DCN salutes the DC Comics creators who served in the military, they were the real heroes!
DC Comics News is celebrating Veterans Day by recognizing those who fought so valiantly on air, sea and land to preserve our heritage of freedom. We would also like to thank all those future veterans serving throughout the world today!
Below are just some of the creators who served in the armed forces that also worked on your favorite heroes at DC Comics!
1. Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson-Army
(1890-1968) was American pulp magazine writer and entrepreneur who pioneered the American comic book, publishing the first such periodical consisting solely of original material rather than reprints of newspaper comic strips. His comics company, National Allied Publications, would evolve into DC Comics, one of the world’s two largest comic book publishers, though long after its founder had left it.
Wheeler-Nicholson had an extraordinary career in the military becoming one of the youngest, if not the youngest, majors in the U.S. Cavalry. His military career took him all over the world, from the Philipines, Siberia, France and the Mexican border.
2. Joe Simon-Coast Guard
(1913–2011) was an American comic book writer, artist, editor, and publisher. Simon created or co-created many important characters in the 1930s–1940s. With his partner, artist Jack Kirby, the team worked extensively on such features at DC Comics as the 1940s Sandman and Sandy the Golden Boy, and co-created the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, and Manhunter. Simon returned to DC Comics in the late 60’s and co-created such characters as Brother Power the Geek, Prez, and The Green Team: Boy Millionaires
Simon served with the Combat Art Corps in Washington, D.C. as part of the Coast Guard’s Public Information Division. He was also stationed at Curtis Bay, MD for a time, patrolling the beaches for saboteurs.
3. Wallace Wood-Merchant Marine and Army Airborne Division
(1927-1981) was an American comic book writer, artist and independent publisher. He was one of Mad‘s founding cartoonists in 1952. Although much of his early professional artwork is signed Wallace Wood, he became known as Wally Wood, a name he claimed to dislike. Within the comics community, he was also known as “Woody”, a name he sometimes used as a signature. Woods DC work includes Challengers of the Unknown, Captain Action, Superboy (inker), Plop! (cover artist), Stalker (inker), Sandman (inker), Hercules Unbound (inker), All Star Comics (where he debuted his co-creation Power Girl) and Wonder Woman #269 (inker, this would be Woods last mainstream credit).
Wood graduated from high school in 1944, signed on with the United States Merchant Marine at the close of World War II and enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 11th Airborne Division in 1946. He went from training at Fort Benning, Georgia, to occupied Japan, where he was assigned to the island of Hokkaidō.
4. Al Plastino-Army
(1921-2013) was an American comic book artist best known as one of the most prolific Superman artists of the 1950s, along with his DC Comics colleague Wayne Boring. Plastino also worked as a comics writer, editor, letterer and colorist. With writer Otto Binder, he co-created the DC characters Supergirl, Brainiac, the Bottled City of Kandor as well as the teenage team the Legion of Super-Heroes. Plastino along with Robert Berstein created the Kryptonite powered villain Metallo and with writer Jim Shooter the power sucking villain Parasite.
With the outbreak of World War II, Plastino and his brothers were drafted, and he served in the U.S. Army. There, a sketch he had made for a model airplane he had designed caught an officer’s attention, leading to his being assigned to Grumman Aerospace Corporation, the National Inventors Council and then The Pentagon. He was assigned there to the Adjutant General’s office, where he designed war posters and field manuals.
5. Dick Dillin-Army
(1928-1980) was an American comic book artist best known for an extraordinarily long 12-year run as the penciler of the DC Comics superhero-team series Justice League of America. He penciled the series from #64-183 (Aug. 1968 – Oct. 1980) 115 issues in all, he worked on the series until his death. His run on the series would include the debut of the new Red Tornado, the JLA Satellite, the return of The Seven Soldiers of Victory, the introduction of the Quality Comics heroes as the Freedom Fighters, the introduction of the Fawcett Comics heroes into DC continuity, and inducted Hawkgirl to the ranks of the JLA. Dillin along with writer Len Wein created the supervillain Libra and with writer Bob Haney created the Super Sons, Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. Dillin also co-created such charcters Black Canary (Dinah Laurel lance), Golden Eagle, Lady Blackhawk, Merlyn, the Floronic Man, Blue Jay, and the Silver Sorceress.
His military service was with the 8th U.S. Army in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Okinawa. He become an art student at Syracuse University on the G.I. Bill, following his military service.
6. Harris Levey-Army
(1921-1984) whose pseudonyms included “Lee Harris”, “Leland Harris”, and “Harris Levy”, was a comic book artist for DC Comics primarily in the 1940s. He co-created the Golden Age superhero Air Wave.
Levey drew the character’s seven- to eight-page adventures from Detective Comics #60 (Dec. 1942) to at least #74 (April 1943). At this point he left the comics industry to join the Army (15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron). He returned to comics with a Rin-Tin-Tin story in DC’s Real Fact Comics #2 (June 1946) before taking over Air Wave’s art once more in Detective Comics #114-137 (Aug. 1946 – July 1948).
7. Win Mortimer-Canadian Army
(1919-1998) was a comic book and comic strip artist best known as one of the major illustrators of DC Comics. such iconic characters as Superman, Superboy and Batman. He soon became one of DC’s most prolific cover artists and by the 1950s had become the main artist for Superman and Batman. Mortimer along with writer Stan Drake created Stanley and His Monster as a back up feature that ran in DC’s The Fox and the Crow.
Mortimer served a short stint in the Canadian Army during World War II and was Discharged in 1943.
8. Joe Orlando-Army
(1927-1998) was an Italian American illustrator, writer, editor and cartoonist during a lengthy career spanning six decades. He was the associate publisher of Mad and the vice president of DC Comics, where he edited numerous titles and ran DC’s Special Projects department. Orlando and writer E. Nelson Bridwell created the parody superhero team The Inferior Five that debuted in Showcase #62 (June 1966).
After his high school graduation, Orlando entered the U.S. Army and was assigned to the military police, doing stockade guard duty, followed by 18 months in Europe. From Le Havre, France, he was sent to Antwerp, Belgium and then to Germany, where he stenciled boxcars and guarded strategic supplies for the occupation forces. After his 1947 discharge, he returned to New York and began study at the Art Students League on the GI Bill.
9. Curt Swan-National Guard
(1920-1996) was an American comic book artist. The artist most associated with Superman during the period fans call the Silver Age of comic books, Swan produced hundreds of covers and stories from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Having enlisted in Minnesota’s National Guard’s 135th Regiment, 34th Division in 1940, Swan was sent to Europe when the “federalized” division was shipped initially to Northern Ireland and Scotland. While his comrades in the 34th eventually went into combat in North Africa and Italy, Swan spent most of World War II working as an artist for the G.I. magazine Stars and Stripes. While at Stars and Stripes, Swan met writer France Herron, who eventually directed him to DC Comics.
During this period Swan married the former Helene Brickley, who he had met at a dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and who was stationed near him in Paris in 1944 as a Red Cross worker; they were married in Paris the following year. Shortly after returning to civilian life in 1945 he moved from Minnesota to New Jersey and began working for DC Comics. Apart from a few months of night classes at the Pratt Institute under the G.I. Bill, Swan was an entirely self-taught artist. After a stint on Boy Commandos he began to just pencil pages, leaving the inking to others.
10. George Tuska-Army
(1916-2009) who early in his career used a variety of pen names including “Carl Larson”, was an American comic book and newspaper comic strip artist best known for his 1940s work on various Captain Marvel titles and the crime fiction series Crime Does Not Pay, he also drew the DC Comics newspaper comic strip The World’s Greatest Superheroes from 1978–1982.
Drafted into the U.S. Army circa 1942, Tuska was stationed at the 100th Division at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, where he drew military plans and was honorably discharged after a year.
11. Mort Weisinger-Army
(1915-1978) was an American magazine and comic book editor best known for editing DC Comics’ Superman during the mid-1950s to 1960s, in the Silver Age of comic books. He also co-created such characters as Aquaman, Green Arrow, Speedy, Air Wave, Vigilante, Johnny Quick, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Weisinger served as story editor for the Adventures of Superman television series.
Weisinger’s career was soon interrupted by his World War II military service, during which he served as a sergeant in Special Services. Stationed at Yale (and rooming with Broderick Crawford and William Holden), he wrote scripts for a U.S. Army radio show called “I Sustain the Wings” in New York City.
He met and married (Sept. 27, 1943) his wife, the former Thelma Rudnick. They would have two children, a daughter, Joyce, and son, Hendrie.
12. Sheldon Moldoff-Army
(1920-2012) was an American comic book artist best known for his early work on the DC Comics characters Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and as one of Bob Kane’s primary “ghost artists” on the superhero Batman. He co-created the Batman supervillains Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, the second Clayface, and Bat-Mite, as well as the original heroes Bat-Girl, Batwoman, and Ace the Bat-Hound. Moldoff is the sole creator of the Black Pirate.
Drafted into World War II military service in 1944, Moldoff returned to civilian life and his career in comics in 1946.
13. Nick Cardy-Army
(1920-2013) known professionally as Nick Cardy or “Nick Cardi”, was an American comic book artist best known for his DC Comics work on Aquaman, the Teen Titans and other major characters. He co-created such characters as Mera, Black Manta, and Ocean Master.
Cardy’s World War II military service was from 1943 to 1945. He earned two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered as a tank driver in the armored cavalry. He began his Army career with the 66th Infantry Division, during which time he won a competition to design its patch, creating its snarling black panther logo. His art talent led to his being assigned an office job at division headquarters. This lasted, Cardy recalled in an interview, because a general who had seen Cardy’s cartoons in an Officers Club had Cardy assigned to his own corps. As the artist tells it, the only opening was for a corporal in the motor pool, so Private Cardy was promoted and assigned to that duty. This, he said, led in turn, upon his being shipped to the European theater, to Cardy’s assignment as an assistant tank driver for the Third Armored Division, under General Courtney Hodges. Later, between the end of the war and his discharge, Cardy said he worked for the Army’s Information and Education office in France. Cardy documented his time in the military in a series of intricate sketches and watercolors.
14. Jerry Siegel-Army
(1914-1996) who also used pseudonyms including “Joe Carter”, “Jerry Ess”, and “Herbert S. Fine”, was the American co-creator of Superman, along with Joe Shuster, the first of the great comic book superheroes and one of the most recognizable of the 20th century. Jerry also co-created such characters as Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, The Ultra Humanite, Ultra Boy, Sun Boy, Spectre, Dr. Occult, Saturn Queen, Robotman, Chameleon Boy, Prankster, Colossal Boy, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Phantom Girl, Star Spangled Kid, and Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Siegel was Drafted in 1943 and was stationed at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.
15. Ben Oda-Army
(1915-1984) was a Japanese-American letterer for comic books and comic strips.
During World War II, Oda was a paratrooper, Entering the comics industry after WWII. In the 1950s, his lettering appeared in DC Comics and many titles from other publishers. The Odaballoon, created by Oda’s family, is a tribute freeware typeface in his lettering style.
16. Ross Andru-Army
(1927-1993) was an American comic book artist and editor. He is best known for his work on Wonder Woman, Flash and Metal Men. Andru co-created such characters as the Metal Men, Rick Flag, Egg Fu, and Chemo.
Andru served in the U.S. Army and was discharged in 1946.
17. Irwin Hasen-Army
(1918-2015) was an American cartoonist, His art during the 1940s also included Green Lantern and the creation of the National Comics/DC Comics character Wildcat.
During World War II, Hasen was stationed at Fort Dix and managed the Fort Dix Post newspaper: “I edited it, I published it, I took it to the printers, I learned how to set up type, I did the comic strip, I wrote the whole goddam thing, and I interviewed all the celebrities coming in from New York. I worked my ass off, and I wound up in the hospital. But that was my proudest time, editing that newspaper for a year and a half.
He returned to DC after he was discharged from the Army in 1946. In the post-war period, he drew Johnny Thunder, the Justice Society of America, The Flash and Green Lantern.
18. George Papp-Army
(1916-1989) was an American comic book artist. Best known as one of the principal artists on the long-running Superboy feature for DC Comics, Papp also co-created the Green Arrow character with Mort Weisinger, co-created Congorilla along with writer Whitney Ellsworth, General Zod and Lar Gand (Mon-El) with writer Robert Bernstein, and Bizarro, Beppo the Super-Monkey and Thom Kallor (Starman) with writer Otto Binder.
Papp joined the American army during World War II. He drew the Superboy feature from 1958–1967, working on a variety of memorable characters, including early appearances of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
19. Alex Toth-Army
(1928-2006) was an American cartoonist active from the 1940s through the 1980s. Toth’s work began in the American comic book industry, but he is also known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work included Super Friends, Space Ghost, The Herculoids and Birdman. Toth’s work has been resurrected in the late-night, adult-themed spin-offs on Cartoon Network: Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Sealab 2021 and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. Toth also penciled the golden adventures of Green Lantern, Flash, the Justice Society of America, Doctor Midnite and the Atom.
Toth was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed in Tokyo, Japan. While in Japan, he wrote and drew his own weekly adventure strip, Jon Fury, for the base paper, Depot Diary.
20. Jack “King” Kirby-Army
(1917-1994) was an American comic book artist, writer and editor widely regarded as one of the medium’s major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators. While at DC, Kirby and his partner Joe Simon, revamped the Sandman feature in Adventure Comics and created the superhero Manhunter. In July 1942 they began the Boy Commandos feature. The ongoing “kid gang” series of the same name, launched later that same year, was the creative team’s first National feature to graduate into its own title. It sold over a million copies a month, becoming National’s third best-selling title. They scored a hit with the homefront kid-gang team, the Newsboy Legion, featuring in Star-Spangled Comics.
Kirby was drafted into the U.S. Army on June 7, 1943. After basic training at Camp Stewart, near Savannah, Georgia, he was assigned to Company F of the 11th Infantry Regiment. He landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on August 23, 1944, two-and-a-half months after D-Day. Kirby recalled that a lieutenant, learning that comics artist Kirby was in his command, made him a scout who would advance into towns and draw reconnaissance maps and pictures, an extremely dangerous duty.
Kirby and his wife corresponded regularly by v-mail, with Roz sending “him a letter a day” while she worked in a lingerie shop and lived with her mother at 2820 Brighton 7th Street in Brooklyn. During the winter of 1944, Kirby suffered severe frostbite on his lower extremities and was taken to a hospital in London, England, for recovery. Doctors considered amputating Kirby’s legs, but he eventually recovered from the frostbite. He returned to the United States in January 1945, assigned to Camp Butner in North Carolina, where he spent the last six months of his service as part of the motor pool. Kirby was honorably discharged as a Private First Class on July 20, 1945, having received a Combat Infantryman Badge and a European/African/Middle Eastern Theater ribbon with a bronze battle star.
Kirby returned to DC Comics several times in his career. In 1957 he co-created with writers Dick and Dave Wood the non-superpowered adventuring quartet the Challengers of the Unknown in Showcase #6 (Feb. 1957) while contributing to such anthologies as House of Mystery. During 30 months freelancing for DC, Kirby drew slightly more than 600 pages, which included 11 six-page Green Arrow stories in World’s Finest Comics and Adventure Comics that, in a rarity, Kirby inked himself. Kirby recast the archer as a science-fiction hero, moving him away from his Batman-formula roots, but in the process alienating Green Arrow co-creator Mort Weisinger.
In 1971, He produced a series of interlinked titles under the blanket sobriquet “The Fourth World”, which included a trilogy of new titles — New Gods, Mister Miracle, and The Forever People — as well as the extant Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. Kirby picked the latter book because the series was without a stable creative team and he did not want to cost anyone a job. The central villain of the Fourth World series, Darkseid, and some of the Fourth World concepts, appeared in Jimmy Olsen before the launch of the other Fourth World books, giving the new titles greater exposure to potential buyers. The Superman figures and Jimmy Olsen faces drawn by Kirby were redrawn by Al Plastino, and later by Murphy Anderson.
An attempt at creating new formats for comics produced the one-shot black-and-white magazines Spirit World and In the Days of the Mob in 1971.
Kirby later produced other DC series such as OMAC, Kamandi, The Demon, and Kobra, and worked on such extant features as “The Losers” in Our Fighting Forces. Together with former partner Joe Simon for one last time, a new incarnation of the Sandman Kirby produced three issues of the 1st Issue Special anthology series and created Atlas The Great, a new Manhunter, and the Dingbats of Danger Street.
And in 1984, a brief revival of his “Fourth World” saga in the 1984 and 1985 Super Powers miniseries and the 1985 graphic novel The Hunger Dogs.
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