Al Plastino in 2007
December 15, 1921|
Manhattan, New York
|Died||November 25, 2013
Patchogue, New York
|Area(s)||Writer, Penciller, Inker, Editor, Letterer, Colourist|
|Notable works||Action Comics
|Awards||Inkpot Award 2008|
Alfred John Plastino (December 15, 1921 – November 25, 2013) was an American comic book artist best known as one of the most prolific Superman artists of the 1950s, along with his DC Comics colleague Wayne Boring. Plastino also worked as a comics writer, editor, letterer and colorist.
Early life and career
Born at Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in Manhattan, New York City, on December 15, 1921, and raised in The Bronx, Plastino was interested in art since grade school. He attended the School of Industrial Art in New York City, and afterward began illustrating for Youth Today magazine. He was accepted into the college Cooper Union but chose to continue working as a freelance artist. His earliest known credited comic-book work is as penciler-inker of the Dynamic Man and Major Victory superhero features and Green Knight medieval-adventure story in Dynamic Publications' Dynamic Comics #2 (cover-dated Dec. 1941). Before the war, Plastino inked some issues of Captain America.
With the outbreak of World War II, Plastino and his brothers were drafted, and he served in the U.S. Army. There, a sketch he had made for a model airplane he had designed caught an officer's attention, leading to his being assigned to Grumman Aerospace Corporation, the National Inventors Council and then the Pentagon. He was assigned there to the Adjutant General's office, where he designed war posters and field manuals. After his discharge he began working for Steinberg Studios, drawing Army posters.
While working out of a studio in New York City with two other cartoonists in 1948, Plastino showed sample art of Superman to DC Comics, which offered him work. Now settled in the comic book field, he largely dropped other commercial work for two decades. Early on at DC, Plastino was forced to copy Wayne Boring's style until the editors became comfortable with his own style. He did 48 Superman covers as well as countless DC stories.
Plastino worked on several titles within the Superman family of comics, including Superboy and Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane. With writer Otto Binder, he co-created Supergirl in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Plastino also drew the Superboy story in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958) that introduced the Legion of Super-Heroes, a teen superhero team from the future that eventually became one of DC's most popular features; with writer Binder, Plastino co-created the first Legion characters: Cosmic Boy; Lightning Lad (as Lightning Boy) and Saturn Girl. He drew the first appearance of the supervillain the Parasite in Action Comics #340 (Aug. 1966).
Plastino's "pride and joy" was a story he drew for Superman #168 (April 1964, scheduled for publication Feb. 1964), titled "Superman's Mission for President Kennedy." The piece was done in collaboration with the Kennedy administration to help promote the president’s national physical fitness program. In the story, Superman visits the White House, and trusts President John F. Kennedy with his secret identity. The story was produced shortly before Kennedy was assassinated, which led to the cancellation of its publication. At the behest of President Lyndon Johnson, it was published two months later, in Superman #170 (June 1964), with Plastino adding a title page showing a ghostly figure of Kennedy looking down from the heavens at Superman flying over Washington, D.C.
In the early 1970s, Plastino was one of the artists DC assigned to redraw the heads of Jack Kirby's renditions of Superman and Jimmy Olsen, fearing that Kirby's versions were too different from the established images of the characters.
Plastino drew the syndicated Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder comic strip from 1968–72, and was the uncredited ghost artist on the Superman strip from 1960 to 1969. In 1968, when he and other older creators were ousted from DC Comics, Plastino, who continued to work on the DC comic strips. In 1970, he took over the syndicated strip Ferd'nand, which he drew until his retirement in 1989.
Plastino also worked on Sunday episodes of Nancy from 1982 to 1983 after Ernie Bushmiller died. During this period, David Letterman showed on TV a Nancy panel with a close shot of Plastino's signature and then made a joke about Plastino as a superhero name. Plastino's official website says the artist was commissioned by the United Media newspaper syndicate to ghost Peanuts when Charles Schulz underwent heart surgery in 1980s, but David Michaelis, author of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, revealed that syndicate president William C. Payette had hired Plastino to draw a backlog of Peanuts strips during contract negotiations with Schulz in the 1970s. When Schulz and the syndicate reached a successful agreement, United Media stored these unpublished strips, the existence of which eventually became public.
Plastino lived for many years in Shirley, New York, on Long Island. At the time of his death on November 25, 2013, at Brookhaven Hospital in Patchogue, New York, Plastino had been suffering from prostate cancer and Guillain-Barré syndrome. He had been married to his wife AnnMarie for 55 years at the time of his death. The couple had four children: Fred, Janice, Arlene and the eldest, MaryAnn (born c. 1958), who managed his business affairs.
- Action Comics (Superman) #120, 122-128, 130-131, 133, 135, 139-140, 143, 145, 148-149, 152-157, 169-170, 172, 176-177, 183, 185, 193, 197, 201, 205, 208, 212-214, 217, 220, 222, 228, 242, 247, 249, 251-252, 254-255, 259-260, 271, 273, 281-282, 289, 291-292, 294, 296, 300-302, 306, 308, 314, 317, 320, 322-324, 328-329, 331-335, 337, 340, 341- 345, 354, 361 (1948–68)
- Adventure Comics (Superboy) #245, 247, 253, 256, 268, 271, 276, 278, 281, 286, 292, 294, 296, 298, 324, 333, 335, 341, 344 (1958–66)
- Superboy #59-60, 62, 65, 67, 79, 81, 83, 86, 88, 90, 93, 96, 98, 102, 105, 107-108, 110, 114, 116, 125, 128-129, 133, 137, 140, 143, 149 (1957–68)
- Superman #53-56, 58-59, 61, 63-69, 71-73, 75-109, 112, 114-118, 120, 122, 124-125, 129-131, 133, 135-136, 138-139, 144-147, 150-153, 157, 160-161, 163-165, 169-171, 173-174, 178-180, 183-184, 186, 191, 193-194, 196-198, 201-206 (1948–68)
- Yardley, William (November 29, 2013). "Al Plastino, 91, Dies; Drew Many Superheroes". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- Lovece, Frank (November 26, 2013). "Al Plastino, 'Superman' illustrator from Shirley, dies at 91". Newsday (New York/Long Island). Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- Bubbeo, Daniel (August 16, 2012 web, August 18, 2012 print). "Long Islanders behind Batman comics". Newsday (New York/Long Island). pp. B4–B5. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
- "About Al". Al Plastino (official site). Archived from the original on July 7, 2011.
- Al Plastino at the Grand Comics Database.
- Plastino bio, "Living Legends," New York Comic-Con program booklet #4 (Reed Exhibitions, 2009), p. 14.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "With a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by Al Plastino, the Parasite entered Superman's life."
- "Superman's Mission for President Kennedy" at the Grand Comics Database
- Italiano, Laura (October 25, 2013). "'Superman' artist stunned to find 'donated' work on sale". New York Post. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- Evanier, Mark (August 22, 2003). "Untitled". POV Online. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012. "Plastino drew new Superman figures and Olsen heads in roughly the same poses and positions, and these were pasted into the artwork."
- Bails, Jerry; Hames Ware. "Plastino, Al". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
- Cronin, Brian (January 11, 2013). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #401". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
- Evanier, Mark. "Al Plastino, R.I.P.". News From Me. Retrieved November 26, 2013. "...who died this afternoon."
- Ross, Barbara (November 26, 2013). "Longtime illustrator for ‘Superman’ and other comic book legends dies". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
- Cadigan, Glen. The Legion Companion (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2003)
Media related to Al Plastino at Wikimedia Commons