2024 Eisner Hall of Fame Inductees Named – Their Comic Strip Credentials

San Diego Comic Convention (Comic-Con) has announced that the Eisner Awards judges have selected 19 individuals to automatically be inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame for 2024. These inductees include 12 deceased comics pioneers and 7 living creators. The deceased greats are Creig Flessel, A. B. Frost, Billy Graham, Albert Kanter, Warren Kremer, Oscar Lebeck, Frans Masereel, Keiji Nakaszawa, Noel Sickles, Cliff Sterrett, Elmer C. Stoner, and George Tuska. The judges’ living choices are Kim Deitch, Gary Groth, Don McGregor, Bryan Talbot, Ron Turner, Lynn Varley, and James Warren. In April, nominees will be announced for online voting to add four more inductees into the Hall of Fame.

Half the judges’ list above have been comic strip creators.

Kim Deitch‘s newspaper comics (comix) came to the public in 1967 when he began contributing to the underground weekly East Village Other. Kim would contribute strips and illustrations featuring such characters as Sunshine Girl, Waldo, and Uncle Ed, the India Rubber Man. By the end of 1969 Kim followed the migration of underground artists to San Francisco and his focus was geared toward comix books.

Kim Deitch has recounted his time at The East Village Other.

Creig Flessel began his comic strip career not long after his comic book career in 1937 by assisting John Striebel in drawing Dixie Dugan. That lasted about a year and Creig returned to advertising art (Johnstone and Cushing comic strips) and magazine illustrations and comics (Boy’s Life) and comic books. He illustrated an adaptation of Colonel Effingham’s Raid for King Features’ Book-of-the-Month Club comic strip during WWII. The late 1950s found Flessel a part of Al Capp’s studio drawing the Li’l Abner comic strip. That lasted about as long as his Dixie Dugan run. Creig gave up the anonymity of the ghost for the signed duties of David Crane, which he took over from Winslow Mortimer. That assignment lasted from 1960 to 1971. From 1969 to 1977 Creig illustrated Carl Payne Tobey’s This Week in Astrology feature. That ended Creig’s contribution to syndicated newspapers comics except for a couple weeks ghosting Apartment 3-G Sundays in 1973 and a few Friday Foster Sundays spanning the 1973 turning to 1974 time period.

Creig Flessel has an entry in Alex Jay’s Ink-Slinger Profiles.

A fine selection of Creig’s comic art can be found at Ger Apeldoorn’s Fabulous Fifties.

Arthur Burdette Frost was (and is) a renowned artist, a genius at comic illustration. A. B. Frost made his bones as an illustrator for books and magazines.

In 1876, Harper & Brothers publishing house was the first company to hire the artist … Frost would go on to publish illustrations for Harper’s Weekly, Punch, Scribner’s, and, most notably, Life magazine.

Sequential art was among Frost’s talents, as well as his single page illustrations, and displayed in his three books.

Stuff & Nonsense (1884), The Bull Calf and Other Tales (1892), and Carlo (1913), are the three books published by the artist. Each one houses a collection of comedic graphic stories, made up of sequential images.

That last, Carlo, was revised to be a weekly newspaper comic strip in January and February of 1914.

A history of Carlo, the comic strip, from Allan Holtz. Carlo, the book, is available for your enjoyment.

Warren Kremer began his comic career in a style far from where he ended it. He began as an adventure, crime, and horror comic book artist and ended up defining the Harvey Comics house style for their kid’s comic books – think Casper the Friendly Ghost, Stumbo the Giant, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, etc.. He either created or co-created (depending on who is telling the origin story) Richie Rich, the Poor Little Rich Boy and drew him for nearly thirty years. So naturally when a comic strip was developed for newspapers in 1979 no one but Warren was considered for that assignment. Richie Rich ran from March 26, 1979 to December 8, 1979 at least. Below the first and last(?) Richie Rich comic strips.

There are rumors Warren inked the Sunday Sad Sack comic strips for a while.

Though he started as a writer and artist Oskar Lebeck is famed as a comic book editor for Dell Comics, and, frankly, he was destined to be in the history books when his Animal Comics #1 comic book introduced Pogo Possum to the world (which he may well have co-created). Though that was hardly the be-all of his comic book editing prowess.

Oskar Lebeck (1903-1966) was one of the greatest comic-book editors, the man who more than anyone else gave the Dell comic books of the 1940s their distinctive qualities. His best cartoonists were Walt Kelly, whose Pogo was born in Animal Comics, a comic book Lebeck edited, and John Stanley, who brought to the Little Lulu comic book penetrating wit and layers of comedy that no one could have expected … Many other exceptional writers and cartoonists, including Gaylord DuBois, Morris Gollub, Dan Noonan, and George Kerr, produced much of their best work under Lebeck’s light hand.

Lebeck deserves the lion’s share of the credit for what was, especially in the comic-book world of the 1940s, an exceptionally healthy atmosphere.

A few years after Oskar gave up his editing duties (and gave up the Pogo copyright he owned to Walt Kelly) he created a science fiction comic strip and got old favorite and friend Alden McWilliams to illustrate it.

Twin Earths ran from 1952 – 1963.

Hairy Green Eyeball presents the first 15 months of dailies.

Don McGregor is famous as a comic book writer of intricate plotting, highly engaging stories, and filling his stories with wordage, lots of wordage. But that just increased the suspense and excitement in his comics of the 1970s and ’80s: The Black Panther; War of the Worlds/Killraven; Sabre; Detectives,Inc.; Ragammuffins; Zorro and others became favorites of comic book fandom and anyone else with a preference for excellent storytelling. That last one, Zorro, was actually a part of Don’s 1990s output and while it was a time that saw my comic book buying drastically reduced, Don’s Zorro made the my favored few list (I’m a sucker for well done westerns).

In 1999 the owners of Zorro, after the success of 1998’s The Mask of Zorro movie starring Antonio Banderas, decided to try the hero in a comic strip. Naturally they hired Don to write it. Don eased up on filling the newspaper strip’s panels with word balloons but kept the action and tension at high levels.

The strip ran from 1999 to 2001. Below are the first and last strips.

What more can be said of illustrator and comic strip innovator Noel Sickles? He inspired the comic art techniques of Milton Caniff who in turn inspired legions of comic artists.

At one point the Saturday Evening Post offered him a carte blanche arrangement in which he could choose from any manuscript he might find appealing. Now his work appeared in all the major illustrated magazines and in many of the books published by Readers’ Digest. The quality of the work was superb. Never content with his output, Noel destroyed many illustrations that would have elated art editors and left most of his contemporaries thoroughly envious.

Noel and Milton shared a studio and their strips with each other. Sickles took over Scorchy Smith in December 1933 (signing it beginning in April 1934) and ran with it for three years. Milton began his magnum opus Terry and the Pirates in October 1934. Milton taught Noel storytelling, Noel taught Milton ART. Noel left Scorchy in October of 1936 and the last two years of that comic strip are regarded a high point of black and white adventure comic art.

Recommended reading: Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles (review)

Not only do we get the complete Sickles run on Scorchy (plus a little of Terry and Christman to pad out story arcs) but there is an exhaustive biographical essay by Bruce Canwell. It is accompanied by an incredible array of Sickles work all the way from rare early pieces to his later commercial and fine art work.

From Sickles we go to the opposite end of comic art with Cliff Sterrett. In the mid-1920s Sterrett began experimenting with surrealism and color on his Sundays pages. Those Sunday pages from 1926 to 1929 are considered a high point of not just of Sterrett’s career but of comic art as a whole. By the 1930s arthritis began to set in and the experiment slowly ended, though the early ’30s pages are still very well worth hunting.

The Visual Telling of Stories has a fine selection of Sunday pages from the prime era.

Library of American Comics books collecting the Sunday pages of 1925 – 1930 are so highly recommended as to be off the charts. The very definition of eye candy!

I only know from E. C. Stoner what I’ve read, and that is not much. A contributor to early comic books and as a Black cartoonist he opened the door for other People of Color to be hired by mainstream publishers.

In 1951 he joined The Shadow creator Walter Gibson and Rick Kane Space Marshall was born.

Below are the first two strips.

By the way, the photo used in the above two linked profiles comes from a 1966 ad series for Gordon’s Gin.

Now George Tuska I do know from my 1960s and 1970s comic book reading. Once Iron Man got his own comic book George Tuska was the artist (sometimes helping Johnny Craig stay on schedule until Tuska took over completely). Of course George Tuska was illustrating comic books long before that (The Golden Age) – and long after that too (into the current century).

In the 1950s his comic book output slowed way down as he became the artist for AP’s Scorchy Smith comic strip (1954-1959) and then the Buck Rogers comic strip (1959-1967) for the Dille family. Ten years later when DC Comics issued their World’s Greatest Superheroes newspaper comic to compete with The Amazing Spider-Man strip George Tuska was chosen to draw the DC characters (1978-1982). George also did some pencilling on that Spider-Man comic strip (1984).

Comic Art Fans gallery of George’s comic book and comic strip art.

The Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame for 2024 ceremonies will take place in July.

2 thoughts on “2024 Eisner Hall of Fame Inductees Named – Their Comic Strip Credentials

  1. How long have they been inducted dead cartoonists? I’m surprised Frost and Sterrett weren’t put in the first year of induction.

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