Sunday, December 10, 2006

Martin Nodell -- RIP

I saw him a few years back when I visited WizardWorld Chicago to meet the Big Bang Comics guys (too bad that didn't work out better) and he didn't look very good back then. It was sad, in a way, because he had been reduced to having to sell drawings of Green Lantern with his shaking hand just to pull in a little bit of money.

It's a shame how the comic industry ends up treating its own in the end. Siegel and Shuster. Dave Cockrum. William Messner-Loeb. Jack Kirby. Martin Nodell.

He will be missed, but somewhere there is an engineer lighting his way with an emerald lantern that brings life, then death, and the power.

Martin Nodell -- RIP
Martin Nodell, the artist co-creator of Green Lantern, died this morning less than a month after his 91st birthday. I'm afraid I have no further details other than that Marty had been in poor health lately.

Marty was born 11/15/15 in Philadelphia. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago and later, Pratt Institute in New York. It was in New York that he began working as a freelance artist, in or around 1938. He soon started freelancing for several comic book companies that either didn't pay or didn't pay well. As he later told the story, he got tired of being stiffed by the smaller firms and decided to make an all-out effort to break into the majors. He called at the offices of the biggest publisher, DC Comics, and was told they were full up but that there might be work at an affiliated company, All American. The editor there was Sheldon Mayer.

Mayer gave him a little work. When Nodell asked what it would take to get steady assignments, Mayer, who was looking for a new feature for the company's signature title, All-American Comics, told him to come up with a character. Nodell returned a few days later with sketches and the germ cell of a strip called Green Lantern. He said the idea had come to him on the subway when he saw a man waving — you guessed it — a green lantern. Nodell also said he wrote and drew the first few pages of the first story...but he wasn't a writer so Mayer brought in one of comics' top writers, Bill Finger, to rewrite and finish the first tale. The result was that Green Lantern, by Bill Finger and 'Mart Dellon,' debuted in All-American Comics #16, cover dated July of 1940. The character, which drew inspiration from the legend of Aladdin, was an immediate hit on the magnitude of the firm's other new superstars, The Flash and Wonder Woman, and soon received his own comic. (The All-American company was later absorbed by DC Comics. A new version of Green Lantern was created in 1959 and that version remains popular today, though the original Nodell incarnation has also been known to reappear.)