Monday, April 28, 2008

Episode #14: Happy Birthday, Sheldon Moldoff!

A special note about the same week that Mr. Moldoff's birthday occurs: April 18, 2008 marks the 70th anniversary of Action Comics #1 going on sale at news stands in 1938.

Sheldon Moldoff was born on April 14, 1920 in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx.
Bernard Bailey, the original artist of Jerry Siegel's character the Spectre, and who also drew Hour-Man, was an early influence on Moldoff. Bailey, a few years older than Moldoff, met him near his apartment building. Moldoff was drawing popular animation characters, like Popeye and
Betty Boop, on the sidewalk. Bailey showed Moldoff a few pointers on drawing, and the two became friends. Moldoff would show Bailey his sketches sometimes. The two men would meet again at the offices of National Publications (DC) a few years later.
He first sold a cartoon at the age of 17. His first comic book work was doing filler pages for the editor Vincent Sullivan, an editor at National Periodicals (DC). The first filler was on sports and appeared on the inside front cover of Action Comics #1. Moldoff quickly became a cover artist. A notable cover was for All-American Comics #16, the first appearance of the golden age Green Lantern.
In 1940 Moldoff created the character Black Pirate, and was one of the early artists of Hawkman. He drew the first Kid Eternity story for Quality Comics in 1942.
During the late 1940's Moldoff was one of the pioneers of horror comics. He took two complete horror titles to Fawcett Comics, who he did other work for, and who were not interested in the genre at that time. He then took them to EC Comics, who published the stories under different titles. Moldoff took the original titles back to Fawcett after a contract dispute with EC, and Fawcett published their own horror titles. Their books did not approack EC in either explicitness or success.
Moldoff became a Batman ghost artist for Bob Kane during the 1950's. They had a handshake agreement to keep Moldoff's Batman work secret, even from DC, who he did other work for as well. Moldoff is credited as co-creator with Kane of Betty Kane, the original Batgirl, as well as Bat Mite and Ace the Bat Hound. These characters were phased out in 1964, when Julius Schwartz became editor of Batman.
Some of the other titles that Moldoff worked on as an inker were Sea Devils, Legion of Super-Heroes and Superboy.
Moldoff was let go by DC in 1967, along with other veterans in a dispute over pay and benefits.
Sheldon Moldoff also did work for Atlas (Marvel), and later became involved in animation. He created promotional comic books to be distributed by various restaurant chains.
He retired to Florida with his wife and appeared at comic book conventions and did commissioned drawings.
Several samples of his inks can be found in:
The Night of March 31st! appeared in Superman #145, pencilled by Curt Swan. It was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1987).
The Legion of Super Villains from Superman #147, also pencilled by Curt Swan, reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super-Heroes vol. I
The Revenge of the Knave From Krypton from Adventure Comics #320, May 1964, cover and story pencilled by Swan and inked by Moldoff.
To read excerpts of an interview with Sheldon Moldoff on line, go to:

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail to

My Pull List is my blog about the comics I read every week. You can find it at Send e-mail about this blog to

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Episode #13: Jim Mooney: 1919-2008

Comic book artist Jim Mooney passed away on Sunday, March 30, 2008. His wife Anne died in 2005. He worked in the industry almost his entire adult life.
Jim Mooney was raised in Los Angeles, and after art school and odd jobs at night clubs, moved to New York City to enter the still young comic book industry.
His first jpb was for the comic book publisher Fox. His first story appeared in Mystery Men #9, cover date April 1940. The cover featured a sci-fi character Rex Dexter, and Mooney's story was The Fox, for which he supplied the pencils and inks.
He then spent two weeks at the Eisner and Iger studio, but left after comparing his talent to the men already there, like Lou Fine, Nick Cardy and Eisner himself. Mooney descrlbed Eisner as stern and like an old man, even though Eisner, in his mid 20's, was only a few years older than Mooney. He recognized Eisner as very talented and very much in control. Mooney described Iger as in control of the business side of the studio.
While at Fiction House for nine months Mooney befriended George Tuska, Ruben Moreira (future Tarzan comic book artist) and Nick Cardy.
Mooney also freelanced for Timely (Marvel) on funny animal and movie cartoon tie-in titles.
In 1946-47 he drew Perky Penguin and Booby Bear for Treasure Chest, a Catholic related comic book distributed in parochial schools.
Jim Mooney began a 22 year career at the company that became DC Comics in 1946. His first jobs were for Batman as another ghost for Bob Kane. He also worked on Superboy. Other features Mooney did were Dial H For Hero for House of Mystery and Tommy Tomorrow for both Action Comics and World's Finest Comics.
During the 1950's Mooney also contributed to Lorna The Jungle Queen for Atlas (Marvel).
From 1959-1968 Jim Mooney was the main Supergirl artist. During this time he lived in Los Angeles managing an antiquarian bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard. He sometimes hired art students as employees and also to ink backgrounds on his Supergirl pages.
After moving back to New York City in 1968, Mooney began looking for work with other comic book publishers. DC had begun to prefer a more sophisticated art style, like Neal Adams', and felt Mooney's style did not fit. Mooney began working for Marvel before DC fired him.
He bagan as an inker on John Romita's pencils on Amazing Spider-Man, beginning with issue 65 and from issues 67-88. He also inked over John Buscema's pencils in Thor.
Mooney pencilled Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider Man, Spider-Man stories in Marvel Team-Up and pencilled and inked Man Thing, written by Steve Gerber. He also drew all ten issues of Gerber's Omega the Unknown.
Jim Mooney also worked on more child-oriented publications for Marvel, such as Marvel coloring books, Spidey Super Stories, and a Spider-Man feature for Electric Company, a spin-off publication of the PBS TV series.
He contributed more adult comics for then Marvel publisher Martin Goodman's men's magazine, The Adventures of Pussycat, first written by Stan Lee and then by his brother Larry Lieber.
In 1975 Jim Mooney moved to Florida after signing a ten year contract with Marvel and worked on a variety of titles.
After the end of the contract Jim Mooney has worked on a variety of projects: Star Rangers for Adventure Publications, Superboy (based on the 1990's syndicated TV show), Anne Rice's The Mummy for Millennium Publications, Soul Searchers (Elvira) Claypool Comics, Lady Supreme for Awesome Entertainment and commissioned pieces of comic book art.
Jim Mooney has had some interesting things to say about some of the people he worked with:
On Stan Lee: He was the same from the first time Mooney met him to now. He had a funny annecdote about their first meeting. Stan asked what Mooney did and he respoded pencils. Stan asked anything else, Jim said inks, Stan asked what else and Mooney said colors. Stan asked if he did anything else. Mooney said that he lettered too. San responded, "Do you print the damn books too?"
During Mooney's years at DC Stan tried to get Jim to work for Marvel, but their page rates were not up to the level that DC was paying. Later in their careers they socialized with their wives, who were both involved in the antique business, but Stan found boring.
Mort Weisinger: Jim Mooney described Weisinger as a Jeckyl and Hyde person. He got along with him socially, but Mort was difficult at the office. Mooney offered another anectdote as an example. He was turning in the pages to a Supergirl story, when Mort waved him out of the office for a few minutes when he was busy with a writer. Mooney was talking to Jack Schiff in the bullpen when Weisinger stormed out of his office. "You're supposed to bring Supergirl to me first!", Weisinger yelled. Jim Mooney said that Mort could be vicious, but he was also a telented writer.
On John Romita: Jim Mooney found John Romita to be one of the nicest guys he had ever worked with. Romita knew how to give truly constructive criticism without humiliating the person. They worked together very well. When Romita bacame swamped with Spider-Man work, Mooney would finish Romita's layouts.
Jim Mooney also liked Herb Trimpe, Marie Severin and Stan's secretary Flo Steinberg. She made Mooney feel welcome every time he entered Marvel's offices, as opposed to DC, where Mooney couldn't wait to get out of there.
On Bob Kane: Jim Mooney's first impression was that Kane was not someone he would want to hang around with. That view never changed. Mooney found Kane unpleasant, a man who had a big ego and liked to put people down. When Kane took credit for creating the Batman stories through the mid 1960's, Mooney felt he handled the truth, to put it one way.
Besides himself, close friend Sheldon Moldoff was among the artists who ghosted on Batman, as well as Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang, among others.
On Bill Finger: Jim Mooney met Bill Finger a few times and found him a very likeable person. He admired his writing very much and found his scripts very good and fun to draw.
DC scripts vs Marvel: DC used full scripts and artists merely drew what was written, with little input on creating the story. Some scripts were interesting, but others were not very good. It just seemed a job to Mooney, working for DC and collecting his paycheck. Jim Mooney enjoyed the plot style made most famous by Marvel. It required the artists involvementin creating the story. Mooney felt more of a creative team.
Various comic book characters: Jim Mooney liked House of Mystery or Tommy Tomorrow stories, but drawing Dial H for Hero was a chore because new costumes were required for each issue. Supergirl was not much of a challenge. Mooney found the plots simple, and they often seemed to repeat. The art style required by Weisinger was very simple, and not as sophisticated as other titles Mooney worked on. (This might be one reason Supergirl never became as popular as Superman, gaining more fame for being killed in Crisis of Infinite Earths than the quality of her stories.)
Jim Mooney's favorite Marvel character that he drew was Man Thing, written by Steve Gerber. At first sight Mooney dreaded working on the first script because Gerber mostly used full script, but after reading it, Jim found it so good he enjoyed drawing.

If you would like to read the online articles this information came from check out the following links:

Don't forget about Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman written by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Ross Macdonald. It will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on August 26, 2008. It can be pre-ordered at Check out their web sites:

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail about this podcast to

Check out my other blog, My Pull List at Send e-mail about this blog to mypulllist@gmailcom.

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and as always thanks to Jerry and Joe.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Episode #12: The Night of March 31st

Since April Fool's Day occurs this week, the first April Fool's episode of Superman Fan Podcast had to be about this story. It was actually published, no April Fool's, by DC Comics in 1961. The Night of March 31st was the third story in Superman #145, cover date May, 1961. It was first on sale on March 16, 1961. It was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Published (1987), which was the edition where I first read this story.
The credits for this story are as follows:
Editor: Mort Weisinger
Cover: The Interplanetary Circus penciller: Curt Swan, inker: Stan Kay
Story: writer: The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1987) credits Otto Binder. Both and credit Jerry Siegel.
Penciller: Curt Swan, inker: Sheldon Moldoff
Editors purposefully placed errors throughout the story and encouraged readers to spot as many mistakes as they could, list them and send them in. Errors could involve plot, art, coloring or lettering. At the end of the story, under the heading of The Great Superman Boo - Boo Contest, DC editors gave instructions on how to submit entries and the address to send submissions to. In Superman #149 or 150 DC published a list of winners. There were five grand prize winners and ten honorable mentions, including a set of brothers. The winner found 456 errors. Of note is the fourth place winner, who was at MIT and found 302 errors. At least 12,000 readers responded to the contest. One of the errors of note was on the fifth page of the story, in the fourth panel. Clark Kent is changing into Superman in the Daily Commercial store room. Two men are watching Clark change into his costume. They are variously identified as cameos of Harry Donenfeld or Stan Kaye with Curt Swan.
Two web sites to check out about this story are:, the Friday, March 31, 2006 blog entry. March31st.htm.
In case you are wondering, I spotted around fifty errors in the story; nothing to write DC Comics about.
Don't forget to go to and pre-order Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, written by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Ross Macdonald. It will be published by Knopf Books For Young Readers, and released on August 26, 2008. Check out their websites:, and

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send your e-mails about Superman Fan Podcast to
Also check out my other blog: My Pull List at Send e-mail about this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and as always, thanks to Jerry and Joe.

Superman WebRing

Superman WebRing The Superman WebRing
This site is a member of the best
Superman websites on the Internet!
Previous SiteList SitesRandom SiteJoin RingNext Site
SiteRing by



Total Pageviews