Mark Evanier posted the sad news this week that Jerry Grandenetti – a great, if somewhat unsung – comic-book artist passed away earlier this year.
It’s not too surprising that Grandenetti’s death escaped the notice of the comic press. He retired from the field in the 1970s to pursue the more lucrative field of advertising. The artist’s style may have also been a bit idiosyncratic for the emerging fan culture of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
However, Grandenetti rightfully earned many admirers both within and without the field for work that – as Evanier stated – was always “striking and fresh.”
I first encountered Grandenetti’s work during his stint on DC’s Silver Age Spectre title and was floored. I was used to a more conservative visual style from the home of Superman and Batman, and Grandenetti’s pages were nearly as hallucinogenic as prime Ditko and Steranko.
Grandenetti also served highly acclaimed stints on DC’s war and western titles Warren’s black & white horror magazines. He even earned the “honor” of seeing his work (badly) swiped by Roy Lichtenstein.
The artist started his career as an assistant to Will Eisner, whose influence is quite apparent in the following story. While working for Eisner’s studio, Grandenetti was assigned to draw a supernatural strip – “The Secret Files Of Doctor Drew” – slated for the Fiction House line of comics.
The result is familiar to any fan of Eisner’s Spirit, but Grandenetti’s willingness to experiment with the comic-book format is readily apparent even at that early date. From Ghost Comics #11, here’s “The Witch’s Doll.”
My condolences to Mr. Grandenetti’s family, friends and associates.