Fradon at the 2013 New York Comic Con
|Born||October 2, 1926|
Brenda Starr, Reporter
|Awards||Women Cartoonists Hall of Fame, 1999|
Eisner Award Hall of Fame, 2006
Ramona Fradon was born in Chicago and moved to New York when she was five. She grew up on the outskirts of New York City in Westchester County. Her father, Peter Dom, was a well known commercial lettering man and designed logos for Elizabeth Arden, Camel, and Lord & Taylor. Fradon also had an older brother and uncle in the lettering business. Her brother worked as a technician for the Air Corps overseas and eventually died of alcoholism. Her mother fell ill and died in 1952. She never read comic books growing up but she had a love for newspaper strips. Fradon's father was the one that encouraged her to go to art school.
Ramona Fradon entered cartooning just after graduating from the Parsons School of Design. Soon after she left art school, she married her husband, New Yorker cartoonist Dana Fradon, who encouraged her to try cartooning. Comic-book letterer George Ward, a friend of her husband, asked her for samples of her artwork to pitch for job openings. She landed her first assignment on the DC Comics feature "Shining Knight". Her first regular assignment was illustrating an Adventure Comics backup feature starring Aquaman. This included a revamping of the character for the Silver Age of Comics in Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959). Alongside said revamp, she and writer Robert Bernstein co-created the sidekick Aqualad in Adventure Comics #269 (Feb. 1960).
Following her time with Aquaman, Fradon returned to co-create Metamorpho. She drew the character's to try-out appearances in The Brave and the Bold and the first four issues of the eponymous series and returned briefly to design a few covers for the title. She later commented, "I think [writer Bob Haney and I] both felt that Metamorpho was our baby. I never had an experience like I had working with Bob Haney on Metamorpho. It was like our minds were in perfect synch ... it was one of those wonderful collaborations that doesn't happen very often." Fradon drew The Brave and the Bold #59 (April–May 1965), a Batman/Green Lantern team-up, the first time that series featured Batman teaming with another DC superhero.
From 1965 to 1972, Fradon left comics to raise her daughter. In 1972, she returned to DC where later in the decade she would draw Plastic Man, Freedom Fighters, and Super Friends which she penciled for almost its entire run. She also worked for Marvel Comics during this period, but left after only two assignments: a fill-in issue of Fantastic Four and the never-published fifth issue of The Cat. Fradon recounted:
First of all, I was really rusty. And [on The Cat #5] I was totally confounded by not drawing from a script. They gave me this one paragraph and said go draw this 17-page story. I don't think I did my best work by any means. I think I had a script on Fantastic Four, but I just don't think they were satisfied with my work. Then I went back to DC and started doing mysteries with Joe Orlando. I really had a lot of fun doing that. It suited my style, I think.
In 1980, Dale Messick retired from drawing the newspaper strip Brenda Starr, Reporter, and Fradon became the artist for it until her own retirement in 1995. She went back to college in 1980 at New York University where she studied psychology and ancient religions.
Metamorpho and style
Based on an idea by DC editor George Kashdan and co-created by Bob Haney and Fradon, the character Metamorpho first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #57 and 58 in January and March 1965 before headlining a 17-issue run of the character's self-titled series from August 1965 through March 1968.
Kashdan's concept involved a character made up of four elements who could change into different chemical compounds. Haney fleshed out the idea with a "deliciously overdrawn" cast.
Kashdan, Haney, and Fradon worked together to create Metamorpho's look:
He wasn't your average superhero so capes and masks didn't suit him. I tried a lot of those and finally decided that since he was always changing his shape, clothes would get in his way. So I drew him in tights, with a body made up of four different colors and textures that were supposed to indicate the four elements.
Fradon enjoyed her collaboration with Haney because "his goofy stories gave me ideas about how the characters should look and act, and my goofy pictures gave him new ideas." Metamorpho allowed Fradon to use an exaggerated drawing style which suited her better than the traditional approach to superhero illustration. Feeling "like a fish out of water" in the male-dominated superhero field, she reflected on her style in a 1988 interview:
[Trina Robbins] made the observation that most women tend to have a more open style, use less shadow, and work in bigger open patterns. I think that's probably true—at least I always did (work in that style). I thought that was a big failing of mine, that I couldn't emulate that kind of photographic reproduction style. When I read that this seemed to be a characteristic of women cartoonists, it made me feel a bit better about it. ... Something that always jarred my eyes is to see the kind of heaviness and ugliness about most comic art. There's not much sweetness to it. It's the tradition, and I don't think it has anything to do with the individual artists. It's just the tradition ... the look. That always troubled me.
Even in retirement, Fradon continued to do cartoon work. For the Spongebob Comics, Fradon contributed to the Mermaidman stories due to her work for Aquaman.
Angry Isis Press
- Choices #1 (1990)
- Sonic the Hedgehog #68 (1999)
- Simpsons Super Spectacular (Radioactive Man) #5 (2007)
- SpongeBob Comics (Mermaid Man) #3 (2011)
- SpongeBob Comics Annual (Mermaid Man) #1 (2013)
- 1st Issue Special #3 (Metamorpho) (1975)
- Adventure Comics #165–166 (Shining Knight); #167–168, 170–206, 208–280, 282 (Aquaman) (1951–1961)
- The Amazing World of DC Comics #10 (1976)
- The Brave and the Bold #55 (Metal Men and the Atom); #57–58 (Metamorpho); #59 (Batman and Green Lantern) (1964–1965)
- Detective Comics #170 (Roy Raymond) (1951)
- Freedom Fighters #3–6 (1976–1977)
- Gang Busters #10, 21, 25, 28, 30, 58 (1949–1957)
- House of Mystery #23, 42, 48, 56, 223, 230, 232, 235, 239, 251, 273, 275 (1954–1979)
- House of Secrets #116, 118, 121, 136 (1974–1975)
- Just Imagine... Stan Lee With Scott McDaniel Creating Aquaman #1 (2002)
- Metamorpho #1–4 (1965–1966)
- Mr. District Attorney #20–21, 32 (1951–1953)
- Plastic Man #11–20 (1976–1977)
- Plop! #8 (1974)
- Secrets of Haunted House #3, 14, 23 (1975–1980)
- Secrets of Sinister House #17 (1974)
- Showcase #30 (Aquaman) (1961)
- Silver Age Secret Files #1 (2000)
- Star Spangled War Stories #3–4, 8, 16, 184 (1952–1975)
- Super Friends #3–17, 19, 21–31, 33–34, 36–41 (1977–1981)
- Western Comics #23, 38, 40–42 (1951–1953)
- Wonder Woman Annual #2 (1989)
- World's Finest Comics #127–133, 135, 137, 139 (Aquaman) (1962–1964)
- Sea Ghost #1 (2010)
- Nick Mag Presents (Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy) (2003)
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol. 1 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- Horn, Maurice (1996). 100 Years of American Newspaper Comics. New York, New York: Gramercy Books. p. 64. ISBN 978-0517124475.
- Cooke, JOn B. (Fall 2016). "The Amazing Ramona Fradon: A Career-Spanning Interview". Comic Book Creator. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (13): 18–19.
- Cooke p. 19
- Cereno, Benito (September 30, 2016). "Ramona Forever: A Birthday Tribute to Ramona Fradon". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on May 3, 2019.
- Origen, Erich (n.d.). "Ramona Fradon: A Woman's Life in Comics". Graphic Novel Reporter. Archived from the original on December 2, 2018.
- Bails, Jerry (2006). "Fradon, Ramona". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013.
- Ramona Fradon at the Grand Comics Database
- Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Silver Age 1956–1970". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 347. ISBN 9783836519816.
She drew the strip from 1951 to 1961, the longest unbroken tenure any artist has had on the character.
- Adventure Comics #260, May 1959
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Writer Robert Bernstein and artist Ramona Fradon provided a lifelong pal for Aquaman in a backup tale in this issue.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Keller, Katherine (May 2000). "The Real Ramona". Sequential Tart. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015.
- McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 114: "Scribe Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon were truly in their element ... Haney and Fradon's collaborative chemistry resulted in [Rex] Mason becoming Metamorpho."
- Stroud, Bryan (May 2013). "Metamorpho in Action Comics". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (64): 23–24.
- Abramowitz, Jack (April 2014). "1st Issue Special: It Was No Showcase (But It Was Never Meant To Be)". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (71): 42.
- McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 115: "By issue #50, The Brave and the Bold developed into the ultimate team-up book. The Brave and the Bold #59 added one final element to the team-up theme, when writer Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon partnered Batman with Green Lantern."
- Cassell, Dewey (August 2006). "Talking About Tigra: From the Cat to Were-Woman". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (17): 26–33.
- Cassell, Dewey (February 2011). "The Lady and the Cat: The Story Behind the Unpublished Fifth Issue of Marvel Comics' The Cat". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (46): 3–7.
- Keller, Katherine (May 2000). "The Real Ramona". Sequentialtart.com. Archived from the original on May 9, 2019.
- Dueben, Alex (September 24, 2013). "Ramona Fradon Reflects on Metamorpho, "Brenda Starr," Creates A "Fairy Tale"". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on May 9, 2017.
- Mangels, Andy (May 15, 1988). "Profiles: Ramona Fradon, Artist". Amazing Heroes (141): 42–43.
- "2000s Eisner Award Recipients". San Diego Comic-Con International. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.
- The Art of Ramona Fradon (February 2014), Dynamite Entertainment, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1606901403
- Career Retrospective, Gold & Silver: Overstreet's Comic Book Quarterly #6 (December 1994). p. 114. Overstreet Publications.
- Interview, Comics Forum #20 (Autumn 1999), pp. 17–22. Comics Creators Guild.
- Ramona Fradon at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
- Ramona Fradon at Mike's Amazing World of Comics
- Ramona Fradon at the Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators
| "Aquaman" feature
in Adventure Comics artist
| Metamorpho artist
| Freedom Fighters artist
| Super Friends artist
| Brenda Starr, Reporter artist