Bob Powell (comics)

Bob Powell (comics)

Bob PowellStanislav (Stanley) Robert Pawlowski (October 6, 1916, Buffalo, New York, United StatesOctober 1, 1967, Huntington, New York) was an American comic book artist known for his work during the 1930-40s Golden Age of comic books, including on the features "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle" and "Mr. Mystic". He received a belated credit in 1999 for co-writing the debut of the popular feature "Blackhawk". Powell also did the pencil art for the famous bubble gum trading card series "Mars Attacks". He officially changed his name to S. Robert Powell in 1943.


Early life and career

After studying art at Pratt Institute in New York City, Powell, like many comics artists in the late 1930s, found work at Eisner & Iger, one of the most prominent "packagers" who supplied complete comic books to publishers testing the waters of the emerging medium. His first work is believed to be the uncredited three-page story "A Letter of Introduction", featuring the famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy, in Fiction House's "Jumbo Comics" #2 (Oct. 1938). Another of his earliest works, under the pseudonym Arthur Dean, was penciling the adventure feature "Dr. Fung" in Fox's "Wonder Comics" #1 (May 1939) and subsequently.

Powell also did early work for Fox's "Wonderworld Comics" and "Mystery Men Comics"; Fiction House's "Planet Comics", where his strips included "Gale Allen and the Women's Space Battalion"; Harvey's "Speed Comics", for which he wrote and drew the feature "Ted Parrish", (reportedly pencilling at least once under the pseudonym Bob Stanley); Timely's one-shot "Tough Kid Squad Comics"; Quality's "Crack Comics" (where he pencilled as Terence McAully), "Hit Comics" (as Stanley Charlot), "Military Comics" (where he signed his pencils for the "Loops and Banks" aviation strip as Bud Ernest), "Smash Comics" (as Powell Roberts), and "Feature Comics".

heena and Superheroes

As part of the Eisner & Iger studio, Powell drew many of the earliest adventures of the jungle-queen Sheena in "Jumbo Comics", though Robert Webb would soon become the longest-running Sheena artist. Later, after Will Eisner split off to form his own studio in an arrangement with Quality publisher Everett M. "Busy" Arnold — bringing Powell, Nick Cardy, Chuck Cuidera, Lou Fine and others with him — Powell pitched in to co-write the premiere of "Blackhawk," created by Eisner and Cuidera, in "Military Comics" #1 (Aug. 1941). Powell remained uncredited until Eisner and Cuidera, in a 1999 panel, discussed his contribution. [ P.O.V. Online (column of Sept. 8, 2000), by Mark Evanier] (Transcript, Part 2, of 1999 Comic-Con International panel with Chuck Cuidera and Will Eisner)] Powell became particularly known for his "good girl art" in Magazine Enterprises' "Cave Girl", and in Fiction House's "Jungle Comics", where he worked on early Sheena stories and later on the zebra-bikini'd jungle adventuress Camilla.

In the realm of superhero comics, Powell co-created the patriotic character personifying the Spirit of '76, in Harvey's "Pocket Comics" #1 (Aug. 1941). It would become a long-running feature in Harvey's "Green Hornet Comics". Powell also penciled a Golden Age Captain America story, "The Sorcerer's Sinister Secret", in Timely's "All Winners Comics" #4 (Spring 1942), and pencilled a chapter of the historic "All Winners Comics" #19 (Fall 1946). He notably drew the backup feature "Mr. Mystic" in Eisner's "The Spirit Section", a 16-page comic-book insert for Sunday newspapers, from the feature's inception in 1940 until Powell entered the U.S. Air Force for his World War II military service in 1943.

Post-war Powell

Following his discharge, Powell formed his own studio and drew for numerous comic-book publishers. Among his notable works in the 1950s to early 1960s were features and covers for Street and Smith's "Shadow Comics"; Magazine Enterprises' "Bobby Benson's B-Bar-B Riders", and all four issues of "Strong Man"; for Harvey Comics he produced many war, romance, and horror stories, as well as work for their titles "Man in Black", "Adventures in 3-D" and "True 3-D"; and a handful of mid-1960s Daredevil, Giant-Man, Hulk and Human Torch stories for Marvel Comics. One of Powell's main assistants in the 1950s was Howard Nostrand, another long-time assistant was Martin Epp.

In 1961, Powell became art director for the satirical magazine "Sick", working there until his death. On a freelance basis, he worked on Topps' 1962 "Mars Attacks" trading cards, doing the final pencil art based on early pencils roughs by Wally Wood; Norm Saunders then did the final painted art. Powell had previously worked with Saunders and others on Topps' 1961 "Civil War News" series of cards.

As commentator and columnist Fred Hembeck described Powell's brief tenure at Marvel,

In comic strips, Powell drew writer Bessie Little's short-lived "Teena-a-Go-Go" (1966).


Tom Heintjes: "After "The Spirit", perhaps the best drawn feature in the section was Powell's 'Mr. Mystic'. Eisner created Mr. Mystic by retooling his Yarko the Great, which had been syndicated overseas. After running through Eisner's scripts, Powell wrote and drew the feature until he was drafted a couple of years later. (A very good artist, Powell was a journeyman writer who tried but never managed to sell Eisner on some "Spirit" scripts, a situation that rankled Powell for some time.) 'Mr. Mystic' was cut from the Sunday section's lineup in 1944, by which time Fred Guardineer was handling its production". [ [ "Will Eisner's The Spirit: Writing the Rules", by Tom Heintjes] ] Will Eisner on Eisner's partnership with Everett M. "Busy" Arnold creating tensions with Powell: "There were problems between partners, because Arnold had his own line of books, and we were sometimes competitors. He offered Bob Powell an increase on what I was paying him for working on 'The Spirit Section', and Bob came to me and said, 'I can make more with your partners.' I called up Arnold and said, 'You want a lawsuit?' Arnold apologized but Powell got very angry, and he said, 'You ruined my career! You cut me off.' I said, 'Well, you want to quit me, and go down the street and work for someone else...well, all right. But you're not going to work for my partner while I'm around'. Anyway, we settled it. When I went into the service ... I got a letter from Bob Powell that said, 'Well, now that you're in the Army, you might get killed. I want to tell you that I forgive you' (laughter)".

Nick Cardy on Powell at the Eisner studio: "Bob Powell came in later when I was doing "Lady Luck". He was sitting behind me. He would help a kid around the block — tell a newcomer to take it easy and that sort of thing". [ [ "Comic Book Artist" #5 (Summer 1999): "Spotlight on Nick Cardy: The 1998 San Diego ComiCon Panel Transcript"] ]

Will Eisner on Powell at the Eisner studio: "It was a friendly shop, and I guess I was the same age as the youngest guys there. We all got along. The only ones who ever got into a hassle were George Tuska and Bob Powell. Powell was kind of a wiseguy and made remarks about other people in the shop. One day, George had enough of it, got up, and punched out Bob Powell". [Will Eisner interview, "Alter Ego" #48, May 2005, p. 21]



* [ Lambiek Comiclopedia: Bob Powell]
* [ Wildwood Cemetery: The Spirit Database]
* [ The Grand Comics Database]
* [ Zelda's Mars Attacks Home Page]
* [ Norm Saunders site: Topps Card Checklist]
* [ The Comic Strip Project]
* [ Comic Book Profiles: Mr. Mystic]
* [ Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Mr. Mystic]

External links

* [ Classic Good Girl & Romance Covers: "I Joined a Teen-Age Sex Club", "First Love Illustrated" #13, 1951] (original art by Powell and inker Howard Nostrand)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.