Celebrating The Legacy of DC Comics Artist Al Plastino!
If you haven’t already, you can read Part 1 of the Legacy of Al Plastino here.
Previously I talked about Plastino’s career at DC Comics, but in Part 2 I touch upon on his personal life and the person he was.
The Kennedy connection
Plastino’s “greatest pride”‘ was a story he drew for Superman #168 (April 1964, scheduled for publication Feb. 1964), titled “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.” The piece was done in collaboration with the Kennedy administration to help promote the president’s national physical fitness program. In the story, Superman visits the White House, and trusts President John F. Kennedy with his secret identity. The story was produced shortly before Kennedy was assassinated, which led to the cancellation of its publication. At the behest of President Lyndon B. Johnson, it was published two months later, in Superman #170 (June 1964), with Plastino adding a title page showing a ghostly figure of Kennedy looking down from the heavens at Superman flying over Washington, D.C. Plastino had always believed the artwork had been donated to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, as did readers of this story. An editor’s note appeared at the end of the story stating that “The original art for this story would be donated to John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, at Harvard University”.
but the artwork was placed on auction by a private entity in late 2013. A month after Al passed away, DC Entertainment subsequently purchased the art and donated it to the Library.
Al Plastino Passed away due to complications from Guillan Barre syndrome on November 25, 2013, at the age of 91. He had been married to his beautiful wife AnnMarie for 55 years at the time of his death. The couple had four children Fred, Janice, Arlene and MaryAnn.
“We’ve lost a great member of the DC Entertainment family today,” said Diane Nelson, DC Entertainment President. “Al Plastino was one of the most recognizable talents at DC for decades, and his art still resonates with so many fans of the Superman family and the Legion. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.”
“Al Plastino helped redefine Superman in the 1950s,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “His work on SUPERMAN’S GIRLFRIEND, LOIS LANE, ADVENTURE COMICS and pretty much any title in the Superman family will be fondly remembered for years to come. He will be missed.”
“When you think of Superman in the 1950s, only a handful of artists come to mind – and Al Plastino’s one of them,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “Along with the likes of Wayne Boring and Curt Swan, Plastino brought a level of humanity to Superman that had never been seen before. This amazing, super-human being now had a smile like you or me. He brought out the human side of a modern myth. It was nuanced but game changing. We can’t think him enough for his work at DC, and we’re thinking of all those close to him during this difficult time.”
I had the honor of speaking with Plastino’s daughter Mary Ann to learn more about her father. Here is what she had to say:
“We would go with him to these events and were amazed at how much his fans knew about him. We met with Michael Uslan and Chip Cronkite one year back in 2009 I believe. They were getting interviews with all the old comic creators for a documentary they are putting together and I remember during the interview Dad remembered everything like it was yesterday. There were many stories about Mort Weisenger and working with Jerry Siegel and Otto Binder on the Superman spinoffs”.
“That curl Superman had in the front of his hair was how Dad combed it and I always laugh when I see that curl to this day on other renditions and in the movies.”
MaryAnn has set up a website for her father www.alplastino.com, It does have a pretty good history and story of his life. She says that they are just now starting to collect information to begin the process of putting together a book.
In the photo below, you can see where Al drew his inspiration for Supergirl none other than his beautiful wife AnnMarie (sister of “The Diary of Ann Frank” actress Millie Perkins).
“Dad was a work horse. There was a time when he was working on five different strips at once. This was in the 60’s. He had left comics but was doing a Superman newspaper strip as well as Batman for Ledger Syndicate, Nancy and Sluggo and Ferd’nand for United Features and Peanuts for a year. All those different styles out of the studio in our back yard and he still found time to golf twice a week. He was so fast and so good, it was amazing”.
“He would let me help him by erasing the pencil marks on the pages he had inked when I got home from school. Sometimes I would press too hard and erase the inking as well. But Dad never said a word. He would just take the page back and redo the lines precisely as if nothing had ever happened. That was back when I was around 12. I got better after that but never as good as he was”.
“Believe it or not, he drew Swamp Thing for me. I used to work for USA Network and the Sci Fi Channel as their Director of Graphics and we produced the Swamp Thing Television Series through DC with Dick Durock. He drew a bunch of sketches for the photographer I hired to shoot the show”.
Before starting this article I didn’t know much about Al Plastino. During my research I discovered that he not only was a very talented artist but a good person and a very family oriented man. Unfortunately you read a lot of negative things on how writers and artists are treated in this industry. It was very refreshing to learn that Al Plastino didn’t tolerate being treated poorly and therefore was an artist who was not taken advantage of. I want to thank Mr. Plastino’s daughter, Mary Ann for her time and sharing many memories of her father.
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