Saturday, October 24, 2015

R.I.P. Murphy Anderson

At TIAH Blog, we mourn the loss of Murphy Anderson, longtime artist primarily associated with DC Comics - and one of a renowned group of artists that defined the Silver Age of Comic Books - including Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan, Gil Kane, and, of course, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. 

Mr. Anderson passed away on October 23, at the age of 89. 

Murphy Anderson was a superb artist in his own right, as seen on this iconic HAWKMAN cover.

But, he may have been best known as an inker, particularly for his work with Carmine Infantino...

...And, a collaboration with Curt Swan that was so seamless and (dare I say) heavenly, that the name "Swanderson" was coined to identify it! 

I had the pleasure of meeting Murphy Anderson at a Silver Age panel at San Diego... in, I believe, 2000. 

Mark Evanier, as usual, may have the best post on Murphy Anderson. 

Here is DC Comics' official statement

Rest in Peace, Murphy Anderson.  The Silver Age, and EVERYTHING that followed in its considerable wake, owes you a debt. 


scarecrow33 said...

A beautifully written tribute, Joe. I'm almost ashamed to admit that the name wasn't one that I remembered, but I have savored his work/work that he collaborated on--for many years. Comics of the Silver Age had a kind of nobility about them that has eroded away in the years since--I'm mainly referring to the super hero genre of the era. Heroes could be "good guys" without being ashamed of it--today morality tends to be tinged with shades of grey.

Murphy Anderson certainly merited this tribute, having contributed so many iconic memories to pop culture. I regret that I did not pay more attention to his contributions...but I think the fact that I appreciated his work without necessarily giving close attention to those behind the curtain speaks pretty strongly for the effectiveness of his art...and that of his colleagues.

Another chair is occupied in the Elysian Fields Hall of Great Comic Artists. He joins Barks, Gottfredson, Taliafero, Strobl, Alvarado, Hubbard, Kelly, Swan, Infanto, and others too numerous to mention. May he truly rest with satisfaction in his accomplishments.

Joe Torcivia said...

Beautifully put, Scarecrow!

A “nobility” is exactly what those comics and those characters had. A very specific type of “nobility” that also carried over into what is now called the “Bronze Age”, and one that no longer exists in their counterparts today. But, if you look over that survey of covers, you can also find among them a sense of “fun” amid the melodrama that has also ceased to exist, save occasional covers and stories that serve as tributes to those very same covers and/or stories. The HARLEY QUINN # 18 (phone booth) cover seen in THIS POST would be such a tribute.

With the passing of Murphy Anderson, the great Silver Age of Comic Books recedes still further into history, now looking as sadly “unreachable”, and “alien” to many of the readers of today, as the Golden Age did to someone like myself.

But, as long as back issues and reprint collections exist, the glorious list of creators you mention – and so many more – will always live on. And, hopefully, there will be scholars and historians from Mark Evanier to David Gerstein, and other dedicated individuals, to remind us of their importance.

TC said...

"Swanderson" made one of the best pencil-and-ink teams ever. Superman never looked better than when inked by Anderson over Swan's pencils.

In fact, when Jack Kirby was writing and drawing Jimmy Olsen's self-titled series in the early 1970's, DC assigned Anderson to ink the heads of Jimmy and Superman, to keep their appearance consistent with the other "Superman Family" comics.

And when you think of Silver Age Batman or Flash, the image that probably comes to mind is the Infantino & Anderson version. Their Batman, especially, was iconic, and appeared on merchandising in 1966 (tie-ins with the TV series), making it familiar even to people who did not read comics.

That inking work alone would make him a significant figure in the history of comics, but he was also a penciller. And, IMHO, Hawkman was one of the best superhero comics in the Silver Age.

He also worked on "PS," the Army's preventive maintenance instruction manual. It was a digest-sized booklet or magazine with a comic strip format. A lot of artists worked on it at various times, including Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, and Dan Speigle, but the issues that I saw were all drawn by Anderson.

Joe Torcivia said...

I was hoping you’d find your way to this thread, TC, because you are someone I *know* knows his Silver Age comics!

Completely agreed, that the “Swanderson” Superman is the best the character has ever looked. Moreover, he looked like “an adult”, as I feel Superman should look. Not like someone just a few years out of Smallville High, as he’s often been depicted since.

I always knew that Kirby’s Superman and Jimmy Olsen heads were “modified” to exhibit more of a DC house style (as was Carl Barks’ Bugs Bunny, the one occasion he drew that character), but I never knew that it was Murphy Anderson who had done it. No wonder they looked so good.

I’d say pretty much anything Murphy Anderson touched was, to one extent or another, iconic! That’s how special his talents were!