Category Archives: Family and Friends

Remembering Murphy Anderson


Photo: Fred R. Conrad, The New York Times, 2007

I wrote a remembrance of Murphy Anderson for the 2016 San Diego Comic Con program book this spring, and thought I’d run it here as well. Murphy died on Oct. 22nd, 2015. A similar remembrance I wrote then is HERE.

Murphy Anderson was one of the first comics artists whose name I learned. He and writer John Broome were, unusually for the time, credited for their stories about The Atomic Knights in STRANGE ADVENTURES from DC Comics beginning in 1960, a series I loved. I soon began seeing Murphy’s style on other DC Comics like HAWKMAN and THE SPECTRE, and when creator credits became common at the company, I saw him often paired as an inker with penciler Curt Swan on SUPERMAN, a team that used the combined signature “Swanderson” on their covers. When I began working on staff at DC in 1977, I soon met Murphy, who was in the office a lot, either delivering comics art he’d worked on or color separations from his comics production company Visual Concepts. We talked often and became friends, and when Murphy learned we lived not far apart, I was enlisted to carry work for him on my commute to and from the DC offices from time to time. When Murphy was visiting DC and leaving when I normally did, he’d give me a ride home in his big Lincoln, and we’d have a great time talking about comics, and his career. I heard about Murphy’s early love for Buck Rogers, and his decision to come to New York in the mid 1940s to try to break into comics. He succeeded at Fiction House first, later working for other companies, including DC beginning in the early 1950s. Murphy’s style was grounded in a firm knowledge of anatomy, and his heroes were real people with just a little extra something. His inking style used skillful feathering techniques to bring three dimensions to the comics page, and his compositions were always strong, even when the subject matter was fanciful, as in the many STRANGE ADVENTURES and MYSTERY IN SPACE covers editor Julie Schwartz had him create, often as a springboard for stories. Above all, I remember Murphy’s kindness and enthusiasm for the comics medium and those involved in it. His deep voice and slight southern drawl, his stories about creators and editors, and his unfailing gentlemanly manners made a strong impression on me. Sometimes the people you admire as a child turn out to be less than you hoped for when you meet them as an adult. In Murphy’s case, it was the opposite. He was more than a fine comics artist, he was a kind and honorable man, and a good friend to myself and many others. I miss him.

Gaspar Saladino 1927-2016

GasparSaladino2014Gaspar Saladino at NYCC, 2014, photo by Todd Klein.

I was saddened to learn from his daughter Lisa that my creative inspiration as a letterer and my friend Gaspar Saladino died on the morning of Thursday, August 4th, 2016. He was 88 and a few weeks short of his 89th birthday. At first I was too sad to write much about it, but having seen a number of articles online with wrong or incomplete information, I decided I needed to remember him here with the most correct information I can gather. Sources include the website “Dial B for Blog,” the Grand Comics Database, and my own interviews and research. Continue reading

Four George Kleins

GeorgeKleinArtistThis is George Dunsford Klein, who had a long career in comics (known simply as George Klein) as an artist and inker. He was born in Louisiana in about 1915 (records differ) and grew up in Wyoming. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute and then moved to New York City where he took a staff job at Timely Comics, the precursor of Marvel Comics. He initially was a penciler and inker on super-hero stories but later moved to funny animal comics at Timely. Since he was on staff, much of his work there is unsigned and hard to identify. Continue reading

Easter Egg Coloring 2016

ColoringWe’re at Ellen’s sister Ann’s house for Easter, and we’ve done our traditional egg coloring. The participants this year were Ann and her husband Dave, their daughter Ina, Ellen and myself, and my friend Tim. This is us in the process, but nearly done. The Halloween tablecloth was the only plastic one Ann had. Continue reading

Mapping My Childhood

BikeMapBlogI’ve always liked maps, especially ones of places where I’ve spent time. In 1960, when I was nine, our family moved to Somerset County, New Jersey, from a town not too far to the east. Above is part of a map of Somerset County from 1961 that used to hang on the wall of my room when I was a child. On it, marked with thin red drafting tape, are all the roads I rode my bike on from our house on Washington Valley Road in Pluckemin. It’s hard to make out here, but Pluckemin was soon to become the crossroads of two interstate highways: Route 287 and Route 78. They were already marked on this map as thick dotted lines. One of the most memorable rides was taken by my two younger brothers and I from our house (the yellow square) to Martinsville on the lower right. This was a round trip of about 11 miles, which doesn’t sound that bad, but it was a blazing hot day in July by the time we were done, and we foolishly took our middle-aged Labrador Retriever mix Pepper with us. We were all in sad shape when we got back, and Pepper hardly moved for several days. Continue reading