These two brief examples are by no means the only successful kid’s titles, but they are the most familiar. Certainly, they prove the dictum that comics truly offer something for everyone.
WHO’S WHO IN COMICSC.C. BeckClarence Charles Beck transformed every boy’s fantasy into four-color reality: he gave us a magic word that could transform young Billy Batson into the red-and-gold-clad Captain Marvel. That word? SHAZAM! Beck was born on June 8, 1910, and joined Fawcett Publications in 1933 as a staff artist. Beck’s whimsical, cartoony style was a perfect fit for the new medium of comic books, and in the first issue (which sports a #2 on the cover due to a pre-publication name-change) of WHIZ COMICS, Captain Marvel was born. Gifted with the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Courage of Achilles, the Power of Zeus, the Stamina of Atlas, and the Speed of Mercury, Captain Marvel was the World’s Mightiest Mortal. Mighty, indeed, as it’s reported that “The Big Red Cheese” (as the Captain was affectionately called) sold over 1,000,000 issues per month.After Fawcett folded its comics line in the early 1950s (due to losing a copyright infringement suit brought by DC Comics, who claimed Captain Marvel was an imi-tation of Superman), Beck dabbled periodically in comics, which he saw as having grown far too realistic and downbeat. He died on November 22, 1989.Jack ColeCreator and illustrator of one of the strangest superheroes ever to grace the four-color page, Plastic Man. Jack Cole was born on December 14, 1918, and got his start in comics in 1937, working for Harry “A” Chesler. He went to work for Lev Gleason in 1939, where he created Daredevil (no relation to the Marvel character of the same name), and assisted Will Eisner on The Spirit. In 1941, Cole created Plastic Man, a former crook who gained the ability to stretch his body into any shape imagin-able. Surreal and bizarre, Cole’s Plastic Man stories remain a high water mark of the Golden Age, and his work is increasingly studied by those interested in graphic story-telling. Beginning in 1954, Cole became the premiere artist for Playboy, and his gag cartoons graced that magazine for several years until his death by suicide on August 15, 1958. The reasons for his suicide have never been made public.Jack DavisBorn on December 2, 1924, one of the finest caricature artists of this or any age, Jack Davis began his career working for Bill Gaines’ EC Comics’ titles. Particularly adept at the goriest and creepiest stories Gaines could produce, Davis also had a comic flair that was well-displayed in his work for MAD. Currently, Davis’s work can be seen in everything from movie posters to product ads to magazine covers.
Steve DitkoAn intensely private man, Steve Ditko rarely gives interviews, and has mostly left his comics work behind him. An unfortunate state of affairs for the co-creator of one of the most popular comics characters of the last half of the 20th Century: The Amazing Spider-Man.