||This article, except for two footnotes, includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but the sources of this article, except for two footnotes, remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (May 2011)|
|Born||John Francis Rosenberger
November 30, 1918
Richmond Hill, Queens
|Died||January 24, 1977(aged 58)|
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane
John Francis Rosenberger (born November 30, 1918, in Richmond Hill, Queens – died January 24, 1977), also occasionally credited as John Diehl, was an American comic book artist and painter from after the Second World War until the mid-1970s. Educated at the Pratt Institute, he worked primarily in the romance and superhero genres of comics, with forays into many other subjects.
Early life (1918-1945)
Rosenberger was born and grew up in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens. During early childhood, he was bedridden for two years with scarlet fever. It was during this time he began to draw. His father, a printer, encouraged John's artistic ambitions, and recruited him to help at the print shop. John continued to draw, and took inspiration from such artists as Norman Rockwell, Alex Raymond, Hal Foster and Milton Caniff.
In 1938, Rosenberger enrolled in night classes at Pratt Institute, where he met and started a romantic relationship with Marguerite "Peggy" Chapellier. Peggy was a fellow student and also happened to be the daughter of prominent art dealer George Chapellier. During their time at Pratt, John was painting houses and Peggy worked for Western Publishing as a comics colorist. The two continued to see each other as they took classes through 1941, and were married on May 27, 1942.
Soon after the marriage, John was drafted into the Army, compelling the couple to relocate to Washington, DC. There, John taught at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers School at Fort Belvoir, and was editor of the military magazine The Specialist, to which he contributed pin-ups and other illustrations. In 1943 John was sent overseas for the remainder of the war, working on the construction of an oil pipeline in the China Burma India Theater. The Rosenbergers' first son John was born while he was away.
After the war, the Rosenbergers moved into a new house in Jackson Heights, Queens, and John took a job at his father-in-law's gallery, eventually becoming manager. (Chapellier Galleries was located next to the Whitney, and dealt in American art, endorsing such painters as William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri and Frank Duveneck.) Meanwhile, Rosenberger painted portraits and spent evenings and free time preparing samples of his art and looking for publishers.
Early comics career (1946-1960)
Rosenberger had done a bit of work for Dell before the war. He started comics work again in 1946, and by 1949 he was working entirely freelance. He had left his job at the gallery in April, 1948, and was soon working on crime, western, adventure, and romance stories for several different publishers.
Robert Bernstein was a writer Rosenberger met while drawing for Brevity, Inc., a company which produced industrial, political, and educational comics in booklet form. The pair pitched an original serial newspaper strip called Sands of the South Seas a couple of years later. The proposal resulted in the publication of one issue of a comic book (retitled Sands of the South Pacific) by Toby Press. Future newspaper strip pitches were less successful, with both Christopher Crown (1959) and Chris Cross (1965) rejected by the syndicates, but the two would become frequent creative collaborators on other projects.
Other work came for Rosenberger in the form of painted covers for paperback book publishers. With his background in oil painting, this kind of work was less stressful than comics jobs, which proved to be a great pressure for him. Indeed, Rosenberger suffered a nervous breakdown in 1952, after which the family temporarily moved to a small town in Connecticut. He soon resumed working on the paperback covers, but was hesitant in going back to work for comics.
John's reentry into regular comics work was facilitated by friendly encouragement from Richard E. Hughes, editor for the American Comics Group (ACG). After about a year in Connecticut, in which the Rosenbergers went deep into debt, John signed on for work with ACG and the family moved to Levittown, Long Island, close to their new good friends the Hugheses.
While there was some work from Dell-affiliated Custom Comics (which produced educational pamphlets), work with Brevity, Inc. ended when its owner unexpectedly died in 1953. There was a dispute over royalties and a failed attempt by Rosenberger and Bernstein to buy the company, but nothing came of it, leaving ACG as Rosenberger's biggest account for the mid- to late-50s. He covered all genres for ACG, and worked in all the company's titles in some part through the mid-60s, including Adventures Into the Unknown, Forbidden Worlds, Unknown Worlds, and Romantic Adventures, all of which had managed to survive the implementation of the Comics Code in 1954.
Superheroes and Romance (1960-1975)
On September 6, 1960, Rosenberger started an account with Archie Publications, and soon began work on the Simon & Kirby-created title The Fly for the Archie Adventure Series. Rosenberger then teamed with Bob Bernstein to create The Jaguar in a similar mold. He also served as a regular artist on several other titles for the Adventure Series before the group segued into the campy Mighty Comics.
Other projects Rosenberger worked on with Archie included the first issue of a short-lived iteration of The Shadow, written by Jerry Siegel, and some work penciling Archie stories. In late 1966 he stopped all his work with Archie Publications.
Meanwhile, Rosenberger had been working for National (now DC Comics) since 1963 on romance stories. His style suited the still-popular genre in that he kept up-to-date with fashionable hair and clothing styles. Also, he always drew women as ideal beauties and his leading men were all handsome.
In 1965 he drew his first superhero story for DC. It was a Supergirl and Wonder Woman story for The Brave and the Bold #63 called The Revolt of the Super Chicks!, and it was an appropriate subject for Rosenberger's expertise. Cartoonist Fred Hembeck has noted that Rosenberger's superhero work showed his background in the romance genre, with "luscious babes" and a unique proficiency in rendering "expressions of impotent bewildered befuddlement" on the faces of male protagonists.
Rosenberger continued with romance work for DC in books like Falling in Love, Girls' Love, Girls' Romances, Secret Hearts, and Young Romance, but the genre's popularity was quickly waning. Around 1972-1974, John was regularly working on various features for DC titles like Strange Sports Stories, Superman Family, Wonder Woman, and World's Finest Comics, and with characters like Zatanna and Lois Lane. He also co-created Lady Cop with Robert Kanigher.
In 1974, Rosenberger stopped work on DC projects for unknown reasons. He started penciling for Sy Barry, the regular artist for the Phantom newspaper strip, whose eyesight was beginning to fail him. He continued with this task on-and-off for about a year.
Sickness and Death (1976-1977)
Rosenberger suffered a heart attack on April 22, 1976, and took about two months off to recover. In August he was diagnosed with cancer, and he died on January 24, 1977, at the age of 58. His last work was for Wonder Woman #217 (1975), for which he who would pencil only the first four pages before taking ill. Subsequently, this issue was redrawn completely by Dick Dillin. The Rosenberger pages were later published in Amazing World of DC Comics #15 (Aug. 1977).
Comics work (interior pencil art) includes:
- Adventures of The Fly #11-28 (1961-63)
- Adventures of The Jaguar #1-15 (1961-63)
- Adventures of Young Dr. Masters #1-2 (1964)
- Betty and Me #3 (1966)
- Amazing World of DC Comics #15 (featuring the unpublished pencils of Wonder Woman #217; this story would be re-drawn by artist Dick Dillin)
- Brave and the Bold (Supergirl and Wonder Woman) #63 (1965)
- Date with Debbi #4, 7, 16 (1969-70)
- Falling in Love #70, 76, 80, 94, 97-102, 104-105, 107-109, 115 (1964-70)
- 1st Issue Special (Lady Cop) #4 (1975)
- Girls' Love Stories #112-114, 119, 132, 134-135, 137, 139-140, 142, 144, 146-152, 158, 161, 168-170, 172-175 (1965-73)
- Girls' Romances #131-136, 142-143, 146, 148, 151, 159 (1968-71)
- Secret Hearts #90, 111-114. 116, 118-110, 124, 130, 134, 138-140, 145, 148 (1963-1970)
- Strange Sports Stories #4-6 (1974)
- Supergirl (Zatanna) #1; (Supergirl) #5 (1972-73)
- Superman Family (Lois Lane) #166, 169; (Supergirl) #168 (1974-75)
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #122-137 (1972-74)
- The Unexpected #177 (1977)
- Wonder Woman #215-216 (1974-75)
- Young Love #67-68, 104 (1968-1974)
- Young Romance #152, 158, 160-161, 163, 166-167, 173-175, 197-198 (1968-1974)
- Adventures Into Terror #31 (1954)
- Adventures Into Weird Worlds #22-23 (1953)
- Journey Into Unknown Worlds #16-17, 27 (1953-1954)
- Where Monsters Dwell #28 (1974)
- "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JPWM-YJF : accessed 02 Mar 2013), John Rosenberger, January 1977.
- Hembeck, Fred (2005). "Episode 27: Enter The Fly.". The Fred Hembeck Show.
- Amazing World of DC Comics #15 at the Grand Comics Database
- Hill, Roger (April 2003). "John Rosenberger... the Jaguar of the Comics!". Alter Ego 23: 21–41.
- Bails, Jerry. "Rosenberger, John". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999.