Here’s the latest installment of Maggie Thompson’s ongoing look at important beginnings, middles, and ends, this time for April 30 through May 6, 2021...
165 years ago May 5, 1856 Artist and editorial cartoonist William Wallace Denslow is born. He’s best known for illustrating L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
125 years ago May 3, 1896 Dodie Smith is born. She writes The Hundred and One Dalmatians, the basis for the 1961 Walt Disney cartoon feature.
110 years ago May 1, 1911 Maurice Noble is born. He’s an animation artist, designer, and director and works for Disney, Warner Bros., and MGM.
105 years ago May 6, 1916 Adriana Caselotti is born. The singer originates the voice of Disney’s Snow White.
95 years ago April 30, 1926 Writer-artist William Overgard is born. His comic book work includes material for the Lev Gleason and Dell lines of comics in the early 1950s; his strip work includes Steve Roper, Rudy, and Kerry Drake; and he scripts episodes of ThunderCats.
95 years ago May 2, 1926 Ruth Vickery’s Betty and Bill ends.
90 years ago May 3, 1931 An early version of J. Wellington Wimpy is introduced in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre newspaper strip.
90 years ago May 5, 1931 Prolific Belgian writer-artist Michel Regnier is born. Often working as “Greg,” the award-winning creator is best known for such series as Achille Talon and Zig et Puce. He’s editor in chief of Tintin magazine from 1965 to 1974 and is literary director for Dargaud.
85 years ago May 3, 1936 The Flemish comic book Bravo! begins.
85 years ago May 5, 1936 British artist James Francis Sullivan dies at age 83. A pioneer in the use of comic strip techniques, he’s best known for his feature “The British Working Man.”
75 years ago April 30, 1946 Animator, cartoonist, and filmmaker Bill Plympton is born. He’s especially known for his “Your Face” animated short and for the animated feature Hair High.
70 years ago May 6, 1951 Colorist Rob Carosella is born.
65 years ago May 1, 1956 Award-winning writer-artist Phil Foglio is born. He co-creates Girl Genius with Kaja Foglio.
65 years ago May 1, 1956 Artist Tim Sale is born. He’s especially known for his work with Jeph Loeb, including “Year 1” Batman stories.
55 years ago May 3, 1966 Tillie the Toiler creator Russ Westover dies at age 80.
55 years ago May 4, 1966 Award-winning artist Tom Richmond is born. He’s especially known for his Mad caricatures and cartoons.
50 years ago May 1, 1971 Artist Mike Anderson is born.
35 years ago May 4, 1986 The New York Daily News reports that two boys “playing Spider-Man” fell from a window. The story implying the dangers of comic books was false, corrected two days later.
35 years ago May 6, 1986 Newspaper reporter and Rip Kirby writer Fred Dickenson dies of a stroke at age 77.
30 years ago May 1, 1991 Pioneering Columbian comics artist Adolfo Samper dies at age 91.
30 years ago May 6, 1991 Italian writer Guido Martina dies at age 85. He was especially known for his Disney comics stories and creation of Paperinik (Donald Duck’s superhero alter ego).
25 years ago May 6, 1996 French artist Eric Larnoy dies of liver cancer at age 35. He was best known for his work on the Thanéros series.
10 years ago May 6, 2011 Marvel Studios’ Thor opens in America. It stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki.
5 years ago May 2, 2016 French artist and musician Hubert Mounier dies of an aortic rupture at age 53. He worked professionally as Cleet Boris.
5 years ago May 5, 2016 French award-winning cartoonist Siné dies following lung surgery at age 87. Born Maurice Sinet, he co-founded L’Enragé magazine.
5 years ago May 6, 2016 Tom McGeehan dies at age 73. He co-created the fan indexing project “The House of Info” with his brother John.
And here are the anniversaries spanning the month of May…
115 years ago May 1906 Playthings magazine carries the first known ad for a plush “Bruin” for children. Washington Post cartoonist Clifford Berryman originated a popular baby bear image in November 16, 1902, “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” in which Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill a baby bear. By November 1906, another ad for a toy bear in Playthings refers to the toy as a “Teddy Bear.”
90 years ago May 1931 Chester Gould sends preliminary drawings of the Dick Tracy character to a New York publisher in a strip proposal.
85 years ago May 1936 The Comics Magazine #1 is released by Comics Magazine Company. Contents (borrowed from DC material) include the one-pager “Back to Nature with Cannonball Jones,” one of the earliest comic book contributions of Walt Kelly. There’s a Dr. Mystic two-pager by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster from More Fun Comics, some other borrowing from New Comics, etc., etc. It’s “A riot of fun” and “humor thrills and in colors.”
80 years ago May 1941 Street and Smith’s Super-Magic Comics #1 (and only) might be the first magician comic book. It cover features “The astounding adventures of the Mysterious Blackstone world’s greatest living magician.” Who seems on the cover to have some sort of zapping power over a weird snake – and his 37-page story involves Thuggees. (And, yes, the Blackstone in comics is inspired by the real magician Harry Blackstone – whose son of the same name is also a magician.) But wait.
80 years ago May 1941 He doesn’t rate a cover plug, but All-American Comics #26 introduces Sargon the Sorcerer in a story by John B. Wentworth and Howard Purcell. (It’s a nice approach to his talent; John Sargent gets power over what he touches, so he disguises himself as a magician so folks won’t guess he really can do magic.) So wait a minute: Does that mean there are two “first magician comic books”? Hmm.
80 years ago May 1941 He appeared the year before (in Action Comics #23), but it’s in Superman #10 that Luthor is shown for the first time in comic books as bald. (Superman recognizes him anyway.) Oh, Luthor is also wearing insulated shoes, but I digress. The story is signed as by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but it is drawn by Leo Nowak. (And Luthor was shown as bald earlier – in the newspaper strip. Just saying.)
80 years ago May 1941 Pines’ Exciting Comics #9 (also known as Vol. 3 #3) provides the first appearance of The Black Terror (“Nemesis of Crime”) and Tim (assistant nemesis?). “Nemesis of Evil” is by Richard Hughes and David Gabrielsen.
80 years ago May 1941 Lev Gleason’s Silver Streak Comics #10 provides the first appearance of Captain Battle, whose battle in this case is against The Black Dragon in a story by Carl Formes and Jack Binder.
80 years ago May 1941 Harvey’s Speed Comics #13 introduces “the new defender of democracy,” Captain Freedom. (He’s also a “foe of tyranny” and has “thrilling adventures,” in case you’re wondering.) He’s drawn by Arturo Cazeneuve. Also new in the issue is war nurse Pat Parker. (America hasn’t entered World War II yet; she’s British.)
80 years ago May 1941 The Jester by Paul Gustavson is introduced in Quality’s Smash Comics #22. Would you believe his weapon is a rubber clown head? Just saying.
65 years ago May 1956 Atlas/Marvel introduces its World of Fantasy anthology, one of eight fantasy/sci-fi anthologies it brings to newsstands in a matter of months. The issue has six comics stories and one text story.
60 years ago May 1961 Following the death of Wilson McCoy, Sy Barry (brother of Flash Gordon artist Dan Barry) takes over as artist of the Phantom comic strip, written by creator Lee Falk.
60 years ago May 1961 “Supergirl’s Three Super Girl-Friends!” by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney in Action Comics #276 introduces more members of the Legion of Superheroes. Phantom Girl, Triplicate Girl, Shrinking Violet, Bouncing Boy, Sun Boy, and Brainiac 5 make their first appearances. (And Supergirl and Brainiac 5 join the Legion. Woo hoo!)
55 years ago May 1966 In Marvel’s Fantastic Four #50, Johnny Storm brings The Ultimate Nullifier to scare off Galactus in “The Startling Saga of the Silver Surfer” by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Joe Sinnott. Introduced in the issue, as well, is Wyatt Wingfoot, as Johnny begins to attend Metro College.
55 years ago May 1966 “You missed your first opportunity to capture me, Batman! If you want a second chance – solve this clue! It’s a tip-off to where my next crime will take place – 24 hours from now!” So writes The Cluemaster, introduced in DC’s Detective Comics #351. “The Cluemaster’s Topsy-Turvy Crimes!” is by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, and Sid Greene. Shape up, Batman. You, too, Robin.
55 years ago May 1966 Marvel’s The Avengers #28 features the introduction of The Collector – and the return of Giant-Man, now known as Goliath, with a change in his power. “Among Us Walks … a Goliath!” is by Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Frank Giacoia.
55 years ago May 1966 The previous issue showed a grim fantasy battle starring The Spectre. Now, DC’s Showcase #62 changes the tone. “Zipsville! – Unique! The greatest group of rejects in comics history! A Disaster! A Crime!” “The Coming of the Costumed Incompetents” by E. Nelson Bridwell, Joe Orlando, Jerry Grandenetti, and Mike Esposito introduces The Inferior Five: Awkwardman, The Blimp, Dumb Bunny, Merryman, and White Feather.
55 years ago May 1966 Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #36 features “Spidey as you like him! In college! In trouble! In action! Action! Action!” “When Falls the Meteor” by Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, and Carl Hubbell introduces The Looter. Hey, he needs the money for science! Give him a break!
55 years ago May 1966 In Marvel’s Daredevil #16, it’s Spider-Man on the cover. But “Enter…Spider-Man” by Stan Lee, John Romita, and Frank Giacoia introduces The Masked Marauder. It’s a sort of a “you and him fight” gambit. Which, yeah [Spoiler!], nice try; doesn’t work.
55 years ago May 1966 In Marvel’s Strange Tales #144, “The Day of the Druid!” is by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Howard Purcell, and Mike Esposito. Jasper Sitwell joins S.H.I.E.L.D.
55 years ago May 1966 Charlton’s Judomaster begins with #89 and “Prisoner of War” by Frank McLaughlin (continuing the story from Special War Series #4).
50 years ago May 1971 The previous issue of Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man carried the teeny cover stamp “Approved by the Comics Code Authority.” But #96 has no such thing. “What you’ve been waiting for! This one’s got it all! A job for Peter Parker! The last fatal trip! Mary Jane knocks ’em dead! And The Green Goblin Returns!” “…And Now The Goblin!” by Stan Lee, Gil Kane, and John Romita features a story element that the CCA refuses to approve: drug references in a three-issue antidrug story arc. The seal doesn’t come back until #99.
50 years ago May 1971 Who knew that Ra’s al Ghul had a daughter? “Into the Den of the Death-Dealers!” by Denny O’Neil, Bob Brown, and Dick Giordano introduces Talia al Ghul in DC’s Detective Comics #411.
50 years ago May 1971 “She reaches out of this world to make deadly little things like the … X-Pit!” DC’s Mister Miracle #2 introduces Granny Goodness. “X-Pit!” is by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta.
50 years ago May 1971 Savage Tales #1 kicks off Marvel’s black and white magazine line. There’s no Comics Code seal, and the comics are racked with magazines for older readers. There’s even the notation “This publication is rated M for the mature reader!” The issue introduces Femizons in a story by Stan Lee and John Romita and Man-Thing in a story by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow.
50 years ago May 1971 Harlan Ellison plots a Marvel two-parter (scripted by Roy Thomas) in The Avengers #88 (“The Summons of Psyklop!” May 1971) and The Incredible Hulk #140 (“The Brute … That Shouted Love … at the Heart of the Atom!” June 1971).
50 years ago May 1971 Carmine Infantino is named DC Comics Publisher.
45 years ago May 1976 One of many characters called Red Guardian over the years, Dr. Tania Belinsky is introduced in Marvel’s The Defenders #35. “Bring Back My Body to Me, to Me …!” is by Steve Gerber, Sal Buscema, and Klaus Janson.
45 years ago May 1976 Vince Colletta is named art director of DC Comics.
45 years ago May 1976 DC’s Secret Society of Super Villains #1 introduces (yes) The Secret Society of Super Villains, not to mention Deborah Camille Darnell as Star Sapphire. (Well, she was actually Remoni-Notra, and … See, there are other Star Sapphires and … It’s complicated.) Anyway, the story is by Gerry Conway, Pablo Marcos, and Bob Smith.
45 years ago May 1976 “My icy power has frozen your armor solid, Iron Man!” Dang! It’s always something! Marvel’s Iron Man #86 introduces Blizzard in a story by Bill Mantlo, George Tuska, and Vince Colletta. He was originally Jack Frost, and there will [Spoiler!] be other Blizzards later.
45 years ago May 1976 Doggone! It is always something, isn’t it? The focus of Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #156 should be the wedding of Betty Brant and Ned Leeds, right? But heck. “Introducing the most mind boggling wedding guest of all – the murderous Mirage!” “On a Clear Day, You Can See … The Mirage!” is by Len Wein, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, and Dave Hunt.
45 years ago May 1976 Charlton’s last issue of Midnight Tales is #18, featuring four stories written and drawn by Wayne Howard.
40 years ago May 1981 Editors Dean and Jan Mullaney kick off Eclipse, the Magazine, containing contributions by Paul Gulacy, Dan Maitz, Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, Jim Starlin, Howard Cruse, P. Craig Russell, Marc Hempel, Chris Browne, Trina Robbins, Max Allan Collins, and Terry Beatty.
35 years ago May 1986 In Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk #319, Bruce Banner marries Betty Ross. “Member of the Wedding” is by John Byrne and Keith Williams.
35 years ago May 1986 “Cosmic conclusion! The final fate of The Micronauts!” Marvel’s Micronauts ends with #20. “Worldhome!” is by Peter Gillis, Kelley Jones, and Danny Bulanadi.
35 years ago May 1986 Howard Chaykin kicks off a four-issue revamp of The Shadow for DC in a miniseries for “mature readers.”
35 years ago May 1986 Marvel’s Jim Shooter announces via Bullpen Bulletins that the company is creating “a new universe!”
30 years ago May 1991 DC’s Armageddon 2001 #1 introduces time traveler Waverider (Matthew Ryder) in “Darktime” by Archie Goodwin, Dan Jurgens, and Dick Giordano.
30 years ago May 1991 Magnus Robot Fighter returns with #1 from Valiant Comics. “Protector” is by Jim Shooter, Art Nichols, and Bob Layton, reviving the series that began from Gold Key in February 1963, then written and drawn by Russ Manning.
30 years ago May 1991 Marvel releases the “fun filled first issue!!” of Barbara Slate’s Sweet XVI.
25 years ago May 1996 Image releases its first issue of Big Bang Comics, a series packed with stories paying tribute to Golden and Silver Age costumed hero characters and storytelling.
25 years ago May 1996 “Welcome to Our World”: WaRP Graphics offers its “First New Issue!” of Elfquest from Richard and Wendy Pini, featuring stories by other creators working in Wendy and Richard’s universe.
25 years ago May 1996 DC’s three-issue adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Life, the Universe and Everything kicks off with input from Adams, John Carnell, Paris Cullins, Neil Vokes, and John Nyberg. I’d provide a number but I don’t approve of spoilers.
15 years ago May 2006 It’s not the first Ms. Marvel series from Marvel and won’t be the last. But Carol Danvers does put in a pretty full day in the first issue’s “Best of the Best” by Brian Reed, Roberto De La Torre, and Jimmy Palmiotti.
10 years ago May 2011 No, it’s not The Fantastic Four. This FF kicking off from Marvel is the Future Foundation. “The Club” is by Johathan Hickman, Steve Epting, and Rick Magyar.
5 years ago May 2016 Valiant’s four-issues miniseries 4001 A.D. begins with a bunch of variant first issues. The science fiction story featuring Rai X is by Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain.
5 years ago May 2016 What do you mean, it’s only Batman #50 from DC – with a ton of variant covers, no less? The title has been running since 1940! Oh. It’s A Numbering Thing? Well, anyway, “Superheavy Part Ten” is by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Yanick Paquette, and Danny Miki.
5 years ago May 2016 Now, wait just a minute. The Superman title started in 1939, fer goodness’ sake! And – well, it had a few more fits and starts than did Batman. But. Oh. Well, sure. DC’s Superman #50 has lots of variants and features “What Could Have Been, What Can Still Be, and What Is” by Gene Luen Yang, Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf, Patrick Zircher, and Jon Bogdanove.
5 years ago May 2016 And what the heck? Oh, sure. Now I’m getting used to it. DC’s Wonder Woman title started in 1942, but, yeah, fits and starts since then. And here’s Wonder Woman #50 (although she only gets a handful of variants). Wonder Woman gets “Secrets and Lies” by Meredith Finch, David Finch, Johnny Desjardins, and Scott Hanna. And Donna Troy gets “You Can’t Change Fate” by Meredith Finch, Miguel Mendonca, and Sandu Florea.
5 years ago May 2016 Hey, she was introduced in Marvel’s cast of characters 45 years earlier, and now Mockingbird gets her own title in Mockingbird #1! And discovers a new skill. The story is by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk.
5 years ago May 2016 Dark Horse releases Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In by Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Jill Thompson. It wins the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue or One-Shot of the year.