs. Spy Omnibus (MAD Books, 2011)
Antonio Prohías is best known for his 30 years of work with MAD magazine on his comic feature “Spy Vs. Spy,” which has been adapted into a series of animated shorts, several video games, a series of live-action television commercials, and a Sunday strip. In the late 1940s Prohias began drawing cartoons for the prestigious Cuban newspaper El Mundo. His wordless material enjoyed international appeal, and by the late 1950s he was the president of the Association of Cuban Cartoonists. On May 1, 1960 (just three days before Castro gained control of El Mundo and the rest of Cuba’s free press) Prohías fled Cuba for New York City.
Mac Raboy‘s stunning artwork and covers for Captain Marvel Jr. and Master Comics, published by Fawcett, make them both highly prized series among Golden Age collectors. He left comic books in 1948 to draw the Flash Gordon Sunday strip, which he did until his death in 1967.
Alex Raymond made his place in comics history not only by creating Flash Gordon but for influencing artists such as Al Williamson with his beautiful line work and science fiction settings. Raymond’s other comic strip work includes Secret Agent X-9, Jungle Jim, and Rip Kirby.
A pioneer of the underground comix movement, Trina Robbins published the first comic book produced entirely by women, It Ain’t Me, Babe. From there she went on to co-found the Wimmin’s Comix collective, which helped launch the careers of many other prominent women cartoonists in the underground and alternative field. Her nonfiction books include The Great Women Superheroes and A Century of Women Cartoonists. She has also edited a number of collections of early women cartoonists’ reprinted work, including The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley’s Cartoons from 1913-1940 (Fantagraphics) and Tarpé Mills’ Miss Fury (IDW).
As Bob Kane’s first assistant on Batman, artist Jerry Robinson was the first to draw both Robin and The Joker, and he played a major role in their creations. He drew numerous Batman stories and covers for Detective and Batman between 1939 and 1946. In the late 1940s, he drew such features as “The Vigilante” and “Jonny Quick.” He moved to the comics strip realm in the 1950s and spent the next several decades in that world, created his own cartoonists’ syndicate, and wrote the seminal book The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art.
Spain Rodriguez was one of the seminal artists in the underground comix movement. In New York, he created the tabloid Zodiac Mindwarp for East Village Other before moving to San Francisco to become part of the counterculture scene there. His character Trashman, Agent of the Sixth International, was an icon in underground newspapers as well as in Zap. More recently, he produced such award-winning graphic novels as Nightmare Alley and Che: A Graphic Biography.
John Romita drew Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man from 1966 to 1972, giving the definitive look to such characters as Mary Jane Watson, the Kingpin, and the Punisher. In 1973, he became Marvel’s art director, a position he held until his retirement in 1996, and where he created the initial designs on such seminal characters as Wolverine. In 1977, Romita also co-created the Spider-Man newspaper strip, along with writer Stan Lee.
Stan Sakai was born in Kyoto, Japan, grew up in Hawaii, and currently lives in California. His creation, Usagi Yojimbo, first appeared in 1984. Usagi has been on television as a guest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as toys, on clothing, in comics, and in a series of trade paperback collections. Stan is a recipient of numerous awards, including the National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Award, six Eisner Awards, five Spanish Haxturs, an Inkpot, an American Library Association Award, a Cultural Ambassador Award from the Japanese American National Museum, and a couple of Harvey Awards, including one for Best Cartoonist.
The prolific Alex Schomburg turned out hundreds of comics and pulp magazine covers in the 1930s and 1940s. His covers for World War II–era titles are noted for their large casts of characters in dynamic action, and his airbrush science fiction covers are prized for their brilliant colors and attractive females.
Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy—the late Charles Schulz gave us these characters and more with the most popular comic strip of all time, Peanuts. The strip was adapted into a series of animated specials for television that are still being shown decades after they were first aired. For many, Peanuts is a cultural milestone.
Julie Schwartz served as editor at DC Comics for 49 years, starting in the 1940s. In the early 1950s, he edited DC’s premier science fiction titles, Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space, then went on to usher in the Silver Age with revivals of revised versions of such Golden Age characters as the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Atom, while the Justice League of America became the Silver Age equivalent of the Justice Society.
Dori Seda was one of the pioneers of the autobiographical comics genre in underground comix. She started her career when she was hired by Last Gasp publisher Ron Turner to do the bookkeeping for the company. Her stories were published in several comics and anthologies, including Wimmen's Comix, Rip-Off Comix, Tits 'n’ Clits, and Weirdo. Dori's only full-length solo book was Lonely Nights Comics. Her work is collected in Dori Stories (1999), which also includes memorial essays by friends. In 1988, Last Gasp established the Dori Seda Memorial Award for Women, whose first (and only) recipient was Carol Tyler.