The Artist’s Artist


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Mort Meskin ‘s admirers include the likes of Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Carmine Infantino, Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko. Yet the artist’s name is rarely brought up by fans discussing the all-time greats of comics’ golden and silver ages.

It’s truly a shame. To quote Mr. Ditko …

Meskin was fabulous, I couldn’t believe the ease with which he drew: strong compositions, loose pencils, yet complete; detail without clutter. I loved his stuff

Meskin, like many of his contemporaries, earned his stripes working for the ubiquitous Eisner & Iger shop. However, he soon found himself with Harry A. Chesler illustrating features for MLJ Comics, the future home of Archie Andrews.

He also enjoyed memorable stints on such DC stalwarts as Wildcat, The Vigilante and (especially) Johnny Quick. In 1949 he joined the Simon & Kirby studio and produced classic strips in the horror, crime and romance genres.

After Simon & Kirby went their separate ways, Meskin returned to DC and created the character “Mark Merlin.” The remainder of his time was spent on the company’s war, science-fiction and horror titles.

In 1965, Meskin left the comics field and began a successful career in advertising until his retirement in 1982. He passed away in 1995.

Among Meskin reached many high points during his comics career, many of my personal favorites were created in tandem with the great Jerry Robinson.

The pair turned in especially notable work at Nedor, where they took workmanlike characters like the Black Terror (who had a great costume, but suffered from lackluster art) and Fighting Yank (ditto) and made them every bit the equals of such illustrious counterparts as Batman and Captain America.

Sound far-fectched? The following story, featuring a great Golden Age femme fatale, provides a strong argument for such assertions.

From Black Terror #24, here’s “Lady Serpent Returns” by Mort Meskin and Jerry Robinson.

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Fantagraphics recently released a beautiful biography of the artist entitled “From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin.” It’s a long overdue appreciation of a top-flight creator whose name truly deserves to be mentioned alongside the field’s giants.

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