Topic: Comic Book Artists
Earlier this week I learned Of Frank Springer's passing... Frank had died last Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at the age of 79. Frank was known both as a veteran comic book and comic strip artist.I had last met Frank at the 2004 San Diego Comic Con International where he was a Guest of Honor, and looked through my photos of that con to run a photo of him here. Not succeeding, I looked at the web for any photos of him. Like so many others of his generation, Frank let his work speak for him, as there are very few photos of Frank available. I am crediting Mike Lynch for the photo that is run above, as I want to post this Memoriam before too much time passes.
Frank was born December 6, 1929 in Queens, New York. After he graduated Syracuse University in 1952 with a degree in art, he promptly went into the Army. Like so many others who had an art background upon joining the armed forces, he wound up doing mostly illustration work, and in his case drawing maps, at Fort Dix.
Frank paid his dues early in his art career honing his skills. After his discharge from the Army in 1954, he began assisting George Wunder on the well known comic strip, Terry and the Pirates. He was there until 1960, yet returned when George needed help to meet deadlines at times.
Even though he left comic strips for a while to pursue comic book work, Frank later also occasionally worked on other comics strips during later years. Those included several years of Rex Morgan, M.D., where he received credit. Like others in the comic strip industry he also 'ghosted' on strips. Those included The Heart of Juliet Jones, On Stage, Friday Foster, The Phantom and several other strips.
My first real knowledge of Frank Springer was his work in comic books. I was eight years old when he started his comic book career in 1960. At that time most artists were not credited with producing the pencils or inks, and thus his name was not highlighted to the readers in several cases. It was at Dell Comics that Frank drew his first assignment. That story was called Brain Boy, a short lived Dell Comics series. That was a different series for sure! It was only later that I found that he also drew many other comic books for Dell during that time period including Charlie Chan, Ghost Stories and Toka, Jungle King.
Like other freelancers of the period he also began drawing for DC Comics. My major recollection of his work there was on The Secret Six first two issues. Frank was also one of the many that did several Batman stories under the "Bob Kane" signature.
My best memories of Frank's work was of course on Marvel Comics, as I was basically a 'Marvel Zombie' during those years.
Frank worked on Marvel's Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD when Jim Steranko needed more time to finish a couple of his stories. After Jim left that series, Frank took over the artwork for a short period. During that time period he also worked on Captain Marvel #13 (shown above), and #14. He did a couple of other stories, and then returned to work for Dell Comics until it stopped publishing in 1973.
When Frank came back to Marvel Comics, it seemed he was used primarily as an inker. Several of his fans may remember him on some Spider-Man titles and also Dazzler. I especially appreciated his inking on Dick Ayer's pencils in the early issues of the 'Death' strip in the War is Hell comic book series, starting with issue #9 in 1974. He also inked on the Man From Atlantis series, and the Savage She-Hulk series. His team up with Frank Robbins on The Invaders with Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Human Torch and others, was also a series I enjoyed...
Like many of his contemporaries, Frank also worked for the short-lived Atlas - Seaboard Comics line, on The Cougar series.
After his Marvel Comics Comics work Frank went on to draw many of the comic book style parodies in National Lampoon. Since I am not familiar with his work there, I'll just mention that in passing.
He also did some additional comics work, Action Comics Weekly for DC Comics in 1988, The 'Nam for Marvel Comics in 1989, Armor in 1991 for Continuity Comics, Chronicles of Conan in 2003 for Dark Horse Comics, Coyote for Marvel in 1983, and other work.
He even had time to draw the newspaper comic strip The Incredible Hulk for a period of time, which combined both his comic book and comic strip background!
During Frank's long career the National Cartoonists Society awarded him its trophy as Best Comic Book Artist of the Year three different times. He also served as the Society's President one term.
Frank also had a family life during his busy career. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara, as well as his four children and seven grandchildren.My condolences to them at this time.