Here’s the latest installment of Maggie Thompson’s ongoing look at important beginnings, middles, and ends, this time for March 27 through April 2, 2020...
155 years ago March 29, 1865 Writer-artist Dan Smith is born. He’s known for The Jungle Folk, Biblical comics stories, and cover art.
130 years ago March 28, 1890 Belgian political cartoon pioneer Joz De Swerts is born.
120 years ago March 29, 1915 Charlie Chaplin’s Comic Capers begins: a gag a day strip created by Stuart Carothers.
120 years ago March 29, 1915 Artist William Wallace Denslow dies at age 58. The editorial cartoonist was best known for illustrating L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
100 years ago March 30, 1920 Teacher and award-winning artist Tex Blaisdell is born. He estimates for The National Cartoonists Society that he produces “22 synd. features and 69 million comic book pages” in the course of his career.
95 years ago April 2, 1925 Fritz Raab is born. He writes the Taro comic strip (drawn by Franz-Werner Richter-Johnsen).
90 years ago March 29, 1930 Nine Culliford is born (as Janine Devroye). The wife of “Peyo” (Pierre Culliford) colors the Smurfs from their first appearance and is the one who decides they should be colored blue.
85 years ago March 29, 1935 Cartoonist David Austin is born. He creates Hom Sap and contributes to The Guardian.
75 years ago March 30, 1945 The first installment of the “Suske en Wiske” series (De avonturen van Rikki en Wiske) by Willy Vandersteen is published.
75 years ago March 31, 1945 Spanish artist Gaietà Cornet dies age 66. He co-founded the satirical magazine ¡Cu-Cut!
70 years ago March 29, 1950 Artist and actor Val Mayerik is born. The games and storyboard artist co-creates (with Steve Gerber) the character Howard the Duck and is a member of Upstart Associates (with Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson, and Jim Starlin).
65 years ago April 2, 1955 Artist Mike Barreiro is born.
60 years ago March 29, 1960 Writer-artist G. Raymond Eddy is born.
55 years ago March 31, 1965 Teacher and freelance writer Steven T. Seagle is born. He’s known for It’s a Bird and for his participation (with Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, and Joe Kelly) in Man of Action Studios, which creates Ben 10.
45 years ago April 1, 1975 The French satirical comics series Fluide Glacial is published.
45 years ago April 1, 1975 Arzach by Moebius begins in Métal Hurlant.
40 years ago March 28, 1980 Czech artist Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová dies at age 85. She created the woodcut-storytelling book Childhood.
40 years ago March 30, 1980 David Sharpe dies at age 70. The career of the “Crown Prince of Daredevils” included stunting as Captain Marvel in the 1941 Republic serial.
35 years ago March 27, 1985 Writer-artist Don Rico dies at age 72. The freelancer started his comics career in the Golden Age working for Fox, MLJ, Fiction House, Lev Gleason, and Timely.
25 years ago March 29, 1995 Dutch artist Willy Schermelé dies at age 90. She created the “Wikie” series in 1957.
25 years ago March 29, 1995 Award-winning Golden and Silver Age and storyboard artist Mort Meskin dies at age 78. He began with work in the Eisner & Iger studio and for Harry “A” Chesler and went on to work for a variety of companies and on a variety of series, including Harvey’s Boys’ Ranch. He created Mark Merlin.
10 years ago March 27, 2010 Award-winning artist and editor Dick Giordano dies at age 77 of complications from treatment for leukemia. The Charlton executive editor and DC vice president and executive editor served on The Hero Initiative in addition to making many other contributions to the comics field.
5 years ago March 30, 2015 Writer-producer Roger Slifer dies at age 60 from the effects of a 2012 hit and run accident. He co-created Lobo with Keith Giffen.
And here are the anniversaries spanning the month of April…
80 years ago April 1940 Lex Luthor is introduced in DC’s Action Comics #23 in a story written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy. Well, actually, Luthor is introduced but he doesn’t get a first name in this issue.
80 years ago April 1940 He might be the first costumed hero sidekick, at least in comics. Dick Grayson is introduced in DC’s Detective Comics #38. “The Sensational character-find of 1940” appears in a story by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson. Before you know it, his parents are dead and he adopts the guise of Robin (also known as “The Boy Wonder”).
80 years ago April 1940 In Prize Comics #2, The Black Owl is introduced in a six-page story drawn by Pete Nebird and Jack Binder.
80 years ago April 1940 Fox’ Weird Comics #1 introduces such characters as Bird Man (nothing about The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance; the art is signed Arnold Inagos) and Thor (yeah, nothing about Dr. Blake, though the story involves a guy who changes appearance and gets Thor’s form and powers; it’s drawn by Pierce Rice).
80 years ago April 1940 Standard’s Exciting Comics #1 introduces Raymond Thayer’s The Mask. And, of course, a bunch of others (such as, for example, Major Mars – whose only appearance is adapted from a “Captain Future” story – Jim Hatfield, and Make-Believe Mickey).
80 years ago April 1940 Fox’ Mystery Men Comics #9 introduces The Moth (or, on the cover, Moth Man), drawn by Jim Mooney.
80 years ago April 1940 Marvel’s Daring Mystery Comics #3 features The Purple Mask by Will Harr and Maurice Gutwirth. This can be considered a first appearance of some sort, because the guy was known as The Laughing Mask in #2. Just saying. (Mind you, the issue did really introduce such characters as Breeze Barton, The Phantom Reporter, Marvex the Super-Robot, Dale of the FBI – well, you get the idea. Shovel a bunch of folks between the covers and see what catches on, right? Hey, think it’s time for Marvel to revisit a super-robot named Marvex? Me, too.)
80 years ago April 1940 He created the science fiction magazine in 1926, but it took him a while to get to the comics medium. Superworld Comics #1 is Hugo Gernsback’s first comic book. Cover is by pulp artist fave Frank R. Paul. “Super action wonders – adventures!”
70 years ago April 1950 E.C. begins two of its best-known series with the debuts of The Crypt of Terror #17 (taking over the numbering of Crime Patrol and soon to become Tales from the Crypt) and Vault of Horror #12 (taking over the numbering of War against Crime).
65 years ago April 1955 Remember last month, when we talked about EC’s “New Direction”? Here’s M.D. #1, the last of that bunch of titles.
60 years ago April 1960 In DC’s Superman #136, Lois Lane gets married in a story by Robert Bernstein, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye! Not an Imaginary Story! Did you know?
60 years ago April 1960 Nine months after printing in DC’s Superman a letter from reader Eugene Buie suggesting it, Adventure Comics #271 provides the story in which Lex Luthor’s origin is told. “How Luthor Met Superboy!” is by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino.
60 years ago April 1960 “The Mystery of the Elongated Man” by John Broome, Carmine Infantino, and Joe Giella in The Flash #112 introduces Ralph Dibney. Could he be a villain? They say it’s a mystery!
55 years ago April 1965 Milano Libri Edizioni publishes the first issue of linus. (Yes, it cover features Charles Schulz’ character.)
50 years ago April 1970 He’s a “strange new super-villain”! Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #83 introduces The Schemer in a story by Stan Lee, John Romita, and Mike Esposito. (He’s Richard Fisk, Kingpin’s son, and goes on to quite a career. Just so’s you know.)
50 years ago April 1970 DC’s Green Lantern #76 changes its cover logo to “Green Lantern Co-Starring Green Arrow,” and “No Evil Shall Escape My Sight!” by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams begins a series of “ripped from today’s headlines” stories sending Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and a Guardian of the Universe on a cross-country trip.
50 years ago April 1970 Last Gasp’s Slow Death Funnies #1 is an underground comix anthology containing stories by Gary Grimshaw, Dave Sheridan, Jim Evans, Greg Irons, Gilbert Shelton, Fred Schrier, Rory Hayes, Jeffery Hayes, Jack Jackson, Kim Deitch, and Robert Crumb. With #2, the title will change to Slow Death.
45 years ago April 1975 Wow, Seaboard/Atlas is still trying to build a line of comics. The Cougar #1 introduces (yes) The Cougar in a story by Steve Mitchell, Dan Adkins, and Frank Springer. The series lasts a couple of issues.
45 years ago April 1975 Marvel’s Strange Tales #179 introduces Pip the Troll in “Death Ship!” by Jim Starlin. (Take a look at the Code seal on the cover, if you have a copy; it’s good for a giggle.)
45 years ago April 1975 Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #143 introduces Cyclone in a story by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, Frank Giacoia, and Dave Hunt. “Paris is my city, Web-Head! You’ve come a long way – only to die!” Dang! How about he just lets Spidey do some touristy things and then head home? “A brand new menace,” indeed! How rude!
45 years ago April 1975 Beowulf begins from DC. “The Curse of Castle Hrothgar” is by Michael Uslan and Ricardo Villamonte.
45 years ago April 1975 DC’s Rima, the Jungle Girl ends with #7.
45 years ago April 1975 Marvel’s Monsters Unleashed magazine ends with #11.
35 years ago April 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 by Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Robert Greenberger, George Pérez, and Dick Giordano begins to shake up the DC universe. Pariah is introduced. Things go nuts. Dogs and cats may soon be living together.
35 years ago April 1985 Marvel kicks off the first issue of Web of Spider-Man. “’Til Death Do Us Part!” is by Louise Simonson, Greg LaRocque, Jim Mooney, and Vince Colletta and features Peter Parker trying to remove the black costume that is (yes) more than a costume.
30 years ago April 1990 He’s been around since the Golden Age. Marvel’s cover for Namor the Sub-Mariner #1 says, “Out of the depths … and into the ’90s!” “Purpose!” is written and penciled by John Byrne and inked by Bob Wiacek.
30 years ago April 1990 Marvel’s Saga of the Original Human Torch begins. In four issues, it recaps the story of the character who starred on the cover of 1939’s Marvel Comics #1.
30 years ago April 1990 Marvel’s Stalkers begins. “Motown Madness” is by Jan Strnad, Mark Verheiden, and Mark Texeira.
30 years ago April 1990 It only ran two issues, but it’s worth noting that Mad Love’s Big Numbers by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz begins.
25 years ago April 1995 Under the tombstone-shaped, die-cut, embossed cover of Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #400 is “A Death in the Family” and “The Gift” by J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bagley, Larry Mahlstedt, and Randy Emberlin. Gosh, what do you suppose this story might involve?
10 years ago April 2010 The Flash: Rebirth ends with #6. “Fastest Man Alive” is by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, and Scott Hanna.
5 years ago April 2015 Titan’s Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor begins. “The Love Invasion” features The Doctor and Rose.
5 years ago April 2015 Dark Horse’s Archie vs. Predator kicks off an unusual crossover in a story by Alex de Campi, Fernando Ruiz, and Rich Koslowski. Eeek.
5 years ago April 2015 Bloodshot was created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton and first appeared in a cameo in Valiant’s Eternal Warrior #4. Now, Valiant introduces Bloodshot Reborn with a bunch of variant covers for the story by Jeff Lemire and Mico Suayan.