Lee Elias (r.) with Harvey Comics
publisher Alfred Harvey in 1947
May 21, 1920
Manchester, United Kingdom
|Died||April 8, 1998(aged 77)|
|Notable works||Black Cat|
Emigrating to the United States from Manchester, England, when he was a boy, Elias studied art at the Cooper Union and the Art Students League. He started working in comics in 1943 at Fiction House, where his work included features like Captain Wings in Wing Comics, on which he succeeded Bob Lubbers, as well as the Western hero Firehair.
After leaving Fiction House in 1946, he worked for several different comics companies, including Timely Comics, Hillman and National/DC (where he worked on such characters as the Flash, Tommy Tomorrow and Black Canary).
It was Elias's work on Black Cat, a stuntwoman turned crimefighter, for Harvey, that stood out in this period. The series was praised by comics historian Trina Robbins for its "logical" and "straightforward" approach, in contrast to more fantasy-oriented titles like Wonder Woman. Elias worked both as a penciler and an inker in this series, with an art style largely influenced by artists like Milton Caniff and Noel Sickles. (Elias worked for a period as Caniff's assistant.) He used the same style for the comic book version of Terry and the Pirates, Caniff's classic comic strip in the same period. Lee Elias left comic books after the 1954 publication of Fredric Wertham's anti-comics book Seduction of the Innocent, which used four of his Black Cat panels as examples of "depraved" comic art.
Elias' work on comic strips included a two-year stint as an assistant to Al Capp on Li'l Abner. His best known comic strip was Beyond Mars, which ran from 1952 to 1955 and was co-created by Elias and science fiction writer Jack Williamson. The strip was exclusive to the New York Daily News' Sunday paper in the United States but was syndicated in Europe and Australia. It was the last Sunday strip to be color-engraved by hand, according to comic strip historian Rick Marschall.
Elias and writer Bob Haney co-created the supervillain Eclipso in House of Secrets #61 (August 1963). From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, Elias returned to his native England. In 1972, Elias came back to American comic books, working mainly for DC Comics on features such as Green Arrow, Cave Carson, and Adam Strange. After 1972 Elias mainly worked on DC's various horror titles, and also secondary Marvel Comics books like Power Man and The Human Fly. His last big project was The Rook series for Warren Publishing, a black-and-white time travel series which played to his strengths as a Western and science fiction artist.
- "Comments to Cage," Power Man #40 (Marvel Comics, Feb. 1977).
- Robbins, Trina. The Great Women Superheroes (Kitchen Sink Press, 1996, ISBN 0-87816-481-2).
- "Beyond Mars," Markstein, Don. Toonpedia Accessed March 7, 2009.
- Wallace, Dan (2008). "Eclipso". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 112. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "In August's House of Secrets #61, writer Bob Haney and artist Lee Elias used a black diamond to transform Dr. Bruce Gordon into Eclipso."