Robert Bernstein (comics)

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Robert Bernstein
Bernsteingezaandajerryschoenbaum.jpg
Robert Bernstein (left) in 1965 with pianist Géza Anda (center) and Jerry Schoenbaum, head of MGM's classical music division.
Born (1919-05-23)May 23, 1919[1]
Died December 19, 1988(1988-12-19) (aged 69)
Delray Beach, Florida
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer
Pseudonym(s) R. Berns
Notable works
Aquaman

Robert Bernstein (May 23, 1919 – December 19, 1988),[2] sometimes credited as R. Berns, was an American comic book writer, playwright and concert impresario, notable as the founder of the Island Concert Hall recital series which ran for 15 years on Long Island.[3]

His presentations spanned three decades. In 1951, when he co-founded the Roslyn Music Group, presenting chamber-music ensembles and soloists on Long Island, his concert career as an impresario was underway. Because Long Island had "an omnivorous appetite for the arts", as he phrased it, Bernstein launched the nonprofit Concert Hall subscription series in 1964, offering 30 annual performances of classical, jazz, dance and theater, including Broadway road company shows and New York Philharmonic concerts. The popular events were staged at Long Island University's C. W. Post Center, the Nassau Coliseum and other Long Island auditoriums.[3]

Bernstein's one-act plays received a posthumous performance in 1993 at the Arena Players Repertory Theater in East Farmingdale, Long Island.[4]

Comic books[edit]

As a writer, he is best known for his EC Comics tales and his Superman stories for DC Comics, where he also established the origin and mythos of Aquaman. With various artists, Bernstein co-created DC's Congorilla, Aqualad and Aquagirl, and also Archie Comics' the Jaguar.

Like most comics professionals of this time, Bernstein went largely uncredited, often receiving credit belatedly in modern-day reprints of his work. His first confirmable credit is the signed, six-page story "Ghouls' Gold" in publisher Lev Gleason's Crime Does Not Pay #43 (Jan. 1946). Other early work includes a five-page story in Spark Publications' Golden Lad #4, featuring the character Swift Arrow, plus includes text fillers for DC Comics and Fawcett Comics, and a 1947 Green Lantern story.[5]

For Marvel Comics' 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, Bernstein wrote for the war comics series War Comics, as well as several stories of the masked Western character Black Rider. Also during this decade, he wrote for DC's All-American Men of War, G.I. Combat, Our Army at War, Our Fighting Forces, and Star Spangled War Stories; psychological drama in EC's Psychoanalysis and Shock Illustrated; and superhero stories, working with artist Jack Kirby on at least one Green Arrow tale, in World's Finest Comics #99 (Feb. 1959).[5]

With artist Howard Sherman, Bernstein adapted the long-running "Congo Bill" jungle-adventure feature into the body-switching superhero feature "Congorilla", beginning in Action Comics #248 (Jan. 1959).[5][6][7]

Superman and Aquaman[edit]

Bernstein's first recorded Superman story, for DC Comics, is "The Oldest Man In Metropolis", in Action Comics #251 (April 1959). Later work include the DC titles Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, Superboy (as well as the later Superboy feature in Adventure Comics), and features starring Green Arrow and Supergirl. With artist Ramona Fradon, he reintroduced the 1940s Golden Age superhero Aquaman in Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959)[8] and scripted through at least #282 (March 1961), introducing major characters along the way.[5] One of these, in Adventure Comics #269 (Feb. 1960), was the teen sidekick Aqualad,[9] who decades later would become the adult hero Tempest.[10] Bernstein and artist George Papp introduced the Phantom Zone and General Zod into the Superman mythos in Adventure Comics #283 (April 1961).[11]

Later during this period historians and fans call the Silver Age of Comic Books, Bernstein scripted stories of the Archie Comics character the Fly and the Jaguar,[12] and, with plots by Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee, some of the earliest Iron Man and Thor stories, in, respectively Tales of Suspense and Journey into Mystery. He also scripted some Human Torch stories, plotted by penciler Jack Kirby, in Strange Tales.[5] He used the pen name "R. Berns" for his Marvel work.[13]

Bernstein's last known original DC story is "King Superman versus Clark Kent, Metallo" in Action Comics #312 (May 1964). Bernstein adapted the famed radio character the Shadow for Archie Comics that same year, and his last known comics work are the two stories in The Shadow #3 (Nov. 1964).[5]

Personal life[edit]

Bernstein lived in Upper Brookville, New York, on Long Island. At age 69, he died of heart failure at his Delray Beach, Florida, winter home, survived by his wife, Beverly, of Upper Brookville; his daughter, Alison, of Manhattan; his sister, Louise Sandler of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and two grandchildren, Emma and Julia Brown-Bernstein. Beverly Bernstein died November 10, 2011 at the age of 99.[2][3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Robert Bernstein, 19 December 1988". United States Social Security Death Index. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Social Security Death Index for "Bernstein. Robert" (no middle initial), Social Security Number 084-14-9274. Accessed March 27, 2011
  3. ^ a b c "Robert Bernstein, 69; Founded Music Series". The New York Times. December 22, 1988. Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ Frank, Leah D. (September 19, 1993). "Theater Review; Ethnic Look at Love in Three One-Acters". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Robert Bernstein at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Markstein, Don (2009). "Congorilla". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. 
  7. ^ Irvine, Alex; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1950s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Writer Robert Bernstein and artist Howard Sherman gave Congo Bill a new direction in Action Comics #248." 
  8. ^ Cronin, Brian (January 12, 2006). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #33!". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ McAvennie, Michael "1960s" in Dolan, p. 98: "Writer Robert Bernstein and artist Ramona Fradon provided a lifelong pal for Aquaman in a backup tale in this issue."
  10. ^ "Tempest II (Garth)". DCUGuide.com (fan site). no date. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. 
  11. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 102
  12. ^ Markstein, Don (2009). "The Jaguar". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. 
  13. ^ Evanier, Mark (no date). "An Incessantly Asked Question #5". POV Online. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]