In 1897 Rudolph Dirks‘ editor at the New York Journal asked him to create a strip that could compete with the popularity of The Yellow Kid by Outcault, which was published in a rival newspaper, The New York World. Dirks came up with The Katzenjammer Kids, which was one of the first strips to use a permanent cast, a frame sequence, and speech balloons. Dirks took the strip to the New York World under the title Hans und Fritz, later renamed The Captain and the Kids.
The reclusive and enigmatic Steve Ditko co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee and was an integral part of Marvel’s Silver Age in the 1960s, where he also co-created the psychedelic Dr. Strange. At DC, he created The Creeper, Hawk and Dove, The Question, and other titles. His distinctive style on Dr. Strange and numerous horror and SF books for other companies (especially Charlton) influenced hundreds of artists.
Arnold Drake was a writer best known for creating Deadman and Doom Patrol for DC Comics. He also wrote issues of Marvel Comics’ X-Men in the 1960s and created The Guardians of the Galaxy with artist Gene Colan. Drake is also notable for co-creating It Rhymes with Lust (with Matt Baker), perhaps the first American graphic novel ever published, in 1953.
After freelancing on mystery, war, and space titles for DC and Atlas during the 1950s, Mort Drucker found his way to MAD magazine, where he has specialized in movie and television satires and parodies for over 50 years. Drucker has also done work in commercial art, doing animation for television, movie posters, and covers and illustrations for magazines.
“Marie Duval” was born Isabelle Emilie Louisa Tessier in Marleybone, London in 1847. Tessier was one of the first female cartoonists in Europe. Her fame rests on her contributions to the Ally Sloper comic pages created with her husband Charles Henry Ross in the comic periodical Fun, and reprinted in a shilling book, Ally Sloper: A Moral Lesson in November 1873. This work is often called “the first British comic book.” The idea of a recurring, familiar cartoon character appears to have begun with Ally Sloper. The wildly popular character (a hard-drinking working class shirker) is thought to have inspired both Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp persona and W. C. Fields. Besides Ally Sloper, Marie Duval drew a range of comic fantasies (“caricatures”) for the magazine Judy, a Victorian rival to Punch.
Writer/artist/publisher Kevin Eastman co-created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Peter Laird. The duo published the comic themselves starting in 1984, under the imprint Mirage Studios. The Turtles quickly made the leap to other media and went on to star in multiple movies, animated TV series, and toy lines over the years. In 1990 Eastman founded Tundra Publishing, which funded and published creator-owned comics by talent such as Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie, Eddie Campbell, and Mike Allred, until 1993. Eastman also owned Heavy Metal magazine for more than 20 years, until 2014, and he continued to serve as its publisher until 2020.
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.