Joe Giella at Ninety – Living the Good Life


Joe Giella has spent a lifetime drawing comics.
From the time he was 16 until he retired at age 88.

He drew the Batman newspaper strip for a few years, which were reprinted in the recent collections from the Library of American Comics. Giella also assisted his friends Sy Barry on The Phantom, and Dan Barry on Flash Gordon for many years. In 1991 he took over drawing the daily comic strip Mary Worth, working first with writer John Saunders and then Karen Moy, until Giella retired in 2016 at the age of 88.

Joe Giella is one of the creators synonymous with the Silver Age of [comic books]. In his more than seven decade career, Giella was primarily an inker, working extensively with Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Sheldon Moldoff, and others. He worked at Timely, Hillman, and other publishers in addition to advertising work and comic strips, but he spent much of his career at DC Comics where he drew every major character and worked on some of the period’s most iconic covers.



Alex Dueben interviews Joe Giella for The Comics Journal.

Joe and Alex mostly concentrate on Joe’s comic strip career.

Drawing dailies and Sundays is very tough and it’s too much for one guy. Mary Worth was different because I made a lot more money on Mary Worth. The pie was cut too many ways with Batman – the syndicate, DC, Bob Kane, and god knows who else was involved. There wasn’t much left for the artist. But it was a good experience. As soon as I left the strip and went back to the comics, DC bought Bob Kane’s contract out and so everybody that worked on Batman was able to sign their work. All those years I was doing the strip, I couldn’t sign my name, but Al Plastino takes over and the first strip he drew, he signed it. [laughs]

Joe discusses the Batman and Mary Worth comic strips and working with the writers and editors.
A few detours to The Phantom and Flash Gordon strips with the Barry brothers.

I met Sy when I was 16 years old at the School of Industrial Arts. We were good friends. We got together later on after we’d been doing professional work. We both helped his brother Dan with the Flash Gordon strip. In the late sixties after I finished working on the Batman syndicated strip, Sy asked me to help him on The Phantom strip. I worked with him three days a week for seventeen years. And we’re still good friends. [laughs]



They didn’t just outright offer it to me. They said, we’d like you to try out for the Mary Worth strip. Jay Kennedy, who was the editor who called me, said a few guys tried out. Years later I found out that twelve artists tried out for Mary Worth. Dick Giordano was one of them. Dick Ayers tried out for the strip. They must have seen something in my work that they liked.

No mention of Joe’s work on The Amazing Spider-Man or Buck Rogers or Sherlock Holmes or the Superman Puzzle Page comic strips – we can only hope for a future interview getting to those. Until then this is a nice, informative look at part of Joe’s comic strip career.