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.