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|
|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 at $35 a page. Plastino, who had heard that Superman artists were receiving $55 a page, negotiated a $50 rate. 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 but gradually began using his own style. He did 48 Superman covers as well as countless DC stories. Plastino and writer Bill Finger produced the story for Superman #61 (Nov. 1949) in which kryptonite, which had originated on the The Adventures of Superman radio program made its way into the comic books. He drew the Lois Lane feature in Showcase #9 (Aug. 1957) which served as a tryout for the character's own series.
Plastino worked on several titles within the Superman family of comics, including Superboy and Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane. Plastino 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 Otto Binder, Plastino co-created the first Legion characters: Cosmic Boy; Lightning Lad (as Lightning Boy) and Saturn Girl. Binder and Plastino debuted the villain Brainiac and the Bottle City of Kandor in Action Comics #242 (July 1958). The two men co-created Supergirl in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Plastino drew the first appearance of the supervillain the Parasite in Action Comics #340 (Aug. 1966).
Plastino's "greatest pride"' 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 B. 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. Plastino had always believed the artwork had been donated to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, but the artwork was placed on auction by a private entity in late 2013. DC Entertainment subsequently purchased the art and donated it to the Library.
In the early 1970s, DC Comics, fearing Jack Kirby's versions of Superman and Jimmy Olsen were too different from their established representations, assigned Plastino (among other artists) to redraw those characters' heads in Kirby's various titles. In 1996, Plastino was one of the many artists who contributed to the Superman: The Wedding Album one-shot wherein the title character married Lois Lane.
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 1966. 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. 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 the 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 (1948–1968)
- Adventure Comics (Superboy) #245, 247, 253, 256, 268, 271, 276, 278, 281, 286, 292, 294, 296, 298, 324, 333, 335, 341, 344 (1958–1966)
- Girls' Love Stories #12 (1951)
- Showcase #9 (Lois Lane) (1957)
- 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, 168 (1957–1970)
- 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 (1948–1968)
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #5, 12, 18, 20 (1958–1960)
- Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #50, 55-56, 60, 64, 73, 76, 78, 87 (1961–1965)
- Superman: The Wedding Album #1 (1996)
- World's Finest Comics #34, 39-43, 47, 49, 51, 54-58, 60-61, 64, 67, 70, 165 (1948–1967)
- Yardley, William (November 29, 2013). "Al Plastino, 91, Dies; Drew Many Superheroes". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- Lovece, Frank (November 26, 2013). "Al Plastino, 'Superman' illustrator from Shirley, dies at 91". Newsday. New York/Long Island. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2013. (subscription required)
- Bubbeo, Daniel (August 16, 2012). "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. (subscription required)
- "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.
- Stroud, Bryan (December 12, 2007). "Al Plastino interview (Pt. 1)". The Silver Age Sage. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012.
- Zeno, Ed (December 2, 2013). "Excerpts from Last Superman Standing: The Al Plastino Story". The Comics Journal. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
When asked why he broke from following Boring’s lead, Plastino said, 'No one said change it. Wayne’s work was really clean cut and professional, though the characters were a little stiff. It almost hurt me to draw like him. I tried to keep the look consistent, but it gradually did change.'
- Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1940s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Kryptonite finally appeared in comics following its introduction in The Adventures of Superman radio show back in 1943. In a story by writer Bill Finger and artist Al Plastino...the Man of Steel determined that the cause of his weakness was a piece of meteorite rock.
- Irvine, Alex "1950s" in Dolan, p. 85: "The future title Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane got a tryout in issues #9 and #10 of Showcase, when Lois Lane stepped in as the lead feature. The lead story in Showcase #9, 'The Girl in Superman's Past', by writer Jerry Coleman and artist Al Plastino, introduced Lois Lane to Superman's old flame Lana Lang."
- Irvine "1950s" in Dolan, p. 89: "The Legion of Super-Heroes would become one of DC's most enduring and popular groups despite their humble beginnings, in a story by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino."
- Irvine "1950s" in Dolan, p. 90: "The mythology of Krypton expanded dramatically with the introduction of the evil Brainiac and the Bottle City of Kandor in the Action Comics #242 story 'The Super-Duel in Space', written by Otto Binder and [drawn by] artist Al Plastino"
- Markstein, Don (2010). "Supergirl". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on June 5, 2014.
- McAvennie, Michael "1960s" in Dolan, p. 118: "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.
...Plastino’s daughter, MaryAnn Plastino Charles, 55, told The Post. 'He is 91, he has prostate cancer, and this is not helping him at all,' she said of her dad....
- Doran, Michael (November 26, 2013). "DC Comics Reports the Passing of Artist Al Plastino". Newsarama. Archived from the original on December 5, 2013.
- "Al Plastino Art Acquired and to be Donated by DC Entertainment to John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston". DC Entertainment. December 16, 2013. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014.
- Evanier, Mark (August 22, 2003). "Jack Kirby's Superman". News From ME. 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.
- Manning, Matthew K. "1990s" in Dolan, p. 275: " The behind-the-scenes talent on the monumental issue appropriately spanned several generations of the Man of Tomorrow's career. Written by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, David Michelinie, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern, the one-shot featured the pencils of John Byrne, Gil Kane, Stuart Immonen, Paul Ryan, Jon Bogdanove, Kieron Dwyer, Tom Grummett, Dick Giordano, Jim Mooney, Curt Swan, Nick Cardy, Al Plastino, Barry Kitson, Ron Frenz, and Dan Jurgens."
- Stroud, Bryan (May 12, 2008). "Al Plastino interview (Pt. 2)". The Silver Age Sage. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012.
- Bails, Jerry; Hames Ware. "Plastino, Al". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
- "Al Plastino". Lambiek Comiclopedia. November 26, 2013. Archived from the original on June 3, 2014.
- 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 (November 25, 2013). "Al Plastino, R.I.P.". News From Me. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. 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, New York. Archived from the original on December 18, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
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