In 1944, Ken Crossen (creator of the Golden Age pulp hero, The Green Lama) launched a comic-book company to publish the adventures of his then-famous character as well as a small stable of other heroes.
Called “Spark Publications,” the three titles published by the company prominently featured the work of Mort Meskin, Jerry Robinson and Mac Raboy, who were among the most distinctive and skilled creators of the era.
(Unfortunately, such quality didn’t translate into sales and Spark Publications folded in 1946.)
Aside from the Green Lama, the most notable characters of the Spark line were Atoman and Golden Lad.
Created by Meskin, Golden Lad was a young boy who discovered he could access the strength of a “thousand martyred warriors” by grasping an ancient Aztec artifact and intoning the magic words, “Heart Of Gold.”
The Freddy Freeman-esque hero only lasted five issues, which was at least enough time to introduce a “Golden Girl” spin-off. Meskin’s typically excellent storytelling skills – which included his trademark “Johnny Quick” super-speed effect – made the series memorable enough to win the hearts of most Golden Age comics devotees.
From Golden Lad #5 (Spark Publications, June 1946), here’s “The Chinese Vase” by Mort Meskin.
Jerry Robinson passed away today, leaving behind a legendary body of work that includes the co-creation of Robin The Boy Wonder and The Joker, arguably the greatest villain to ever appear in a comic book.
Although those two characters alone outstrip the entire output of many creators, Robinson accomplished more in his long and celebrated career than toiling anonymously for Bob Kane.
With his good friend Mort Meskin, Robinson formed a studio that produced some of the Golden Age’s best work for such publishers as Better/Standard/Nedor and Spark.
He also wrote a near definitive history of comic strips and was a tireless advocate of creators rights, campaigning loudly for such hard-luck legends as Bill Finger and - most notably – Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
In tribute to Robinson, The Comics Journal has reposted its epic interview with the creator. The Time Bullet, for its part, is presenting the origin of one of Robinson’s more memorable – if short-lived – super-heroes, Atoman.
Although the comic, and its now-obscure publisher, didn’t last too long, Atoman apparently made enough of an impression on a young Steve Ditko to influence the original character design of this still active super-hero…
From Atoman Comics #1 (Spark Publications, February 1946), here’s “The Making Of The Mightiest Man!”