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:

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